As an Account Manager at Compendium, I've had the opportunity to help many clients launch their blogging programs. Each process always starts with a conversation where we talk about the client's goals for their program.
While most clients have identified at least one or two reasons for launching a blog, many haven't fully thought out the entire strategy. As a matter of fact, I run into many companies who have even been running blogs for years without having a fully developed strategy behind the campaign.
Whether you are setting out to launch a brand new business blog or if you are simply trying to optimize the one you currently maintain, the 3 steps below will help ensure that your strategy is effective and measurable.
Whether your strategy was driven by upper management or not, you will most likely need to report back to them at some point. Your goals may be to humanize your brand and engage your current customers, but you need to make sure your upper management is on board with those goals. Here are some common goals that your upper management will likely get on board with:
The last two potential goals are very advanced and should be considered only by companies that have benchmark data and the appropriate systems in place. In addition, some goals can simply be a matter of functionally accomplishing something. For instance, some businesses simply need a quick channel for communicating with their target market and/or customers. However, these types of goals are still usually supplemented with some sort of measurable success metric.
You may have noticed that all of the goals listed above were measurable. This is very important but often overlooked. If your goal is simply to engage your customers, how will you know whether or not you are successful? You won't unless you find a corresponding metric to monitor.
If you have an existing blog, try finding benchmark data first (i.e. average search visits per month, average comments per post or per month, average leads generated, etc.) and then create goals to increase production either by a hard number or by a percentage. This type of measurable goal strategy will help you determine whether or not each tactic you employ is effective.
USE CASE: I just had a client tell me that they wanted to increase subscriptions to their blog. After doing some digging, I found out that they wanted these subscriptions because they wanted to increase their thought-leadership among their current clients. After discovering this, we looked at the percentage of their clients that were subscribed to receive blog updates. This gave us a benchmark, and we were then able to determine a more meaningful goal - x% increase in subscribed customers.
In this instance, the client quickly decided that they would measure thought leadership by subscribers. After drilling into the heart of this goal, we found that measuring the percentage of engaged clients was a better measure of success.
In addition, they made the assumption that their clients wanted to receive blog updates. What if their clients preferred engaging by downloading printable guides that they could read on the commute home from work? We should then measure engagement not only by subscriptions but also by the number of client downloads of guides that the client offers on their blog.
Taking time to think through your goals will ensure that your entire strategy is in order. As you can see from the example above, even the types of content that you produce will be influenced by your goals.
At first glance, you may think this point is obvious. However, it isn't uncommon to finish steps 1 and 2 and then find yourself with a measurable goal that your current technology isn't able to measure. If you decide that your goal is x number of deals closed, you have to make sure that you have closed-loop tracking in place. I run into this a lot with clients that want to use existing landing pages to capture client information and feed it into their CRM. That is great, but some systems aren't able to read your analytics and determine where the lead originated from - every lead is captured, but there is no way to decipher the source.
For another example, think about measuring engagement by tracking social shares, likes, +1s, comments, etc. Are you simply going to have one of your team members surf your blog and count the social counters and comments by hand? Not likely. The new Google Analytics interface provides a way to report social sharing data, but you must configure it. You will also need to make sure you have a good way to report the number of comments you receive and be able to aggregate all of the data together.
After investigating what is technically possible for your organization, you may determine that your measurable goal is not currently trackable and implementing the additional tracking is too costly. If that is the case, go back to step 2 and determine another measurable goal. The next best goal will usually be just one step back in your sales funnel (i.e. if your goal is leads generated, but you can't track your lead source on your landing page form, then measure the number of visits to the landing page as your goal.)
There is a lot more to launching and executing a blog than just the three steps mentioned above, but these steps will help you determine your overall strategy and metrics. After completing these steps, you will be ready to start putting together your tactical plan. Interested in learning more about blog planning and strategy? Download our free whitepaper on the Five Ways to Guarantee Content Marketing Success.