Business Blog Benchmarks

by Jennifer Osborne April 7th, 2008 

What are realistic measures for your clients blog?

You've sold your client on a blog and you've developed a Blog Strategy. Plus you've made the blog much more implementable by coming up with 30 to 50 Blog Post ideas. But for this Blog Strategy to be really successful, one of the most important things that you can do is to manage your clients expectations.

Metrics without some point of comparison are just numbers. What turns that meaningless data into useful information is having a point of comparison.

Blog Benchmark figures are difficult to find.

Typically it's only the top, very successful bloggers who make public their traffic figures, # of RSS feeds, etc. But for the average business blog, these are not a realistic benchmark for success.

In this post, I am going to provide business blog benchmarks. These benchmarks are based aggregate data across a broad range of clients.

1.) Common Measures:

Some of the most common measures of blog success include volume and engagement.

How many visitors does the blog get? Is that number increasing? Is it predominately repeat visitors coming in off your site or is your blog attracting new traffic too?

Number of visitors is really dependent on how broad your industry is. Small numbers are not a bad thing if this traffic is very targeted to your niche.

From what I've seen, average traffic benchmarks for a Small Business Blog = 1,ooo to 2,000 visitors per month; for Mid Sized Business = 10,000 – 20,000 visitors per month; Large, Enterprise-Sized Clients = 50,000 to 100,000 blog visitors per month. This is easily doable with a social media strategy.

What about engagement measures? Three great measures of how engaged your traffic is include Bounce Rate, Time Spent on the Site and Number of Page views.

While there are many factors that impact that bounce rate, as a general rule of thumb, you should consider a bounce rate below 20% to be excellent and over 60% to be fairly high. Between 20% and 60% whether these numbers are high or low really depends on what industry you're in and if you have a high number of RSS subscribers.

Google Analytics measures a bounce as "the percentage of single page visits resulting from this set of pages or page". This means that if you have a number of people sign up for RSS feeds, or read your blog daily. These "one-page-per-day" awesome visitors, will be counted as bounces.

Time spent on site is typically going to be much lower for your blog than for the rest of the site, particularly if your site is attracting a large number of return visitors.

Where time spent on site might average 4 or 5 minutes, time spent on your blog might only average 1.5 to 2 minutes. Time spent on your blog over 4-5 minutes (what would be considered average for the rest of your site) is quite good for a blog.

This is because it only takes about a minute to half read, half scan an average 800 word blog post. If your traffic is spending more than 3 minutes per visit and are visiting more than one post at a time then I'd consider your blog content to be engaging.

2.) Blogger Metrics

Most bloggers I know measure volume and engagement differently; in fact, RSS Feeds and Comments are darn near sacred.

Most people don't publish their RSS Feed numbers until they get a decent number of subscribers. For some that means subscribers in the hundreds, for others it means subscribers in the thousands. Either way, this gives new bloggers unrealistic expectations for how to define success.

RSS Feeds rely heavily on building momentum. The first hundred RSS subscribers will probably take longer to build than it will the next two hundred. This is because it takes a whole lot of inertia to power something from nothing.

For a Business Blog, building your first 100 subscribers is a great achievement.

Most bloggers will agree that there is nothing so satisfying as knowing that you've engaged someone enough to stimulate a comment. I think that it's because as bloggers we "put ourselves out there".

Maybe we're being as true to ourselves as we can be, or maybe we're really honest. Whatever the case, as bloggers we expose our vulnerable side and then…

nothing.

We have no idea how our readers responded to the post.

Unless they comment. Comments turn your blog from a one way dialogue into a conversation.

How many comments should you aim for? Highly successful blog with thousands of subscribers will routinely get 50 to 100 comments per post. These blogs tend to be the most visible but they're not a realistic benchmark for the average business blog.

For a new blog, getting one comment is an achievement. A solid stretch goal for your new business blog, should be to routinely get between 5 and 10 comments per post.
3.) Smoke and Mirrors Metrics

Some bloggers like to measure the "value of their blog". This metric doesn't really make sense for the average business blog though because they are unlikely to ever sell their blog. So if you're never going to sell it; who cares what it's worth?

Another measure of blog success often quoted is Technorati ranking. Technorati ranking is based on links to your site from other sites. For the typical business, this measure has very limited value. If you want to measure links to your blog then there are better tools to do this.

When used as a relative measure i.e. to compare your blog's ranking to your competitors; then technorati can be somewhat interesting. But it should be considered a relative measure not an absolute measure.

