What’s Holding Back Businesses From Blogging?

If you spend any time reading internet marketing and copywriting blogs it’s very easy to get caught up in all the excitement on how blogs, and other web 2.0 tools, could transform a business’ fortunes. Although the benefits might seem obvious, persuading IT decision makers is another matter. Studies released in the last week continue to reflect how it’s the same old barriers holding back the engagement movement.

Mark White at Better Business Blogging alerted me to a recent trends survey by the Chartered Institute of Marketing. The survey suggests that change might be occurring, but it’s at a very slow pace.

This year, marketing spend on advertising is expected to fall slightly from its dominance of 15%. Online is to increase by a healthy 3.6%, customer relationship management by 2% year and PR by 1.5%, as marketers seek new avenues of communication.

Technology was identified as the main driving factor for the adjustments, with changing consumer attitudes being recognized by two thirds.

Geoff Hurst, the Institute’s Director, hailed the findings, “Playing by yesterday’s rules is not an option for the modern marketer. Keeping up to date with current thinking and maintaining skills have never been more important.”

Whilst the results might seem encouraging for those who believe in greater consumer engagement, there’s still a long way to go.

Although blogs were deemed as a popular digital marketing tool, only 1 in 12 claimed to be using them a ‘fair amount’. The fact is that new technology is still not being used by anywhere near the levels anticipated in previous years.

Marketers might be aware that consumer mindsets are changing, but are still apparently paralysed from being able to respond.

Insight into why many marketers’ hands might be tied was provided by a Forrester Research survey, released last Friday.

Forrester assessed that it was the old traditional metrics of return on investment, backed up by an acute lack of faith in web 2.0 technology, that was holding back new initiatives. Only a measly 11% of the 275 IT professionals interviewed had much faith in blogging’s effectiveness as a marketing tool.

As one commented, “If you can’t put together a good business case that has some cost benefit justification, it’s difficult to get those types of efforts launched.”

Two thirds of the IT decision makers interviewed identified ROI as the benchmark for evaluating success. This puts tactics such as blogging, and engaging with a steady flow of useful content, at a distinct disadvantage in getting funding.

Forrester analyst F G. Oliver Young commented, “Many business users still associate blogs with personal diaries, and some firms use blogs simply as a way to surface existing content, muting the effect.”

It’s not all doom and gloom though for the engagement marketer.

Rob Andrews at Blogging 4 Business last week highlighted ‘The B2B Web 2.0 Tools Report’. Commissioned by Direct Impact Marketing, the report discovered that of the businesses using blogs three quarters were smaller than 10,000 people.

Large monolithic organizations might be struggling to reach a decision that is not based on ROI, but brave smaller enterprises are not so restrained.

Paul Dunay from Bearing Point, one of the study’s sponsors, said, “If there’s one piece of advice for marketers I’d give it’s this: “Lather, rinse, repeat.” Get in there, mess it up, get comfortable. It’s all about trying and experimenting.”

The problem is that for many organizations experimenting and risking failure is not an option. So whilst they continue to watch from the sidelines, there’s plenty of room for those prepared to invest and pursue greater consumer engagement to reap the rewards.

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