The ROI of a corporate blog

Over the last few years there has been lots of talk about how to measure the ROI of a corporate blog, I have written about it a fews times. At the end of the day ROI of a blog is hard to measure, unless you sell advertising which most corporate blogs do not.

A week or so ago Charlene Li from Forrester Research posted about research they have been doing to measure the ROI of corporate blogging, they have produced a series of papers and Excel models for clients.  Personally I would love to see but my personal budget does not allow.
According to the report the ROI falls in four main areas:-

  1. Increased brand visibility
  2. Savings on customer insight
  3. Reduced impact of negative user generated content (UGC)
  4. Increases sales efficiency

I am going to take a leap here and look at how this relates to John Roese’s new blog (our CTO).

Increased brand visibility

I have been subscribed to a Technorati & Google New feeds on Nortel for a while now, most of the content has been spammers selling VOIP or the Nortel vs Beer joke. The number of positive mentions of Nortel in the blogosphere is going up dramatically, example 1 and example 2, I think this one ticked off.

Savings on customer insight

This one is coming along even after only a couple of weeks. The comments have produced some interesting insights from customers and even allowed one of the product managers to reply directly. Again this measure looks like it is coming along well, the insights do need to be integrated back into Nortel’s products.

Reduced impact of negative user generated content (UGC)

A bit early to see on this measure. However John did address some concerns raised in the comments of his first post in his second so we are starting. Nortel has also released an ad on YouTube so I know the marketing teams are aware of UGC.  (Based on feedback John is also trying to get his posts to be shorter but the depth of the content makes this very hard.)

Increases sales efficiency

Again a bit early, although based on the comments and posts about the blog, in the blogosphere, both current and potentially future customers are reading the blog or being referred to read it. Therefore when these customers are engaged in the sales process it should be more efficient. To really see the network effect of linking you would need to find out how many customers are also reading the posts on other blogs about John’s blog, basically Metcalfe’s Law (thanks John for the reference).

Not a bad start after a couple of weeks and a few posts.

7 thoughts on “The ROI of a corporate blog

  1. what you have learned from customers is very interesting, has this new insight, and the process changed Nortel’s approach to product development, will you reveal more at an earlier stage to gain more insight from customers. Or is it a case of gaining feedback on existing products?

  2. John, honestly I am not sure of the answers as I am not that close to what is going on with John’s blog, being on the other side of the world and not in either R&D or corporate marketing. My observations are almost from an outsiders view.

    What I can see from the first round of feedback there is feedback on existing products and on currently public product strategies. I think Nortel is sort of revealing more at an earlier stage, see the most recent posts on Hyper-connectivity, although John Roese has been talking up his 3 mega trends in the press the blog provides a method of feedback, through comments, which might not have been otherwise achieved.

  3. Hi Michael

    All these points about blog ROI are interesting, but to me it seems overly scientific for something that is essentially very simple. To me blogging = talking. I blog so that I can start more conversations with more people.
    In a business context if I am talking to people I am generally going to be:

    – selling them something
    – buying something from them
    – or getting them to introduce me to people I can sell to or buy from.

    So to me these complex reports on the ROI of blogging should really be titled “The ROI of talking to people”.

    I am not trivialising corporate blogging when I say that either. I think if you work in a company and need to talk to more people then blog on. At the end of the day isn’t the ROI about whether you as a business owner or employee are doing a better job? Is your blogging helping you to achieve your KPIs? If so then blog with all your might. If not then it’s probably not about blogging – it’s actually about your effectiveness in your job.

    Just a few thoughts…

    Cheers
    Brett

  4. Brett you are spot on, however big corporates like to know an ROI on everything they do. Also many organisations are hesitant about starting a blog due to the perceived risks, legal and otherwise. My guess/speculation is an ROI discussion helps get around these concerns.

    I really like your comment “The ROI of talking to people” and the breakdown of the 3 things you are doing when talking to people. It highlights the “markets are conversations” maxim. It also takes me back to a post (http://www.specht.com.au/michael/2006/02/01/corporate-communications/) I made a while back on a Watson and Wyatt study around internal communication where the bottom line was employees want to have a conversation with management.

    A final note, more a disclaimer, I have no idea what the process was internally around the setting up of the blog.

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