Lee Odden

Setting and Measuring Goals for Business Blogging

As companies that realize the value of online marketing understand the need to publish engaging content, one of the most common considerations is a company blog.  Blog software is fundamentally one of the easiest content management software systems to install and use. Of course the software isn’t magic. The content and ability to reach and engage with customers is a big part of what makes a business blog successful.

For those companies that are thinking of starting a blog or reinvesting resources into a company blogging effort that has gone stale, some of the most important questions to ask are:  Have you identified specific goals for the blog? How will you measure success?

In sports you can’t score if there isn’t a goal and it’s no different with business blogging.  There are a variety of reasons why publishing ongoing communications that allow readers to interact adds value to a business. Add to that the distribution via RSS that extends the reach of your message and  it’s easy to see why so many companies start blogging. The failure for many business blogs is centered around not making a connection between business goals, blog specific objectives and most importantly, how meeting customer needs leads to the first two.

Here are three key questions to consider as you design your plan for business blogging success:

Why start a business blog? What end goals or outcomes can you reasonably expect?

There are many good reasons to start a blog. But are those reasons good enough to start and stay blogging for the long haul? Our survey on blogging and SEO showed 90% citing blogging as important, significantly important or a primary SEO tactic. 94% of bloggers reported seeing measurable SEO benefits from blogging within 12 months.

  • Initiate and foster customer engagement
  • Improve coverage by media and bloggers
  • Improve search engine visibility
  • Increase mentions on other blogs, social networking, news, bookmarking and media sites
  • Build thought leadership
  • Provide an informative communication channel
  • Recognize employees, clients, marketing partners and especially brand evangelists

How will you know your blogging efforts are successful according to those goals? How are you measuring blogging success?

We ran a poll last year with our readers that ranked their most important measures of blogging success. Here is the distribution:

  • Engagement: comments, links 36%
  • Improved brand recognition 31%
  • Build thought leadership 31%
  • Search engine rankings 31%
  • Better communicate with customers 30%
  • Traffic to the blog 27%
  • Coverage by media and other blogs 18%
  • Traffic to the corporate web site 16%
  • Sales leads 16%
  • Industry Recognition 13%
  • Sell products 2%
  • Improved customer satisfaction 11%
  • Page views 9%
  • Time on Site 6%
  • Ad revenue on the blog 5%

What tools are you using to measure blog performance?

Goals for business and the blog are great but it’s essential to have the right tools in place for analytics. One of the biggest mistakes is to rely on things like Google Alerts.

  • Web analytics (Google Analytics, Woopra, Clicky, etc)
  • Feedburner
  • Social media monitoring tools
  • Link analysis tools
  • Comment tracking tools
  • Clipping services
  • Forum conversation tracking tools

It’s fundamental, this notion of setting goals, understanding outcomes and the tools needed to measure. But you know the saying, “Common sense is the least common thing on Earth.”  Companies can achieve great return on investment with the right plan and leadership in a blogging effort. The key is to do the baseline work to build a foundation upon which it can grow and succeed.  Stay the course and leverage both listening and engagement tools to guide content. Develop networks and distribution channels to grow readership and reach. Take the time to really understand the impact of data provided by reporting tools and create reports for executives that highlight business goals.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced with setting, measuring and reaching business goals through corporate blogging? Have you started a business blog only to shut it down? Have your company blogging efforts been successful beyond expectations?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.

Comments

  1. christoalnz says:

    Great post, very informative .. keep up the great work.

  2. My latest blog is just over one year old and I do monitor my goals and stats. But I have found it hard to determine what realistic goals should be set for traffic, commenting and number of clients.

    For the record:

    Blog is PR4

    262 posts

    2489 approve comments

    Alexa Ranking: 40,732

    Backlinks: 16,400

    Below average? Who knows?

    Andrew

  3. Thank you for the insight, Lee. It's recently become apparent that our company blog is not generating the readership that we had originally intended. With this in mind, I have set out to completely revamp our blog. For me, this post came in perfect timing and I'll definitely take everything here into consideration during the re-construction phase.

    Tessa Carroll

  4. runnerkik says:

    I read your blog all the time. I use google analytics, web master tools, and some of the free seo tools on the internet to measure how I am going. I am on your site today looking for some good link building tips for a start up. Thanks for the good post.

  5. Sean_Gallagher says:

    Great post! Thanks.

    The line “In sports you can’t score if there isn’t a goal and it’s no different with business blogging.” really hit home. It made me think about my past blogs and their goals and I realized that I didn't really have any aside form ranking so I can make more money.

    I am just starting a new blog (http://startupfreedom.com) to give advice to people that have lost their jobs or hate their jobs but want to start an online business. This post got me thinking about what my goals are. Traffic goals, value goals, communication goals.

    For me a blog was always a place to spread ideas and a sort of community to discuss those ideas. I never thought about tracking certain vital stats to see how well my ideas are spreading and how well they are being discussed. Feedburner stats, email opt-ins, comments, analytics are all awesome things to track!

    Thanks for the advice! The timing of this post couldn't have been any better for me!

    And thanks to Andrew R for posting his site details in the comment a few before mine. I guess the only way to know how much traffic to expect is to benchmark other sites in the industry.

  6. patsikrakoffakatheblogsquad says:

    Great post, Lee, because you bring up the issues clearly. Goals aren't the same for every blog. And traffic isn't money.

    I love the fact that you run polls on your blog, which gives readers reasons to come back, and reasons to engage with you more.

    Congratulations on being one of the Top Content Marketing Bloggers, well-deserved!

  7. sarahdstemen says:

    This is one of the ways I have started to leverage blogging for my business. My business is so new though that I am not sure how it has helped. I was wondering if you TopRank could do a article on when Google Bot runs and good tips to get spidered. We have made tons of changes to our site (purchased existing not SEOed site), and we are looking to see some results)

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  11. brodiebrown says:

    Thanks for the info, Lee. Our e-commerce site, madeinrio.com.au is not yet live, however, we have begun implementing a blogging plan that will hopefully see increased visibility and traffic to our main site in the next 6 months or so. Good thoughts mate, thanks!

  12. I was very surprised to see that in your poll, only 2% was for selling products. For a sales company, it would seem that would be the most import reason for blogging. Gaining cosumer confidence in order to sell more products. I guess in any marketing effort, no matter how big, a 2% return is a good thing

  13. To me, a blog company is really important to exchange with your customers and to show them that you are there, near from them, giving advice “for free” on subjects which an interest them.
    In my case, I manage my company blog with Tiolive software. This seems to be the most simple way to operate for me since I'm currently using this software to run everything in my business (accounting, contacts & prospects, marketing, inventory, etc and also, my blog.)

  14. Do customer really believe that blogging builds credibility? I mean i tell customers the things i am blogging about in person. Does the blog make it more real?

    • Customers that search and research online find credibility in the information they find that's relevant and useful. Whether that info is published in a blog format, video or something else, isn't the issue. Building credibility with online customers before they connect in the offline world can shorten sales cycles, generate referrals more quickly and in some cases, lead to larger sales because the prospect has already been educated. Being real is real, blogging adds to, not replaces that.