The Death of Blogging

August 13th, 2007 by Bob Bly

According to a Forrester Research Report, only 11% of IT decision-makers surveyed said blogging delivers substantial business value.

That means nearly 9 out of 10 of those surveyed find little or no value in blogging.

Does this new finding finally put to rest the myth, perpetuated mainly by evangelists and consultants on the blogosphere, that blogging is the most important marketing tool since sliced bread?

Or are blogging gurus still going to try to sell corporate and marcom management on the silly notion that every business needs a blog?

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This entry was posted on Monday, August 13th, 2007 at 1:52 pm and is filed under Blogging, General. 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.

38 responses about “The Death of Blogging”

  1. Matt Ambrose said:

    The statistic isn’t really that surprising when you consider that an IT decision maker probably wouldn’t see the marketing value of a blog due to the continuing lack of metrics and well known case studies of how they’ve increased sales. As one commented, “If you can’t put together a good business case that has some cost benefit justification, it’s difficult to get those types of efforts launched.”

    Until businesses start using blogs properly then they won’t see the benefit. Blogs are after all just content management systems and should be used for selling through education and gaining trust with content of value.

    I think the theory behind blogs as a marketing tool is sound. They just need more investment in good quality content if they’re going to succeed and become more widely used.

  2. Bob Bly said:

    Matt: When I hear you say good content — which to me means well thought out, well articulated ideas, tips, and strategies — I think of white papers, application briefs, and Web sites. These publications are deliberately and carefully researched, written, and edited. But it seems to me that many blogs are just off-the-cuff commentary with limited content value.

  3. LCFRED said:

    Not all blogs posts are off-the-cuff, many are well thought out. Unfortunately, the majority of blog readers see the nonsense blogs and unfairly group them in with valuable, content rich blogs. I’ve coached several clients that have a change of heart after after showing them meaningful, regularly updated blogs that bring in the desired results; increased visibility (verified in the community & with customers), leads, sales, etc.).

  4. Kevin Hillstrom said:

    In some ways, the folks who told corporations they had to blog are being torn down, are imploding, or are fed up with the concept of blogging (i.e. read Scoble, Rubel, Gaping Void).

    I’ve written my blog for sixteen months, mostly for my own pleasure, because I like to do it.

    As a one-man show, the blog has been helpful. Clients read my content before calling me for projects. I’ve built a loyal following, and have the search engines on my side now.

    All that being said, my business would be just fine without the blog. My first several projects happened because of my personal relationships, and now grows because I help others. Hopefully I am building a positive reputation.

    A blog is a tool, just like any other tool. How it gets used is what is important. I’ve found that the book I wrote has probably been more valuable than the blog, but both are tools that can help.

  5. Dianna Huff said:

    Bob,

    Two questions: Why do you continue to blog if you disagree with the blogging evangelists? And if you do agree with them (which is why you continue to blog), what business value do you get from it? How do measure your blog’s effectiveness?

    For the record, I do see the opportunies and benefits of a well-managed blog. However, they aren’t for all companies; in fact, I’ve advised a few clients in the past *not* to start one.

    Here is a post I did about my gym’s most recent marketing campaign — and they didn’t use a blog to sell it. http://marcom-writer-blog.com/?p=140

  6. Jim Logan said:

    I agree with Matt’s comments. My first thought is why would you survey IT decision makers on this topic.

    Not every business needs a blog, but many can benefit from one.

    Any guru who says every business should have a blog is self serving, as is any guru who says every business needs a white paper, application brief, etc. All of these things are merely tools of marketing and sales.

    There are blogging gurus who will continue to tell every business they need a blog, just as there are sales gurus who will continue to tell every business they need sales training, white paper gurus who will continue to tell every business they need white papers, and copywriters who will continue to tell every business they need more brochures and application briefs.

    People sell what they have to sell. And many who sell what they have are true believers in what they have to offer…whether or not the rest of us believe or agree with them.

  7. Moe Schwartz said:

    For business the key is to know your customer, make the content meet their requirements and interests in terms of the role they play as customers. I don’t see blogging as advertizing or a revenue generator being of any success(except for banners and advertizing revenue on the corporate blog site)for me it is another way to enhance communications, provide conversations and tips of current interest based on their buying patterns, provide a sounding board for them, and most important to let them know they are listened to. And sales is all about listenting and good communications and blogging just adds another venue to do accomplish this.

