Blogging has become an essential part of any B2B marketer’s toolkit. In the 2015 State of Digital Marketing report, WebMarketing found that 60% of B2B companies have a dedicated blog, and that 60% of B2B marketers post at least once a week.
But is it enough just to post? How do you, as a marketer, know which of your blog posts are connecting with customers and which don’t? Does it even matter?
The statistics say it does. In an article on Forbes.com, marketing metrics firm McKinsey reported that on average, companies that use blogging metrics and analytics are 5-6% more profitable and productive than their competitors. And it makes sense. After all, if we use metrics to track and improve website performance, why wouldn’t we use them for blogs, as well?
Here are just a few of the metrics marketers can track, and how they would benefit our content marketing strategies:
Visitors. Visitor tracking can be broken down into several important metrics, each of which says something important about the blog’s performance.
Number of visits. It’s not enough to count the total number of visits. You can (and should) break it down to number of visits per post, too. This helps you identify which blog posts are attracting the most traffic. And if you can manage to track when these visits occurred, you may be able to identify the ideal time for posting. Do blogs perform better on Mondays, or Thursdays?
Unique and Returning Visitors. Unique visitors are important for sure, but they’re not wholly accurate. It depends a lot on the user’s cookie settings, and is probably best considered a ballpark figure.
Returning visitors, however, is a much more relevant metric—even if it suffers from the same accuracy problems as unique visitors—because it shows you how many regular readers you’re pulling in. Regular readers are the difference between a successful blog and a failure, and it’s in your best interest to track and increase this number as time goes on. In Google Analytics, this number is counted as “Frequency.”
“Stickiness” Sure, you’re getting visits. But are people sticking around to read it? That’s what “stickiness” tries to track.
Bounce rate is a metric that tracks what percentage of visitors back out of your blog within a few seconds of landing on it. A high bounce rate may mean you have weak or uninteresting content. Analyze the bounce rate of each blog post to see which is the weakest.
Session duration is the more positive cousin of the bounce rate, which tracks how long people linger on the blog post—presumably reading it. The longer the session, the better.
Shareability Even the best blog in the world needs some help getting found. That’s what the shareability metrics attempt to track.
Inbound links are an excellent way to find out how many people are linking to your site, with the added bonus that inbound links are very good for SEO. Keep in mind that these have to be genuine links, not paid or fake links (which will get you penalized by Google).
Social media shares are another way to track how popular your blogs are, although this is somewhat outside of your control. The right person sharing your post could mean a traffic spike in the thousands.
Most blogging platforms already have some degree of analytics built in to their interface, but it’s always a good idea to use something more robust. Google Analytics is a great option for companies with tight budgets, although the best, most specialized content marketing metrics tools require some investment.
Just remember that the objective of these metrics is not to help you play the numbers game. Rather, these metrics are meant to help you and your marketing team create compelling, relevant content that your readers will find valuable. Because at the end of the day, it’s about being useful to our customers.