Nov 27, 2010

How to Measure the Value of a Blog

Small business owners use blogs to do everything from keeping clients up to date on their business to informing clients of trends in their industry. It’s a low-cost marketing tool that, anecdotally at least, has proven effective.
But can you truly measure the value of a blog? As with other social media tools, you can learn a lot about how people are engaging with your blog and how to better use your content to gain and retain customers.
The most comprehensive measurements address traffic, reach, influence, and engagement. Marketers can create a dashboard that tracks overall trends for each of these metrics over a given time period and then determine how the results impact the online objectives for the business.
Traffic Measurement
Marketers usually have two key sources for measuring blog traffic: site visitors and subscribers. RSS feeds, which are new-content updates sent to subscribers, can provide the subscription numbers, while visitors can be counted with a standard stat tool usually included with a blog host. These measurement tools count the number of daily and monthly visitors. But more useful information regarding blog traffic, such as segmenting new and returning visitors, is possible with an analytics tool such as Google Analytics. To use these tools, first users should check whether their hosting site permits analytics tags.
Benchmarking competitor blogs is also a good idea; it will allow you to see how traffic to your blog stacks up against other sites. Sites such as Compete, Alexa, and Quantcast provide analytics that can give you estimated demographic and psychographic aggregate comparison data.
Reach Measurement
Reach measures how far a given blog post spreads online. Clicks on retweeted blog posts are a good means to measure reach. URL shorteners, such as, usually include a stat tool that measures retweets; but keep in mind that available retweet stats may be limited to only those using the shortened URL. For example, Hootsuite only tracks click trend stats for tweets using the shortener. There are tools that are not limited to URL shortener syntax, such as Backspace.
Alert tools can indicate when your blog posts appear elsewhere online. Google Alerts delivers this information to your e-mail inbox, while Tweetbeep, Hootsuite, and TweetDeck monitor Twitter mentions specifically. In addition, Social Mention and Blogpulse can look up a specific keyword and online buzz associated with the keyword.
Influence Measurement
Influence indicates how well-received a blog or blog post is by an audience. Influence of a blog can be examined as a whole, with many tools that rate blog posts individually.  
For an aggregate rating, marketers can use Technorati. It provides a rating called Technorati Authority for each blog in a given topic category, which rates the influence of the blog.
For individual blog posts, there are various community sites where members share and judge articles. Each site has its own measurement criteria, but most are based on a scoring system like those used for Amazon products or eBay postings. BizSugar, for example, allows its community members to post articles, either from other blogs or even their own, and then vote on posts, using a system of awarding sugar cubes. The number of sugar cubes indicates how well-liked the article is. Similar offerings include Seeded Buzz and Biznik.
Engagement Measurement
Engagement measurement of blog posts can be tricky. Page views can be used, but if multiple post subjects appear on a given page, metrics such as time spent and pages viewed cannot determine what specific content attracted a reader.
A solution metric for the page-view dilemma is a post-to-comment rate based on the number of visitor comments for each post divided by the number of posts. The higher the post-to-comment rate, the more engaged viewers are, and the more likely they are to take action by commenting.
Measurement Tools
Aside from standard measurement tools such as Google Analytics and Yahoo! Web Analytics, paid analytics solutions such as Coremetrics, Omniture Site Catalyst, and Webtrends 9 offer social media metrics integrated with their dashboards.
There are some tools that make specific measurements outside of the scope of standard analytics tools easier. PostRank works in conjunction with Google Analytics and is specially designed for blog measurement, while Mixpanel offers flexibility in tracking actions. Technically savvy marketers can even use open source analytics tools such as Piwik and develop plug-ins for specific needs.
In short, using any of the analytics solutions can help you easily connect blogging metrics to the objectives of your website. This will help you develop blog content that ultimately engages readers and drives clients to your main website and transaction pages.



1 comment:

  1. Hi
    Do you see why demographics and psycho graphics are so important now?
    You are defining who your customer is and what is important to them
    so that when they walk out of your store or buy something from you they get the product and not the commodity.