The way your customers make purchase decisions is changing. A study from Marketforce found that 72% of consumers are influenced by the posts companies make on social media, while Technorati contends that blogs are the third most influential source of information in the consumer decision-making process (Facebook was fourth). Google has clearly taken into account this more social-centric consideration stage of the funnel by rewarding regularly updated, relevant websites with more prominent organic search results.

“If the user has found your blog, you already have their attention”

In response, many brands are seizing the opportunity to establish a ‘hub’ in the form of a blog that hosts branded or curated content and draws traffic from channels such as Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube. Of course, if you already have a blog and you have not truly invested in a content strategy to facilitate it, you will struggle to take advantage of the opportunity.

The content you create/share must walk the line between being relevant/useful to your audience while also driving home the benefits of your brand and products. This will demand an internal or agency resource who can appreciate the clash between creativity, the science of keyword optimisation and the art of ‘selling without selling’.

Today’s digital audience is savvy and demands you add value for their attention. To maintain the relevance of your content, it helps to know what is most meaningful to them.

Understanding your audience’s passions will help you attract traffic that fits your demographic. A solid social media listening audit will help you understand what makes your audience tick and will form the basis for an effective content strategy - though this must focus on audience profiling as opposed to ‘buzz’.

If the user has found your blog while researching your brand or product range, you already have their attention. You are a step closer to converting that traffic from user to sale. It is important not to underestimate the power of trust through authority. If you are sharing content that is useful and position your product/service as the trusted expert in the field, your brand will benefit from brand-building authority in the research stage of the purchase process - on or offline. After all, the leap from trusted brand authority to sale is much shorter than the leap from a cold strapline on a poster.

Your blog has the capability to be a powerful social component in developing a better relationship with your customers and increasing your bottom line. But how impactful your blogging strategy is will depend entirely upon your commitment to the content you provide.

John Barton is managing partner and co-founder of TestifyDigital