Lee Odden

Digital Marketing on the Social Web: Blog Now or Pay Later

digital-marketingCompanies world-wide are looking for more creative, high impact and accountable marketing.  To find out how marketers were allocating their marketing efforts, we ran a poll of our 18,000 Online Marketing Blog subscribers to get a handle on what the top digital marketing tactics would be in 2009.

Poll respondents cast 1559 votes for their 3 top digital marketing tactics (out of 45) for 2009 with Blogging, Twitter and Search Engine Optimization topping the list. Out of the top 10 tactics, 6 fell into the category of Social Media Marketing.

Companies that don’t have a Social Media Strategy or Roadmap in place now, will most likely fall behind by Q3 or Q4 of this year. I can think of few things more expensive than than having to play catchup, especially in the social media category. You can’t “buy” relationships on the social web.

Of all the digital marketing tactics voted on, here are the top ten:

• Blogging (34%)
• Microblogging (Twitter) (29%)
• Search engine optimization (28%)
• Social network participation (Facebook, LinkedIn) (26%)
• Email marketing (17%)
• Social media monitoring & outreach (17%)
• Pay per click (14%)
• Blogger relations (12%)
• Video marketing (10%)
• Social media advertising (7%)

These results are consistent (blogging at the top) with what many companies already involved with social media are engaging in according to this analysis of Peter Kim’s 1,000+ social media marketing examples. From that analysis, the top industry categories currently engaging in social media include: retail, consumer goods & services, high tech, media & entertainment, automotive, financial services, Government and Travel.

This kind of insight in combination with market intelligence that is vertical or industry specific for a particular company should be instrumental for companies dealing with shrinking marketing budgets and a need to improve long term performance of their online marketing efforts.

eMarketer posted a new report yesterday about the growth of blogging and opportunity for businesses. Currently, 27.9 million US Internet users have a blog they update at least once per month, and they represent 14% of the Internet population. By 2013, 37.6 million users will update their blogs at least monthly.

“Blogging activity presents new opportunities for marketers to monitor and influence conversations relevant to their businesses,” says Mr. Verna. “Opportunities no marketer should ignore.”

Instead of blogs replacing traditional media, although those lines are blurring a bit, traditional online media are starting to adopt and/or add the blogging platform.  Consumers are increasingly familair with and expect the blog format for their news and information.

By now, most companies have their 2009 online marketing plans in place. Does this ranked order of tactics mean you should change up your online marketing mix? The answer is that digital marketing tactics should match the needs of the situation, company resources, the target market and end consumer preferences. The proper tactical mix for a digital marketing program could be anything from the 45 tactics listed in the poll and still be successful as long as they support a valid strategy.

Some companies are prepared for digital and social media marketing programs and many are not. To get “ready”, companies need to develop strategic plans and get up to speed on both best and worst practices. Whether those methods of reaching and communicating with customers reconciles with existing marketing plans or not, companies would do well to allocate resources to some level of ongoing education, testing and development of expertise in the social media space.

What is your company doing to adjust to budgetary challenges, improve marketing performance and long range digital marketing strategy? Are you making changes on the fly? Are you sticking to your guns? We’d love to hear how readers are adjusting to the current marketing environment in the comments.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. It’s funny when I read that Twitter is killing blogging. I don’t believe that for a second, and these numbers back that up.

    • The people who I follow on Twitter are those who provide references to something else – be it a blog, news article, website, etc. Twitter is a great adjunct tool to blogging and other longer forms of online media rather than being in competition with them.

    • Yes indeed. As Meg says, Tweeting is a compliment to blogging, not a replacement.

  2. The sample consists of subscribers to the Online Marketing Blog; in other words, most likely a group that blogs and/or is interested in learning more about blogging. In addition, it was a poll of people who self-selected to participate, so additional bias may have been introduced (would nonresponders answer differently?).

    It is a bit of a stretch to say that the results demonstrate “how marketers were allocating their marketing efforts.” Substitute “subscribers to OMB.”

    More accurate is the statement, “…digital marketing tactics should match the needs of the situation, company resources, the target market and end consumer preferences.”

    I don’t have a vested interest in the poll results; rather am just pointing out that the results and conclusions should be interpreted with the sample composition in mind.

    • Hey Carol, the poll was run on our blog and absolutely represents what our readers think about the topic. The emarketer and other research sources happen to support this sentiment, so it’s not just our readers that feel this way. It’s not a survey, but a one question poll and the sample size was a fairly conservative size.

  3. Avatar Tim Piazza says

    Lee, I would love to see how these numbers would change if you pulled from a different audience, say Advertising Age subscribers. I think you would see some re-shuffling of the top 10 list and significantly lower micro-blogging numbers. Twitter has its place, like for keeping up with what @leeodden is up to, but these online marketing numbers are skewed toward people who have more time and inclination than money to spend on traditional advertising campaigns.

    We, as responsible marketers, need to keep from getting caught up in our own hype.

    Tim Piazza
    Keller Crescent Advertising

    • Hey Tim, I agree and would love to see a much wider sample take this survey. However, to say poll respondents have more time than money is a bit of a generalization/assumption.

      • Avatar Tim Piazza says

        Lee, I didn’t imply that poll respondents have more time than money. I am pointing out that among the audience of marketing blogs are a larger proportion of people who are specifically interested in earning an income through affiliate marketing, adsense marketing, and other online opportunities than you will find in the advertising and marketing world at large. These individuals do skew the results. I don’t think that’s a generalization or assumption.

        Tim Piazza
        Keller Crescent Advertising

  4. Good study, Lee. I am wondering how many companies have no presence in the blogging world and if you think there are job opportunities in those companies? Even though you might need to sell the idea to reluctant CEO’s and marketing departments. Curious if anyone has created a job for themselves by presenting their qualifications even before the company has identified the need

  5. Companies who are not involved in social media need to be as it is a great way of promoting your company and getting you business. If companies do not want to take part in social media then I think they should at least have search engine optimsation.

  6. Avatar greg group says

    I am very surprised that podcasting did not make the list of top 10 strategies. The power of Itunes as a distribution service is being under-utilized by many marketers. Also, where is the health industry in social media?

  7. Blogging has definitely changed the nature of the photography industry. Blogs allow our clients to stay in touch with our most recent photo shoots and adventures. The entire social media/networking has just exploded over the past few years.