By Michael Gerard published August 19, 2015

A Quick Guide to Measuring Your Blog’s Impact on Business

measuring-blog-impact-cover

You’ve started your business blog, you’ve begun to tap into internal and external folks to help create content, and you may even have tapped into curation to help fuel your content engine. But how do you know if your blood, sweat, and tears are worth it?

More importantly, how can you demonstrate your blog’s impact to your vice president of marketing or your CMO to get continued support and secure more investment?

There’s no way around it. You need to measure the impact of your blog on audience engagement and, ultimately, on your pipeline. Your marketing operations team would refer to this as marketing performance measurement. Your metrics also should include indicators of the efficiency of your content supply chain.

Based upon our survey of more than 425 marketers, the majority of companies are using vanity metrics to measure the impact of their blogs. The most advanced content marketing teams (i.e., the 10K Club with 10,000+ blog page views per month) are leading the pack with more advanced marketing and sales pipeline metrics. (e.g., marketing leads, influence on sales).

vanity-metrics-chart-image 1

A marketing performance measurement endeavor is never easy. Therefore, start small with your target metrics and expand from there.

These blog metrics and related targets should be tracked for three months to best gauge the success of your blog:

Production

These metrics will help you manage your blog budget, as well as provide the foundation for return on investment analyses.

  • Supply chain – number of posts planned, in process, ready to be published, etc.
  • Time – average time from concept to publication of a post
  • Writer-specific metrics – throughput and ultimate impact of individual writers should be considered as evaluation sophistication grows
  • Cost – production, distribution, promotion

Performance

This data will provide a solid foundation for setting internal goals. Metrics should cover:

  • Sharing – social media link shares, “likes,” retweets
  • Consumption – page views, unique visitors, average time-on-site
  • Engagement – session duration, page depth
  • Retention – percent of visitors returning to your blog, bounce rate, number of visits, pages per visit (Google Analytics data)

Pipeline impact

To push beyond these so-called “vanity” metrics and better demonstrate the impact of content on the business, marketers are determining how their blogs affect the marketing and sales pipelines. These more advanced metrics, as detailed below, can be difficult to attain; however, a new category of marketing software, content marketing platforms, is emerging to fulfill this need.

Here are the metrics to monitor:

  • Marketing pipeline – new leads generated (first, last, and multi-touch) and existing leads touched
  • Sales pipeline – percent and dollar value of opportunities generated and touched, percent and dollar value of opportunities won
  • Return on investment – blog impact percent equals dollar value of opportunities minus the total cost divided by the total cost

Wrap-up

Start with the easier metrics to track, such as engagement and retention, then work to measure marketing and sales pipeline impact. Here’s a handy reference guide that breaks down the metrics by difficulty level to help your evaluation process.

business-blogging-metrics-image 2

These metrics will help quantify the worth of your blog and help you make better-informed decisions regarding what types of content to create. Find out what type of posts (format, topic, etc.) are generating the biggest impact on your pipelines and continue to create those types of posts.

To learn more ways to prove the impact of your blog, be sure to download this complete guide to business blogging: Business Blogging Secrets Revealed.

Quantifying your content marketing impact is a hot topic at Content Marketing World 2015 in September. Will you get in on those numbers? Register today using code CM100 to save $100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Michael Gerard

Michael is the CMO of Curata — a CMI Benefactor. He is responsible for Curata's marketing strategy and all related activities. Michael has over 25 years of marketing and sales experience, having successfully launched and sustained three start-up ventures as well as having driven innovative customer creation strategies for large technology organizations. (e.g., IDC, Kenan Systems, Prospero (mZinga) and Millipore). Michael received his MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, as well as a BS in Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an MS in Engineering from Northeastern University.

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  • http://www.toitinfo.com শাহ আলম

    I think facebook fanpage is more useful for online business.

    • Michael Gerard

      No doubt that Facebook should be a consideration during development of your content distribution strategy; however, its importance may vary based upon your business, target market, etc. Afterall, it’s a top 3 social media platform used by organizations to distribute content according to CMI’s own 2015 study. http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/2015_B2B_Research.pdf

      Thanks for the comment.

