When you’re looking at your business blog metrics, it’s always nice to see high traffic. But the number of visitors your site receives is just a small part of the picture. What’s even more important? Finding out whether your visitors are truly engaging with your content — and, even more importantly, if your site visitors are viable sales prospects.
Try these strategies for assessing whether your content marketing efforts are reaching the right audiences.
Analyze your referral traffic sources
Most business sites receive traffic from a mix of referring sources, which might include social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter; social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon, Digg, or Reddit; and links from websites on similar topics.
Social bookmarking sites often send the most traffic — in fact, StumbleUpon accounts for more than half of all U.S.-based social media traffic, according to a recent report. But, even when the numbers are high, you may not be reaching the audience you’re seeking.
Consider the common audience demographics of your referral traffic sources: If you run a business-to-business site, does traffic from individual-focused sites like StumbleUpon and Digg fit your mission, or should you focus your promotional efforts on business networking sites like LinkedIn?
Likewise, while Digg may send substantial traffic to a particular article, its user base is male-heavy and not particularly wealthy: A typical Digger brings in less than $50,000 a year, according to Ignite Social Media’s 2011 Social Media Analysis Report. While exposure to a large audience can often boost your site’s SEO rankings, relying on such sites for traffic isn’t an effective long-term strategy when you’re searching for qualified leads.
Focus instead on promoting your content to related industry blogs, and through your company’s existing social media channels: Though traffic rates may not always be as impressive, visitors from these types of referral sources are more likely to engage with your content and achieve the conversions you’re looking for, such as newsletter sign-ups and e-commerce purchases.
Look at your keyword search results
You’re not done studying your site analytics, yet. Next, take a look at the search terms that are driving traffic to your site.
If you sell sofa-beds, but are posting about — and getting search hits for — your dog rescue efforts, you’re probably not using your blog effectively as a marketing tool. Rescuing pets is certainly commendable, but the people visiting your site to read about how you saved Shadow aren’t likely to shell out for a sleeper sofa.
If many of your most popular website search terms are for terms that are only tangentially (or not at all) related to your core business, it’s time to start thinking more strategically about creating content that relates to your business goals. Start a secondary blog for the side project or hobby that’s bringing in keyword traffic, and focus your main site on content based around keywords that your target consumers are likely to be searching for.
Pay attention to user engagement measures
Are visitors bouncing away from your site within a few seconds, or do they tend to linger for a while, browse through your archives, and maybe even sign up for your newsletter? If your website visitors rarely view more than a single page at a time, it’s a sign that they’re either not your target audience, or that the content you’re producing isn’t compelling enough to entice them to stay. (For tips on creating content that pops, read Heather Rast’s recent post.)
Take a survey
You can learn a lot about your website visitors from your analytics metrics, but the best way to tell if you’re attracting the right prospects is to simply ask them. Use a free survey tool, such as SurveyMonkey or KwikSurveys, to create a list of questions to assess your users’ demographics, and their likelihood of using or buying your product. Keep in mind, however, that most visitors who fill out surveys are already engaged, so they may not represent your audience as a whole.
The bottom line? High traffic is nice to have, but if it’s not helping you reach your business goals, it’s just costing you bandwidth. Take the time to analyze your content strategy and marketing approach so that you can target the right online prospects every time.