How the best bloggers make friends with visitors and convert them to customers

Smart bloggers treat customers like friends. Seth Godin  is a good example. In a great post called the The difference between strangers and friends Seth makes a distinction between three types of relationships we deal with in such huge numbers online. I’ve recast his definitions here in summary:

  1. Friends (someone with shared history and personal connection)
  2. Friendlies (an acquaintance with a digital connection but no personal connection)
  3. Strangers (visitors)

Seth’s key point is that we tend to market to each kind of the above relationship discriminately. If you think about this, he’s spot on. Consider these examples of “marketing” in the broadest sense.

Relationship Marketing
Stranger Auto response email
Friendly Strategic retweet
Friend Personal message

Strangers might get an auto-response thankyou email for the kindness of subscribing to a newsletter. Friendlies probably receive strategic retweets in order to encourage reciprocated audience leverage. But only friends enjoy a personal message just for them. Seth’s understated point is that if we want to move friendlies and strangers into the buying category, we may need to be – well a little more friendly.  He walks the talk in this respect as a skilled writer. His language in this post is open, honest and welcoming. Although a little skewed to a male audience, he uses authentic language:

“Friend” is more broadly defined as someone you have a beer with or meet up with to go on a hike.”

Authentic language shows what we are writing is simply an extension of us. It does not shift from who we are in order to manipulate someone. This is a key skill for anyone writing commercially.

Aware of the ethical tension that the idea of marketing to friends carries, Seth keeps his points simple but loaded to allow readers to make their own conclusions about applying them:

“Nurturing your friends—protecting them and watching out for them—is an obligation, and it builds an asset at the same time.”

The word “asset” can be taken two ways here- financial (concrete) and social (intangible). This ambiguity is a deft summation of the online marketing experience. The more we learn to treat our visitors as friends, the more they will move into buying mode. The point here is not the manipulation of friendships for money. It is that in order to put bread on the table as entrepreneurs, we choose a higher benchmark for all our customer interactions.



June 27, 2009

I’m starting today, Saturday  11 pm to talk about stuff that might help you make money with your ideas. The timing tells you a couple of things. One, I have a full time job, ( major publisher) and two, I really am working for you. Well, almost. One thing I’m seeing through my 40 year old blog goggles is that despite the fire in the belly etc we’re mostly in it for something that will put food on the table. Or some philanthropic equivalent to food.  Sooner or later, someone is going to pay something to go further right? That’s why I’m here. Presumably, if you’re still here, you’re thinking the same thing.

Making money from your intellectual property has some clear pathways that we in the publishing business had locked up and kept secret until the web came along. Now everyone is publisher, whether they realise it or not. Publishers, in many cases, without the luxury of training and experience. Publishers who need to know the pathway from market research to idea to product development, packaging, demand generation, publicity and distribution.

SMARTER BUBBLE is a friend on this tricky pathway. I hope you can use what you find here to make money from your ideas.

Ben Dawe