Analytics, Vanity Metrics, Customer Feedback, Oh My! Measuring Your Blog’s Impact
“If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.”-Lord Kelvin
So said Lord Kelvin, yes, that Lord Kelvin, the one for whom the unit of measurement for temperature is named after. Why should you care what this dead guy (i.e. total badass who happens to be buried next to Isaac Newton AND was knighted by Queen Victoria) says, and what the cuss does it have to do with your business’s blog?
Well…he was right. No matter if your blog has just begun finding its sea legs or if its strutting around like a newly anointed pirate captain, measuring its impact is critical to your business’s health. Otherwise, you’re kind of crawling around in the dark and crossing your fingers. It’s really fun crawling around, to be sure, but next come the gnawing questions. How will you know if your efforts are doing anything, if people are reading your content, (and God help you, enjoying it) sharing it, talking about it, reaching who you want to reach, and then, how will you know how to make your content even better and satisfy your readers even further? For practical purposes, what is and isn’t working?
There are two main ways of measuring your blog’s impact, through analytics (numbers), and direct customer feedback (words). But before we get distracted by these, we have to to do the hard work, coming up with your business’s targeted goals so your data-collecting is actually useful.
Before we even get into the knotty snarl of analytics, clear your head of all the buzzwords you’ve heard bandied about, such as page views, keywords, conversion rate, length of stay, etc. Stop panicking, because they’re not important yet.
The internet is stocked to the gills with information, and it’d be kind of silly if we didn’t put that information to work for us. But! At the same time, we don’t want to waste valuable time with things that don’t matter and drowning in numbers. As we went over before here your blog has an over-arching focus, so make sure your data-collecting has a focus to it as well.
So sit down, grab a pencil, and ask yourself the question “What are the goals of my content?”. Don’t mewl at me, there’s no way of getting around this step. Be thoughtful. After all, this is your chance to show your insider knowledge of your business as no one else knows it. Once you have your main goals jotted down, work backwards from there, and see what concrete data will best express the achievement of those goals. As you become more familiar with your blog and your knowledge of the process, you can shift the answers to suit your company’s needs.
Okay. Okay okay. Analytics. Ye gods, there are so many! For a short crash-course, check out this Kissmetrics article on 5 Must-Have Metrics or Occam’s Razor on Six Recommendations For Measuring your Success. I’d dig deeper into the analytical part but it would distract me from my next point.
Yes, Google Analytics (or whatever you’re using) flashes all sorts of pretty numbers at you about what your customer’s behavior on your site is like. But the reality of that situation is most of those numbers are from Google Analytic’s default setup, which gives mostly vanity metrics (page views, number of visitors, etc). Vanity metrics are ego-fluffing and make you feel good, but otherwise are mostly just distractions from your main goal.
Don’t get overwhelmed, it all goes back to that first step. Wade through the metrics and determine which ones align powerfully with the goals of your content. These are called “actionable metrics”. Pick five, and ignore the rest.
Another way to get feedback about your blog is to…bear with me here…just actually ask your customers. Yes. For one, it’s a more direct route to find out what you want, and it can also give you a more nuanced picture of what people really think of your services.
There are several ways to gather this kind of feedback, such as surveys (as long as they’re short), contact forms, comment boxes, and your various social media channels. Most customers will be eager to better their experience on your blog, as long as you take their feedback into real consideration.
Onwards and Upwards
Words and numbers are a powerful combination, and with a heap of targeted data at your disposal, you should be well positioned to start a cycle of improvement and growth that will keep your business’s content fresh and always helpful to your consumers. Measuring customer behavior and feedback is an important step that shows you take your business seriously and are invested in its future.
As always, in the end what matters most is great content, so don’t let a barrage of metrics or the process of acquiring them distract you. But, if you’re feeling a smidge uncertain of where to take your business next, they are great tools for charting out your next steps.