Blogging was one of the first Web 2.0 tools to “cross the chasm” from consumer to business use, but for some has taken a back seat to newer channels like Twitter or Facebook. Yet while adoption among the F500 is slowing (see here), in terms of ROI, blogs continue to deliver, and in fact scored the highest in terms of delivering measureable benefit for customer-related and partner/supplier purposes vs. other technologies (Video sharing, RSS, social networking, Wikis, podcasts, ratings and 5 other Web 2.0 tools) in McKinsey’s comprehensive 2009 Global Survey focused on Web 2.0.
So corporations have reason to continue investing in blogging – but what about vendors? When I was CMO at eVergance (acquired by KANA Software in 2007) and we launched the “evolved thinking” blog in 2008, our objective was twofold. The first goal was to provide a forum to share the thoughts of our excellent team of practice leaders - including Esteban Kolsky, whose current blog is required reading in Social CRM circles.
The second was to engage in discussions with clients and prospects as a continuation of dialogs started in our in-person “knowledge sharing days” and even an extension or backchannel to sales discussions. This second goal was somewhat harder to “engineer” but became a key part of nurturing relationships, showing our “chops” and persisting conversations that may have begun on a Webcast or live event or even during a product demo.
What was also clear from this experience is that good, regularly published content is necessary but not sufficient to create a well-read and even highly ranked blog. Promotion, cross-links and even outright recruitment of readers is equally important! Blogs are just another channel, and like “traditional” media rely on reach and frequency to create an impression. Good content doesn’t matter if no one reads it. And the more you engage via active comments and replies, the more the channel shifts from a communication channel to a true Continuous Relationship Marketing channel.
So how are vendors doing today in leveraging the power of blogs to engage with the market? As part of a new study, I’ve been looking at how a selection of top CRM vendors are using social media to engage with customers, or are “walking the walk” so to speak, via their corporate blogs, Twitter and LinkedIn to start. In terms of blogging, just having one is only a ticket to play. It’s actually more interesting to see how they are being used and maintained, so I decided to look first at the number of posts and comments in each (since the start of the year) as a proxy for “frequency” and “reach.”
did not look (yet) at traffic, but feel that these two measures should give us
a feeling for who is investing in this channel, and who has (perhaps) moved on
to other social channels or forms of online interactions like forums. Here’s some of what was found – note that
numbers are current as of the middle of last week and any errors in
representation are mine not those of the vendors.
Several vendors stand out and get top grades when it comes to their corporate blogs:
- SugarCRM - 39 posts; 40 comments
- Oracle - 39 posts; 6 comments
- RightNow - 11 posts; 25 comments
- Sage - 13 posts; 10 comments
- nGenera - 46 posts; 107 comments
Yes, I know the nGenera "wikinomics" blog is broader than CRM, but it’s the company’s featured blog. Several others (Amdocs, Chordiant, Consona [3 separate blogs], NetSuite, and Pega) have semi-regular posts, but NO comments so far in 2010, so get an “incomplete.”
And a few others have opted for a newsletter-type format (Ciboodle, SalesForce) or offer no blog at all (eGain, CDC). I know I’m missing a number of vendors, so feel free to make suggestions or even include links for me to check out in your comments.
Next up, I’ll plan to discuss how these same vendors are doing with their corporate Twitter channel.