“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”
It should come as no surprise that company blogs are now a standard in nearly every industry. Having a blog allows businesses to engage with customers in a more relaxed manner, attract potential buyers by building a relationship first, have an effective promotional channel for an already engaged audience, build brand loyalty, and develop a reputation as an industry thought leader.
Now that every company from local food trucks to global manufacturing companies are blogging, having a strategic content marketing plan is even more essential to your blog’s success. I’m sure you’ve been tempted to just dive in with your first post, but since you found this post, your off to a good start, because RESEARCH MUST BE THE FIRST STEP. When launching or relaunching a blog that could one day be included in the below list of business blogs, you must learn from the success and failures of those who have come before you. Not to get all philosophical on you, but what have we ever really accomplished without “standing on the shoulders of giants“?
Top 10 Business Blogs (a.k.a Company Blog Giants)
1. Starbucks Corporation
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Starbucks has gotten more than coffee right. With a website and blog that’s easy to navigate, user friendly, informative, and interesting, it’s easy to see why we’d name Starbucks as a top business blog. With headers at the top that direct the user to wherever he or she wants to go, a search bar, and a menu bar on the side to search the blog by topic, Starbucks is a great example of how to design an effective site. Furthermore, the blog features a section where customers can contribute new ideas from drinks, food items, store designs, and more, which is an ingenious way to engage the reader. More importantly, after an idea is submitted, Starbucks actually blogs about it and asks for feedback.
2. Whole Foods
Whole Foods Market has been named as a top business blog for a number of reasons, but a main standout feature is how often it’s updated, which is at least once daily. In addition to consistently adding new content for users, the Whole Foods blog has also been successful in the creation of a catchy title (the Whole Story); uploads pictures and media frequently; is well-designed and attractive visually; is user friendly; and has links to podcasts, other blogs, coupons, videos, and even comment posting guidelines. It also has a very straightforward way for customers to sign up for newsletters and subscribe to the blog, making the customer engagement process simple.
3. Marriot International
While the Marriot International “Marriot on the Move” blog isn’t the most visually appealing, the content is what really captures the audience here. With blog titles such as “From Homeless to Homeowner,” and “Stories of Excellence,” the blog is heartwarming, personal, and genuine. Written by the CEO of Marriot, Bill Marriot, the blog is nothing less than authentic, and shares tips, advice, and insights regarding business success, current affairs, Marriot’s personal life, and celebrations of the Marriot company. The blog is a great example of what it means to blog from the heart, to tell a story with your words, and to create content that is relevant and captures the audience.
The adventure company Patagonia, which sells clothing and gear for the outdoors, has a blog that sells its products perfectly by tempting people with the thrill of the unknown. With blogs that talk about everything from adventuring in Baja to surf competitions to the perfect yoga mat to travel with, the blog perfectly connects with its target audience: adrenaline junkies. Furthermore, as Patagonia is a company that strives to be environmentally responsible, its blog also features sections on environmental activism and the “footprint chronicles,” which have blogs about responsible supply chains and environmental initiatives. Finally, the blog has a simple layout and is easy to navigate.
5. General Motors
With a blog that automatically grabs the user’s attention based on the amazing graphic designs alone, General Motors has done nearly everything right with their blog. Not only is the blog a visual masterpiece, but it also allows users to choose the layout they’d like to view the blog in, has a side bar of relevant categories that are easy to navigate, uses info-graphics and plenty of pictures, has a user-friendly search bar, and talks about what it knows: cars. As far as blogs go, GM’s is certainly one of the best business blogs out there.
The Evernote blog almost looks more like a full on website than a blog alone, and yet is so simple and user-friendly that it remains a perfect example of a top business blog. The blog uses simple designs—all straight lines—and colors that are easy on the eyes, like white, light blue, and green, to draw in the user in the visual aspect alone, making it completely different—yet just as effective—as the GM blog mentioned above. The blog offers content about the company, how to use Evernote, tips and tricks about topics ranging from business success to how to use Evernote in the classroom, and takes user-friendliness to a whole new level by allowing readers to change the blog into their language of choice.
Like Patagonia, the Merrell blog does a great job of connecting with its target audience—those who love the outdoors. Not only does the blog provide a section about upcoming events for those who are active, but it also blogs about the Merrell origins, features different athletes, and provides multiple how-to guides for their products. For example, when the barefoot shoe was first introduced, Merrell published a video about how to transition to a barefoot lifestyle. With relevant content and a blog that’s visually appealing with plenty of pictures, Merrell is a great example of a top business blog.
It’s no surprise that Google, the master of the web, has a great blog. While nearly everyone is familiar with what Google does in the basic sense—operate a search engine—the Google blog provides insight into Google products, technology, and culture, making for a very interesting, and informative, read. The blog is updated fairly regularly, and rather than being organized into sections, is simply a collection of one story after another. With a lot of videos, links, and graphics used, the Google blog is engaging and informational.
Target operates a successful blog because it does something that few other blogs do: it allows you to get to know the company in a seemingly intimate way. Despite the fact that Target is a huge corporation with thousands of employees nationwide, the blog is surprisingly homey, and has a “Get to Know Us” section that introduces employees, events, partnerships, and more. The blog is well designed, and has links to all the relevant things, like the career site and contact pages. Furthermore, the blog has made it easy for users to share, by providing follow us links for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
10. The New York Times
The New York Times provides a very unique way of organizing their blogs’ content. Because the New York Times covers so many different areas, ranging from politics to culture and media, they’ve created blogs within their blog—i.e., a main “Blogs” page where users can then click on their topic of choice and be redirected to a whole new blog. Because the New York Times houses an array of content, this has proven to be an effective way to organize all that content, and engages the user by allowing the user to select what he or she is interested in. Here’s what it looks like:
After a person clicks on one of the topics, say Economix, they’ll be redirected to a blog that focuses solely on that:
What Do These Business Blogs They Have in Common?
The 10 best business blogs listed above all have things in common which have led to their successes. They all feature content that’s relevant to their audience, they all provide easy-to-navigate links and search features, they all have a general theme, they all use pictures or videos, and they’re all creative and engaging. If you want to improve your blog to drive sales, increase customer engagement, and attract more people, drawing from these business blog giants is a great place to start.
What business blog giants are we missing? Let know us what you think.