measuring blog engagement 3

Measuring Blog Engagement

If you’re putting in the time and dedication it takes to publish a corporate blog you’re undoubtedly interested in monitoring the results of your efforts. In short, you want to know whether or not your content is “working”. But how do you determine which blog metrics provide the best answer?

Unfortunately, as I discussed in my previous post, “Defining Audience Engagement: What Marketers Talk About When They Talk About Engagement,” there’s no universal definition for what it looks like when content is “working,” or what that even means. The term currently being tossed around by marketers is “engagement”. We all want our content to engage the reader, to be the epitome of engaging. But what exactly does that mean, and how do you measure it?

One approach is to acknowledge that when we say a piece of content is “working,” or that it’s “engaging” our audience we’re implying there’s a sense of action — the content is causing something to happen, or, more specifically, it’s causing the reader to take some form of action.

measuring blog engagementOne of the keys to measuring engagement, then, is to first determine what that desired action is. In other words, what is it that you want your content to accomplish? In the case of your corporate blog, you need to have your answer firmly established before you even think about publishing your first post.

If, on the other hand, you haven’t determined specifically what you want your blog to do, you’re naturally going to have a difficult time measuring its performance (not to mention justifying its existence). As Tom Ewer, Chief Blog Officer for ManageWP puts it in his great post, 5 Reasons Why You May Have Your Approach to Analytics All Wrong, “Understanding what you want from your blog is the key to effectively using analytics. Until you have figured out what the point of your blog is, you are floating without a paddle. It may sound like a silly statement, but do you really have a perfectly-formed idea of the reason for your blog’s existence?”

Measuring Quantity: Corporate Blogging Conversion Rates

If you have a clear desired action, measuring engagement is easy — simply monitor conversion rates.

Developing a series of blog posts that encourages readers to download an eBook or sign up to receive your newsletter or additional information? At the most basic level you can monitor the posts’ success by dividing the number of visitors who opt in by the number of unique visitors, total. In his Inc.com post, “2 Web Metrics Every Entrepreneur Should Know,” Jeff Haden explains this calculation gives you the Desired Action Percentage (DAP), which is essentially just conversion rate (luckily, we’re not talking rocket science here). With a baseline number in hand you can now make adjustments and try out various calls to action, measuring the impact and effectiveness of each.

But what if you’re not immediately concerned with conversion? What if one of your goals is to simply determine how “engaging” your corporate blog content is? Additional calls-to-action aside, you’re really just interested in finding out which topics are resonating and which posts are “clicking” with your audience — is that really as simple as counting up pageviews? Unfortunately, no. If fact, it’s here where things can get really tricky.

In my next post I’ll dive into the murky waters of bounce rates and dwell times, return visits and inbound links, all in an attempt to pin down what truly signifies audience “engagement” once and for all.

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