• December 5, 2006
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Attack of the European Blog!

European bloggers are young, early adopters of new technologies, Internet savvy, and trust each other more than the average online consumer, according to a new Forrester report. With nearly 3 percent, or four million, of European Internet users writing blogs, it's high time and in marketers' best interest to understand some of these bloggers' unique consumer habits.

With the number of European bloggers on the rise, marketers must take note of this potential branding pitfall. According to "Profiling European Bloggers," marketers should understand bloggers' unique characteristics before they enter the blogosphere. "Active bloggers can make or break a brand in less than a day," says Jaap Favier, research director at Forrester Research. "Firms shouldn't fake a relationship with them or they will experience a backlash."

The report identifies bloggers as being some of the most tolerant consumers around, and are more open-minded and trusting of consumer-generated information than the average Internet user. According to the report, the level of trust among European bloggers is higher than for other Internet users. Almost a quarter of bloggers trust general blogs that contain information about a company and its services, compared with only 10 percent for Internet users. In addition, 41 percent of bloggers say they don't mind ads if they relate to their interests, as opposed to 34 percent for Internet users. Bloggers also shop around less than the average Internet user before making a purchase, and are more willing to try or do new things. Finally, word-of-mouth marketing is big, with about 70 percent of bloggers notifying their friends of a satisfactory purchase, while 30 percent of bloggers rely on friends or family to make recommendations when it comes to purchasing a product or service.

Bloggers are also a great way for companies to notify the marketplace of a new service or product, as they're some of the earliest adopters of technology. Twenty-one percent of European bloggers have set up RSS feeds--automatically updating selected content on the user's desktop--compared with 5 percent of all Internet users. Almost 80 percent of bloggers go online daily to check their emails, post, or read messages.

To get bloggers on their side, Favier says it's in a company's best interest to flow with it as opposed to ignoring or fighting bloggers. "Firms should gain bloggers' trust by establishing an honest and transparent relation with bloggers first," he says. "They should get to know them and give them the tools on their Web site to connect easily with their peers and pass along messages."

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