You’ve done it. You’ve dumped any idea of a quick or automated win and you’ve jumped with both feet into content marketing, starting with an insightful, interesting business-related blog. There appears to be traffic going to the blog, but with tradeshow season coming up soon, you have to make a decision on whether to continue with the number of tradeshows you run a booth at, or to put more effort into the blog. Measuring the tradeshow success isn’t too bad since you can track new customers in your CRM and see if they came from the tradeshows, but how do you measure success from a business blog?
Whenever I call a new business, I’m delighted to hear them ask the magic words, “Where/How’d you hear about us?” The simple fact of the matter is that no tracking method is perfect, so at the least, you should absolutely ask the magic words of any new customer calling in. You should also ask existing customers, especially if they’ve called you out of the blue asking about a product of yours that they haven’t used before (but that they might have heard about on your blog). If you track your lead sources in your CRM, make sure that blog is one of those options.
How do prospects use your business blog?
Part of understanding how your blog is doing is measuring how you think it will be used. You can:
- Make an educated guess as to how people are going to use it.
- Ask them how/if they use it.
- Figure it out after they start using it using analytics.
Understanding this is crucial, because if you’re measuring at the wrong part of your customer interaction, like measuring at point of sale when your blog is used to introduce people to a concept, you might be missing the boat on how great an impact it’s having. If your goal is to get more coverage from industry magazines, then measuring any part of a customer interaction is going to be totally fruitless!
Google Analytics has become the standard for measuring website usage and effectiveness, but like anything, it runs better in some circumstances. Ideally, your Google Analytics should be setup with business relative goals. To put it simply, you want to be tracking what matters: generating new leads, providing product information to existing customers, etc. All the other stuff; visits, bouncerate, etc, are just means to an end, and not as close to real business results as a good custom goal. Within Google Analytics, there are 2 great reports that you should build and keep an eye on:
Which channels are bringing home the bacon (or soy)
Online marketing involves a different recipe for all companies. Some need a dash of social media, others need a heaping pile of SEO, some are driven by email newsletters, and yet others rely on other referring websites for their incoming prospects. Understanding the channels that bring visitors to your website will give insight into where you should be putting your time. By default, most of these reports sort by number of visitors. If your goals are setup and you get enough of them, you should be able measure according to goal completions so that you’re measuring what matters.
Personally, I like to make dashboard widgets for all of these kinds of frequently viewed metrics. It makes it easier to hop in, check out how things are going, and get out. Here’s how I setup my channels dashboard:
Making your own channels report:
Once you’ve logged into Google Analytics, click on the “Home” button in the orange navigation bar at the top. This will put you into the dashboard view. You can make a new one if you like, or use one of the others that are there. Hit the “Add widget” button, choose “pie”, and do “goal completions” grouped by Source/Medium. Give your new widget a snappy title, and you’re off to the races! If you don’t have enough goal completions to make things interesting, or if your website is based on advertising and visits is a more important measurement, use visitors instead of goal completions.
Dashboard on topics
I find writing for a blog to be a lot of fun, but what really turns my crank is when I hit on topics that are incredibly well received or successful. If I write a few posts on a topic tackling it from a few different angles and they all flop, I’ll happily stop writing for that topic. There are an unlimited number of topics out there for you to write on, but only so many hours in a day, so it’s important to know what’s working and what kind of content your prospects really find interesting. In this case, I’m going to make things easy and give you a pre-populated dashboard that you can use to make your own topical success dashboard! Log in to your Google Analytics, click the URL below, select your profile, and the dashboard will be copied to your Google Analytics. You’ll have to customize the topics to match your topics, but other than that, you’re off to the races!
- Log into your Google Analytics, and then click the link above.
- Select the account and profile you want this awesome dashboard to apply to.
- Revel in the pre-loaded breakfast-based.
- OK, you’re probably not getting a lot of visits on breakfast stuff, start customizing these widgets!
- Hit the little cog in the top right of the widget you want to edit.
- Change the topic from the nonsense I have, to a topic you want to track.
- I’ve got all the widgets setup to match on pagenames, so that you can see how many visitors you get to any page that has “ham” in it, for example. Keep in mind that “ham” will also match on “hamster”. Depending on how your website was built, you may have to choose “page title” instead.
So there you have it, 2 new ways of understanding how people get to your blog, and what topics are doing the best. If you have any questions with setting up analytics tracking on your business blog (or questions on Google Analytics in general), feel free to send me a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do my best to help!
Adriel Michaud (Guest Blogger)
As Partner and Director of SEO at Top Draw, Adriel Michaud is committed to maximizing ROI for his clients. He helps companies understand how effective internet marketing can drive their business forward and set them apart from the competition. His fact-based approach to web analysis, along with his extensive industry experience, translates into business process improvement and online success. Adriel has traveled extensively as a consultant and presenter on such topics as lead generation, search engine marketing and sales.