Every marketer is looking for cost-effective ways to drive sales amid the current budget-constrained environment. Meanwhile, purchasing for many products has become a more drawn-out process due to the availability of shopping-related information and consumers who want to gather input from peers and experts. One way to reach your target audience when they're researching their purchases is to leverage the power of blogs. Recently, when I shopped for a mobile phone, the Verizon salesman recommended checking CrackBerry.com, which contains a collection of blogs, for more product information. Obviously this salesman felt this blog would add more credibility to his offering than anything he could say face to face.
Power of Blogs Research
Blogs influence roughly one in five readers at important purchase-decision stages, according to BuzzLogic and JupiterResearch's "Harnessing the Power of Blogs" report. Specifically, blogs help consumers discover products and services, refine choices, get support and answers, and decide on a specific product or service. From a direct marketing perspective, these findings make sense because blogs aggregate customers who have similar demographic, psychographic, and behavioral traits.
Blogs as a digital media format have become mainstream. "Harnessing the Power of Blogs" underscores this point. Many readers consume lots of information, checking multiple blogs in one session. User comments as well as blog entries aid purchase, while blog links help consumers navigate for additional information. Involved readers also consider blog ads to be relatively credible sources. According to the research, readers trust blog content more than social media sites for shopping. This makes sense, since shoppers look for detailed information to help them make a decision rather than engage with random posters who may have opinions about products.
Focused on the pre-buying process, this research neglected to check blogs' impact on post-purchase support. It's common for blogs to also help customers use products they own better while reducing returns and complaints. From a company perspective, these factors can be important cost considerations.
Five Marketing Reasons to Use Blogs
As a marketer, revisit using blogs to help enhance your marketing mix. They can help in several major ways, especially in a resource-constrained environment:
Three Blog-Related Considerations
When using blogs to enhance your marketing, assess the full impact of the blogs, because they aren't a one-shot promotion yielding immediate returns.
Five Blog Metrics to Track
As with any marketing strategy, using a blog to enhance the purchase process must be monitored to ensure you're achieving your goals. Remember, these metrics may take time to yield returns.
While no longer the latest, sexiest form of online communications, blogs can be highly effective and cost-efficient in driving sales. But they aren't a quick marketing fix. They're a form of online media that requires a long-term investment to help and engage your customers and create more interest in your product offering. By their nature, blogs also aid search optimization and reduce the burden of post-purchase support and customer service.
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Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, an interactive marketing consultancy. She has over 20 years' experience helping clients increase profitability by developing innovative marketing programs to acquire and retain customers based on solid analytics. Clients include New York Times Digital, AccuWeather.com, CheapTickets, and the UJA. Additionally, Riverside Marketing Strategies has worked with numerous other online content/media companies and e-tailers.
Prior to starting Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi held a number of senior-level marketing positions at The Economist, the Bookspan/Doubleday Direct division of Bertelsmann, and Citibank.
Heidi is also a popular speaker on current industry topics.
December 5, 2013
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