The first rule of measurement is know your objectives so you know what to measure.  That said, it’s a challenge to decide on objectives for a blog when you don’t know what the possibilities are.  At Lion Brand Yarn Company, we outlined objectives before we launched our blog in 2008, but what we discovered was that we would benefit in ways that we did not imagine.

Of all forms of social media, blogging can be the most time intensive. It is also a tool that requires a sustained, long-term effort. But therein lies the power of this tool. Developing a rich bank of content that serves our audience has been an important asset to our company. Here are five benefits of blogging that we have enjoyed:

Insight

We have learned a great deal about what our customers want from looking at the results of our blog. And if you can figure out what your customer wants and deliver it, everything else tends to work out.  The blog shows us what excites them and what they want more of.  How has our blog taught us this?

  • We literally hear their voices in the comments—the tone, the language, the attitude, and their reactions.  Reading comments tells us as much as analytics about our readers. We can visualize the people who make up our audience and this informs how we communicate with them.
  • Surveys and polls imbedded in a blog post help us answer questions directly about what is important and how choices are made. Asking readers for input shows them that they have the opportunity co-create the content with us.
  • We find out what’s hot and what’s not by looking at traffic, comments and inbound links. The traffic peaks and valleys help inform decisions about many of our other marketing efforts.  We now look to blog results when deciding what to feature in our newsletter or how to present information in our catalog that will help us better sell our products.

Trust

Trust, like a blog, develops over a long span of time so a blog is a great platform for building trust. The trust we earn is built on four pillars: authority, generosity, reliability and humanity.

  • Authority. A blog helps position us as the seat of authority by giving us the space and multi-media opportunities for educating people to become better users of the product and to inspire them.  Our goal is not to directly sell products but to share helpful information and ideas about how to enhance a person’s life by using our product. We also gain authority by curating content from around the web and from our website to surface what we think our readers want to know.
  • Generosity.  You can toss out a coupon on your blog but that’s not the kind of generosity that builds trust.  We offer information, education and inspiration that helps them enjoy the lifestyle that our product embodies—the kind of content that they would have to pay to get from a magazine.
  • Reliability.   We publish consistently and often, using a calendar of varied types of content that people have come to expect and tune into.  I believe that many individuals and businesses give up on their blog too soon. Of course the content has to be good, but the benefits of blogging accrue to those who stick with it.  Chris Brogan has been blogging for over 10 years and most of the top blogs are written by people who have been plugging away for several years.
  • Humanity. A blog is a great way to bring the people behind the logo forward to face the public.  Employees write about how they personally use the product, what inspires them or what they learned at a conference.  Each blogger’s interests and personality shines through. After all, people prefer to buy from people, not from corporations, and the blog is a way of presenting the real people behind the brand who are passionate about our product, just like our customers.

Traffic

The blog has become a significant and growing source of traffic .  One of the surprise benefits of our corporate blog is the traffic that it draws to us by virtue of the depth of content and the SEO. Long tail search terms are helping people discover us who might never have found our website. A year ago, one of the sites that used to send us a lot of traffic changed their focus and we lost an important traffic source, which thankfully, was more than matched by growing traffic from our blog, a source we also control.

Revenue

Ultimately, blogging needs to lead to revenue.  If you’ve benefited by consumer insight, and developed trust, you are already contributing to the process of making a sale.

For a more direct link from blogging to sales, we look at Google analytics, which tells us the rate at which people who visit our site convert to buyers.  Although we don’t expect the same conversion rate from our blog as from our newsletter, we find that our social media, including the blog, convert at a higher rate than other referring sites.

Results, of course do vary. I recently spoke on a panel with the director of digital for Marriott, who shared the fact that his CEO, Bill Marriott’s blog, generates 12 million visitors per year and $4 million in revenue from readers who click-throughs to book rooms.

Cost savings from a blog also contribute directly to the bottom line.  Answering customer questions and addressing concerns reduces the more expensive customer service phone calls and digital information can eliminate or reduce printing needs.

Your blog is part of your marketing ecosystem
.  It does not operate in a vacuum. You can drive traffic to and from your blog by way of your newsletter, your website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and your offline marketing efforts.  A corporate blog is integral part of a media system that accelerates your message.

What have you gained from your corporate blog? Has there been any positive or negative result that you didn’t expect? I welcome you to add to and elaborate on this list.

