Customers, they make the world go round. Or at least the world of business and commerce. You’re probably aware that it costs a lot more to attract new customers than it does to retain the ones you have – some say 16 times more. There are lots of different strategies businesses can use. A business blog that boosts customer loyalty and builds relationships is one reliable and relatively low-cost strategy.

No matter what industry you are in, the quest for customers is very real. Your business depends on it. Keeping the customer you have, even turning them into loyal brand advocates is arguably even more important. Why? Because loyal customers spend more, they refer you to new customers and, because they already know you, it is easier, faster and cheaper, to sell them new products.

So, how do you do all this with a simple business blog? You delight your customers by answering their questions before they even know what they are. You deliver the content they need and the experiences they’re demanding, that’s how. Let me explain a little further.

Where does customer retention begin?

Building trust with customers begins before they even buy their first product from you. The traditional sales and marketing funnel goes something like this:

The awareness stage is when the customer realises they have a need and begin looking at possible ways of fulfilling that need. Interest is piqued by the various products and services that look like possible contenders and the consideration stage kicks in. Once the customer has gathered all of the information they think they need, they evaluate their options, weighing up pros and cons before making their purchase.

This cycle is not the same for all products and services and it’s not always linear either. Some customers might circle back to consideration after evaluation and other customers seemingly go straight from awareness to purchase. Still, the idea of a customer journey is helpful because it helps you put yourself in your customer’s shoes. That’s where you need to be to attract them and their loyalty.

If you’ve got the right resources to help people find you and learn about your products or solution, you can start building a relationship with them before they ever buy. Building a relationship is on the path to building trust, trust is paramount to customer loyalty.

Building trust with a business blog

87% of shoppers begin their buying journey online.  Even if they intend to make a purchase in-store, customers scout things out online – checking you and your competition. 97% of consumers use online media nowadays and 93% say they are influenced by online reviews. The experience customers have is a major influencer of their final purchase decision to – 86% are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.

So where does a business blog fit into all of this?

By creating content that people need to answer the questions they’ll have along the way to making a purchase. Sounds easy, right? It should, because it (mostly) is.

Answering customers’ questions with a business blog before they ask

Let’s use a favourite analogy of my high school computer studies teacher. You have a widget factory and all you do is make, sell and service widgets. It’s a safe bet that you know all there is to know about widgets. But the truth is, most people don’t know what a widget is, or why they’d ever need one. (I still don’t know what a widget is – my high school lessons never included that information.)

There are all those initial questions people have – what is a widget, how many widgets do I need to plug the hole of longing in my life, will widgets make me fat, how often should I service my widget, can I use widgets for other problems…? And on it goes. If you have a chat with your sales team, you’ll find out what the most common questions are when prospects consider your widgets.

It’s also a good idea to check out what people are asking Google and other search engines about widgets. All of the most common questions about any keyword or topic that has ever been keyed into Google can be discovered with a few cool online tools. Answer the Public is one and Moz is another. There’s also Ubersuggest and similar topic research tools on the net. ATP is one of my favourites for blog writing by far.

When you’ve got all those questions gathered together, staring up at you, it’s time to group them together to match the various stages of your customer journey. Some questions align with the awareness stage, some consideration and others with the evaluation process.

Then start answering them. Write blogs specifically to answer the questions customers have when winding their way towards a widget purchase.

A word of warning here, don’t always put yourself as the only answer to the widget dilemma. It comes across as salesy, manipulative and inauthentic. Just answer the questions honestly. It builds trust, even before a purchase has been made.

Why business blogs build trust

Building trust is part and parcel of building relationships. Trust and relationships engender loyalty. It’s just the way us humans are wired. If we have a relationship with someone, it’s fairly usual there is a level of trust. We’re more likely to go to them with our problems, believe their advice and big them up to other people we know.

Business blogs can build relationships and trust with customers in a couple of ways.

A business blog should give customers what they need before they even know they need it – for free. By giving valuable information, a business can establish itself as a reliable and knowledgeable source of information in a specific niche.

Sharing articles, reviews and feedback in a blog is a great way to begin establishing a relationship – and trust. It’s a way to communicate with customers that aren’t technically ‘yours’ yet.

In all sorts of relationships from romantic ones to those we have with our doctor or our favourite takeaway restaurant, trust is built on giving and receiving, being reliable, honesty, transparency and communication. A great business blog does all of these things.

Blogging strategies should be about giving valuable information to customers for free. Also sparking a conversation with the key target audience for your business. It should also provide reliable and honest information and be one of the key ways your business communicates.

When customers feel like they have a relationship with your business, a blog provides content that they can share to become advocates for you. Answer your customer’s burning questions with a blog. Give them your expertise and knowledge about your products for free. It will build trust, loyalty and your bottom line.