In early April 2009 California Olive Ranch VP Sales & Marketing – Claude Weiller launched several online marketing initiatives, including blogging. Weiller had us create two blog channels, one targeting Chefs and the other one Consumers. He then had us campaign to existing prospect databases in search of subscribers. We automated blog posts using an RSS feed into social networks accounts like Facebook & Twitter. We added lead capture capabilities and tended to a series of fundamental search optimization tools as well. And finally, in order to insure an understanding for what was and was not working as well as enable adjustment to further maximize benefits, we developed monthly analysis.
By committing to publish great ‘extra virgin olive oil’ content minimum twice per week ‘California Olive Ranch’ was able to generate average per month page view increases of 72%. In six months time their unique new visitors increased by 384% and back links to the website increased by 646%. Simultaneously, ‘California Olive Ranch’ amassed over 1,400 new blog subscribers.
Here are Claude’s impressions of the first 6 month’s worth of blogging:
Kinetic/Frerecks: “Claude, can you tell us what online advertising you committed to with the recent ‘California Olive Ranch’ campaign?”
California Olive Ranch/Weiller: “Well, we basically tested three activities. Specifically, we did a keyword search campaign focusing on about 250 terms. We also did a banner ad campaign. Finally, we tested a membership sign-up campaign. These spanned a 3-month period and were separate and distinct from our blogging efforts.”
Frerecks: “At 6 months and versus the others, what is your impression of the blogging effort?”
Weiller: “We are extremely pleased. The more appropriate answer is we are thrilled by the results of our business blogging. We were surprised by the month-over-month growth in readership along with the incredible number of back links that we have secured. I would not have predicted the levels we achieved prior to the initiative. It’s just been amazing!”
Frerecks: “Can you talk about how ‘California Olive Ranch’ visibility online has changed?”
Weiller: “Absolutely… in several ways. For instance, our online subscriber rates have grown by 5 X in 6 months. The growth has been steep and continues to grow each month. We are also getting more and more questions from consumers and chefs asking for information about olive oil. For instance, one chef emailed us that he uses our blogs to teach/train his wait staff about olive oil. An instructor at a culinary school in the southeast uses our blogs (in part) as course material and mandatory reading for some of his culinary classes involving olive oil. We’re also getting readers to refer our blogs to other interested parties [chefs referring other chefs], which drives new customers. Probably most important has been our Google and Yahoo search results. After 6 months we are now on page 1 for all targeted organic search terms, which we identified at the beginning of the campaign. And, when looking at the costs versus any other advertising, it cost us next to nothing!”
Frerecks: “So, you have achieved community and/ or interaction with your target audience?”
Weiller: “It’s been somewhat amazing. We are now back-linked by literally thousands of blogs and websites. We’re getting dozens of email questions every day about olive oil-related topics that people want to learn more about. We’re getting meaningful traffic from Twitter and Facebook, we never thought they would amount to anything. We’re also getting customers from around the country asking us about our product. It’s worth pointing out that our online readership is now in 5 continents and probably 25 countries around the globe!”
Frerecks: “Versus other forms of advertising, has business blogging been cost-effective?”
Weiller: “It’s the lowest cost per impression of anything we do… by a huge margin! It’s remarkably effective on a financial level. We probably spend 1/3 of the levels we spend on other medium than we do on blogging to acquire a new customer. It’s just amazing! It’s also very cost-effective from the standpoint of driving new readership. Blogging allows us to maintain that relationship [via subscription] month over month. We found that blogging attracts very loyal readers, who are engaged with our brand. After 6 months, 97.3% of our subscribers remain subscribers. It eventually drives those readers to buy something on your site, giving us an opportunity to quantify who is reading more than others. Ultimately, we can reward our most loyal readers with things like free shipping or complementary product. That just makes every $1 spent on blogging remarkably cost-effective for us.”
When approached correctly, Business Blogging brings incredible benefits for a business and ‘California Olive Ranch’ certainly proves it. Sure, you need a discipline for publishing quality content, but the potential includes back links, bookmarks, subscriptions, better SERP position, more time on website and sales. In 6 months ‘California Olive Ranch’ has not only developed an incredibly active & loyal online community for their brand, but a reliable & cost-effective advertising tool that drives new business!