When we talk about ROI I am clearly talking about Return On Investment and similar to my friend Olivier Blanchard (@thebrandbuilder) author of Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization (Amazon Affiliate Link)) who has taught me plenty on this subject I have to say that it can only be measured in dollars.
I also agree with Olivier and many others that not every online effort should be measured with only the Return On Investment. I should focus a few more efforts into getting money back since most of them I mainly create them to inform and find individuals with common interests like in papaheroes.com (parenting blog focusing on online safety) and Veglatino.com (a blog on the latino vegetarian lifestyle and more).
Similar to my previous post on what makes a successful blog post the posts that have brought me the highest return on investment caught me completely by surprise (I did not plan them).
A few months ago @lucymfel my business partner at CIMA IT Solutions wrote a post on an Open Source Alternative towards Open Table. In 2009 few years ago we set up an online reservations system for our client Archipielago Restaurant. This online reservations system also served as an application to manage all restaurant reservations.
Given how many restaurants have websites and have no real call to action Archipielago Restaurant’s website does have a way to make sure visitors that are interested in visiting the restaurant can make a commitment of reserving a table.
Although open table does have many other advantages that I might leave for another post the open source solution we offer comes with a one time fee of configuring for you (if you need the help) which over time pays off for itself by keeping your hostess and staff focused on the restaurant critical tasks instead of taking reservations on the phone. The post was written to share an experience we had in hopes of maybe capturing the attention of other restaurant owners.
Our idea was to have a restaurant owners hire us to set up their website. What we ran into was something completely unexpected. Once we translated our corporate site from English to Spanish we did see how some posts got more traffic given the interest people had on a specific subject. We had a company from Mexico which owns over 2 dozen restaurants contact us on helping them improve their reservations process with the option to have their patrons also reserve online.
We did not sell a website but the consulting services on setting up an adequate process became a profitable opportunity.
Where Did We Make the Money?
We can calculate that it took Lucy and I a few hours to write the post, edit, and translate into Spanish. To give it a number being conservative I would say 2.5 hours. Without disclosing too much information the initial project has brought us thousands of dollars at a one-time fee to help them get up to speed and also a maintenance contract which will bring income monthly after the initial phase has ended.
Why was that Post so Successful?
Many restaurants struggle with huge overhead costs adding additional services like having online reservations does bring extra costs and if the cost is per transaction then that costs ends up being factored into the operations overhead. Being able to make one small investment and then having a fixed amount instead of a variable amount can mean a big difference.
For example if you use other online reservations systems they cost anywhere from $1- $2 dollars per reservation. So if you have 200 reservations in the month your monthly expense can be around $200-$400 dollars. Our blog post was created around the fact that this option was a more economical option where you pay one time and then since the application is open source no more fees are added unless you want to improve or customize the software (the decision is up to the Restaurant’s Management).
Our post was Informative
Different to most posts with a very aggressive sales pitch we tried to have the reader understand the value of what we had accomplished at our client Archipielago. Giving the reader and our website visitor the opportunity for him to decide that our experience might help him out is key when writing content where you want to connect with people.
Connecting Might get you the Sale
If you are always pushing sales pitches on your posts you are also pushing people away from your site.
I get multiple requests from PR (public release) professionals that all they want to do is push their client’s product or services into everyone’s readers and they forget about the connection part. When you are able to connect with your audience the sales process is more natural and less invasive. My advice towards creating posts that sale is to be helpful and informative and the rest will fall into place.
Have you had any blog posts that surprised you and ended up bringing income when you least expected it? What was your experience like?