  8. Jennifer Mattern said:

    A survey like the one you’re mentioning really has very little weight. The fact of the matter is that most businesses still don’t even understand blogging well enough to use blogs effectively. When the majority of businesses actually learn how to use the tool, and give it an honest try, then go out and survey them (or their IT departments or whatever other random department… IT really isn’t the group to be asking on this one anyway). Until you get to that point, their opinions on whether blogging is “valuable” or not is really pretty worthless. The ones who can actually answer that question are the marketing people, PR people, and CEOs themselves (many of whom are still trying to get a handle on blogging in general at the moment).

  9. Ted Grigg said:

    I agree with other contributors that asking IT for marketing input on the effectiveness of blogs is like asking a lawyer if I should consider heart surgery. This is probably why you brought it up. It is so far out there that it comes across as rather funny to me.

    But getting serious for a moment about blogs …

    For some types of businesses, blogs extend the reach to their target markets in a credible way. For example, physicians, consultants, lawyers, financial advisors and other professionals can stay in touch with their clients on a continuing basis without sounding like a huckster.

    Blogging goes well beyond helping professionals build their businesses. But blogging as a marketing and CRM tool should be at the top of the priority list for professionals in my opinion.

    Of course, this all assumes the blog leader knows how to write and keep the audience engaged.

    One way to describe blogging is that it is PR on steroids due to targetability, content control and continuing presence in front of those individuals who support the professional’s business.

  10. Bob Bly said:

    Jim: My main problem with blogging evangelists and consultants is that they DO preach that everyone should have a blog. They are like a Jehovah’s Witnesses in my town who ring the door bell and try to get you to convert from your religion to theirs.

    As a direct marketer, I write copy for companies that believe in direct marketing and want direct marketing campaigns. I don’t knock on doors at non-DR companies and try to convince them to use direct mail — just as Methodists (my wife’s religion) don’t knock on doors and try to convince people to convert.

  11. Robert Rosenthal said:

    Bob: I’m interested in Dianna’s question. You’re obviously a busy guy. Are you comfortable telling your readers why you continue to blog?

    Disclosure: I interviewed Bob earlier this year on blogging and other topics.
    http://robertrosenthal.typepad.com/blog/2007/02/bob_bly_the_fre.html

  12. Mordechai (Morty) Schiller said:

    Bob,
    I’ve had my own scrapes with blog evangelists, some of whom have created a new orthodoxy… in the very medium that was supposed to create a new free exchange of ideas!
    Having said that, your blog–and others worth reading–do provide a useful place to shmooze. And some (yes, SOME) businesses could benefit from a casual “conversation” with clients, customers and colleagues.
    And, as I pointed out in a comment in an earlier discussion on this on your blog, targeted commenting on popular blogs is a useful PR tool.
    Morty

  13. Bob Bly said:

    Robert, Dianna: reasons I continue to blog: (1) It gives me an outlet for communicating what’s on my mind at the moment, (2) I can get instant reader feedback to ideas I may use in books, products, columns, articles, e-zines, and ad copy, (3) it adds content that increases search engine rankings and site traffic. I don’t really think my blog either positions me as a “thought leader” in any way, nor is it a vital or even important marketing tool for me.

  14. Ted Demopoulos, The Blogging for Business Guy said:

    I always tell people they need a Web site that doesn’t suck, before they consider blogging.
    Many Web sites are simply atrocious and should be worked on first!

    Yes, a few orgs/people can get by with just a blog and no Web site, but they are few and far between (and yes, I know a blog IS a Web site, but that’s an unimportant detail in this discussion!).

  15. Charles Cuninghame said:

    I agree with Ted. From my experience most companies haven’t mastered the basics of a profitable website. They should make this a priority before dabbling in the latest Web 2.0 trend.

    Blogging is publishing and few companies have the experience and resources to do it well.

  16. Dianna Huff said:

    Bob — For many people, especially consultants, a blog is a viable and important marketing tool. Not everyone has been able to build “thought leadership” with 60+ books spanning two plus decades.

    Ted and Charles — I agree 100% with both of you.

  17. Steve O'Keefe said:

    As long as Google keeps rewarding bloggers with top search engine position for vomiting some tidbit each morning, blogging will not fade.

  18. Michael said:

    I’m not convinced that blogs are a useful marketing tool.

    As a previous poster mentioned, some businesses types use their blogs to stay in touch with their clients. That’s fine. But how many clients of such professionals actually take the time to regularly read those blogs?

