Sally Tomkotowicz’s, Customer Acquisition Marketing Manager at www.names.co.uk top tips for keeping your readers interested in the long run.

A blog can be one of the most powerful marketing tools at your company’s disposal and can help your business reach out to new customers. However, it can sometimes be difficult to keep your blog up-to-date in the long term because of time constraints and the other day-to-day pressures you face running a small business.

The danger comes when your blog stops becoming a channel to talk to potential customers. Over time, posts can become redundant and serve no purpose. Posts can stop being interesting and lose their focus if they are left with little direction. This means that, if neglected, your blog can potentially alienate a complete user base and disillusion customers — not high on any small business’ agenda.

Wise Words is a good example of a successful blog that attracts and encourages readers to engage with their business and even buy their new book “The Chef and I”. It is updated every couple of days, combining strong and varied content with great social integration. It is written in a friendly manner, has its own Twitter and Facebook feed and gives users the opportunity to leave comments after reading.

Móna Wise, founder of Wise Words, explains: "For any business, it's crucial to give something back to those using your products and services. I'm astounded at how many business owners feel that writing and maintaining a blog is too much work. They complain that it is a real chore and something that takes up a lot of their time. As a result, their blogs are a chore to read.”

“Most businesses, you'll find, have at least one employee who loves to write. It is important to make use of their skills and allow them to write frequent blog posts engaging customers and encouraging them to come back for more.”

Wise Words is a fantastic example of a successful blog and has recently won ‘Best Blog’ in the Blog Awards Ireland as a result. But how can you make your business blog survive in the long-term?

"Content needs to be clean and clear and you need good subject matter, consistent style and effective integration within your blog if you want to keep it going and win more readers. An interesting and fun blog is a pleasure to read," Móna concludes.

1) Subject matter

Identifying the content you need in your blog posts may sound obvious, but some blogs lose readers and focus over time because they end up talking about irrelevant topics. (No matter how interesting irrelevant subjects seem, stick to the subjects your company deals with!)

Successful blog Wise Words wouldn’t benefit from discussing the latest cars or gadgets, for instance. By concentrating on the topics relevant to your company, you will be feeding relevant information back to your readers.

You might consider creating an annual calendar of subjects your company wants to cover in your blog over a long time. This will help keep you focused on the main topics to write about, preventing you losing sight of the end goal. Think of your plan as a checklist of everything your readers want to hear about. Ticking off posts one by one will keep your motivation high, and your readers happy.

You may also want to work on your contacts and get interesting, varied guest bloggers involved from time to time — you can even get your customers involved! Outsourcing can give posts a fresh take on different subjects and be of great interest to your readers. It can also help you out when business becomes busier.

2) Style

You also need to look at the style and consistency of your blog posts, if it is to survive over time. The language and words you use will affect the number of readers you attract.

According to recent statistics, there are around 56.6 million WordPress blogs around, many used by small businesses and start-ups, so chances are, readers are pickier than ever before. Would you want to read a blog with spelling mistakes? Would it reflect well on the company?

Treat blogs as a high-quality written form of communication. As well as making sure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors in your posts, the language you use should always stay consistent and friendly. Imagine telling your best friend about something that really interested you. You’d talk to them in a calm, confident yet relaxed manner and wouldn’t try and push your opinion on them. Follow this with your blog, and you’ll draw in more customers.

Do away with corporate jargon and always try and ask your readers direct questions. A comments box at the end of your post not only gives your readers the chance to respond to your blog, it also tells you more about the subjects that are particularly important to your readers. This is useful because you can then tweak your future posts to explore issues of interest to your readers and keep it relevant in the long-term future.

3) Integration

More than ever, the variety of your online content affects how many readers you can draw in. The wider the range of images, clips and text, the better chance you have of pulling in more visitors. YouTube is so popular and attracts 1.6 billion viewers monthly because it manages to integrate so much and feeds this back to the user.

Re-introducing company news and achievements into your posts also keeps readers engaged and up-to-date with the work your business is doing, and reminds them of the service you can offer. Going back to an earlier point, it’s no use talking about issues if they don’t link back to the work you do as a company.

Your blog is, and should be, a powerful marketing tool to talk to readers and win customers for a long time. These tips will help ensure that you are constantly engaging with readers and using your blog as a way to continually win customers through this highly personal channel.

For help and support on setting up your own small business blog, Names.co.uk’s web hosting products all come with WordPress included to help you make the most of your blog and reach new customers.