What return does your blog offer your business? It’s tough to say, because many of the benefits of blogging are intangible. There’s also not a simple, clear-cut way to attach a single metric to it.
The good news, however, is that you don’t have to fly blind any longer. By applying a simple, old-school copywriting framework, you’ll soon have a better understanding of visitors to your blog and know how to make changes that will attract and keep more of them.
Let’s get cracking!
Why a blog’s success is hard to measure
The most beneficial aspects of blogging (and social media in general) — namely awareness or thought leadership — are typically intangible and somewhat abstract. That’s makes it tough to quantify your results, and that which cannot be measured cannot be improved, or perhaps more fundamentally, justified.
The other complicated issue is that blogging (and social media) is mostly serendipitous. The guy or gal who hits one of your blog posts today might not make a purchase for weeks or even months, but it was your blog that introduced them to your business.
Compare that to something a more straightforward, like Google AdWords, where the benefits (or lack thereof) are transparent, letting you see exactly how much money is spent and how much is returned in revenue.
So if it’s tough to measure conversions, where do you begin analyzing progress?
Why an age-old copywriting acronym should guide your analytics
AIDA is a copywriting framework that has been used for decades to move people through an advertisement or piece of content, hitting on all the key influential stages before eventually purchasing.
Awareness, the first step, is obviously about grabbing their attention with the headline and lead. Next your goal is to build Interest and keep them reading long enough until they start to Desire what you’re offering. If all goes well, Action is the next logical step. And we all like action.
It’s a simple idea, but it offers a basic framework that can also be applied to any website or blog — the steps are the same. Initially, your goal is to attract attention. Only then can you build trust with people and provide an easy transition into the more “commercial” areas of your site.
Let’s take a look at how you can get started applying AIDA to your own web analytics.
How to tell if your blog Is ‘working’ with AIDA and analytics
Start by identifying at least one or two metrics for each category that we defined above. The following are a few recommendations to help get you started, but ultimately it’s up to you to determine which metrics might be the most appropriate for your own blog or business.
- Attention: Unique visitors and traffic sources
- Interest: Bounce rate, time on site, and average pages per visit
- Desire: Conversions (such as email signups and freebie downloads)
- Action: Sales!
Creating a Custom Dashboard in Google Analytics will help eliminate all of the distraction and over-abundance of information:
Under Dashboards in Google Analytics, click New Dashboard, and begin adding “Widgets” for each new metric to track. You can also choose between a simple numbers-based metric, or view the information as a graph or chart:
Just getting a few basic metrics up and running will help. However, the real benefit will be in comparing this information to your results over the past 30 days, previous quarter, or even prior year. Inserting additional context like this will help you see which way your results are trending.
How to use ‘AIDA’ analytics to fix your blog
AIDA provides a fantastic framework for optimizing your site.
Start with Awareness, say by working on increasing the number of social shares per blog post by making sharing options more prominent. The Buffer blog does this simply with a floating sidebar option that stays with visitors as they scroll down the page, and continues to politely nudge them to share this information with their friends:
Next is Interest. When you have a potential customer on-site, ideally you keep them around and improve your bounce rate through providing additional options for them to continue reading.
For example, Copyblogger highlights their most popular articles in the sidebar, so as you’re reading you can quickly navigate to other similar articles if they pique your interest:
Next is Desire. This is where you latch onto your customer with micro-conversions (which happen before a purchase).
Hubspot provides multiple options to continue their relationship with readers, asking for either a higher level of commitment or at least a simple email subscription option to get permission to send updates:
Finally, we have Action. This should be the result of all previous steps, which many times might look like a Pricing page, where interested people can now take a look at their options for becoming a customer.
The Rainmaker Platform has a nice, simple landing page with clear pricing and a helpful “progress” indicator for how many steps are required in the checkout process.
Now let’s put it all together, and what do you get? AdEspresso does a good job:
Starting at the top, they provide social sharing buttons to bring in additional visitors. At the bottom, they have Recommended Posts to keep people clicking around. In the middle, they have a free ebook for micro-conversions. Then over to the right, they have a call-to-action for a free trial of their software.
Not bad, eh? Of course, we’re just scratching the surface here, but I hope that the above examples give you some inspiration. The most important thing is to test and measure! Make changes, measure the effect, then react accordingly.
Blogging can be hugely beneficial to businesses, but the results aren’t always easy to see.
Applying a simple copywriting framework like AIDA can help you identify which categories are most important, then drill down into using a few simple metrics from Google Analytics to help tell a story that makes sense of all the data. Now you can make changes or additions to your blog, and tell within a few days if they’re working or not.
What other ways have you used to measure and improve blog performance over time? We’d love to hear more ideas!