    My mortgage lender has a blog. Do I read it? No. I get his e-newsletter, though. Do I read that? Yes. It comes to me; I don’t have to go hunting for it or respond to a silly RSS feed alert telling me that it has been updated. And there are links to other products and services he offers within the newsletter.

    In an e-newsletter, you can track sales of your various products, which you cannot do through a standard blog. Heck, the only way to learn if anyone reads your blog is if the reader leaves a comment. I read this blog regularly. I don’t always leave a comment. How can my readership be tracked? How can my purchase of products be tracked through this blog unless I say something.

    As I said, I’m not convinced of the usefulness of blogging as a marketing tool.

  19. Bob Bly said:

    Steve: You hit it right on the nail: as for as SEO is concerned, blogging works whether your content is gold or crap. Dianna: I am not saying blogging can’t help you build thought leadership. Yours does. David Meerman Scott’s does. Stelzner’s does. Mine just doesn’t, as far as I can see. Maybe I am a crappy blogger….

  20. Michael Stelzner said:

    Hey Bob;

    You and I blog for a reason.

    I don’t see myself quiting any time soon.

    Mike

  21. Dianna Huff said:

    Michael (sans “s”) — It’s very easy to measure blog effectiveness.

    1. Feedburner feed — tells you how many subscribers you have.

    2. Feedblitz — tells you how many people get posts via email instead of RSS.

    3. Mike S and I both have newsletter subscription forms on our blogs — I know *exactly* how many people subscribe to my newsletter, many of whom find my blog or my comments on other blogs.

    4. Comments — tells you which posts are successful.

    5. Projects / referrals — I do get projects and referrals from my blog. How do I know? I ask.

    Bob — You are far from a crappy blogger and I would say your blog shows your thought leadership quite well. I don’t agree with everything you post but I enjoy your blog.

    Dianna

  22. Michael said:

    That’s just it, though; you have to ask. And, I don’t have to subscribe to read a blog. You couldn’t tell if I was reading your blog unless I left a comment–even if I was subscribed. You wouldn’t be able to track a sale of whatever product or service you’re selling unless I told you I found it through a blog or you asked me directly. Until there’s a connect between sales and blog reading that can be tracked effectively, I remain unconvinced as to the usefulness of blogging as a marketing tool.

  23. Erin Blaskie said:

    Great comments on this post everyone!

    I have to say that blogging changed the course of my business. I went from having a mediochre traffic ranking to gaining five times the amount of traffic and I watched my Alexa ranking go through the roof.

    Since I’ve started blogging, I’ve gained media exposure, I’ve been asked to speak on teleseminars, I’ve sold more products, gained new clients, etc. For me, blogging has worked more effectively than anything out there.

    The beauty is that it’s cheap! WordPress is the platform I use and it’s free, easy to use and the search engines love them.

    I won’t be quitting anytime soon!

    Sincerely,

    Erin Blaskie
    Business Services, ETC
    http://www.bsetc.ca

  24. Bob Bly said:

    Erin: How do you track product sales to blogging? I am not questioning that you do; I am asking HOW. When I send an e-mail marketing message to my e-zine subscribers, I can tell you EXACTLY how many clicks, orders, and sales each e-mail generates to the penny. How does one do this with blogs?

  25. Robert Rosenthal said:

    Bob: Bloggers are able to see the email addresses of people who subscribe through Feedblitz. You definitely know the nsmes of commenters who aren’t anonymous (bloggers also know the names of guest authors, but that’s not applicable in this case).

    If you pass both sides of your “blog” list against your other database, you end up with an understated list of people who started a relationship with you because of your blog. Going forward, it’s fair to link the business you do with them back to your blog.

    You may also find it interesting to see how many “assists” you get from your blog (business from people who were in your other database but bought something from you for the first time after they appeared on your “blog” list).

    This certainly won’t give you the complete answer, but it may be way better than nothing.

    P.S. Other tools have popped up to help marketers tie business back to blogs, and you may see comments from some of those providers.

  26. Bob Bly said:

    RR: Seems difficult and inadequate as a measurement. With e-mail marketing and 1shoppingcart.com, I get detailed sales reports — telling me TO THE PENNY the sales generated by Tuesday’s e-mail blast to my 55,000 e-zine subscribers. I am not interested in “assists.” I want to know: does my copy make the cash register ring?

