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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Blogs

The Next Hot Customer Strategy

I take that headline straight from the latest issue of the excellent 1to1 magazine that I seem to have been reading since the earliest issues because I'm such a fan of Don Peppers and Martha Rogers.

So pleased to read John Gaffney's guiding article on how the 'high-tech touch point' of blogs is shaping up as 'a promising source of customer insight.'

I'll try not to quote too much from the article - just enough to intrigue you - but if I tempt you too much, you'll go to the current issue, see that you have to register, and lose interest. Tough call. Decisions decisions.

But first off, well *done* Steve Hall spelling it "blogsphere" and losing that silly 'o'. A much better word.

The article:

Although corporate blogs have been praised for their ability to get the word out ... they have not to this point been noted for effectiveness as a customer strategy ... but the practice is starting to evolve into a tactic through which companies can identify their most engaged customers.

Let's face it, customers who respond to a riff on small block engines by GM Powertrain vice president Tom Stephens are engaged with the product.

[Dept of Own Horn Tooting: On this topic, like Kilroy, Busker was here.]

"Some of these corporate blogs are the niche of all niches," says Steve Hall, publisher of the newsletter AdRants, who has been tracking the evolution of blogging for four years.

"It's amazing. There's a place for everyone in the blogsphere." [my emphases - Busker]

Hall believes ... blogs are a key tactic for companies that can no longer efficiently reach devotees with advertising in a cluttered information landscape.

"It used to be easy to run ads in a car buff magazine and be confident you're getting to the enthusiast ... It's not easy anymore. Blogs may be the new ticket to the enthusiast market."

Right now, corporate blogs are not attracting the kind of traffic that can be measured to justify any kind of ROI. They are, however, throwing off insightful comments that can lead to product or marketing innovation. For example, Mozilla's blog is filled with suggestions on how to stop spyware, apply virus patches, and spread the word about the browser. One of the first blogs to get much consumer or press attention belongs to Stonyfield Yogurt.

"It actually started with the Howard Dean presidential campaign," says Cathleen Toomey, Stonyfield's communications vice president (and blog manager). "[Stonyfield President] Gary Hirshberg was so impressed by the blog he saw on the Dean campaign site that he came in one day and said, 'We gotta have a blog. In fact, we need five.'"

Toomey has not yet calculated a way to measure the ROI success of the blogs ... Hall believes that finding a way to measure the impact of blogs is the next step in their evolution as a customer-centric tool."
Et voilà - I don't think I gutted Gaffney's piece but hope I conveyed some of the canny flavor of these folks' take on the rich potential of blogs in the CS/CRM field.

What about all that biz speke, eh? Cor!

  • Engaged customer
  • Devotees (Reminds me of London Transport who've now taken to referring to "customers". Oy! What was wrong with good old "passengers"?)
  • Cluttered information landscape
  • Enthusiast market
  • Insightful comments
  • The blog as 'customer-centric tool' ...
  • All good stuff.

    I love stats so I can't resist quoting 2 surveys by Pew Internet & American Life on social effects:

  • More than 8 million adults in the US have created blogs
  • 32 million Americans are blog *readers* - "a 58% jump in 2004" (which I'm unsure whether it means a jump *from* or if those *are* 2004 figures and represent a 58% jump. [See how vital it is to avoid ambiguity when dealing with the laity?)

    Great publication for anyone with customers to make and keep happy for the long-haul.


  • Comments:
    It is unbelievable how much I am learning from blogging these days. I may not agree with all I read but it is a fascinating process. Please feel free to visit my blog too at
    , RushPRnews Daily Gazette, Open-Call for Writers.
    My site is** RushPRnews press release services, distribution and free web posting** . Cordially, Anne Laszlo-Howard
     
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