With blogging, success doesn't happen overnight.
I know, right? How many times have you heard that little nugget of blogging wisdom?
But seriously -- a B2B business blog is a huge time investment. It can take a while before you've grown it into a truly valuable marketing asset.
In the past, we've written about the blogging metrics you should be tracking to report on your blog's success. But we've never really talked about the strategy behind blog measurement.
Yes, there's a strategy. And it all depends on the maturity of the blog you're measuring. You see, blogs that are new and blogs that have been around for years are totally different beasts -- and they should be treated that way.
These days at HubSpot, we're dealing with both: our mature Marketing Blog (the one you're reading right now), which has been around for 8 years, and our much newer, one-year-old Sales Blog (which you should also be reading ;-)
In building our Marketing Blog from nothing to the more than 1.5 million monthly visitors and over 300,000 subscribers it has today, we've learned a few things about growing a blog -- and how you should measure success at every step along the way. These are not only things we're applying to our growth strategy for our Sales Blog; they're also things you can apply to the growth of your own business blogs as well.
New B2B Blogs: Focus on Traffic and Subscribers (Not Leads)
Launching a brand new business blog can be extremely daunting. You're starting from scratch on so many levels -- creating an arsenal of blog content from nothing, leaning on little to no previously garnered search engine authority ... not to mention building readership from diddly squat. And that last one is important, because you'll never get significant business results from your blog without eyeballs on your content.
As a result, for new blogs, building an audience should be your primary goal. This means your measurement focus should be on traffic and subscribers first and foremost. This also means that, when a blog is in its infancy, lead generation shouldn't be a priority just yet. I know, right? It almost sounds blasphemous.
But put those lead gen calls-to-action (CTAs) up on a shelf for a while. Before you can even think about converting blog visitors into leads, you need to build up a critical mass of dedicated readers -- fans of your content who will share and evangelize it to new visitors. This is how you continue to grow your readership over time.
Let me explain using data from our more mature Marketing Blog as an example.
Consider this: Approximately 70% of the initial traffic we attract to a new post on HubSpot's Marketing Blog comes from email subscribers.
This provides an initial base of traffic to our new blog content. And even though it's mostly made up of repeat visitors, that initial surge of traffic leads to views, social shares, and inbound links that translates into organic search traffic growth over time. And that's vitally important, because organic search traffic is the most sustainable source of traffic to a blog -- and it's often made up of brand new visitors who have never even read your blog before.
In other words, building up that dedicated mass of subscribers is critical to a blog's long-term traffic growth.
So for newer blogs, trade in those lead gen CTAs for subscriber CTAs, and make subscriber generation your conversion focus for a while. To help you get started, check out this post for some great tactics for converting visitors into subscribers.
Mature B2B Blogs: Continue Focusing on Traffic & Subscribers, But Add Leads to the Mix
Time to dust off those lead gen CTAs! For a more mature B2B blog, lead generation should absolutely be your goal. So once you've built up that critical mass of subscribers, your primary goals (and thus measurement focus) can switch over to traffic and leads.
Exactly when you make the shift will depend on a number of things like your business model, your marketing strategy, how aggressive your lead generation goals are, and how much traffic you're generating to your blog. As a general rule of thumb, make sure you're seeing steady month over month traffic growth to your blog for many months (primarily from organic search) before you start thinking about optimizing your blog for leads.
And once you start incorporating lead gen CTAs into the mix, that doesn't mean your traffic and subscriber goals should get kicked to the curb. After all, without a continuous supply of new visitors to your blog, you'd run out of people to convert into leads -- and attracting more and more subscribers will continue to help power the growth of your blog overall. Keep traffic as a primary goal, and simply downgrade subscriber generation to a healthy secondary goal so you can focus your conversion efforts on lead generation.
How else should you shift your measurement focus as your blog grows and matures?