Saturday, June 18, 2011

Is Blogging Dead?

I read something recently that said, ‘blogging is dead’. It made me think … with the rising popularity of free enewsletters and free e-magazines, as well as social media, is blogging really dead?

I don’t think so. And I don’t think you have to deploy one strategy (free newsletter or e-magazine) versus another (blogging or social marketing). Here’s why:

Blogging and free ezines are both conduits – ways to communicate with readers. The goal of blogging and the goal of either a free newsletter or e-magazine are virtually the same, except the business model behind the driving force of each conduit are slightly different. And both tactics that I believe complement each other.

Let me explain…
With blogging, you’re using ‘pull’ marketing. Through search engine marketing and optimization (SEM and SEO), article marketing, and SONAR marketing you are driving traffic and readers to your blog for ‘UVA’ information, that is, information that is useful, valuable, and actionable.

On the blogging conduit you can certainly try to monetize the visits through mechanisms like Google Ad Sense and banner or text ads (for cross-selling and other revenue opportunities) as well as lead generation mechanisms to capture the reader’s email address and further bond with them via targeted correspondence. And once you capture that email address, you’ve opened up the lines of communication – getting permission to contact that person and reach them through editorial, advertorial and promotional messages – delivered directly to their in-box.

Same goes for social media. You may have, what I like to call, ‘Triple F’s’ (friends, followers or fans), but how deep is that relationship? You don’t really have permission to correspond with the user personally. And you don’t have their email address. With social media, the relationship is shallow. A substantial level of bonding as well as conversion is usually more challenging then with a subscriber, as you are limited with either character counts (as with on Twitter) or background noise … unless you have a profile stalker that is frequently visiting your page.

…Which leads to ‘push’ marketing.

Enewsletters and e-magazines are correspondence being ‘pushed’ out to your audience. You already have their email address, so the main purpose of your effort is bonding (through UVA information) AND direct response marketing (cross-selling via newsletter ads and solo emails). You don’t have to rely as heavily on search engine optimization for this conduit, but rather use SEO and SEM for the website that the enewsletter or e-magainzine sign up box is housed on.

Newsletters and e-magazines can also benefit from outside revenues from external advertising opportunities and affiliate marketing products. The size and quality of the list (number of subscribers) along with some other variables such as open rate, click rate, bounce rate, average unit of sale will determine the value of the list, and therefore, the advertising rate you can get for that list.

For me, I wouldn’t say blogging is dead nor would I give up blogging and put all my eggs in one basket with enewsletters, e-magazine, or social media. I would do them all and treat them each different strategies. I believe blogging is more personalized, raw, and intimate. This is where I would speak to my reader as if they were next to me. To be unedited and uncut. Give them the inside scoop.

For an enewsletter or similar, I would still have juicy tid bits, but the form of delivery would be more polished. More editorial in nature.

And for social media, I would combine a mix of posts that were for bonding, lead gen and sales. I would let my followers see me as both guru and virtual friend.

I think nowadays, marketers need to try and test all online platforms to see which ‘conduit’ is right for their business, audience, and objectives. Don’t rule anything out. Learn how to be strategically creative!

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