How do you measure love? What is the value of loyalty? How would you quantify success? Have you ever wondered how much exactly your readers love your writing and how precisely their loyalty translates into blog success?
In this post, I am going to show you how to put a number to an intangible metric of blog quality.
Measuring blog success starts with a simple question - why do you blog? Ask more questions to clarify what you are measuring. What does a successful blog look like? How would you know if it becomes better or worse? What is your blog value?
Once you measured the quality - what then? Define the decision you will need to make based on the newly measured intangible metric. For example, you can justify the resources you spend on blogging to C-suite executives by showing the contribution of the blog traffic to the company revenue. Or you can evaluate the blog success with the intention of making it better.
Here are some example decisions you can make relying on measuring blog quality:
- What types of blog posts should we create more?
- Which topics are the most successful (i.e. generate the most response or revenue)?
- Which authors should we keep?
Those optimization decisions will be rooted in the main reason you started blogging.
Gain authority and influence
An authoritative and influential blog is easy to spot. It will have a growing audience. It will have a growing number of links to posts, increasing number of quotes and references. People will share posts. They will show their approval in publicly "liking" or clicking "+1".
In this scenario, the blog value is the audience. Often the blog is so influential, that comments are turned off. The purpose of the blog is to become the main resource of information in the niche. Growing authority and influence of the blog increases perceived value of the company, products and services.
Continuous increase of the following variables indicate a sucessful blog.
- The number of subscribers
- The number of links to specific blog posts
- The number of shares
- The number of quotes as well as the type of quotes (prominent industry publication has more weight than a directory with low traffic).
- Growing product sales - especially if you have links to specific products or services from posts.
Connect with people or stay in touch
This type of blog is aimed at creating a strong community. Unlike the previous blog type, the number of subscribers is not as high on the list. Even the number of links is not as important. The focus here is on the interactions with readers, their reactions to what has been said in the blog posts. It is important to understand who is reading your blog. It might be necessary to gain instights into demographic information and personal preferences of your readers.
The better the blog is, the stronger the community, the more active the members are. The blog builds authority through interactions as well as information sharing. Strength of the community is another intangible you can measure. But at the minimum, use these metrics to optimize your blog for success.
- The number of interactions - comments, shares, likes, +1s, questions, etc.
- Your average response time to comments and questions.
- Social activity overlayed with new links and citations, new subscribers and new orders.
In order to optimize this type of blog, cater to the community. Lead, educate, and interact with them to make your blog more successful.
Example: Avinash Kaushik blog
Record your thoughts
Blogs are a great way to make your thoughts available to the world. The reason you blog is to keep a record of your opinions and reflections on specific topics. The end goal could be to write a book, for example. You might or might not want comments from readers. You could measure the success of the blog by how consistent you are in creating posts. Perhaps, you would like to focus on specific categories. The value would be to collect everything in one place or use it as a journal or a tool to think things through.
You can measure frequency of posts, or post volume per topic. If you want a larger readersip, look at number of new visitors and number of return visitors to gauge how much your following is growing and if they are coming back for more. If you care about your readers' opinions, track the interactions.
Example: Matt Cutts blog
A pretty obvious way to make money blogging is to add advertising to it. However, it is becoming tougher to do, without getting a Spam King award. Still, many blogs successfully use this model.
Another option for a money-making blog is to sell something - products or services that are complimentary to what your company is making. For example, package all your expertise in a nicely wrapped e-book and sell it on your website. Make t-shirts and other accessories to commemorate your latest meme that went viral. Sell the company hat that a local celebrity wore at a fundraiser. In other words, try to monetize everything without being annoying to your readers.
Measure your advertising ROI, growth of paid subscriptions, sales of add-ons or services or products. Expand categories that make you more money, highlight authors who generate most conversions. The more money you are making - the better you are doing. Use the data to segment and produce more revenue-generating posts and interest more subscribers.
Example: Wall Street Journal
Help customers with products, promotion and advertising
If you are selling complicated software, educate users how to utilize your product to the fullest. Power of knowledge will translate into more sales. Your goal here is to rock your customer satisfaction (another intangeable) and eliminate confusion about your software. You want people to take your product for a spin and tell others about their positive experiences. You want your customers to comment on your "how-to" posts, share implementation cases, and ask questions. This is a great opportunity for interaction and learning from your customer - almost as useful as forums.
You also have a great opportunity for advertising and promotion. Review new software release features or upsel a complimentary product. Promote events, like a user conference or a booth at a show. Publish your case studies.
For this type of blog, measure links from product reviews and number of citations. Decrease of questions about your products indicate you are doing better at reducing confusion. Track how many new features were implemented from customer suggestions and analyze the impact on product development. Conference signups and other sales originated on your blog, will show direct impact on the revenue.
Optimize to reduce confusion, increase comfort using your products, and raise awareness of activities relevant to customer interests.
Example: Raven Tools blog
Measuring intangibles is a round-about process
After you measured the overall blog quality, you can segment the data by author to see which contributors are value-generating keepers and give them a raise. Segment by topic and identify snoozer categories that need to go. Slice your data by user device to learn if you should invest your next bonus in optimizing your blog for mobile use. Learn from the measurements and decide how you can optimize your blog for your goal.
Clearly, there are many other intangibles besides blog quality. You can use these principles to creatively measure tangible value of intangibles to optimize their performance.
Start with the reason you need to measure something intangible. Be very clear on what you are going to do after, i.e. clarify the ultimate goal. What optimization decision will this measurement support? What is the uncertainty that it will help reduce? What do you need to know to move forward?
Decide what to measure based on how valuable the information is to the decision about the goal. Perhaps, identify what will not influence your decision. Measure the most important things. Be observant and creative. Sometimes very simple observations lead to meaningful insights. Once you have measured the intangible, you will be able to proceed with certainty.
Are there any other intangeables you track? How do you measure them? What challenges do you have or overcame?