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My name is Randa Clay, and I am a designer and marketing consultant with my main focus being design and development for WordPress. Beyond graphic design, my background includes work recommending, coordinating, executing and analyzing marketing initiatives for large brands, such as The Limited, Victoria’s Secret, Goody’s, Express and more. This is my first post on the Fast Company site, and look forward to discussing ways to improve customer relationship management through a well-designed website and blog.

1. Build relationships
You know they're buying your products and services, and you might have some demographics/firmographics, but who are they really? Your blog readers are likely to be your best customers, and knowing them better will help you to find more like them. A company blog offers opportunities to dialogue with your customers unique way through the comment area in each post. While marketing programs can generally only send one-way messages, a blog keeps the lines of communication open both ways.

2. Build your reputation
People like to do business with people and companies they feel they know. You have your "Mission, Vision and Values" up on your wall in your offices, but do your customers know what you stand for and what you're trying to accomplish? Do they know what's important to you as a company? You can post about charities you're involved with, share customer success stories, demonstrate solutions you offer and problems you've solved, all with the end in mind of building your reputation and brand image.

3. Build customer loyalty
The more customers know you, the more loyal they become. As you feature different solutions you offer, they are encouraged to do even more business with you. Featuring some of your best customers will solidify their relationship with you and make your top tier even more loyal. Most blogs will offer a subscription option through RSS and email, which means you will have opportunities to interact with subscribers every time a post is published.

4. Build authority
Before I had a blog to go along with my design business site, all visitors saw when they visited were marketing messages and a portfolio. I got almost no business through my website. By starting a blog to go along with the content I already had on the site, I was able to build authority through blog posts and responses to comments, and began to get the bulk of my business through my site. The difference was not in the quality of my work, but rather the opportunity for potential customers to get to know me, and learn about my skill set, the solutions I had provided for customers, problems solved, etc.

5. Build traffic
Blogs are perfect for search engine optimization. Search engine spiders like fresh content to feed on, and while a company website might be rather static with little need for content changes, a regularly updated blog provides fresh, keyword-rich content that search engines love. This will cause your site to rank higher when potential customers search for your products and services and drive more traffic to your entire site.

In the coming weeks we'll take a look at some business blogs that are well-designed and implemented, as well as some that need some improvement, in order to more clearly define what makes a business blog successful.