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About Ilana Rabinowitz

Ilana Rabinowitz

Ilana Rabinowitz is the vice-president for marketing for Lion Brand Yarn and blogs about social media at Marketing Without A Net. Rabinowitz approaches marketing with an uncompromising focus on the customer and a grounding in psychology and neuroscience to understand what motivates people to make buying decisions.  She believes that businesses need to develop their own media as a means of creating a branded experience for customers.  She has spoken at digital marketing conferences including Web 2.0, Blogher Business and Internet Retailer. She is the author of a book about psychology, a book about mindfulness and co-author of a book about the culture of knitting. Follow her on Twitter at @ilana221.

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Comments & Reactions

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.maxadv.com Tom Matte

    Ilana,
    this is a great story. Thanks for sharing with the rest of us. I hope you dont mind if I use your Marriott example tomorrow when I am presenting to a marketing director and CEO.
    Perfect timing! It also speaks to the call to action at the end of a blog. Which I firmly believe in. I hope you have continued success.

    • http://twitter.com/Ilana221 Ilana Rabinowitz

      Tom,
      thanks for you comment and I’m happy the timing worked for you. Sounds like a great opportunity for you and good luck with it. OK with me if you use the story. I’m sure if you asked Marriott he’d say, be “be my guest.”

  • http://trafficcoleman.com/blog/official-black-seo-guy/ Black Seo Guy

    Its all about the traffic..no one want to read a site that’s dead of traffic..this is waht make a good cooperate site..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • http://remarkablogger.com Michael Martine

    I’m glad you said that blogging is really part of the “marketing ecosystem.” Blogging, social media and email marketing are what I call the “golden triangle” of online marketing.

    The insights you’ve picked up along the way are exactly why every business should be blogging, but even more than that, you’ve provided some priceless pointers to successful blog marketing as well.

    • http://twitter.com/Ilana221 Ilana Rabinowitz

      Thanks Michael. I like your phrase, golden triangle. I’ve had the experience of a giant spike in blog traffic because an influential person retweeted the link. It wouldn’t have happened had I not had a presence on Twitter. You just never know where you’ll find the people who will respond to your content.

  • http://twitter.com/markivey mark ivey

    Great piece. I would also break out “presence,” in that a blog can give you a seat at the table of industry conversations and build your brand (you touch on this with Insight/authority but it goes beyond product marketing and education to a broader brand/image issue. It’s about credibility and relevance.

    • Ilana221

      Thanks you sharing an excellent addition to the value of a corporate blog.

  • http://www.automatedsocialnetworking.com Treb072410

    Great Article… I really have fun reading it, it is very informative… Thanks for sharing…

  • http://blog.socialmediahq.com Nick Robinson

    Couldn’t agree more. We have found that our blog is essential to our thought leadership and ultimately produces the highly sought after sales leads. Just wish I had more time to blog every day. I’m only at once per week right now. Just don’t have the staffing resources yet.

    • http://twitter.com/Ilana221 Ilana Rabinowitz

      Nick, it’s great to hear that your blog has led to highly qualified leads. All the blogging work from concept, through research, outline and writing takes a lot of work. Sometimes breaking up the task can allow you to get the support you need from a knowledgeable staffer or intern so that you could write more often.

  • Ross

    I agree completely with the idea that blogs are not meant to be just another form of advertising, but it should be a way to share information with your audience to build a sense of trust. Trust leads to loyalty and to actually buy, which is why blogs are much different than other social media outlets. Currently, I am managing the social media of a small business and blogging allows the customers to actually get a since of who that company is instead of what they sell. Our philosophy is that people buy from people, and the more real you are the more those people are willing to buy. It isn’t about showing them what the store or business has to offer, but what you as human beings can give to them whether knowledge, goodwill, recommendations, etc.

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Virtual office assistant

    These tips are extremely beneficial. These are things that anyone can easily do to improve a blog. It seems self-evident to write what you love, to direct your content toward your community, etc. but these simple goals can often be pushed to the side in pursuit of sheer number of readers.

  • http://www.internetincomecode.com George Tee

    Blog is a superb tool to construct good relationship to your readers. It truly is not merely of advertising but far more of sharing information and facts. Blogs give your small small business having a opportunity to share your expertise and understanding having a larger audience. An opportunity to connect with a wider audience and construct a community is actually a powerful benefit.

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