A white paper from Vocus identified 10 key blogging, content marketing and social media metrics. We summarized them and looked at five metrics in-depth. We also added several tips to improve them.

Planning your business and marketing strategy requires a full analysis of metrics and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that are relevant to gauge your success and see if customers and prospects appreciate the ways you interact with them.

Below is an overview of the blogging, content and social media metrics, with a brief explanation per metric. The mentioned white paper provides some thoughts and ideas to improve your blogging and social media marketing efforts for each of the metrics. We added links and ideas to do better.

1. Social media referrals

Visitors who link to your site through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter indicate your reach and influence.

They also indicate if your social content marketing strategy is working. As each social network is different, your overall content marketing strategy also needs a strategy per social network you use to engage customers and prospects. Measure referrals but also look at what people visiting your blog, website or landing pages do when they visit you via a social network to identify which networks work best for you and your customers and analyze ways to improve the effectiveness of your social content or the ways you use the network.

Some ways to improve social media referrals:

  • Adapt the content you want your audiences to find according to the networks you use, from a technical perspective and the usage context. Make sure it fits social sharing behavior.
  • Focus more on shareworthy content. Know what your audiences and their audiences want and learn how to speak to and through them.
  • Engage influencers and connect with peers. Be an active participant in social networks and platforms such as other blogs, LinkedIn Groups or Google+ communities.
  • Be relevant and consistent. Make sure you create and share what people value and what makes them act. But also be consistent and use the social media ripple effect to strengthen engagement.
  • Treat the pieces of content you share using social networks as content themselves. Most people just share content but social networks and media are ‘consumed’ in a specific way. So, offer variations of your headlines, tweets and other messages, based on the context of the channel and usage. Sharing in a sense equals creating content.

2. Search engine ranking

Your site’s position on the search engine results page has a very real impact on your bottom line. Your search ranking is essential since most people still start looking for information on search engines first. Where you rank in search engines is increasingly defined by social media engagement and the relevance of your content.

Some tips to improve search engine ranking:

  • Focus on content. On top of creating the content you need to persuade and engage customers and prospects, you also need to create content for search engine and user experience optimization. Start blogging, find new ways to use your content in a valuable way and include it in your online and social hubs. Search engine ranking is about authorship, engagement and content, on top of on-site optimization and links.
  • Test different content formats. It is often said that people like snackable content but don’t ignore long-form content as search engines take it into account. Also look at the impact of visual content, etc.
  • Focus on good incoming links. The quality of the links mentioning you is still very important in search. However, getting links is also about earning them. The better and more relevant your content, the more people will link to it. Also make sure you have social presences linking back to your content. And don’t forget to link to others.
  • Mind your keywords. On-site Search Engine Optimization (SEO) still matters a lot. Keywords are important so make sure you use them in your content, along with good tags and categories. There are plenty of tools in the world of SEO and of content marketing software, allowing you to improve your keywords. Don’t only optimize for search engines. First of all optimize for customers.

3. Social media responses

Interaction from customers via your social media channels in the form of questions and comments provides major insight as to your target demographic and customer wants, needs and expectations. It is also an indicator of engagement. These responses can come in many forms and shapes such as blog comments, feedback on Twitter, questions on LinkedIn and much more. They offer a unique opportunity to build stronger relationships and provide and gain relevant feedback and insights.

Some tips to improve social media responses:

  • Improve your social listening system. Maybe you use a tool to track Twitter conversations and have ways to monitor and measure interaction on specific networks. If you create a broader and more integrated social listening system and integrate it with other platforms, you can better monitor and spur social interaction.
  • Design for comments and interaction. Comments on a blog have a positive impact on search ranking. Interaction and engagement around content in the social space improves findability. Design the way you interact for comments and pro-actively start conversations.
  • Analyze what content and types of interactions result in responses from your target audiences. This way you know what interests them and you can create more, similar tactics.
  • Build strong and personal relationships. As a blogger or content producer you will get more responses from and interactions with your audiences if you approach them in a personal way on various networks and stick to your ‘personality’.

4. Email list size

Email is a proven and effective form of communication to retain customers and convert social contacts using marketing automation solutions or email platforms. Success is dependent upon an actively engaged email subscriber list. If you use a marketing automation system, make sure you have enough content to convert social contacts into customers through different steps. For bloggers, email is crucial too and in most forms of marketing, including social media marketing, email is the glue in a multi-channel approach. So email list size (and growth and engagement) is certainly a blogging, content and even social media metric. If people like what you provide, they will sign up. And the money is still in the list.

