Back in August, my 6-year-old daughter, Caitlin, was on the fence about playing soccer. My wife and I were hoping she would play. Not because we think she has to be involved in organized activities every day of the week, but because we had just moved to a new town and wanted Caitlin to make new friends.
Aside from having fun playing soccer, we explained that there would be girls in her class who play, too. Soccer would give her a chance to meet some kids before the first day of school. She wasn’t sure if she would love playing soccer or meet kids from school, but she knew she wouldn’t do either if she stayed home.
So she decided to play. By the time she went to her first practice, she was actually excited. It was obvious that she would have been disappointed if she didn’t play.
It was tough at first, practicing three days a week in 90-degree heat and not knowing anyone. But she had fun. And she met some kids who she later recognized on her first day of school, which probably would have been a lot tougher if she didn’t see any familiar faces.
By the way, Caitlin is number 2 in the yellow jersey in the picture above. The one in midair. I feel sorry for the girl trying to get the ball past her.
The Unhealthy ROI Obsession
It would be nice if we knew in advance that we would somehow benefit from every decision we make in life, and everything always came up roses. When it comes to marketing, everyone expects a payoff from their investment. But ROI can be difficult to measure, and even more difficult to predict.
If guaranteed, quantifiable ROI was a prerequisite for every marketing decision, we’d all be rich. We would know exactly what marketing tactics to use, the best approach to take, and how much money we’d make from each campaign.
That’s just not reality. Unfortunately, the obsession with ROI often causes solid, sensible ideas and innovation to suffer. Gut instinct and even the slightest risk-taking go out the window.
I worked in radio for a long time and have always believed that radio advertising doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves for the value it delivers to clients. After all, how do you really measure ROI?
Campaign-specific phone numbers and websites in the call-to-action? Please. People don’t remember or call phone numbers from radio commercials, and they’re more likely to use Google than a customized URL.
Radio is extremely difficult to measure. It’s not for everyone, it’s not cheap, and you have to be on the right stations with the right message, but it works. It just does.
The harsh reality is that you will not be able to precisely measure every part of your marketing. Even the parts that work. That doesn’t mean you should abandon those parts.
Business Blogging ROI Is Not Easy to Measure
There’s tons of data that says companies that blog frequently and consistently produce more leads than those that don’t. But there is no magic formula for calculating ROI from a business blog. It ain’t easy.
I’m saying this as a guy who relies on writing blogs for other people to pay the bills. Last month, more than 60% of my income came from blog writing.
Sure, you can measure views, clicks, traffic and new subscribers. You can measure social shares, likes, comments and new followers, and the online behavior that ensues. Each of these things has value. But even if you assign a dollar value to every view, click, visit, etc., how do you arrive at those numbers?
We all know that consistent blogging is great for SEO, but how great? How much of your search ranking improvement can be directly attributed to your blog?
Ultimately, the only metric that really matters is the conversion of leads into paying clients. That often takes months or years.
If you invest in a customer relationship management (CRM) system, configure it correctly, and crunch the data over long periods of time, you can begin to quantify ROI.
In the case of business blogging, especially for smaller companies, the better approach is to understand the benefits of business blogging – building trust and credibility, establishing your expertise, educating your clients, overcoming obstacles to the sale, maintaining top-of-mind awareness, and improving your search ranking – and think about what will happen if you don’t blog.
What Is the Return on Not Investing in Blogging?
Think about all those benefits of business blogging I just mentioned. Assuming you don’t already have all the business you could possibly handle, how will you achieve those benefits if you don’t blog?
For example, if you’re struggling to rank highly on Google, what’s your plan for changing that? Will you pay to get to the top of page one?
Depending on the competitiveness of your targeted keywords, that could get very expensive very quickly. And Google rewards websites that consistently publish valuable, relevant, high-quality content. They don’t reward sites that just sit there.
A blog can educate prospects and overcome obstacles before they ever contact you. Without a blog, you and/or your sales team will probably have to shoulder that burden as part of a much longer sales process. You can share links to articles that your audience might find helpful, but wouldn’t you rather be that source of information?
I always share my own personal experiences with blogging. Not to brag, but to point out that I wouldn’t have a business if I didn’t blog.
I landed my two biggest clients when people connected with me after reading blog posts I shared on LinkedIn. When I wrote a white paper for one of those clients, I interviewed a person who, more than a year later, referred me to another company that became my third biggest client.
That means my three biggest clients can be traced directly to my blog.
I have two other clients who were subscribers to my blog for more than a year before hiring me. I’ve also been hired by people who weren’t looking for a content writer but hired me after stumbling across one of my blog posts when they were researching something else.
I can’t guarantee you’ll see the same results from business blogging. But I can guarantee you won’t see the same results, or anything close, if you don’t blog.
That’s the return on not investing.
Blogging Builds Relationships
Before Caitlin’s game earlier this week, a couple of kids from her class who were on the other team ran up to her and hugged her. They talked after the game about school and going to the Trunk-or-Treat in a couple weeks.
Just like soccer practice kicked off relationships that have blossomed with time, your blog can help you establish and maintain business relationships. In fact, if you deliver value on a regular basis, your audience will feel a connection with your company before they even contact you.
That’s really what all those business blogging benefits are intended to do – build relationships. Without a business blog, you miss the opportunity to make connections without ever leaving your office.
Obviously, I didn’t coin the phrase “return on not investing.” I just happen to believe you can’t predict or measure ROI for everything. And you don’t need hard data to illustrate how you’ll miss out if you don’t blog consistently.