  27. Robert Rosenthal said:

    Bob: I think I’ve heard that cliche about making the cash register ring … around 3,000 times. Here’s another one for ya: You’re preaching to the choir. If everyone in B-to-B had your attitude about counting results TO THE PENNY, few marketers would measure bottom line results.

    In B-to-B, some situations and media are just harder to measure than others. Very often it’s not a question of the price of perfect results information. Perfect information simply isn’t obtainable. That’s the reality of B-to-B.

    I’ve been involved in B-to-B situations where we exponentially improved the bottom line by tracking 2/3 of sales back to their original sources. B-to-B marketers don’t always need to track results TO THE PENNY to make good decisions on media and other elements. In fact, many have wasted a fortune by throwing up their hands because they couldn’t easily get their hands on complete results information.

  28. Bob Bly said:

    It’s not a cliche: the closer you can come to it, the more you know which part of your marketing works and what doesn’t, even if it’s B2B, which I have been active in since 1979. Even back then our tracking was, as you say, less than perfect, but at least we made the effort to care about and measure results — something too many B2B and branding types don’t do.

  29. Do You Read These “Copywriting” Blogs? | The Copywriter’s Grab Bag said:

    [...] Not only does he use his blog for SEO purposes… but he also uses it to get instant reader feedback to ideas he can use for his books and other products. [...]

  30. Jill said:

    I believe blogging is still a great business tool. I still promote using one because at the heart of blogging is a free formatable website. It’s easy for small businesses to latch onto a blog as their way onto the Web.

    Even if a company has a regular website, having a blog allows for news to get out without having to go through the on-call web designer.

    Blogging will only get easier with them. Blogger.com and WordPress already offer streamlined blogs with easy to add features that allow you to almost craft a website – and it’s all free.

    I can easily build my own website, in fact I build them for others. But to save time, I just use my blog as my homebase. It helps me show prospecting clients that you don’t need to pay to have your business on the web.

    As long as it’s free, it will always be popular.

  31. sweet and cool said:

    this is sooo sweet and cooli love it ..!!

  32. Briana said:

    WOW! Again what a great convo.. This blog is exactly why blogging works.. Isn’t this like free marketing research? I mean really you have people from a lot of different places responding to a topic they are passionate about. Bob, is a company paying you to start this topic so they can conduct a research on if blogging really works? Bc that is what it is starting to look like ;)
    Three things to remember: 1. Blogging increases traffic to your website; when done properly. 2. Blogging increases your search engine rankings; when done properly. 3. Blogging engages consumers just like this one (and yes people do read blogs in fact just did some research the other day over 340,000,000 people globally read blogs on a regular basis). Not to mention this blog right here is proof people read blogs. Business blogging isn’t suppose to be used in the same format as journal blogging or you are right it wouldn’t be useful… a website is meant to sell a blog is meant to engage and educate.

  33. Jim Smith said:

    I think that people will continue to blog for years, and it will be a growth field as corporations figure out how to exercise blogging to their advantage.

    Blogging will be supplanted by voice and video blogging. Blog-pod-casting will become more popular, and other ridiculous labels will come out in addition to blog and podcasting.

  34. Alan -- $100K Small Business Coach said:

    I agree with the first comment, that an IT techie doesn’t recognize the value of any marketing, and may not even realize the value of getting search engine positions, or even how to do it.

    As a marketing coach, I come along behind a lot of IT gurus who claim to be experts in “internet marketing” and in “search engine optimization”. A few may know the technical aspects of SEO and how to get traffic, but usually what I find is that they don’t know the whole end to end picture of acquiring clients from the internet.

    An example, one of my clients was an offshore manufacturer. He had hired an SEO expert to help him. He ended up getting so many calls for some offshoot engineering service that they don’t even sell that his sales team was swamped with the calls. The “internet marketer” didn’t understand the marketing side of that business or the ideal target market.

    But blogging,if done right, can be a great way to get direct traffic, and search engine positions that’ll also bring traffic.

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  36. Sagrera said:

    WOW! Now that is what you call a well written article, it has everything in it that as a reader you want to know. Keep up the good work and continue to post great articles like this one.

  37. Kent said:

    Again Bob, your article written in 2007, my 80% of sales come from blogging. :)

  38. Mike Burns said:

    I do not know whether it’s just me or if everybody
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    content are running off the screen. Can someone else please provide feedback and let me know if
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