Blogs and the "S Words" - Sales & Strategy

10/10/2005

Dave Williams, the smart divo behind 360i, forwarded an interesting article from DM News that addresses retail blogs and ROI.

Divas, wrap your pink boa tightlyPink_boa_3 around your shoulders. Divos, pull your fedora Fedora_borsalino_classic_fedora_aug_02_2down - this is a post about blog strategy and accountability. Like it or not, most companies that launch a blog do so with the ultimate purpose of gaining - here comes the dreaded "S word?" Sales. And to do that successfully you need to develop, here comes another - "S word" - Strategy.

A few examples along with metrics -

eHobbies - Seth Greenberg, CEO - We look at blogs as an extension of our search and marketing strategy.
Results
:
- Conversions doubled from 2% to 4%
- 5% of orders can be tracked to the blog via blog-based coupon
Blog: eHobbies Blog

Ice.com - Pinny Gniwisch Vice President Marketing . The key to converting sales with blog is relevant content. You need to create blogs that you think customers will find interesting, and then you need to find a unique voice that compels the customer to want to come back and read the content regularly.
Results:
- Page impressions increased 30%
- Key word search rankings lifted significantly e.g., discount earrings from 30th to 6th
Blogs: Sparkle Like The Stars; Ice Blog; Just Ask Leslie

GourmetStation - Donna Lynes-Miller, CEO and Founder. If a retail brand executes strategies, whether blog or otherwise, from a strategically sound, honest and straight forward perspective there is little risk.
Results:
- 30% increase in website traffic (from blog)
- 5%-10% click throughs to blog from website
- Transitions increased 60%
- Advertising costs decreased from $16.40 to $7.04
Blog: Delicious Destinations
Note: In blog transparency disclosure, GourmetStation is a DivaMarketing client

There seem to be two thoughts when it comes to business blogs. 
1) blogs as an up with the people forum
2) blogs as an accountable, marketing strategy

Recently, hugh, the artist of the blogosphere posted, "If you over-strategize, you soon stop treating your readers like human beings, and start treating them like "consumers", there to be manipulated like laboratory animals." hugh, baby I love you and your funky graphics, but the better my strategy, which includes understanding what makes customers tick, the more prepared I am to  deliver what they really want. Does anyone on Madison Avenue really believe with information available at warp speed, especially on blogs, that type of a 1950s business model (manipulating customers) will work in a wired (or wifi) world?

Sidebar: Be careful that 'over-strategizing' doesn't result in implementation lag. Many beautifully, crafted strategies never had a chance to make it out of the deck or book because of too much 'polishing' and the opportunity passed the company by.

Sure you can launch a blog today without any direction or goals. Will you succeed? Perhaps. More likely you will if you're a known brand or if a highly trafficked blogger promotes your new blog. But then again, what is success? You won't know unless you define it.

While still below the radar for many companies, the blog space is getting crowded. Give it another 6-12 months and most industries will have at least a handful of blogs. No more first to market. And the novelty of a blog won't send customers or prospects clicking to your virtual door. If you build it they will come won't work anymore. Sorry blog pundits. We're putting into practice some lessons learned from the dot com days: Realistic business models produce long-term results.

2 Quick Questions To Jump-start Your Blog Strategy
1. Why would your organization consider launching a blog?
Your answer will result in developing the overall goal.

2. High level - what will you write about? Who will write your blog?
Your answers will result in the focus of your blog.

15 Quick Tactics To Jump-start Your Blog Strategy
1. Define success
2. Focus on a niche market, personality of the blogger or topic
3. Provide relevant content
4. Write "web-style" in a "blog voice"
- chunky paragraphs, scannable, lists; conversational tone
5. Optimize for natural search results
6. Open RSS
7. Integrate your blog strategy into your master marketing plan
8. Promote your blog -
- pinging, commenting on blogs, trackbacks, media releases, url on marketing materials including business cards, links from home page of your website, link on website nav bar
9. Track relevant metrics
10. Link generously
11. Listen to your readers
12. Build time into your schedule to blog
13. Create a blog policy - internal and external
14. Create a comment policy
15. For larger organizations - identify an internal blog 'champion'

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» Blogs as Extension of Marketing Strategy from Estate Legacy Vaults Blog
Toby Bloomberg at Diva Marketing has some fine metrics on how blogs can increase sales and some good tips to jump-start your blog strategy. [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 11, 2005 10:52:34 AM

Comments

Toby,

Thanks for blogging this topic. As most corporate sites are content challenged or too "sales" oriented, Blogs provide a great way to enhance site content for search engines and act as a "soft" sell that can sometimes be more powerful than the traditional polyester suit online sales approach. Blogs allow for you to provide lots of relevant content, lots of relevant links, and most importantly position yourself as a category expert so why would anyone want to buy from someone else. Blogs do everything for online retail that the educated sales associate does in the "real" world. For anyone interested in exlporing some retail blogging concepts - bring it on! This is the future of online retailing. Great insights Toby and thanks for referencing me in your post. As always, I very much appreciate it. Yours truly, Dave Williams, Chief Strategist, 360i

Posted by: Dave Williams on Oct 10, 2005 10:21:07 PM

The strategy is everything, isn't it? Well, good design helps, as we can obviously see right here. But, I would add another question to your list: Are you ready to deal with the complete open and honest focus of a blog?

Our clients get all squirmy (just made that word up) about 'comments' and what happens if someone writes something -- not flattering!

We explain how that's all in a day's work and the best way to combat it is to meet it head-on, with a sensible explanation, NOT a defensive retort.

Posted by: Yvonne DiVita on Oct 12, 2005 2:04:04 PM

Yvonne - as always you're savvy and right on the $. Great points to keep in mind.

I ask clients to answer 2 question before even thinking of launching a blog.

1. Can your culture support a blog initiative? Including the time and resources.

2. Will a blog initiative support a marketing/communication strategy or help solve a business challenge.

If no to either ... it's not the right time to launch. But *always* the right time to start a "Whisper Strategy" - monitor the blogopshere, read blogs and participate by commenting.

Posted by: Toby on Oct 12, 2005 3:24:13 PM

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