Let’s be honest: when it comes to any form of marketing, the bottom line comes down to three little letters: ROI. Without a positive return on investment, it makes little sense to carry on with your chosen selection of marketing. Especially if it’s costing you dollars and wasting your time.
Content marketing has been notoriously difficult to measure until recently. It wasn’t that long ago that marketers would blog for the sake of blogging. Without a plan and a common goal, business blogs can easily appear as if they’re “not working.” In other words, the ROI isn’t there and your blog isn’t gaining any traction.
And just like that, the company blog is scrapped by your boss. Bon Voyage, business blog!
Definition of Business Blog Success
In a perfect world, your business blog would make you tons of money and you’d spend your days on an island without a care in the world. It’s not that black and white with blogging, as ROI comes in many shapes and sizes. While almost every goal for company blogging is to make money, you must look at the bigger picture to truly understand and measure the success of your company blog.
Blogging might not instantly make you money on the spot, but it will lead to opportunities that can make you money down the road.
Measurement of Success #1: Web Traffic
One of the biggest indicators of blogging success lies within your web traffic. Your web traffic is quite easy to track with free tools such as Google Analytics. Google Analytics shows you an overview of your current traffic levels as well as where your traffic is coming from.
There are several sources of referral traffic to pay attention to when you’re blogging. Here are a few typical sources where referral traffic stems from, especially if you are repurposing your content:
- Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest)
- Industry blogs
To elaborate, industry blog referral traffic occurs when others link to your content that is relevant, valuable, and informational. As you develop content that is on point and can’t be found anywhere else, others will naturally begin to link to you as a source for their own blogs and articles. This is especially the case when you conduct independent industry studies that examines material that has yet to be researched. However, interesting topics that meets the needs of your audience can easily earn links from industry blogs.
The other side of the web traffic success measurement is organic traffic. This means that your website is ranking on Google for specific keywords, and your customers are searching and successfully finding your blog or website. Although keyword stuffing and over optimizing won’t get you very far with Google these days, it’s still possible to naturally rank for specific keywords if you have a plan of attack.
Measurement of Success #2: Likes, Shares, Retweets, And Other Social Signals
When you are measuring the success of your business blog, consider the impact that your content makes on social media. Social shares may seem like a small detail, but it all adds up in the big picture of blog marketing.
Social shares matter for several reasons. First, it increases exposure and helps reach customers that may not have otherwise found. Second, it helps draw traffic to your website, which ties into the last measurement of success that we last talked about. Social shares also helps build your brand and puts you in the position as a thought leader.
Pro Tip: Create a spreadsheet that documents the social shares of your blog on every platform that you use. As time goes by, you’ll get a good feel for the kind of content that your audience likes, shares, or retweets the most. From there, you can adjust your blogging strategy for developing content that performs well on a social level.
Measurement of Success #3: E-mail Sign Ups
In the world of internet marketing, the value of customer e-mails is priceless. When customers voluntarily sign up for your list, it’s safe to assume that they are interested in your product and what you have to say. This gets your foot in their, well, inbox. An e-mail address might not be a direct sale at first, but you’re on a way to establishing a relationship with that customer if you tread carefully. This means no spamming or harassing your customers. Your e-mails should always remain helpful and informative.
When you’re crafting a company blog post, the trick is to have the call-to-action as inputting an e-mail address. However, this isn’t always an easy battle to win. Companies have taken advantage of this and continuously e-mail their customers to the point of becoming spam.
Now, people aren’t so willing to give up their e-mail addresses for nothing.
To get around this issue, consider offering a free downloadable to your audience in exchange for their e-mail. It doesn’t have to be anything super elaborate; a simple checklist can do the trick. The idea is to keep the downloadable content relevant and useful to your customers. They’ll be more willing to hand over their e-mail address when they know they’re getting something of value in return.
Measurement of Success #4: Visitor Behavior
Visitor behavior is a Google Analytics feature that allows you to track activity and clicks that occur while customers are on your website. When you are inside the dashboard of Google Analytics, you can view the activity of specific pages with the click of a button. Google Analytics then loads a series of colored bubbles that showcases the amount of clicks that occur while on that specific page.
To be a little more specific, you can view a single blog post and discover exactly where customers are clicking after they read. If you have a call-to-action on your sidebar as well as the body of your blog, this can help you track the source that is leading customers to your conversion page.
It’s an interesting (and very visual) method of tracking clicks on your company blog.
Pro Tip: Install the Google Analytics extension for Chrome. You can view the analytics (or visitor behavior) of a specific page without physically being inside of the dashboard. Just make sure you are logged into analytics so your results will load in the extension.
Measurement of Success #5: Visitor Retention
Yet another Google Analytics tracking source, visitor retention leaves clues for how engaging (or unengaging) your blog is for your customers. Visitor retention generally breaks down into two categories: bounce rate and pages/session. Bounce rate indicates how many additional pages your customer explores after viewing your blog. If your customer views only one page of your blog and leaves, it will result in a poor bounce rate. The bounce rate you want to aim for is between 50-60%. A 60% bounce rate shows that your blog is engaging enough to keep customers around on your website for more than just a couple seconds, and they went on to further explore your website.
The second visitor retention measurement is pages per session. How many pages (on average) are your customers viewing when they read your blog? The higher amount of pages per session per customer, the more depth and interest your content contains for them to continue digging. The pages per session you want to aim for is 2-3/session.
Measurement of Success #6: Lead Generation
Lead generation is one of the easier measurements of success to track as long as you set conversions up right from the beginning. You can create a specific landing page that you link to from every blog post. When the customer clicks to that conversion page, you will be able to track this behavior with Google Analytics.
Another option is to include a form that’s embedded into your blog post for customers to fill out. Be sure to assign the form a specific name or code number; this way you can be sure that the lead in fact came from that particular blog post.
Keep in mind here that it all boils down to what you consider to be a lead. This can be the act of collecting a phone number, e-mail address, or generating a phone call. Either way, almost all forms of lead generation form your blog can be tracked.
Moving Forward With Your Business Blog’s Success
Blogs are a great tool for moving your customers through the sales funnel. When you use your blog to educate your customers and help them make smart buying decisions, your blog will easily pay for itself. You don’t have to be a marketing mastermind to run a successful blog, but you do need to have a plan and be prepared to track your metrics. Keep your data organized and evaluate the performance of your blog on a regular basis. This will help shape your blogging strategy and improve your blog’s performance month after month.
Photo credit: Sowanna / Dollar Photo Club