Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Forrester Blog ROI

Early last year Charlene Li of Forrester fame wrote a report on blogging ROI. I saw this pop up in a recent presentation and wondered if you couldn't improve on some of these metrics.

Here is the list (you can click on the image to enlarge it):

Not a bad framework for understanding how to value a corporate blogging effort. But I would change the following:

1. Blog Traffic - unique visitors to a blog is a pretty useless measure from both an effectiveness standpoint and as a stand-in for advertising cost. This is because blogs tend to have a very high bounce-rate - the number of people who come to the blog and immediately leave because it wasn't what they were looking for. This is just an artifact of 'search', not a blight on the blog itself. Advertising, in contrast, tends to get served up in places where it at least has some relevance to the page/site/task at hand. Not really an apples-to-apples comparison.

I would suggest equating non-bounced blog traffic with the value of click-through advertising traffic (not impressions). So how much you would have paid to get the equivalent number of people to click on your ad in said content channel?

2. Press Mentions - Having your blog talked about by the press is an obvious direct substitute for PR cost. If the talk is positive, all the better. Ironically, I think equating this to advertising cost in the publication probably undervalues it. People are far more likely to remember a mention in an article than an ad. Although I would value this on a case-by-case basis. Not all publicity is good publicity. Believe me, it's not.

3. Technorati and comments - Not every blog has a Technorati ranking so this may or may not be a useful measure depending on the industry you are in. Comments as equivalent to a 'buzz agent'? I've never hired a 'buzz agent' but I would imagine they might be a bit put-out by comparing their efforts to blog comment numbers. Buzz agents can move a lot of interested traffic to your site and that traffic might turn into comments, but it's probably qualitatively different from just general comment leavers - who are more likely to confine their WoM to your blog and your blog only.

Track-backs and Technoarti mentions are probably best valued by the cost of a 'buzz agent'.

4. Comments as customer insight - A complete farce. In the article Forrester equates $180,000 worth of qualitative research to 100 comments on a blog a month. That's effectively turning qualitative research into a sophisticated suggestion box. Which it isn't. Good qualitative research is commissioned to solve difficult issues - brand positioning; deep (very deep) consumer understanding (think about the difference between a blog comment and an ethnographic study); communication testing/evaluation; etc. If you are using qualitative research to get a few ideas every now and then from consumers, you are wasting a lot of money.

5. UGC and NPS (User Generated Content and Net Promoter Score) - I can see where they are going on this one, but it depends on establishing a robust relationship between sales and NPS. I had a look at the NPS's historic relationship to sales in this post - not a pretty picture for that industry at least. I haven't used NPS extensively, but can't help feel a little dubious about its link to sales (this is not going to be the case in all industries, there are bound to be some success stories. As part of the value equation for a blog though, it needs to be looked at on as case-by-case basis).

6. Leads - This one makes a lot of sense. Blogs can generate sales leads. Pretty easy to measure as well - "where did you hear about us?". Probably one of the most tangible value results.

So over all, while some of these metrics need to be tweaked and others (the consumer insights one in particular) ignored, it's not a bad framework.

It's the sort of thing I can see presented to the CEO or CFO as an honest attempt at valuing a social media effort. It might not be exact, but it's probably not going to be significantly distorted.

Of course, blogging and social media have flow-on effects that are harder to measure (honesty, trust, openness, closer connections to customers) but equally as important.

Digg this
Sphere: Related Content


Finance promoter Company said...

Information about Finance Promoter Company, mortgage finace, promoter, finance careers, finance companies, finance job, company finance, investment finance

email list said...

In your website, it should also create a list of visitors and their information so you can track who are the best and qualified leads to your business. email list