Patagonia is the latest multichannel merchant to enter the blogosphere. The manufacturer/marketer of outdoor apparel launched its first blog, The Cleanest Line, on Feb. 20, going live after a three-week inhouse trial run.
The blog is more about connecting with customers than about selling the latest Huckleberry shoes. Kasey Kersnowski, Patagonia’s managing editor of e-media, says the company wanted to keep marketing-speak off the blog and focus on building a community of loyal users. The goal of The Cleanest Line is to further Patagonia’s mission statement: build the best product, do no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
“In order to do that, we need to share information with our customers,” Kersnowski says. “The cool thing is it allows for a two-way conversation, and customers can add comments to the blog and share the info with their friends.”
In the blog’s first seven weeks, it received about 36,000 total unique visitors, roughly 880 unique visitors a day, and about 500 RSS subscribers.
“We’re not taking over the Internet by any means, but it’s nice to know there are many people out there who are interested in our company’s values,” Kersnowski says.
Kersnowski says that to a certain degree, he already feels the blog is a success because he’s seeing it mentioned in similar blogs, meaning the word is being spread.
“Businesses are still trying to figure out how to use this medium affectively,” Kersnowski says. “I feel we’re doing a good job by not boring our customers.”
Kersnowski and three other Patagonia employees have been posting to the blog, encouraging dialogue about outdoor sports and environmental issues. But there will be the very occasional product plug, done in the form of a review.
“I think it’s a real good move for them,” says Tom Chandler, a Mount Shasta, CA-based copywriter and marketing consultant. “In perspective to engagement marketing, they are connecting with their customers with their passion and values rather than using the blog to sell product. Using it for that purpose would be the worst thing they can do.”
John Wagner, principal of Sugarland, TX-based public relations agency Wagner Communications, said he was surprised at how smooth and focused The Cleanest Line is for such a newly launched vehicle. He says Patagonia definitely did its homework.
“Just a couple of years ago, a cataloger would begin to blog and experience hiccups in first few weeks,” Wagner said. “Either they didn’t understand how blogging worked, or they weren’t ready for the feedback. I don’t see that with Patagonia. The content seems fairly forward, and they are opening a dialogue with their community. They’ve created a great way to build a community of like-minded people.”