You’ve probably seen a lot of blogs and companies showcasing big numbers such as:
- 100,000 visitors per month
- Over 5,000 signups per month
- 30,000 registered users
- 1 million likes on Facebook
- 75,000 followers on Twitter
Big numbers are great to show off. Media loves to publish them. But how far has these numbers helped you in achieving your primary business goals?
I mean, it’s great to see these numbers, but if they are not helping you achieve your business goals, then all these are “vanity metrics” that give you a false sense of success.
A business blog is an “inbound” marketing strategy to get interested visitors in your niches be bought to you. By consistently writing about topics that are directly related to your business, or to niches that are relevant to your business, you ensure that you bring in more targeted visitors to your blog.
So how do you measure your blog’s performance?
In any sport, your primary objective is to win the game, but you can’t score if there are no defined goals. You can’t score in soccer if there is no goal post, and you can’t win in badminton if there are no defined sets.
Likewise, your business blog’s performance is defined by your primary objective.
Success in business depends a lot on key metrics. You need to define some metrics to understand how well your blog is helping your business goals.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) helps you measure your blog’s performance and decide where tweaks are needed.
What is a Key Performance Indicator (KPI)?
A KPI is a metric that shows your progress towards a defined business goal.
If you look at your blog like a company, you would define KPIs as the small performance metrics that you would give to individual departments, which collectively achieve the company’s primary business goal. Within departments, there would be individual KPIs etc, but you get the picture.
Define your blog’s primary objective and how you want it to help your business.
By “primary objective”, I mean the reason why you started your blog in the first place. When you have a defined primary objective or goal for your blog, it becomes easier to figure out how.
Are you looking for:
- More product sales?
- More content engagement?
- Improved brand recognition?
- Building authority in your niche?
- Improve search engine visibility?
- Getting more coverage in the media and other bloggers?
- Bringing in more sales leads?
- Engaging more with your customers and improve customer satisfaction?
Define and track your key performance indicators.
- Number of orders/sales per month (conversions)
- Number of targeted visitors per month (potential/acquired leads)
- Number of shares and comments on your social media links (engagement)
- Ranking for keywords and search visibility
- Inbound links from popular websites in your niche
- Email signups (and open rates)
- Pageviews and Average session duration
- Returning visitors
- Bounce Rates (high bounce rate -> low engagement)
- Traffic sources (how are people finding you?)
- Clickthrough rates – CTA (great to track if you are writing product reviews or running ads)
Depending on the nature of your blog and your primary objective, the metrics that you want to track would be different. And of course, there are other factors such as where your revenue is coming from (AdSense, advertising, product sales, etc).
Analyze your KPIs
Once you’ve done the above, analyze your KPIs and see how your blog is performing. Make tweaks as needed.
- Which one of your posts do people spend more time on?
- Which post is getting more inbound searches but lesser conversions?
- Which one of your KPIs are helping to boost your ROIs? Which one is performing lesser?
- What is the ROI of your blog?
You get the idea… Track your performance metrics and understand where your blog is lacking or leading. Track these metrics consistently and identify what works for your blog and use it to reach your business goals.
Are Vanity Metrics Useful at all?
Vanity metrics are useful if you use them the right way.
Of course, showing off the numbers gives you a good feeling (who wouldn’t want a million followers on Instagram?), but as mentioned above, these metrics do not correlate with the value generated by the business.
The numbers that you should be looking at for those are the ROI (Return on Investment), CLTV (Customer Lifetime Value), etc. which you cannot get directly from any social media platform.
To draw a parallel, Facebook pulls in more than 3 times the traffic of Slideshare as a channel, which looks good if you’re just looking at the number of clicks.
But when we go deep down to conversions, Slideshare is more valuable compared to Facebook. Unless your metric is paired with a business goal, it’s just a number.
So how can you use these metrics for your benefit?
Here are a few ideas:
Use Vanity Metrics to Optimize your channel for your audience:
While metrics like “likes”, “shares”, etc. does not necessarily boil down to conversions, it does tell a story. It shows you the type of content that your audience likes (or sometimes, hates), and helps you to better understand your audience and optimize your social media channel accordingly.
Use A/B testing to understand what type of content your audience engages with:
A/B testing (split testing) helps you to compare two or more versions of your content with different marketing assets (images, etc) and see which one performs better.
As an example, let’s say that you use two different images on your content to see which image your audience resonates with. You give these two versions to different groups of your audience and see how your audience engages with them. Finding out which version works better helps you to make future decisions when creating new content.
Troubleshoot and fix issues with your content:
Using vanity metrics, you can figure out if your content or campaigns on social media are underperforming.
For example, if you are getting a below-average Click Through Rate (CTR) – clicks against impressions – for a paid FB campaign and your impressions are low, that could mean that you are not reaching the right audience or not enough of those.
On the other hand, if you have a large number of impressions, but your clicks are less, you could be targeting the wrong audience or your content is not compelling enough to get an engagement.