Set Realistic Blogging Goals & Expectations
This is the 2nd post in my series on how to blog like a pro. When setting out to blog it is important that you first set goals. These goals will guide the topics you write on, your writing style and how you promote your blog post, all of which we will discuss in the coming weeks. In this blog post we'll evaluate the most common business blogging goals and some key performance indicators for each goal type.
Goal setting is a simplified way of saying we're setting our Objectives & Key Results (OKR's). Put another way the objectives of our blogging initiatives and the key results we hope to obtain. From our OKR's we set Key Performance Indicators (KPI's). These KPI's will be similiar to the gauges on your cars dashboard, communicating to you whether or not the strategy you have implemented to meet your OKR's is on track. Good KPI's create expectations, drive action and are typically a ratio or percentage compared from one month or quarter to the next. If a 10% swing in your KPI doesn't make someone in your organization stand up and say what happened here, it's probably not a KPI. Now that we've set the scene lets create some Blogging Goals (OKR's).
Setting Blogging Goals (OKR's)
Blogging takes a LOT of time, so what are some of the business goals that should be tied to blogging? Below I have identified some blogging goals, as well as some Key Performance Indicators related to each goal.
- Increase traffic to your site - This is the most common goal I hear and the one that I challenge business professionals with the most. What's the point of increasing traffic if it does not add to your bottom line? If this is your goal, dig deeper and consider a few of the goals that follow. KPI's: % Increase in site traffic, broken down further: % Increase in Search Engine Traffic, % Increase in Blog Aggregator referral traffic, % Increase in Social Media referral traffic, etc.
- Increase your KEY Search Engine Rankings - Blogging is an excellent way to increase your websites rankings (SEO), in Google, Yahoo or Bing for your key terms. By key term I mean, if you're an answering service and that is your most competitive keyword than that would be a key keyword (also key phrase, query or searches). KPI's: % increase in key keywords ranking, % Increase in the number of keywords your rank for (found in Google Webmaster tools. An increase in queries would show that you are ranking for more key phrases and thus people will find your business for a wider range of searches).
- Increase brand awareness - Increasing awareness is more than just increasing traffic and often related to increasing brand authority (below). Increasing awareness is all about introducing your brand to people within your target market (TM) who had never heard about your company before. How do you do this? Blog on relevant information about your industry. Write intriguing posts that speak to your TM's interests and nomenclature. KPI: % Increase in New Visitors
- Increase Brand Authority aka Thought Leadership - This is a more specific sub goal of increasing your brands awareness and comes with different strategies and KPI's. It is especially helpful in high trust sales situations to have a high level of perceived brand authority or thought leadership on a subject. If a mid level manager says to their boss, "These guys are the authority on XY & Z products and services" it will make the senior levels decision pretty easy, not to mention if you achieve your goal you can charge more as people are willing to pay for expertise (credit for this point goes to Tom Horton). KPI's: This is a harder metric to quantify but some of the following will help get your there % increase in guest blog opportunities, % increase in social shares, % increase in pingbacks, % increase in blog features (industry rag or news or other pick up and republish your blog), % increase in diggs on Dig, % increase in plus' on Reddit, % increase in speaking requests etc.
- Increase Sales -This is an interesting goal because it's one every businessperson comprehends/wants yet few understand how to achieve this goal by blogging. Fact is blogging may not bring any new sales in and of itself. However if done right it will increase your search engine rankings for terms that do convert! If will help close sales as prospects evaluate your website, if there's good content and you position yourself as a thought leader. The truth is blogging can and certainly does increase sales when done right. We worked with a nail polish manufacturer to implement a blogging strategy not specifically around nail polish but more around fashion trends and outfit combinations providing links where they could buy the nail polish color matching the outfit. KPI's: % Increase in sales from traffic originating in your blog, % Increase in sales from Search Engine Traffic, % Increase in sales from Social Media sites (as users share your content).
- Engage your clients & community - Engaging or activating clients & community is the process of creating intrigue or sparking interest and conversation amongst your clients, prospects and industry at large. Very similar to Networking (see below) in the "real world." Engaging or activating clients & community can drive a variety of benefits. You can create new partnerships, develop new business opportunities, improve your business process or product, and decrease your customer service costs. KPI's: % Increase in average blog post comments, a PR (personal Record for you track geeks) for blog comments and shares, % increase in social shares, % increase in republishes etc.
- Network with others with similar interests - This is an extension of engaging your clients and community. The only addition I have is to try connecting with your "real world" contacts through your blog. If you meet with an interesting person who you think could provide value on your blog ask them to write a guest post. The same KPI's as above work here.
- Increase your or your staff's industry knowledge - Blogging requires an immense amount of thinking, researching and organizing of your thoughts. I highly recommend blogging solely for this purpose. The act of writing down your thoughts on particular subjects and communicating them in a logical fashion will improve your communications in all facets of your life: from personal to professional, personal (meetings) to impersonal (email etc). KPI's: This is a much harder OKR to track, however you can create topics for yourself or your staff and goals for say, daily blogging to increase the content you've generated.
- Create content for your newsletter or for a book - Okay I'll say it, writing blogs, newsletters, whitepapers or a book are all a ton of work. However, like any hairy audacious goal when broken down into smaller more manageable pieces becomes much more feasible. Use your blog as a place to organize your thoughts and get feedback before publishing. KPI's: % Increase in eNewsletter open rate, % Increase in click-through-rate from eNewsletter, % Increase in calls from paper Newsletter (for those of you still in the stone age?) etc
That is just a quick list if you can think of any other please add your comments below.
You're not going to be able to retire from your job and become a full time blogger over night, nor will you see droves of new traffic and business. Blogging takes time. Think of it as you would joining a new networking group, you're not going to get everyone business right away; it takes time to build trust. Give yourself 1 quarter to put a strategy into place and measure your results (KPI's), if you're headed in the right direction great, if not tweak. But most importantly STAY CONSISTENT.
In summary, before you set out to write your blog FIRST create goals aka Objectives and Key Results as well as Key Performance Indicators to track your progress (so you can tweak your strategy!).
- Close your eyes and visualize how your life or your business is changed as a result of blogging.
- Write down your goals and hang them in your office - afterall goals that are not written down are nothing more than wishes.
- Pick some KPI's to support your goals and find how to track those metrics in Google Analytics or any other reporting system.
- Talk to your colleagues and managers about the benefits they see in blogging.
My primary goals for blogging include, increasing brand awareness & thought leadership, increasing search engine rankings, engaging my community, and generating content for my company newsletter and book.
In future posts I will discuss actionable strategies for achieving each of the goals above.
Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts or just say hi and let me know you stopped by. If you found this blog of interest please share it with you community, or subscribe to the RSS and if you're interested in having Bonsai Media help your company create a successful blogging strategy please contact us.