Let’s talk about your company blog
Your company blog is one of the best top-of-funnel marketing assets you have. At my last startup, our company blog was responsible for 40% of our website’s traffic and became the cornerstone of our thought-leadership and content marketing engine. We produced 2-3 posts per week, built a network of trustworthy contributors, wrote awesome guest posts – and we did so 100% blind. Not once did we stop to chisel out the metrics that could validate our work or provide low-hanging fruit where improvement was concerned, and it appears we were not alone. I have been asking fellow marketers about their company blogging habits and learned that most marketers do not have insight into their company blog, but why?
What makes analyzing blog metrics so difficult?
Over 92% of companies with an active blog have built their blog inside their company website much like Pardot does, and while that set up works well, it can make analyzing the blog separately from the overall website very challenging. In my experience this is the single biggest reason that marketers don’t have a clear picture of their blog’s analytics, the data is simply hard to get. The good news is that if you have Google Analytics installed on your website, the data is there – it just needs to be accessed. More on this in a bit.
What metrics should you be tracking when it comes to your blog?
Overall Unique Visitors and Pageviews
This is overall traffic to your blog. Analyzing this number on a monthly basis will give insight into your audience size, growth, and seasonal trends that might affect your blog readership. Knowing these trends will help you plan your content and is a great prompt to add additional calls-to-action that can take advantage of increased traffic during peak months. For lesser trafficked months this is a signal to plan more engaging content to overcome the natural down-traffic trend. Another important take-away is the ability to visualize what % of your website traffic is coming from the blog. Remember, blog posts have amazing long-tail SEO benefits over time and you should be able to report how much traffic the blog brings in. We found the blog was responsible for 40% of our overall web traffic!
Visitors and Pageviews to Your Homepage
Why is the homepage special? While most blog traffic is going to land on your individual blog post pages via organic search. I consider visitors that enter our blog via the homepage more important. These visitors are more likely to consider the blog a “destination” and very often are return visitors that have come to rely on us for high quality content. Paying attention to this metric will tell you if there is opportunity for optimization.
Pages Per Session, Bounce Rate, and Avg. Visit Duration
Engagement is one of the most important areas to monitor. These three metrics are always a work-in-progress and can be impacted by making small improvements to your blog.
Pages Per Session: A great blog will have a metric above 3, an average blog 1.5. Where do you fall?
Bounce Rate: A bounce rate at or around 50% for a blog is considered quite good. Web traffic comes from so many random sources that it is difficult to push this rate much lower. Achieving the 50-60% range is a great accomplishment.
Avg. Visit Duration: We started at 1:50 and I asked the team to shoot for 3 minutes. With the ever-shortening attention span of visitors an average of 3-3.5 minutes is quite good. If your blog visitor duration is over 5 minutes please comment and share how you maintain engagement. If your engagement numbers are lower than you would like don’t worry this can be improved with a few technical upgrades and/or a plugin. At my last company our bounce rate started at 88% but after adding a “recommended for you” widget at the bottom of our posts the number dropped to 70% in 1 month. Readers were coming to our site, reading the post they landed on, and not finding their way to 100’s of other posts -simply criminal! If you use WordPress, I’d recommend looking for a “related posts” plugin or a plugin that offers the even more modern “infinite scrolling” posts model that Venture Beat uses.
If you have found a great WordPress plugin to keep visitors engaged please share your favorite in the comments below!
Count of Email Subscribers
An amazing statistic I found researching company blogs is that over 40% of companies with an active blog using Pardot do not give blog visitors the option to receive content via email subscription. Almost as shocking is that 20% of the companies that do offer a subscription do so using Feedburner – a Google owned but “left-for-dead” tool built in 2002. As a Pardot user I would recommend creating a blog subscriber list and tracking the total numbers over time. If you’re looking for a 3rd party plugin to automate sending blog subscriber emails give FeedOtter a try.
Finding your blog’s data
At the beginning of this post I mentioned that your blog data was in your website’s Google Analytics account. The key to exposing this requires creating a custom segment for your blog users. Once you’ve done this you will be able to view and report on just the blog portion of your site.
For a complete walkthrough on building the Google Analytics segment and a pre-built dashboard that you can import into your Google Analytics account check out Creating a Company Blog Dashboard in Google Analytics.
What other blog metrics do you track on a regular basis? Have a great blog dashboard to share? Please let me know via comments below!