Calculating the ROI of blogs – it’s not about the math
One of the most frequently asked questions I get about blogs is how to justify them on a ROI basis. In many ways, blogs are like PR – you know there is a benefit but it can be tricky to quantify it. Unfortunately, all too many businesses won’t move forward until they “know the ROI of blogs”.
I tried to address this question recently in a speech at the New Communications Forum where I said my blog could be associated with $1 million of revenue at Forrester. I shouldn’t have said that – I shouldn’t have tried to attach a number to my blog’s ROI because in the end, it’s a highly subjective, qualitative measure that’s hard to measure. This is because a blog’s ROI is built around building a closer relationship with your blog’s readers, be it your most ardent customers or your employees. It’s that investment in the relationship that turns intangible, unquantifiable blogs into hard metrics.
In my case, I believe that I can associate my blog with increased business and marketing value to Forrester because I write about certain topics only on my blog. If I wasn’t blogging about these topics, then I wouldn’t have had the content, exposure, and influence to interest those companies in becoming Forrester clients.
But I also consider my blog integral to all of my activities as an analyst. I discuss blog posts frequently with clients and the press and use it to solicit feedback and conduct research. How do you quantify the value of a discussion point? How do you quantify the quality of research? And how do you quantify the influence and the goodwill accrued to the Forrester brand? Companies could spend endless cycles debating and calculating the correct way to calculate the value of a blog and end up losing sight of the core value of creating a dialog with their customers.
Quantifying that benefit doesn’t need to be a long, drawn out exercise but I do believe that clearly stating the goals of the blog in economic terms is a good starting point for a corporate blogging strategy. Use those goals then as the simple metrics to determine the success of your company’s blogging activities.
So for you fellow corporate bloggers out there, how do you justify your blogging activities, if at all? Or was it just taken on faith that blogging is a “good thing”? Add your comments below or send me an email with your thoughts.