Just like the early days of the internet where people wanted to keep the capitalists out of Usenet, and history repeated with the web, even now it seems there are still people who want to keep marketing out of blogging. For me this is just daft, the web is a reflection of the real world and the real world contains people who want to buy and sell products and services. Get over it.
So those concerns aside, should companies look at blogging as a marketing channel? Any company should at least look into blogs. I really believe that, and in fact I have recommended blogs as a solution a couple of times even during my brief spell away from the marketing world. What is this belief based on?
- Pulling power – blogs are a proven vehicle for generating traffic. We are talking visitors returning day after day, returning voluntarily to hear what you have to say. The best part is blogs reach a demographic that TV advertising finds hard to reach.
- Conversations and interaction – Cluetrain had it right. We are not “consumers”, we are individuals and we want to be able to talk to the people who we buy products and services from. We might not, but we want to have that choice. Companies get better the more feedback they receive. Conversation is a benefit for both sides of the equation, why just shout at your customer when you can talk to them?
- Understanding your customer – conversations bring understanding. Ask your customers questions, find out their feelings on issues, and with that understanding you can serve them better. Common sense right?
- Loyalty – engage your customer and they will be less likely to stray. Do something wrong and they will give you a heads up that they are not happy immediately, choose to respond and react and you will not lose them. Do something right and they will also let you know so you can do more of it.
- Transparency – traditional PR seems to revolve around a lot of broadcast messages, infiltrating the media and hoping some of it will stick. Spin and counter-spin. I must admit this isn’t true of all PR professionals, there are some good ones out there. But people are sick of it anyway, they want authentic messages from authentic voices. If you have a good story to tell then tell it in a real, genuine way. Blog it.
- Interruption Advertising is past its best – blogs are part of the new interactive culture growing around the web. The internet is a “go-to because I want to” medium. TV is a “I know you wanted to see what happens next but we are going to show you washing powder commercials instead” medium. Which is less annoying? Which is growing and which is on the decline? Where are you more likely to find 14-30 year olds?
- Measurability – people have tried to make TV and Radio more measurable and pretty much failed. With print there are more routes to measurability but nothing can compare to the metrics available with the web. You can think of blogs as direct marketing on steroids, without the spam filter problems of email.
- Conversion potential – what a lot of people forget is much marketing is about getting someone from “here” to “there”, that is getting someone that bit closer to the checkout. You can build the “buy now” button right into your blog if you want to. That little bit closer from desire to purchase. With a loyal readership the trust builds so resistance is reduced and the chances of a sale increase.
- Create awareness without the hard sell – I am not a fan of the hard sell sales letter, though I do know they work well. Part of the pressure on sales writing is you have one shot, perhaps a couple of follow ups, but pretty much you have to get your message across there and then. If you know your readers will be back again and again you don’t need to force it with the snake oil and a more human voice can be used. With more time you can demonstrate the benefits of what you are selling rather than make bold promises and “time limited offers”.
- Low cost, instant publishing = Speed! – events move fast and they are getting faster. The world is changing into one global real-time marketplace. There isn’t time to waste now, you need to be able to react immediately, particularly when things go wrong but also you need to be able to capitalise on positive opportunities when they arise. You need tools that work when you want them to, not when your marketing, PR or web agency can fit you in after scheduling countless meetings.
So that is the theory as far as I see it. There are probably plenty more benefits that I am not seeing right now.
Companies are getting the idea, I would say there are plenty of companies large and small doing the blog thing well. Microsoft has transformed into a much more open company since they embraced blogging. There are still though many corporates who resist it, their web sites are nothing much more than brochures with stiff, fake tone of voice written in the third-person.
In Nicks thread entitled “Are you a blogger for hire?” Brian Clark says
Once businesses can get some sense of a ROI from a really great blog, you’ll see the pay improving […] When real businesses realize that a blog can sell even more due to the
relationship and value-added aspect, you’ll see the pay for top
bloggers going way up.
I believe in blogging but searching on Google I find it hard to bring up compelling proof. So let’s show them the ROI! where are the case studies?
There must be at least a few people on here that have used blogging for business benefit or heard about a company that has? Please let us know in the comments.
Author: Chris Garrett
Chris Garrett is a content marketing and blogging coach and co-author of the Problogger Book with Darren Rowse.
I have been blogging for a long time and I think it is a perfect way to know if what your thinking is good or bad. you have to weigh peoples comments with an open eye and take whats good from them all to get the most out of this. the more you listen to your followers, the more people will join your site and buy things from it. so be sure you have something for sale
Despite my comments on another post, it makes sense what you’ve said here. PR and Marketing people tend to be better writers. However, blogs should not read like a marketing campaign, even if they are.
