Blog traffic, content engagement, online community, social proof, all key aspects of blog marketing. All easily measurable items. But the ultimate goal is one and today my dear friends, we are going to talk about how to measure blog conversion.
Conversion can mean different things for different people. If you blog as a marketing vehicle there are usually two ways of looking at it: a 1-Step process where you directly sell a product and a 2-Step, where your blog focuses on converting a visitor into a prospect, in other words, what we know as Lead Generation. This is usually done through email subscriptions.
Either way, you need to have a way of measuring and visualizing your blog’s performance. Is this possible? Not only it’s possible, it’s also easier than you think.
But let’s start at the beginning. We’ll create an example to explain the process. Let’s pretend you are a consultant/coach for entrepreneurs.
Business Objective vs. Digital Goals
Your business objective has nothing to do with the Internet, it’s a general objective. In this example you sell coaching sessions, you need to find clients that will put you on a retainer for a period of time. That’s your service.
Your digital goals are of course, online focused. What you are trying to accomplish with your blog to get you closer to your business objective. For this example, let’s say that you create content on your blog to attract visitors and on top of that, you have developed other free products to offer those visitors in exchange of an email subscription.
It’s clear that in this example our approach is a 2-Step lead generation process.
Establish The Process
Keep it simple, write a step-by-step strategy of how you want your visitors to behave when they come to your blog. If you have the resources, draw a flow chart to be able to visualize each step. It should look a little like this:
Do you see where you need to track your conversion? Good!
The Metrics (Or… What I Learned From Traditional Media)
And let the metamorphosis begin, you know, from reader to prospect. Now, how do you want to measure this process? what data is important here?
Going back to our example, as an entrepreneurship coach, you develop related content, then you distribute it on social media and do your SEO thing to rank better on search. Right there we have Content Marketing and Search Marketing, in other words, your strategy to get in front of a big audience. Now we have traffic coming in and this is when the fun begins.
Let me share with you something I learned from traditional media. Maybe you didn’t know this about me but I used to own a company selling products such as Directv and T-Mobile, an authorized dealer like any of the ones you see out there, mostly at retail stores. The difference about my approach was that instead of opening a front store, I ran advertising campaigns, took calls at my own call center and ran my own installation and fulfillment companies. This business model took my company to be the #1 Directv distributor in the country for the Hispanic market, a couple of times.
Running the entire process from advertising to fulfillment taught me a couple of things, we would mostly talk about conversion, customer acquisition cost, closure rate and stuff like that. This was the formula I used:
This is easier than it looks, once you have some basic numbers anyways. Let’s go step by step:
- Blog Visitors: From your traffic analytics, take the number of monthly Unique Visitors
- Subscribers: Take the number of new subscribers for the same month, from MailChimp, Aweber or whatever you use
- Visitors vs. Subscribers: There is your first Conversion metric. Divide them and get a percentage
- New Clients: Track how many new clients you get each month from the blog. This is as easy as asking them how they found you, don’t break your head over this stuff
- Leads vs. Clients: Here is your second conversion, just divided them to get a percentage of how many Leads turned into actual Clients. Don’t worry about tracking a specific lead, just look at the big picture
Is that all? Of course not. Then you have Lead Sources, you need to be able to identify where that traffic, leads and actual clients are coming from. Are these visitors coming from Twitter? and how many of them? This analysis will tell you where to allocate your marketing efforts. Maybe you get a lot of traffic from Digg but it doesn’t convert as good as your traffic from Referral Sites or Search.
But we’ll keep it simple for this example, we’re trying to figure out Blog Conversion Rate in this post.
Believe me, you can get very deep with this stuff. We’re not even talking about cost yet. I’ll tell you something else, it’s fascinating once you get it going. I figure…
AWARENESS = CONTROL
The One And Only Tool You Need
This post is about to get better… what if I tell you that you can unleash this revolution of ass-kicking data with only one tool. A one-stop solution as we say. One tool you probably already have.
Yes. Google Analytics baby…
But we need to back up for a second because GA is going to measure Conversion based on a visitor reaching a specific location in your blog. It’s called Goal URL and conversion gets tracked as soon as your reader hits that page.
Create a Goal URL page
In our example our conversion was based on getting email addresses as leads. As you know, when a visitor subscribes to your list they get an email to confirm the subscription (a 2-step opt-in process) and as soon as they click on the provided link, they are redirected to a page usually provided by your service (MailChimp, Aweber or other).
What you need to do is:
- Create a regular page on your blog to welcome new subscribers and
- tell your email provider to redirect to that URL instead to their default (and brandless) page.
That, my friend, is your Google Analytics Goal URL page.
Create a Goal
Now you need to access your Google Analytics dashboard and go to “Edit” on the far right of the blog’s profile.
Go to the Goals section on that page, you’ll see it.
Ready to set up your new goal:
- Name your Goal
- Turn it on so it is Active
- Leave the Goal Position as it is, no need to change it
- For Goal Type select “URL Destination”
- Your Match Type will be an “Exact Match” since your URL doesn’t change
- And under Goal URL type the extension, if the full address is “http://www.yourdomain.com/thankyou” you will enter the “/thankyou” section only
You’re set. Painless!
That quick setup will give you a report that looks like this and much more. You can see that in this image you are getting the total conversions during a time period, the Goal Conversion Rate which is compared against your traffic and the Total Goal Value, which is showing $0 because we haven’t set that up.
You also get other data such as your conversion by day or the Reverse Goal Path which shows you exactly in what page of your blog the visitor converted.
Now, I can see how you could underestimate this stuff but let me tell you that coming from traditional media (yes, I’m a dinosaur) and having to keep insane spreadsheets with monster formulas, the fact that this little setup could throw all this data your way… is just priceless.
Take in consideration that you can set up any type of goals you want and you can have multiple goals. Just to give you an idea, let’s say you’re using E-Junkie to sell an information product that your buyers can download. E-Junkie gives you the option to use their generic download page and they generate a dynamic URL for you OR you can redirect to your own page inside your blog. Right there is your opportunity to track sales conversions.
Think out of the box. Think as an entrepreneur, not as a blogger.
Why is all this important? because the moment you stop looking at your blog as a blog and you start focusing on a real business strategy, everything will change.
Blogs don’t make money on their own, unless you sell advertising and have a million hits every month but that’s a whole different animal.
There is a lot more to this and next time, we’ll talk about how to figure out the cost of maintaining your blog, how much does it cost you to bring in a lead and then a sale so we can get to your customer’s Cost-Per-Acquisition (or CPA).
Share Your Thoughts
It would be awesome if you tell us about your own formula, your experiences tracking conversion or if you have questions, please feel free to ask in the comments. That’s the whole point of this post.