By Heidi Cohen published February 2, 2011

21 Real Blog Metrics Your Company Needs to Track

Blogs no longer get the same buzz as their newer social media cousins, Facebook and Twitter. That said, blogs are at the heart of social media, especially if you’re involved in content marketing. Chris Brogan refers to blogs as your social media outpost because blogs supply the content that drives social media conversations. In 2011, eMarketer projects that roughly two out of five companies will create a public-facing blog.

Despite needing to be accountable for other kinds of marketing campaigns, CMOs forget to use the techniques they rely on with other forms of marketing when it comes to blogs. Why? Surveys show that the top metric for measuring the effectiveness of a blog is reader comments.

Of course, comments are a sign of activity and reader engagement. But do most CMOs take the time to read a wide array of blogs and comment on them? I doubt it–like most of their audience, they probably lurk.

The reality is that like any other marketing strategy, blogs must be aligned with your corporate objectives. And in turn, your metrics need to be directly related to determine whether you’ve achieved these goals.

To this end, here are 21 blog metrics to assess your success relative to your marketing objectives. [Note: You may also want to check out this list of content related metrics.]

Count visits and unique visitors

  • Where do your visitors come from?
  • Where specifically do they go on your site?

Goal: Attract your target audience.

 

Pageviews

Don’t only look at how many pageviews your site has in general. Instead, look at specific pages and what readers do there:

  • Which pages and categories attract your readers?
  • Where do they click to and where do they leave your blog? (Hopefully, you’re sending them into specific product-related pages on your website.)

Goal: Track areas of reader interest and show contribution to purchase process.

 

Time on site

This metric shows how engaged readers are.

  • What is the average time people spend on the site?
  • How much time do people spend on specific pages?

Goal: Get customers to spend a lot of time engaged with your content and brand.

 

RSS feeds and email lists

Measure sign-ups for your RSS feeds and emails lists to determine if the blog is helping you build an online following.

Goal: Build an audience for your content.

 

Brand-related metrics

This encompasses a broad spectrum of branding metrics such as brand recall, favorability, sentiment and intent to purchase. This is often tracked via surveys.

Goal: Show brand growth and/or change of perception.

 

Product information metrics

This includes a number of targeted promotion codes used and click-throughs to purchase or place in cart. Does assigning more information help readers make better and/or faster purchase decisions?

Goal: Increase sales (also expand cross-sell and upsell).

 

Call to action

Use a call-to-action and a unique promotional code to track results.

Goal: Support sales with appropriate content.

 

Blog-related revenues

  • Track sales related to blog content.
  • Link to appropriate product pages on your website.
  • Upsell on post-purchase support pages.

Goal: Increase revenue generation.

 

Search rankings

Is your blog content helping you improve your search rankings? Use keywords to create relevant content.

Goal: Be more findable and reduce search optimization expense.

 

Inbound links

How many sites are linking into your blog? How influential are they?

Goal: Improve your SEO efforts.

 

Outbound links

How many outbound links do you have?

Goal: Get attention of experts in your field.

 

Intra-company links

Since links are an important element of showing what’s important, do you have links to other relevant areas of your site?

Goal: Support search optimization efforts across the organization.

 

Number of social media shares

Count social media shares and note which platforms readers use (such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others like StumbleUpon).

Goal: Expand reach cost effectively and maximize earned media from social shares.

 

Video or other media downloads or views

Instead of relying only on text, liven things up with entertaining content such as video, audio, presentations and e-books.

Goal: Distribute content to broader audience and enhance your brand. Can also be used to provide product information and post-purchase support as well as to expand thought leadership.

 

Post-purchase support

See how many people download or read instructions  for using product.

Goals: Reduce returns, encourage repeat purchases and reduce customer service inquiries.

 

Number of customer questions answered

Includes number of posts and number of customer questions. Answers to these inquiries can be sourced from across your organization. Are new questions being submitted? Do their comments need further clarification?

Goal: Reduce customer complaints and customer service expense.

 

Reader comments and/or votes

Bear in mind that most visitors will only lurk, take in your content and take no further action. It’s important to show that you’re responsive to readers by responding to customers’ comments. (Note: Often bloggers account for half of the comments on any given blog post.)

Goal: Expand community engagement.

 

Community engagement

Get prospects, customers and the public to share commentary, photographs and videos of your product in context.

Goal: Enhance your content and community engagement.

 

Media links

If you’re creating a positioning platform, one effective metric of success is how many media companies and bloggers link into your blog as a source of information.

Goal: Get additional executive exposure.

 

Number of posts

How much information are you generating? It’s useful to have an editorial calendar to keep yourself on track.

Goal: Have fresh content on a regular basis.

