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  • Writer's pictureKrystal Wu

Do Blogs Really Matter?

Updated: Mar 28

March 7, 2024

By: Krystal Wu


It's a complicated question to answer — blogs have been around for decades, and are undeniably accessible channels for connecting with online audiences. The Agora itself is a prime example, a vibrant platform which adds ample dimension to Marketing Society. But in the larger marketing landscape, do blogs truly make a significant impact upon the performance of organizations and companies?













Why do blogs exist?


Blogs are more than just a static webpage. With roots in journalism and press, they serve as consistently updated flows of digital content and information for readers. The earliest on the internet were personal platforms for individuals to share stories, interests, and thoughts at their own leisure. Now, as many large corporations maintain their own blogs, these platforms can be used to educate readers about industries, reveal behind-the-scenes information about companies, and/or subtly promote products and services. 


At the marketing level, the content on a blog should ideally interest its target market. The concept that blogs exist due to their readers is straightforward — if your consumers aren’t interested in reading your blogs, you should likely refrain from publishing them. Evernote's blog, for example, provides a platform for the company to communicate directly to its users through announcements, updates, new features, and tips for how to use its app. UCLA's Bruin blog fosters a sense of community among prospective and current students, sharing diverse experiences and helpful tips for admissions. By giving prospective students an inside look into the school's programs and opportunities, the blog dynamically demonstrates a cohesive academic identity that reaches their target audience beyond traditional admissions tours and websites.


The most pressing question is whether blogs are still relevant within the current marketing space. Looking at the Google Trends chart below, in which a search term is ranked from 0 to 100 relative to its peak popularity, searches for blogs have steadily declined worldwide over the past five years. Whereas the term held a value of 96 in February 2019, it presently stands at 50 as of February 2024. On the other hand, searches for video content have risen in popularity and surpassed blogs in searches within the same timeframe.




Several potential reasons for shifting consumer preferences emerge upon observation of this trend. For one, the rapid rise of short-form content across online platforms may be encouraging consumers to prefer digestible, highly visual representations of information. For another, blogs may be viewed by consumers as a means of personal consumption, whereas videos are being increasingly integrated into academic, professional, and entertainment use cases.


But with 600 million blogs still existing out of 1.9 billion websites, why do blogs remain relevant despite consumers' shifting preferences? Here is a deeper dive into why businesses are investing time and money into blogs today: 


  1. Building brand authority/establishing expertise

    1. Whenever a consumer has a need, a quick Google search yields a wide span of results. Since the process of what they click can be winding and complex, a blog has the capacity to capture and retain consumer attention. If a site thoroughly explains different aspects of a product or service, addresses common concerns and misconceptions, and approaches potential problems with empathy, it establishes the business as a trustworthy and reputable source of information relative to its competitors. 

  1. SEO and advertising

    1. Countless businesses invest in Search Engine Optimization–increasing the visibility of their websites on search engines–and online advertising platforms in order to gain consumer awareness of their products and services. Although it is irrefutable that businesses which effectively utilize these strategies gain high traffic within a short timeframe, a blog is a longer-term solution for the issue of gaining consumer awareness. Once a paid advertisement campaign ends, the traffic generated from it usually stops. A good blog could continue driving organic traffic to a company's website and generate a continuous lead flow, as it typically remains on the internet and can be referenced at any point in time. 

  2. Engaging with the target audience

    1. Blogs could also be a way for companies to collect consumer feedback and actively engage with prospective or current buyers. Depending on the purpose of the company, they could encourage conversations amongst their audience through comments and online user communities, track ratings and metrics from consumer comments to gauge their common interests and concerns, or facilitate a two-way communication channel between the company and their consumers by providing real-time feedback and chatbot integrations.




The picture of success


Perhaps the biggest obstacle that a blog faces is the oversaturation of content on the internet today. Imagine if every club at NYU started its own blog —which ones would you deem worthy to read? 


For a company, the answer first lies in producing content that is more valuable than its competitors. Companies could leverage many factors to achieve this goal — an aesthetically pleasing user interface, mobile-friendly sites, updated information relative to the industry, and cross promotion through other sites are several methods. Hubspot's blog is a fantastic example of a platform that is not only clean and intuitive for use, but also frequently referenced by users and marketers alike. Next, the company must implement an effective distribution strategy to promote that content. Thoroughly researching their blog's target audience, ensuring whether a blog would serve as a better channel as opposed to formats such as social media or traditional PR, and maintaining an organized editorial calendar are key steps to this process. Transparency is also an emerging issue particular to our modern generation. Especially heeding recent sociopolitical controversies across social media, consumers are paying closer attention to a brand's values and stance on social issues, making it crucial for a company to approach those issues with care and caution—regardless of whether they are related at all to the products or services the company provides. Although blogs are absent from their marketing strategies, Chick-fil-A and Starbucks are two companies notorious for facing consumer backlash following their wide scale actions and responses relative to social and political events.


Blogs can be useful, but at the end of the day, they are just another option in a marketer's toolkit. If a business or organization decides to have a blog, it should serve as an impactful component of numerous others within a broader marketing strategy, not as a standalone channel. The vast majority of medium to large-sized companies invest in advertising, events, and other forms of promoting their products and services in addition to hosting their own blog. Only in combination do these efforts create an impactful marketing strategy that reaches their target audience across multiple touchpoints and achieves their business goals. 


Moreover, directly collecting consumer feedback regarding channels such as blogs and adapting accordingly is key to success. As a reader, how do you feel about The Agora, and what would you change? Have these blocks of text and images on your screen managed to speak to you?





 

Krystal is a sophomore majoring in data science at CAS. Her (slightly obsessive) interests include music, fashion, media, creative writing, and poetry.



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