Live from Email Evolution Conference: Bloggers Unite: Passion, Power, or People?
February 14, 2008 — The final day of the Email Evolution Conference opened yesterday with a keynote panel discussion focused on the power of blogging. Hosted by the Email Experience Council, DMA’s email marketing arm, the two-day event was held at the Sheraton Hotel & Marina in San Diego.
Dylan Boyd, eROI’s vice president of sales & strategy, moderated the panel of passionate bloggers: Tamara Gielan, director of email and digital dialogue strategies, OgilvyOne; Chad White, director of retail insights and editor-at-large, Email Experience Council (eec); Maddy Hubbard of BlueHornet; and Matt Blumberg, founder, CEO & chairman of ReturnPath.
Boyd explained that many people have yet to learn the difference between a blog and a website. “A blog is a content management system you can share in a social way,” he said. “Blogs have the advantage of SEO, credibility, reach, online PR, and buzz-building. There are a lot of reasons why people blog. But a lot of people in a lot of companies are still afraid to blog.”
To illustrate the power of blogs, Boyd described how he recently posted a comment about a new email market product from Go Daddy, an Internet domain registrar and Web hosting company. “Ten minutes after I commented on it, the vice president was on the phone with me,” Boyd said. “If you are corporate blogging, or blogging in general, be prepared to get responses. Even if you’re writing a personal blog about what you are passionate about, know that it’s on the radar.”
Boyd asked the panel what kept them blogging.
“Part of the structure of my blog requires me to blog every day six days a week,” White explained. “There is the element of being super-timely.” White said that he often posts even on vacation and holidays. “Those are often big retail days. I know that people are looking for that. I feel very beholden to the readers. I don’t want to let anyone down.”
“Blogging is very much an addiction or habit,” Gielen said. “My blog is an aggregation of articles. I go through thousands, because I want to keep up with all the trends. When I don’t blog for a couple of days, I feel guilty.”
Hubbard said, “When I blogged regularly it was to share information, and when I was looking at emails, I wanted to share emails I thought were good, and the ones I thought were bad.” Of course, she admitted, “I could be way off base, and it was my opinion. It just keeps you going every day.”
According to Blumberg, a blogger can learn as much from writing a blog as from reading one. “When I write a blog post, I come away with a very crisp point of view about something. I’ve figured out how to articulate something in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise. I learn as much writing and editing my blog as I do reading others.”
In response to an attendee’s question about whether companies viewed blogs as a threat, White said, “Initially, some companies were concerned about bloggers’ undermining some of the niche publications. Now, in the email marketing space, mainstream publications see bloggers as a resource, and a way to augment their coverage. It’s now less competitive and more of a cooperative environment than three or four years ago when they were seen as a threat.”
“Why do you do it, and why do you give it away for free,” an attendee asked. “Are companies trying to monetize it, or is it a big generation source?”
“Blogging has increased traffic to our site tenfold. We don’t overtly advertise,” said Blumberg. He added that, with personal blogs, there are some high-profile personal bloggers who have generated revenue. But on the company level, “it’s about building your brand, building awareness, and traffic.”
“But how do you drive readership and awareness, especially in the initial days of your blogging. How do you get the initial push?” another attendee asked.
“We make sure that we talk about it,” said Boyd. “Word of mouth is about the strongest thing you can do in blogging.”
“The secret of starting a blog is talking to other bloggers,” White added. “That can give you an early critical mass.”
Gielan said, “Reaching out to other bloggers, commenting and getting the word out, mentioning other bloggers names in your blog post . . . .” “With links,” interrupted White, “because if you don’t link, it’s like you didn’t even do it!” Gielan agreed. “If you mention my name it will come up in my alerts.”
About the Email Experience Council (eec):
The Email Experience Council (eec) (www.emailexperience.org), the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) vertical working group that is focused on the email marketing industry, is a global professional organization striving to enhance the image of email marketing and communications, while celebrating and advocating its importance in business, and its ROI value. The eec is committed to regularly conducting a broad series of email initiatives for a variety of organizations that highlight the positive impact and importance of email as a marketing tool, communications vehicle, and branding device. Additionally, eec members are setting the standards for email through Marketing Roundtables. The eec members are representatives of other trade organizations, agencies, advertisers, technology partners, clients, and companies focused on the potential of email marketing via mobile and other digital devices.
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