 

Blog-related expenses

Track costs for your bloggers, editorial staff, technology support, design and other areas that may affect your blog.

Goal: Assess full cost of blog against other communications options.

Bear in mind that every blog doesn’t need to track each of these metrics. What’s important is to track the ones that are most important to accomplishing the business and marketing goals that your blog aims to achieve.

What blog metrics are you tracking and why? How do these relate to your marketing goals? Are there any other factors that should be added to this list? If so, please include them in the comments section below.

Author: Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is an actionable marketing expert. As president of Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi works with online media companies and e-tailers to increase profitability with innovative marketing programs based on solid analytics. During the course of 20 years, Heidi has obtained deep experience in direct and digital marketing across a broad array of products including soft goods, financial services, entertainment, media entities and crafts-oriented goods. Heidi shares her actionable marketing insights on her blog. Find Heidi Cohen online at Twitter @heidicohen, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Other posts by Heidi Cohen

  • http://www.peppervirtualassistants.com Crixia Zinnia

    This is great and informative. I could use some this information to maximize my potential on building traffic for our company’s website

    • http://HeidiCohen.com Heidi Cohen

      Crixia– Glad to help. Remember it’s important to set blog goals in line with your overall business strategies. Also, check out my other columns on building a corporate blog. Please let me know if you have specific questions. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://www.stevemacalpine.com steve macalpine

    If I had a dollar for every time I relayed this sentiment to clients I’d be rich!
    “The reality is that like any other marketing strategy, blogs must be aligned with your corporate objectives. And in turn, your metrics need to be directly related to determine whether you’ve achieved these goals.”
    a great post, thx Heidi

    • http://HeidiCohen.com Heidi Cohen

      Steve–I totally agree. It’s as if marketers forget that they need measurable goals with related metrics to assess their progress when they use blogs and other forms of social media. Please let me know if there are any specific questions that you or your clients have. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://twitter.com/jayolson1226 Jay Olson

    This is a nice checklist of key metrics to consider and a great reminder to align them with your marketing strategy and bus. objectives. Thanks for sharing Heidi!

    • http://HeidiCohen.com Heidi Cohen

      Jay– Always looking to help marketers improve their work and keep it on track. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://www.webfadds.com Scott Frangos

    Hi Heidi -

    Excellent list — thanks for that. The only item I would add is “engaged visitors” to test how well the content engaged those that read it. In Google Analytics, it’s easy to set up a custom segment for this, where “engaged” means they viewed three or more pages. Of course the opposite of engagement is a direct “bounce” away, so I like to look at both in a custom Analytics report.
    Cheers -
    Scott

    • Dean Ford

      Good point Scott, We’re integrating an e-mail component to our Product Launch Blog to promote the Buzz of an emerging campaign. The goal through measuring click-throughs is to determine engagement and overall sentiment.

    • http://HeidiCohen.com Heidi Cohen

      Scott– Thank you for adding to the conversation. You make a good point about checking how engaged your readers are. But remember that most people will only read your content. Also, readers may do so on other devices or environments that don’t allow further engagement such as a blackberry. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

      • http://www.webfadds.com Scott Frangos

        Hi Heidi – Not sure what you mean by “most people will only read your content”? All conversion studies show that engaged visitors are more likely to complete a desired business outcome at your site(s) — like a lead form, etc. — so, this metric is more important than most. Google Analytics does track mobile devices like blackberries and smart phones. So, if you’ve written something that engages visitors, those engaged visitors are more likely to become customers and clients.

        • http://HeidiCohen.com Heidi Cohen

          Scott–

          Agree that engaged prospects are good for desired business outcomes but this is a small percentage of all visitors and readers.

          My comment referred to the 90% lurk/9% comment/1% create ratio of social media. Therefore, most of your blog readers won’t take any action.

          What I meant about engagement is that research shows that many content consumers do so in small bits (between other activities such as waiting for your kids) or on-the-go (such as waiting for or on the subway, etc) so that they’re less likely to engage.

          Happy marketing,
          Heidi Cohen

  • http://blog.openviewpartners.com/blog/the-open-marketer Amanda Maksymiw

    Heidi,
    I know I am a few days behind here but this is a great list of critical blogging metrics to track. I appreciate that you have included goals to support each of the metrics because we all know the dread of death by numbers. My company just released a new eBook (http://bit.ly/openviewlabs) which covers launching a corporate blogging program step by step. If you have the chance, I’d love to hear your feedback on it!

    Cheers,
    Amanda

  • http://twitter.com/JeffKryger Jeff Kryger

    Thanks for this excellent list of metrics! You’re posts continue to be super helpful as I work to develop my first corporate blog