I talked with Sacramento Business Journal senior reporter Kathy Robertson this week about the return on investment from the Red On Marketing Blog. Her questions got me thinking about why I do it, and this post is the result.
To ground things in real world and tangible results, you’ll see a screenshot showing where our website traffic and leads came from this week.
I’ve written the Red On Marketing Blog since Fall 2007. Yes, one reason I started it was to market our company. Another is that we help our clients with staying at the top of certain search results in Google, and social media (which includes blogging) is part of how we do it. We need to walk the walk.
We track everything with lead management software. Social media has tangibly helped us. Leads are up 400% this quarter over the same period last year. We have new leads every day – many from our website. So social media might sound like a fad or B.S. to some CEOs. But it’s moved the needle for our company.
Referrers — week of June 15 2009
Of our current clients, most found us online. For example, one Sacramento CEO found us when he searched “Sacramento search engine optimization”; another when he searched in LinkedIn for “B2B marketing Sacramento”; and so on.
Blogging is part of Social Media
The Red On Marketing Blog is intertwined with other efforts. It doesn’t stand alone. I’m active on LinkedIn – mostly I try to answer questions – and on Twitter. Sometimes, helping in those forums means pointing to B2B marketing articles, and other B2B Communications resources.
One realization I’ve had is that a marketer’s mindset can backfire with a blog or other social media participation. When I started blogging, I thought about it in terms of
1) Make a calendar of article topics.
2) Chip away at the calendar.
But that can lead to really boring blog posts. And everyone hates boring.
You Said WHAT?
Before starting the blog I’d been reading other people’s blogs for a couple of years. People like Josh Bernoff and David Meerman Scott publish edgy stuff that gets people talking (and pisses off some readers – a cost of being interesting).
The threads of comments after they post are crazy – dozens and dozens of smart people write in to respond.
I really wanted to do that.
Stirring Things Up
Fortunately, I have strong opinions — especially when it comes to cases of marketers getting things terribly wrong.
When I gave stronger opinions, you (readers) did too. Example: “From the Shocking Marketing No Nos Department.” When I published that piece, our blog lit up with comments and backlinks. It was referenced in many more places online. The lesson to me was: Speak up! Call it like you see it!
So after that I co-wrote an ebook. It took 9 months and was like having a third baby. Kind colleagues promoted it with social media (thank you Dianna Huff, David Meerman Scott, Peter Kim, Peter Caputa, and other colleagues).
Behind the Scenes Battles
One behind-the-scenes struggle I have is over topics appropriate for the blog. On the one hand, there is value in publishing about basic marketing techniques and issues. In fact, my colleagues at B2B Communications keeps reminding me that some of you may want intro material . But I fear you’re bored with the same old stuff like ”segment your audience!” “get the word out!” It seems like recycled, regurgitated truisms. (Who’s right? Please comment.)
Girl’s Dream Comes True
One thing that surprised me was that our blog helped us become a MarketingSherpa Affiliate. (MarketingSherpa is like Consumer Reports for marketers – loads of objective data that helps you make good decisions.) I think we’re the only one in Sacramento, California and surrounding regions. It gives us a lot of credibility – most marketers really admire Sherpa – as well as access to their material and the ability to pass along discounts.
One of their big decision criteria was around the quality of guidance we provide through our blog. They looked and said we were doing a great job. So the blog helped us stand out among much bigger agencies. It’s also led to interviews, invitations to speak, and other exposure with organizations like Forrester Research and Hubspot. Each of those organizations reaches tens of thousands of subscribers with their updates. The blog is also one of our top sources of search engine traffic and exposure for our services.
Most importantly, it’s sparked interactions with hundreds of small business owners and business to business marketers.
Keeping it Real
Still, even if we didn’t get the business benefits I’ve listed, knowing what I know now, I would still write a blog. Blogging helps keep things real. It makes me stay abreast of new data and ideas, instead of throwing up my hands because there’s too much. It makes me a better thinker, a better listener, a better writer, and a better salesperson.
My hope is that, if you’re one of those business folks who has been blogging, but doesn’t know if it’s worth it, or you’ve held off because you don’t think anyone wants to read a blog written by you, maybe hearing about my experience will help you keep at it or get started.
Do you blog? Why or why not?