Direct Marketers Unlikely to Embrace Blogging

January 12th, 2005 by Bob Bly

When blogging evangelists speak to me, they all say, ?Blogging is a marketing revolution. Why don?t you get that, moron??

When direct marketers speak to me, they all ask, ?What are these blogging guys all hyped up about? No one?s making any serious money with blogs. What a waste of time!?

My opinion, after spending just 2 months in the blogosphere (and a quarter of a century in direct marketing), is that direct marketers are unlikely to embrace blogging any time soon ? for the simple reason that ROI has not been directly demonstrated or measured.

For instance, MB, the marketing director at a major publisher of business-to-business newsletters told me, ?We are paying no attention to blogging, because we see no way to monetize it.?

My challenge to the blogging crowd: How would you respond to MB? Do you have any direct marketers as clients who are making significant money from blogging? Who? How much? How?

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 12th, 2005 at 12:25 pm and is filed under Blogging. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

39 responses about “Direct Marketers Unlikely to Embrace Blogging”

  1. Joel Heffner said:

    When Tim Berners-Lee invented the Web it was supposed to be a place to share information. Because some (OK, most) have commercialized it doesn’t mean that it has to be strictly for selling. Perhaps, it will turn out that blogs will NEVER generate enough money for DM. That doesn’t mean that blogs are no good, in general. We might also look at blogs in different ways. Just as email newsletters are meant, in part, to keep potential customers aware that we exist, blogs may also serve the same function. In addition, some sales letters aren’t meant for folks to buy, they are just meant for people do something to follow up. Maybe blogs will serve a similar purpose. Finally, if you look at blogs that get a large number of visitors, you’ll see links to other products or services that the blogger provides or that he/she uses as links to advertised sites. The real issue for bloggers for now isn’t trying to make money…today…but, I think, is the concept of getting viewers to know about RSS. As the number of surfers who use RSS and have readers on their computers increases, then we will know how effective the blogs will be. Be patient, Bob. :)

    Joel

  2. Derek Scruggs said:

    I agree with you Bob. It’s not a great DM vehicle. It’s a good publishing vehicle, as I know quite a few people who make quite a bit of money off AdSense and other advertising. From a marketing perspective, IMO it’s best for branding and search engine mojo (the more you post, the more likely someone will find you through Google).

  3. Jim Logan said:

    I don’t see blogging as a replacement for DM. We use blogging as an effective form of web presence. Using “static” web technologies and presence, we could never hold an audience – once you read an ‘About Us’ or ‘Services’ page on a website, why would you ever go back? Blogs provide “stickiness.” We can hold an audience on our site using a blog…our posts are ongoing application notes and testimonials on the benefits we offer our customers. We still employ DM to open sales opportunities and generate revenue.

    In short, I don’t think blogging and DM is an ‘either or’ decision. Both DM and blogging have a value in generating revenue.

    Food for thought…

  4. Mike Smock said:

    The DM guys are missing an opportunity. We use our blog to sell manuals and subscriptions. More importantly the blog is a great qualifyer for potential clients for our campaigning services. Blogs are especially well suited for selling content like a newsletter. The trick is balancing what is free and what is paid.

  5. Eg said:

    “We are paying no attention to blogging, because we see no way to monetize it.”

    Does anything about that statement strike you as inherently flawed?

  6. Peter Nussey said:

    It may be true that, so far, blogging doesn’t general the sort of immediate and obvious ROI of more traditional DM methods such as direct mail, but to suggest that no one is making money out of blogging, whilst it may be true now (although I doubt it) is very short-sighted view and one that will soon need revising.

    Why is the corporate world beginning to embrace blogging. Certainly it’s a powerful internal and corporate comms tool but ultimately it’s because of the blogosphere’s potential to make (and lose) money.

    Providing valuable and worthwhile content and opinion is an excellent way to engage and convert prospects especially in the B2B publishing arena

    Perhaps your publisher friend can’t see the money in it because he is unsure when and how and he can start charging. He sees blogs as a threat because they are yet another provider of free content.

    As a B2B publisher and event organiser I have no doubt that blogs represent an excellent way to deliver a message of genuine value in an arena which has a high level of integrity. For the moment it offers publisher and reader an opportunity to bypass standard corporate waffle. In my marketplace this has enormous potential we can establish our “expert credentials” in a very open and honest way.