Who makes the best blogger, for a company or in general?
(1) Someone passionate.
(2) Someone that enjoys telling “stories” as straightforwardly as possible. (By that, I don’t mean fiction, but it might be an interesting blog if it read like chapters in a novel or diary.)
(3) Someone who wants the reader to learn something out of the weblog.
(4) Someone who likes the product and related topics at hand.
After all that, the blogger may have an honest agenda to promote the company. So, a junior PR/ marketing person, or a blogger/ writer with some inkling of PR/ marketing, but with a different background, or maybe not “tainted” with too much marketing polish in their writing. Let the horse take its bit.
Just my thoughts.
Companies that are discussed in an online setting – and don’t have an interactive, responsive online presence – have essentially lost control of their online brand.
Microsoft is a good example; their relatively inexpensive blog returned PR value all out of proportion to the cost.
As I said below – a company’s marketing goals should drive the kind of blog used, and in the case of MS, they needed a blog that would reclaim their brand in the online world.
I think it was one of the better marketing moves they’ve made.
I disagree, out of all tech companies Microsoft had the greatest distance between wider audience and company – think of all the anti-microsoft propaganda you read, even with the army of PR people that didn’t break down until they opened up. It’s not just a revenue thing, it’s not all about traffic. There are great benefits to be had by engaging your customers in conversation and getting the truth out to cut through the rubbish that is spewed by the disgruntled and your competition.
@Chris: Microsoft is a perfect example where a company doesn’t need a blog 🙂
The company which has the most revenue from running a blog is typically a small company which can focus on their very specific subject and play on the same level like the big companies with big communication budgets. Great examples are law blogs run by single lawyers.
perfect example of a nice spam post from kuitang!
Zhem stupid capitalizt azzholes! Die, all of zhem! So stooopid zhem capitalists; wanting to pvofit of zhe work of zhe proletariat! Zhere be no room on earth for zhem evil conspirators! Makking mooney off zhe Innnnnnternet? Pha, we open-source people thrive perfectly in zour communist word! No need for zhem profiteers! Die, all of zhem!!!
I just pitched a company blog that wasn’t CEO-oriented. This isn’t your typical market (it’s an outdoor company) and the goal is to tap into the passion of their users.
We don’t need the CEO to do that. In fact, putting a human face on the company — by demonstrating that the employees share our readers’ passion — is really the aim, and standing a CEO between the employees and the readers would likely be counterproductive.
Blogs are new and largely untested as marketing vehicles, and it’s too soon to start putting limits on them.
I think there can be as many different blogs as there are different marketing goals, and I think what’s missing from a lot of what I read is a clear enunciation of their marketing goals.
“Building a community” is a laudable goal, but no community survives long without a reason for binding it together.
Marketing goals first, then blog…
I believe that Marketing through blog is going to take a big turn and there are companies who are now shifting their focus towards this concept.
Recently, Nokia sent their new mobile and marketed through some popular gadget blogs. (I don’t remember which model and which blogs as I read it some time back, somewhere on the internet).
Now, I am not much in marketing of products or anything similar and I am not sure if what I am writing is relevant to this post or not but still I’ll share one thing with everyone…I recently visited HP.com and found out their blogs and one of the blog particularly impressed me and the blog is The Marketing Excellence blog by Eric Kintz and in this blog Eric talks about the key trends of the future marketing and has many posts related to marketing through blogs.
Good examples Markus. I disagree it needs to be the owner who blogs, just someone who CAN blog. Bill Gates hasn’t got time, but Scoble did a good job as do the program managers, programmers etc who still do blog daily. If the CEO hasn’t the time, inclination or ability there is no point in asking him to blog. On the other hand if they do then great.
There is a small company in Germany which has produced an uproar in the corporate blogging environment.
The company is small and they are producing fruit juices. What makes their company blog so special is the human face (missing point) which is offered by the blog. Through the blog and typical articles containing photos and video interviews the company becomes transparent and human beings show up. The word to mouth promotion for the company is awesome!
As they are using a multi-blog system they have just started single blogs for single products.
“Der Walther” Weblog (German)
Another blog very successful in Germany is run by a guy who is running a small supermarket. It’s a Top Ten blog and Björn Harste (the owner) is definitely an A-Blogger. Through his blog he has successfully build up an online shop because his readers asked him to do so (!).
The common rule #1 for a successful corporate blog seems to be that it should be represented by the owner of a corporation.
All the blogs run by the PR department are not as accepted.