  • Roger C. Parker

    Michael: In addition to the tips you share, I applaud your summary Business Blogging Metrics graphic. It provides a visual and memorable way to remember and share your article. Simple technique with a lot of value. All in all, an evergreen topic with lasting relevance.
    Roger

    • Michael Gerard

      Thanks Roger!

  • http://transeo.com.au Angelica Manlunas

    It’s time to let the work you’ve put in, work for you. These metrics are really useful not only after publication but during strategy as well. Sometimes we get too busy with producing content that the goals are left behind.

    Thanks, Michael!

  • DanielHochuli

    Hi Michael, some good points are made in this article, I thought I’d share my thoughts, which for the most part seem to align with your sentiments.

    Firstly, pageviews is such a misleading metric and not a proper indicator true visits. I prefer Sessions or Unique pageviews as they are much closer in terms of actual numbers of people visiting your blog. The numbers are not as high as pageviews (which is often why many marketers don’t use them), but they are more accurate. That said, Sessions and Unique pageviews are not without their flaws.

    Secondly, don’t roll ‘shares’ and ‘likes’ together when reporting on social engagement. They are not the same and tell you different things about your audience. For example, if you goal is to raise brand awareness – the only metric you should be reporting on is ‘shares’ (and maybe ‘impressions’). The reason is ‘shares’ increase the amount of impressions your post achieves organically and thus increases your reach to new audiences. Business goal ticked!

    As for ‘likes’, I believe ‘likes’ can be a good indicator that you are creating content your audience wants, however, this metric is easily manipulated, especially if you put paid behind it. Many marketers report on ‘likes’ because it is, as you say, a ‘vanity’ metric but, in terms of your business goals, it means nothing other than a gauge of audience sentiment. ‘Likes’ don’t contribute to growing your audience, making conversions or bringing traffic to your site – so what use are they to your performance?

    Finally, putting a dollar figure on a blog is setting it up for failure. It is not natural behaviour for a visitor to read a blog post and then purchase a blog post. Therefore, a blog should not be treated as a conversion tool. It is a lead nurture and brand awareness tool – the same way a billboard or TV commercial is. Often marketers make the mistake of comparing its performance to the performance of your website’s product pages in regards to transactions. This is a totally wrong way to look at it, especially if your blog is a microsite and separate from your main site and products.

    So, how I measure success is by reporting on the user journey from the blog to a conversion page. For example, if a visitor arrives on the blog and then moves to a product page, that is a goal completed. That visitor has moved a step closer to conversion from the blog, which is what the blog should be designed to do. After the visitor has moved from the blog to a conversion or product page, it is up to the product page to influence the visitor to make the transaction (this includes having a good UX, competitive price, great reviews,etc) – nothing about the blog can aid with that. .

    Similarly, for a microsite blog or subdomain, I monitor internal link clicks to the main homepage or an appropriate CTA in the content.

    • Michael Gerard

      Wow, lots of great comments and input Daniel. Thanks for sharing. Good stuff!

      I agree with most of what you’ve said, except for the part that a blog is similar to a billboard or TV commercial. (i.e., at least in our situation as a B2B marketing team) Our blog is a key part of our content marketing strategy, and as such, it is a key component to our revenue creation process.

      As a B2B marketer, I want to understand what role each of my marketing activities played along the buyer’s journey. Our blog at Curata has a significant role in creating and nurturing leads in marketing’s pipeline, as well as generating and nurturing opportunities in sales’ pipeline. We don’t necessarily look at individual contribution as a metric, but multi-touch attribution towards deal closure.

      For example, using our Curata content marketing platform, we’ve determined that one of our blog posts helped generate 780 marketing leads, touched 3,000 marketing leads, and touched $92,000 in sales opportunities. These buyers are not purchasing our software based upon reading that one post, since after all, the B2B buyer’s journey requires many types of interactions; however, it is valuable to understand which of our content marketing efforts were most important towards influencing a purchase. As you correctly mention though, it is important to recognize that the blog is not the sole source for deal closure.

      Thanks again for the great comments.

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