4.) The most important metric of all.

ROE "Return on Energy".

Apart from every other measure that I've discussed, the success of your client's blog really just boils down to return on energy. Is the blog making them more money than the next best way they could spend their time and money?

One really cool way to measure the value of your blog traffic is to use Google Analytics. In Google Analytics you can set up your conversion tracking to measure Per Visit Goal Value [the average value (based on goal value) of a visit to your site].

For example, if every visitor who hits your homepage is worth $1.00, you may find that every visitor who visits the blog is worth $5.00.

Basically the ROE of your blog boils down to the following: Is the blog traffic spilling over to the site and are those visitors spending money?

and

are they spending more money than the value of your time invested and/or the amount of money that you are investing in your blog?

As stated earlier, these are benchmarks based on the metrics I've seen. I'd love some feedback on these benchmarks. What have you seen?

————————————————————————————————-
This is the fourth in a 5 part series on Blog Strategy with a focus on clients. This series will explore:

  1. How to Sell your Client on a Blog Strategy
  2. How to develop a Blog Strategy? What makes it a Strategy versus just implementing a Blog?
  3. How to Come up with Blog Post Ideas for Challenging Industries
  4. What are realistic measures of success for your Clients Blog?
  5. How to get your Blog Traffic to Convert
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14 Responses to “Business Blog Benchmarks”

  1. Tom Tsinas says:

    Fantastic post discussing realistic measures for our client blogs Jenn!

  2. Good post Jenn! I think too many business blogs make the mistake of having comments enabled when they're just not getting any visitors. This potentially throws off new visitors towards the quality of the blog, and hence can detriment any return visits.

  3. Nick James says:

    Cracking article, Jenn. I've been back through the other parts of this series and all I can think is: Damn! I wish I'd written this (Or perhaps even had the foresight to think of writing it). Together it makes up a body of work essential to anybody starting out on a social media campaign, being of particular value to those of us entrenched in the practice of blogging, but still relatively new to running it as a feasible marketing tool for clients.
    As you rightly point out, from a business point of view it isn't about the 'love of the writing' but the ultimate financial return garnered from the amount of energy and time put into actually writing the blog. Unfortunately everything has to start somewhere and a slow start (which is only natural for a fledgling blog) can immediately be deemed a failure by business's suffering a lack of understanding and expecting instant results.
    Many thanks for this invaluable insight, Jenn. Can't wait for the final part.

  4. UtahSEO says:

    Oh metrics. They can be tricky, especially when a client has no idea if the metrics actually matter.

    Show them the money. those are the metrics they like most.

  5. Forumistan says:

    Great post about discussing realistic measures…

  6. Kristen says:

    This post came at a really good time for me. Thanks so much for the benchmarks.

  7. Hey Dev – Nice to hear from you! Good point!

    @ Jordan – totally agree – in the end it usually comes down to conversions.

    @ Nick, Forumistan & Kristen – thank you!

  8. Gab says:

    "What about engagement measures? Three great measures of how engaged your traffic is include Bounce Rate, Time Spent on the Site and Number of Page views."

    I have to wonder at the usefulness of these metrics.

    First, as Avinash Kaushik points out, engagement isn't really a metric.

    Second, the metrics of bounce rate, time on site and page views aren't particularly actionable in and of themselves.

    a) Because you don't know why those metrics are that way. Are there lots of page views because you buried the contact page on some 5-clicks-from-home inner page? [Likewise time on site.]

    b) Bounce rate is kinda like 'daily visitors' – so what? Are people more interested because they're bouncing less? That said, this metric is probably more useful than the others, and I can see the argument opposite to mine (e.g. 95% bounce means that you're not delivering what people are expecting – so connect the landers to the title/meta description better).

  9. @Gab – Thank you for the comment! I see where you're coming from and you're right, there can be many reasons why these metrics change. We had a situation where a clients # pages viewed went down because their usability went up.

    However I still think it's important to measure these metrics as they can be the starting point of important conversation with clients – to determine what's driving these figures.

  10. Gab says:

    Hey Jenn,

    My pleasure on the comment – you start intelligent conversations and it's fun talking to someone who's got their thinking cap on :) .

    I hadn't considered the metrics as a starting point for a conversation. That's a good justification, so I have to concede that in those situations, you may be able to prompt action by bringing that stuff up.

    p.s. Thanks for sharing the mini case study re usability v PVs.

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