Some tips to increase email list size:

  • Create great content. The best way to grow an email list fast is by offering really great content, especially for your blog. In the Vocus whitepaper, Geoff Livingston, warns for content marketing fatigue, a consequence of the “me too approach” we see in content marketing and is a result of what is sometimes called ‘the content marketing backlash‘ that is caused by a misunderstanding and some hype regarding content marketing. If you want people to provide you their email addresses, you need to offer something in return and that something more than ever should be ‘outstanding’.
  • Target and segment. Even if you’re a blogger, you always have goals and target audiences in mind. Email marketing and marketing automation work best if you have a targeted, segmented and even personalized approach. Offer different content to different audiences. Don’t forget to segment and target on social networks too.
  • Provide choice. Blogs, the hubs of social media marketing often provide email registrations based on RSS-feeds. Subscribers get an email when a new post is online. Managers of LinkedIn Groups often send mailings to their members. Although, these options are good, we advise to offer more choice and create – even targeted – regular newsletters on a frequent basis. People can then decide for what they sign up and you have a segmented approach.
  • Offer more in your newsletter. Why would you only provide your own content in a newsletter? Dare to include content from others you have bookmarked or curated via a platform such as Scoop.it. Some of these content curation platforms allow you to create a newsletter based on curated content. Of course, you can also make a mix of content from different sources. What you offer, always depends on your goals and target audiences.
  • Provide subscription forms when an where it’s fit and possible. Don’t overlook the possibilities of social platforms – such as Facebook – to provide sign-up forms. Many email software providers and certainly marketing automation vendors allow you to do this.
  • Look at your forms in a smart way that goes beyond simply email. Forms are part of a gradual conversion process and consistency is essential here as well.

5. Blog readership

Measure and track your corporate blogging traffic to ensure your blog is getting the traffic and attention it deserves. If your blog is not interesting or well-positioned, it will not be found. If your content strategy and content marketing strategy are absent or bad, you will not gain readers either.

Mass is not what you usually want, you need good readership and visitors, especially from your target audiences. If you don’t have enough visitors to achieve your marketing goals, your blog underperforms and has less value. Remember that a blog is a social media hub and a filter at the same time. There are many reasons why blogs still matter a lot, make sure you know them.

Some tips to increase blog readership:

  • Have a blogging process and an editorial calendar for your blog. Planning and defining goals, depending on target audiences is half the work. Stick to your schedules and your blogging rythm. Test what works best and improve.
  • Mind your blog headlines. Although headlines are far from the only ways that the findability and position of your blog is determined, headlines are essential, certainly in the age of Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. Blog headlines get shared so they should be attractive to social media users in your target audiences. Furthermore, the headline is prominent in search engine results. People often decide to read – or not – based on the headline.
  • Talk less about you and your business and focus on what your readers want. Measure, test and optimize but also define what people want before actually starting your blog, for instance using personas.
  • Improve SEO. Take keywords into account and apply the search engine tips mentioned earlier. Also use an SEO platform to track progress and identify opportunities.
  • Content, content, content.

More blogging, content and social media metrics

The Vocus whitepaper provides more metrics and tips. A quick overlook of the metrics:

  • Mentions.How often your site is mentioned in news articles or blog posts lets search engines know that you are credible, as well as builds exposure to potential customers. What many people forget is that mentions are also essential in talking to and through audiences. And of course, mentions are a great opportunity to engage as explained before.
  • Online reviews.Positive reviews help potential customers learn about your products and services to make educated decisions and feel comfortable working with you. They also impact sales as buyers do take reviews into account as research indicates (see screenshot below).
  • Email opens.Email open rates are a great predictor of how many customers are receiving your message. It’s impossible for customers to know what you are promoting if they never even open the message. Of course there are more important email metrics such as click rates. However, remember that it’s best to have an overview of everything your contacts do.
  • Inbound media/blogger inquiries. Inbound media and blogger inquiries indicate that your search content is working well and are a great predictor of trends and demand.
  • (Online) sales and leads.This is the most obvious and intuitive metric for your bottom line, showing how well your marketing is working online. However, it is often ignored amid all of the fluff of marketing efforts. To understand it, it’s important to define the right social media metrics and KPIs, have the right cross-channel measurement tools and look at social media marketing in an integrated way.