How do you calculate the ROI of corporate blogging?

We’ve all heard that blogging is good for business. Indeed, in this blog I’ve even said you must blog to stay in business. But what’s your return on investment for blogging? An attempt to work this out is being made at Forrester Research, however let’s consider what you are doing with corporate blogs.

The costs of hosting, domain names and so on amount to pennies per day – the costs are negligible and un-noticeable for many large corporates. The real cost is the time taken by employees to research and write their blogs. So what do you get in return for their time? You get readers, greater trust, increased loyalty to your brand, change in attitudes and perception about your company and general PR/image.

You might also get some direct sales from the web you otherwise wouldn’t pick up. Quantifying that isn’t easy; people have tried for years, without success to quantify the value of public relations. There is only one way, really. That is to research the level of brand image, loyalty etc prior to the blog and then do the same research after the blog and see the difference. But that is expensive research.

My advice; don’t bother testing for the ROI of blogging. The costs are minimal. The return is substantial. What amazes me is that corporates will spend millions on TV campaigns without any real evidence of a return on their investment. They will even increase their TV budget by a few hundred thousand here or there to enhance their TV image. After all, that’s only a small percentage increase on their TV budget.

But when it comes to small expenditure everyone on the board wants to know the ROI. Get real guys. You need measures of ROI on your big ticket spends and you don’t have them. So why bother with the small expenditure? Do you want to know why? Ego.

If you’re on the board of a company that has high profile TV advertising you feel good. In social situations people will see you as important. Tell them you’re from that company with the blog….well, it hardly has the same impact – at the moment. But TV advertising is on its deathbed. Before long the situation will be reversed and boards will demand blogs, as they will massage their egos in social situations, rather than TV adverts. And then the whole discussion of ROI will disappear; it won’t matter to them anymore because their ego will be boosted. And when that happens, costs don’t matter any more.

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