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.