Are Blogs Worth the ROI for Small Business?

Are Blogs Worth the ROI for Small Business?

Blogs are the essence of the Web 2.0 movement- collaborative, interactive media instead of static or didactic text. While there is no doubt that businesses can form a following that may ultimately lead to strong branding and greatly increased sales, professional blogging web development can be pricey for small businesses on tight budgets. And creating all of that content takes time. With the advent of microblogging, ever more present advertising, and social networking sites are small business blogs still worth the effort?

Well, Charlotte Web Development sells website design and blogs so you can guess my answer. For some real-world, honest outside thoughts, I asked business owners and professionals the world over. Just so you know, this question and answer period was the first time I had ever met any of them.

First Things First

So, what can a business expect by using a blog to promote themselves? Why should a business blog?

John Feeney, Owner of EZ Duplication notes that “The least that can happen is create traffic toward your site. Without getting too involved in the ‘programing” or any coding tricks, blogs provide a simple format to “get the message out”. Short commentaries on current stories whether business related or not exposes the personality of a company. Is it worth 4 hours a day – NO. 2 or 3 simple short posts during week with plenty of links.”

Geri Rockstien, the owner Write For the Net states that “Blogging, when done properly can be worthwhile. It can add an interactive element to an otherwise static website, support your sales/marketing efforts, and enhance your SEO campaign.

Purabi Jhaveri, Head International/Offshore Business at Communicate 2agrees: “Blogs are an easy way out to get rankings on search engines and to generate traffic because it’s an amazing search engine optimization tool, as articles are automatically well optimized around keywords.”

So, What Should the Content Strategy Be?

Laura Wheeler, Owner of Firelight Business Enterprises mentioned that “Blogs still appeal to many target markets, but the business also has to be able to produce compelling information.”

OK, you need compelling content for a business blog to work. How do you go about that?

So, What do You Write About?

Not all blogs are the path to internet fame and business fortunes. Even Weinberg of Touch Mobility reminds us that business owners need to “Focus on what product or service you as a company should provide, and would a blog help you in marketing, support/services to customers. (If it gives) you a better forum to reach your customers through – then use it :-)”

Steven Cherry a Web Developer at The Detroit News injects some practical, real world experiences with his comment: I’ve seen blogs work for some businesses, where information about their product acquisitions is relayed via weblog. Ex. (Sweet Maria’s)

Show Me the Numbers

Blogs are not all sunshine and roses to everyone. Meredith Gould, Author and Publishing coach has her doubts.

First, I don’t think this is quantifiable without a precise definition of results, success, effort, etc. And I have yet to see anyone come up with precise definitions for these properties.

But even if all these properties could be defined well enough to measure, blogging takes so much commitment and energy in addition to content and competency, that I question whether this is the best use of time and resources for a small biz owner.

Cyrus Afzali, President of Astoria Communications also questions blogging ROI:

would question as to whether blogs have ever really had a quantifiable ROI in the first place. I’m not saying they aren’t a valuable vehicle, particularly if you’re in a consumer-oriented business, but I think we’ve been a little too “ga ga” over social media, given that there’s no really hard stats on its impact to the bottom line.

How to measure Blogging ROI

Scott Fragos, a managing partner of WebFadds.com uses the following strategy to make sure his blogging is paying off.

Yes (Blogs are worth the ROI), if the business bloggers are focused on conversions, and then the site is continually optimized for conversions. This does not mean straight sales copy masquerading as posts. The trick is to still engage and connect with readers to build community so they “buy from their friends.” And you can test and prove this with trackable Goals set up via Google Analytics. Then you can improve your “conversions” (a conversion happens when a visitor “converts” to a lead, or a customer) using the Google Website Optimizer — it’s a free tool like Google Analytics. This strategy and tactics will focus your Blogging team on conversions goals, and so prove the worth of the effort with solid ROI numbers.

Mark Harbeke of Winning Workplaces sees real workplace results.

They are inexpensive compared to more traditional forms of outreach such as radio, TV and even most forms of Internet-based advertising. Consider: Many small businesses (mine included) spend money on Google Adwords or the like, to reach 1/10 of search engine users that read or click on ads to the side of the main search results. Yet, if you blog and do good SEO to get your blog results in the main results, you will reach the remaining 9/10 of your target audience, based on the keywords they enter.

Our blogs are already the #8 traffic referral source to our main website out of over 120 sources. That to me is fantastic ROI for very minimal investment.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

samflutch October 7, 2008 at 2:08 am

You’re right, your blog really is all you. Many large companies stand on the brink of blogging, yet they are unwilling to take the plunge. Others, having dove in early, now face the challenge of managing existing blogs without the ability to show that they effectively support business goals.
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Samflutch

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admin October 7, 2008 at 5:41 pm

Thanks, Sam. The old adage ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’ is very appropriate to website ROI. Thanks for commenting.

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goolloog November 9, 2008 at 8:41 am

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CWD February 4, 2009 at 9:04 pm

Glad you enjoyed it.

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