February 5, 2013

Is Your Blog Having An Existential Crisis?

published this at 8:10 am

By James Ellis

Why Do You Have a Blog?

If your reason to have a blog is because a content marketer said to, or because your competition has one, or because you figured out how to install WordPress on your hosted web service, these are not good enough reasons. Blogging is not climbing Everest; “Because I can” does not constitute a good reason.

More than likely, you blog because you have been convinced that the more content you generate, the more sales you will ultimately create. I’m not going to argue with that idea, but I will quibble with your execution.

Content marketing assumes the content you build drives traffic from search engines and links from other web sites. But once someone shows up, what then? Do they read your content and then wander away? Do they even know what you want them to do once they enjoyed your post?

Your blog needs to exist for a reason. And that reason is to get people you draw in to do something. They can buy something, they can fill out the form that asks for more information, or they can just subscribe to your newsletter. But if you are going to lay out all that bait, there needs to be a trap at the other end.

A mountain of blog posts, even excellent ones, without a call to action, is a worthless pile of bits. You might as well hire a million monkeys to type on your blog.

Of course, this leads to the next question: are you measuring your call to action conversions? Do you know which posts create the most conversions? Do they do the most work the first week, or do some posts seem evergreen in their ability to create conversions? Why those posts and not others? If you can learn what posts create the most conversions, you can learn how to not waste your time writing endless useless posts.

It’s a pretty straight-forward process to measure these conversions. Set up a goal in Google Analytics and filter out all visits that don’t convert. What do they all have in common?

Things to look for: What are people coming from social media or your newsletter converting? What works for them? What’s the difference between people who are new to you (found you via search engine or inbound link) and people who already know you (converted because of a newsletter link)? What topics work best? Emotional titles or factual titles?

And based on all this information, what are you going to do differently?

We live in an age when everything can be measured, but if you aren’t willing to see what worked, what’s the value of measurement? And if you don’t measure, how do you justify to yourself the value of building those posts week after week?

So again, what’s the purpose of your blog?

Author’s Bio: James Ellis is a digital strategist, mad scientist, lover, fighter, drummer and blogger living in Chicago. You can reach out to him or just argue with his premise at saltlab.com.

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