    For me the question is whether then the speed of response and the methods of reporting it mean it falls out of the DM definition. Plus there is a major minus, as you point out Bob, I don’t know my reader and I don’t have a database.

  7. Peter DeLegge said:

    Blogs are not an effective direct marketing vehicle. I doubt they will ever be. Blogs can be a part of word-of-mouth and publicity efforts. If DMers write-off blogs, that is fine with me. I saw the same type of attitude towards email marketing and web advertising several years ago. The instinct of some is when they cannot find an exact analogy for a new technology or vehicle, to attempt to discredit it. As a longtime marketer, I think that is foolish.

    Consumer packaged goods marketers have used blogs to tie the youth market closer to their brands. That’s probably where I have seen the most effecetive business use of blogs to date.

    Blogs are not direct mail, telemarketing, direct response tv, e-commerce or email marketing. Still, they have a rightful place as a marketing communications vehicle.

    Are bloggers and especially business blog consultants over-hyping blogs as part of marketing communications? Absolutely. The first group is merely excited about technology. The second group has a financial interest in getting business people to turn off their logic and open their pocket books. Those are the ones who have blown this vehicle far out of proportion that results in a wholesale discrediting of blogs by critics who have never experimented with the vehicle.

    Clearly, there are already more blogs in existence than there is interest to read blogs. The most interesting aspect of blogs is social, not commercial, blogs can be and currently are a part of marketing communications programs. While it is an error to overstate the role of blogs, as many blogging consultants currently do, it is also an error to ignore them as unimportant.

    Peter DeLegge
    Publisher
    Marketing Today
    http://www.MarketingToday.com

  8. Mark Nenadic' said:

    Hi Bob

    I Blog (as you know) and I also offer Blog skinning as a service (among other things) :) Blogs are massive and will become more so as more people want one! My blog whilst being IMMENSE fun for me, also has a serious DM side as it is a showcase for our skinning services and web design too. What was that 4 million customers and counting! All wanting to be and look COOL :) No DM potential you gotta be kidding me right?

    So alas but I would have to disagree with your buddy MB . I would say it all depends on what your position is as to what your DM potential is from blogging.

    Not to mention that my new add-on (extra 60 pages) to my old RSS course teaches site owners how to utilise a Blog to get Indexed and STAY indexed for keywords and search terms of choice :) Oh look Google loves fresh content and web sites that change, I add 4 new pages of content per day to my site because of my Blog archive set-up! This is possibly one of the most important reasons why one should have a business Blog.

    Mark..

    PS
    It’s not released yet by the way :)

    15dnBlog

  9. Lucia said:

    As a recruiter of 10 years, I’m relatively new to blogging, DM and most marketing in general. However, here is what we’ve found over the last 12 months or so:

    We drive traffic to the blog from DM efforts (postcard marketing). We get signups on the blog for the monthly ezine we publish. And then in the ezine we drive traffic back to links to request a free hardcopy – written report we mail to those who request it.

    As a novice to the field of marketing I think it all works well together. But I don’t think we’d be half as successful just doing one thing for example.

    Feedback or comments from you experts for me?

    best wishes, Lucia

  10. Paul Short said:

    DM and his company are marketing followers. Not an innovative bone in their body. Here’s why:

    1. According to this page http://www.technorati.com/about/ (last 2 paragraphs) about 50,000,000 people are reading blogs. Those people, like any other marketplace, buy things.

    2. Sites like Gawker Media’s http://www.gizmodo.com and the others in their network are very successful at marketing products through special announcements, keeping up with and reporting the latest trends and people who advertise on those sites reap the rewards.

    3. The kind of instant, personalized feedback blogs bring (like you’re getting here) is the same stuff large corporations pay millions for.

    4. Companies who embrace blogging right now are getting publicity. The timing is ripe “Right Now” for making a grand entrance into the blogosphere. Blog + Press Release + establishing a unique company voice = eyeballs.

