Promotional vs. Topical Blog Posts: Which Is Best?

A business blog, in general, will fall into one of three categories.

  1. The most common, unfortunately, is the empty blog. Business operators know they need a blog, and know that blogging regularly will help them, they just don’t have the time.
  2. Promotional blogs are the next most common. These are blogs that describe the product or service offered, and then do it over and over again. Actual new content comes only with new product releases.
  3. Topical blogs are the least common, but the most powerful. These are ones that have helpful, informative posts that are generally in the arena of the business, but are designed to be interesting to anyone who’s looking for more information.

That third approach is all about building customer relationships by providing site visitors with shareable information and entertainment. The second approach, a hard-sell, cuts to the chase and promotes the business’s product.

Vintage typewriter on a desk.

Which strategy should you choose? Go all out and promote your product? Or go for a more informative and entertaining soft sell? Let’s dive a bit deeper.

Topical and Informative Strategy

Martin Zwilling, start-up mentor, and angel investor wrote:

… new products, no matter how great, need real marketing, social-media advocates and education efforts to attract customers.

Consider whether or not people understand your business and product. If customers don’t know what you are selling then they are less likely to make a purchase.

If customers don’t know much about your industry or topic, then start writing up topical posts. Topical blog posts provide visitors with information and knowledge on your business blog. These posts build your business’s authority on the topic and establish trust between your business and your audience.

Invigorate Your Product

When people spend time online, they aren’t always seeking a product. Even though consumers purchase goods online, the internet is still all about user experience and entertainment. While your potential customers are out there on the web, why not attract them with novel information about your product or service on your business blog?

And if your service is in a small niche?  

Digital marketing strategist Samuel Edwards told his readers not to fret if their industry is boring:

“Your competition likely feels the same way and probably doesn’t invest much into content marketing. For this reason, you’ll face less competition for topics and keywords. This makes it affordable to compete and gives you a chance to carve out a niche.”

Edwards cautions against a strategy of casting about for low-quality backlinks and writing meaningless posts. Instead, he suggests business bloggers infuse posts with personality and casual speech.  He further adds that building consistent, relevant content brings your product and industry to life.

Provide Useful, Authentic Content

Business News Daily explains that content should be relatable, personalized and multifaceted on a business blog. Several marketing strategists came to similar conclusions.  Bryan Dodson of Blue Fountain media states:

If you offer something truly useful to your customer, the rewards will follow… Traditionally, ‘useful’ meant ‘informative,’ but I’d argue that providing associations and experiences is becoming almost as important.

Visual marketer Mark Langie continued “To engage consumers, your content can’t just push products … It needs to be authentic, add value and convey a larger lifestyle”.

Build Relevance and Attract Repeat Visitors

Businesses need anonymous users to return, get comfortable, and eventually register or subscribe. Strategies that bring anonymous visitors back include “putting your best content forward” and providing “an engaging experience”.

When it comes to putting your best content forward, the days of spammy, click-bait articles are over. Quality is more important than quantity and building a relationship is more important than making a quick sale.

Which Strategy to Choose for a Business Blog?

So far it seems that topical, or soft-sell, blog posts are more favorable than hard-selling promotional posts, and the research backs it up. A New Century Media study found that when it comes to soft-selling, “30 percent more customers were willing to buy the product, while 97 percent were more likely to tell their friends and 95 percent were more likely to be repeat customers.”

But there is a scenario when direct, promotional sales strategies are effective: when a customer knows exactly what they want. An aggressive customer is more inclined to make purchases when the seller is mutually aggressive.

Additionally, long-tail keywords are used most often by customers who know what they want. If you plan on long-tail keywords as part of your SEO approach, then there is nothing wrong with writing a highly promotional blog.

However, softer sales are appropriate and effective when the customer is passive or if your business strategy requires relationship building and customer loyalty.

Trust and Humanity

Unfortunately, all marketing strategies can sometimes feel a bit manipulative. But, as you choose the best business blog style for your company, remember that you didn’t design your product with an ulterior motive.

You aren’t selling snake oil. Like most entrepreneurs, you’ve developed a product because you think there is a need for that product. Further, the product you’ve developed is one that you believe to be the best on the market. You want your customers to be impressed with the product, with your company, and with your company’s vision.

Whether hard-selling or soft-selling,  good blog content is informative, entertaining, logical and straightforward. Really, that’s the only kind of marketing that is going to motivate anyone to get to a purchasing decision in this modern, noisy era.

Either way, the important thing is that you just stay out of the first category. An empty blog is a huge red flag not only to the search engines, but to potential customers who wonder if you are still in business.

Being in the second category of promotional posts still puts you ahead of much of the competition, but if your buyers are at all sophisticated, they’ll be looking to see if you’ve “graduated” to the third category and are sharing helpful, informative posts on a regular basis.


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