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Blog Marketing

Blog Marketing

It won’t be long before every self-respecting marketing department adds at least one blog to the company’s overall marketing program.

It’s about leveraging touch points to create actual dialogue.

 

I’m smart enough to know that I don’t have all the answers, but your customers probably do. Your customers will tell you how you can improve your business, but only if you ask.

Once upon a time, there was a client who after seeing decreasing lead conversion rates in their business, began to think it was time to open up to there customers and ask them what they liked and disliked about their service.

After posting an open thread for feedback on my client’s blog, we packaged it into an email with the option of responding either through the blog or by simply hitting reply to the email. To our pleasant surprise, the responses started pouring in immediately. The responses ranged from people who thought my client’s service was the greatest they had ever received to people who flat out thought they did a lousy job.

The customers took the time to give us plenty of details to support their views along with great suggestions. Even the people who disliked our service thanked us profusely for giving them the forum to provide feedback.

It’s a strategy, not a one-shot wonder

If you’re going to make the commitment to leverage your blog as a communication tool, don’t simply reach out once and not follow up again. Share the impact of the feedback with your customers as well as any internal process changes that resulted. Having this type of dialogue with your customers and prospects is a continual process. Sure, it does take quite a bit of time to do it right, but the payoff is well worth it

You’ll be surprised when you discover the hidden gold

A funny thing happens when you reach out to your customers… you find out that they want to do more business with you. Many of the responses my client received from customers ended with a request for us to call them so that they could do more business with us. When they realized the lost-opportunity cost from not doing this communication earlier, they were disgusted with themselves. The ROI from this communication dwarfed any previous customer email they had ever done

Key Points: consideration these key points when developing your Blog presence

Whose job is it to respond?
If you’re leveraging your blog to communicate with your customers, then the responsibility sits with the department that normally handles customer communication.



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Transparency is key
Jeff Jarvis says this about transparency in his blog: When you are not transparent, people will assume their definition of the worst.

Part of the nature of blogs is that readers are able to get a sense of the slant the author takes, and adjust accordingly. Anything that comes off where the authorship isn’t apparent, people will assume the worst

The public is smarter than that, and it damages the company’s credibility down the road.

Let the customers in Transparency isn’t just about doing the right thing. For Microsoft, transparency can also mean letting customers see behind the curtain. I have found, even Steve Balmer is posting to Microsoft’s Channel 9.

If you’ve got the number two guy in the company paying attention to the blog, then you’ve got some great insight into what’s going on at that company,.

Len Pryor, Microsoft’s director of platform evangelism, says that the basic premise of Microsoft’s Channel 9 is to shed light on what Microsoft is doing with its products. Pryor uses the analogy of an airplane that is going through turbulent airspace.

When the pilot gets on the p.a. and explains what’s going on, I immediately feel much more comfortable, Pryor says, because I have information. When I don’t have that information, then fear takes over.

Engage blog readership to obtain feedback

If done well, blogs are a great vehicle for companies to speak with customers and to obtain feedback from them. This is particularly true if your blog focuses on a technology product, or a complex or controversial issue such as consumer privacy.

Even Maytag’s Skybox team uses its blog as a way to gain feedback from customers.

The bottom line
It seems like every week a few more marketing blogs are launched. And there probably are (or will soon be) marketing blogs that don’t fit any of the categories I’ve offered. Of this I’m sure: all marketing blogs should be transparent. They should be concise. And they should absolutely engage the reader.

Marketing is a conversation, says Microsoft’s Pryor. If you’re not part of the conversation, you’re missing out.