    5. Companies starting in the blogosphere can position themselves as “Thought Leaders” on the web.

    If DM and his company are publishers of several B2B newsletters, I as a business owner would be reluctant to subscribe if they made such a statement to me. If a company cannot see the value in at least testing new marketing avenues, brand building tactics and publicity generating techniques…

    Paul Short
    GetBlogs.com

  11. Yvonne DiVita said:

    Ok, folks…here’s the scoop: blogs don’t make money, direct marketing doesn’t make money, ads don’t make money…people make money. Using all of these forms of communication. Blogs will, indeed, give DM a run for its money as time goes on. What’s the ROI? It’s in the ability to reach millions, faster, easier, and more successfully than DM. We are still working on the sales part of blogging…but, trust me, it will come. Take Blogcritics.org for example: this blog has the ability to push a new book to best seller status almost overnight. I know…I participated in a project that did just that. Blogs are also reponsible for the popularity and best selling status (500,000 copies sold) of the book, Hardball Times. How’s that for ROI? Hmmmm? You just gotta know the right bloggers, folks.

  12. ARH said:

    I unsubbed from your e-newsletter when I got tired of the sales pitches. But several months later, I subscribed to your blog through Bloglines because I still appreciate your wisdom. So if I’m not alone, the blog can be a way to stay connected when people reject the traditional media.

  13. Mark Nenadic said:

    Strange isnt it? Newsletter/Sales pitch! Just about every News letter I recieve from the top marketers is a call to action to buy something. Not newsletters at all really. Well not in the strictest sense of the word anyway. Just goes to show that the moneys in the list ehh

    Mark…

  14. Rick Bruner said:

    Deja Vu. You need a new schtick, Bob.

    On a different note, to your earlier point that you don’t see senior marketing executives blogging, I’d add to my earlier list the newer entrants of Bob Lutz, vice chairman of General Motors, and Randy Baseler, vice president of marketing at Boeing.

  15. Susan Getgood said:

    I agree with the poster above who pointed out that blogs, like other communications vehicles (like newspapers and direct mail) are just one of the many ways we reach out to our audiences to tell them about something — an idea, a product, a service, whatever. And in some fashion encourage/hope they’ll buy it.

    The main difference as I see it between blogs and pretty much all the other tools at our disposal, is that blogging (done right) lets us reach out and create/build those communities of interest that we marketeters have been talking about for so long. For those that are ready, you can have that open,transparent dialogue with your customers that helps you build better products, and cements their loyalty to you. And ultimately that is where the money is.

  16. Adam Scrimshire said:

    To me a blog is, for B2B publishers at least, a way to establish a trust relationship with site visitors. Email newsletters etc. do always carry a call to action, with less oportunity to make direct contact with your list these days,opportunities can’t be squandered.

    But I think the main thing about blogs is what they can teach us about web copy. People largely buy on the internet because they can educate themselves before, during and after the purchasing process – peace of mind. As copy writers we can learn a lot from the linking culture displayed in blogging.

    As for the commercial use of blogs I think that, as with email, if we are overt about our position, we don’t have to compromise trust between the reader and the blogger.

    Does that make sense? Is it relevant?

  17. Marc Gunn said:

    I don’t *entirely* agree. While technically speaking, no one is making a killing “directly” from blogging, I DO make money using my blogs to promote my various websites. Blogs (right now) are very popular with the search engines. This will change, but blogs add content to the web. And content equals more traffic, which equals more opportunities to sell your wares.

  18. Rakesh Ojha said:

    I’s like to say this that blogging will definitely prove good to people who are using it for Marketing.

    It slowly act as their PR of sort…

    Infact I’ve started seriously using blogs for my own Marketing purpose though I’ve just been in this field for few months..

    But don’t discout me on this…

  19. Mcgill said:

    I think via blogging we can share our thoughts with others and one can implement thsoe ideas in its buisness hence earning money.

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  38. Fiona Fell - websitePROFITS said:

    I see blogging as being rather similar to walking around an empty field with a megaphone.
    (Except over time some people come to visit and/or return to your paddock; to hear what you say)

    Your message has the ability to get out there, and may build you a network of people who listen, but it is still up to other methods to sell to those people.


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  39. ProCopywritingTactics said:

    Blogs are the ultimate relationship building tool. I’d rather do business with a company that I like and trust, wouldn’t you. That’s exactly what blogs do, build up trust with your prospects. Blogging also establishes you as an expert in your niche, and to me that’s priceless.

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