The following is a guest post by Justin Butlion:
Justin Butlion is the co-founder of Feedio, a marketing platform for bloggers that focuses on RSS-to-email, social media engagement and blogging analytics. Justin loves to write and talk about online marketing and entrepreneurship and is a die-hard English Football fan.
Us bloggers are living in a golden age when it comes to access to useful analytics. Everything from country of your visitors to their individual activities on your site can be tracked, measured and analyzed easily and for little to no cost.
In this post I cover 5 important metrics every blogger should be tracking. I’ll cover how to get your hands on the relevant metric and how it can be used to improve and grow your blog. Let’s dive in.
Incoming traffic distribution
The distribution of your incoming traffic paints a very detailed picture of the health and standing of your blog. You can get this information from Google Analytics for free by accessing its “Channel” and “Source/Medium” reports (see screenshot below).
I personally prefer the “Source/Medium” report as it shows a bit more detail and can be easily turned into a pie-chart so I can see the percentage breakdown of my traffic.
By understanding your traffic distribution you will be able to answer the following questions:
Do I have a healthy traffic distribution? – If a too large of a percentage of your traffic is coming from one source then you run the risk of seeing a large drop in traffic if that source disappears or changes.
Am I get traffic from the sources where my target market lives? – If your fans are all on Instagram then you should be getting a significant amount of traffic from Instagram.
Am I getting traffic from my newsletter and other promotional activities? – If you are investing a lot of time and money in paid activities then understanding the amount of traffic you are getting from these channels is critical.
Are other bloggers and content sites liking my content? – Traffic from other sites is called referral traffic. Understand the percentage of your traffic that is referral traffic will help you understand if your content is getting linked to from other sites.
Email subscribers per post
Email still remains a very powerful channel for bloggers and I believe every blogger should be actively getting email addresses from their visitors.
Tracking email subscribers as a whole is important but understanding which of your posts are getting you the most email subscribers is much more helpful.
Feedio is a free tool for bloggers which handles all your RSS-to-email needs. Feedio also has out-of-the-box analytics features which shows you how many subscribers each of your posts are bringing. All you need to do is add Feedio’s email capture widget to your blog’s sidebar or at the end of each post and this information will be automatically recorded in Feedio.
The screenshot below shows how this information is presented in Feedio.
Understanding how many subscribers you are getting from each post can help you answer the following questions:
Which of my posts resonate the most with my readers? – This will help you choose topics to write about which result in more subscribers, shares and ultimately help you grow your following.
Does using email capture at the end of my post help me get more subscribers? – By being able to track subscribers per post, you can now run different experiments on different posts to see which approach to growing your email subscribers works best.
Social share counts
Tracking your social share counts on a per-post level is important for understanding the shareability of your content. Content which is not getting shares is not remarkable and needs to be avoided. Constantly trying to improve the number of shares that each of your posts gets will help you write better and grow your blog’s traffic.
There are a number of plugins for WordPress that help you understand how many shares your posts are getting. My favorite is Social Metrics which does the job. The plugin hasn’t been updated in a long time but I still use it on the latest version of WordPress and haven’t experienced any issues.
If you don’t use WordPress for your blogging or would prefer not to install a plugin for this purpose then Feedio provides the number of shares and mentions on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, no matter which blogging platform you are using on a per-post basis.
In addition to reading your content there should be one main thing that you would like your readers to do. This might be providing you with their email address or clicking through to buy your latest book on Amazon. Whatever the action is you need to use CTAs (call-to-actions) to get visitors to do what you desire.
Understanding the conversion rate for your different CTAs is important so you can set a benchmark and try and improve it over time.
Understanding your CTA conversion rate can be a bit tricky but let’s look at an example.
Let’s say you provide a free eBook for download on your website. You use the eBook to capture email addresses of potential clients. The full flow for this funnel is 1) visitor visits your blog, 2) visit clicks on CTA, 3) visitor fills out form and is sent the eBook.
In order to understand the conversion rate for this funnel you need to calculate the value for each step in the funnel.
To understand visitors to your blog you would use Google Analytics. For understanding clicks on the CTA you would look at Bitly or events in Google Analytics or Kissmetrics. For downloads of the eBook you would look at emails submitted through whichever tool you are using to facilitate this process.
You could then see the drop off at each point and understand which step in your funnel is the most problematic and start optimizing.
Quality content breakdown
The first step to driving more quality content to your blog is understanding where your quality traffic is coming from today. There are a few ways to do this kind of analysis.
The first way is to look at how your different traffic channels are performing in regards to engagement on your blog. You can do this in Google Analytics by looking at time on site, bounce rate and pages per visit for each of your traffic sources. Make sure you are looking at a minimum of a few hundred visitors in order to limit variance in your data.
You may notice major differences in bounce rate and pages per visit from specific channels which would indicate that you should try to better leverage these channels.
The second method is to understand which traffic sources are bringing you your conversions. If you have Google events or a tool like Kissmetrics or Mixpanel set up then you can connect traffic which converts (downloads your eBook or subscribers to your blog) to their traffic sources.
Understanding which traffic sources are bringing you conversions will help you understand where to spend your marketing budget and make the biggest increases to your overall conversion rates.
In this post I specifically covered 5 metrics I consider very important but there is no doubt that I could add many more to this list. If you have other metrics which you track and optimize religiously then let me know in the comments section below.