Testing, testing…is this thing on? More often than not, a company’s blog becomes an afterthought for an organization. Content managers rush to get posts out to announce upcoming webinars, maintain a deluge of articles for SEO’s sake, or worse: simply publish content to check something off the to-do list to “keep busy.”
But we all know that more content isn’t synonymous with better content. Instead, it’s all about writing the right type of content that is delivered to the right customer at the right time. In order to understand how to make your content relevant and effective, the days of blog-as-afterthought must end.
Instead, use your blog as an incredibly powerful tool for your B2B marketing strategy.
You should think of your blog as a testing ground or laboratory for your company. By carefully looking at engagement and analytics, you can gain incredible insight into who your audience is, what they want, and how you can persuade them to go from a reader into a life-long customer.
Here are five ways you can use your blog as a testing ground to pull more people into your funnel and watch your brand awareness soar. The first two tips are centered around looking at the right metrics so you have a more accurate idea of how your blog is performing. The latter three are things you can start testing today!
1. Start with the numbers
Looking at the number of people who read your blog posts can be a good indicator of whether your content is resonating with people. But don’t get too excited; pageviews, while helpful, can often be vanity metrics. Why? Say you have 1,000 pageviews on your latest post. Awesome! Maybe? But what if 90% of those people bounced after a few seconds, meaning they didn’t actually read the post? Or what if nobody even clicked through to the CTA?
Instead of pageviews, I recommend looking at unique visitors (called “Users” in Google Analytics) which tell you how many distinct people have visited your page. This gives you a better picture of your audience volume. From there, look at your returning and new visitor percentage. Depending on your goals, each percentage offers a benchmark for blog performance. A high new visitor percentage means you’re doing a great job opening up the top of the funnel. For returning visits, the higher the number, the more engaged your audience is, since they are clearly coming back for more.
Lastly, look at bounce rate and time on page. This indicates what the person is doing while reading the post (if they’ve even gone that far). How long are they sticking around to read the content? Who’s leaving right away?
2. Look at engagement
Understanding how people are engaging with your content is even more important. Start with your comments. Who’s responding to the post? Are commenters engaging with each other? A great way to stir up comments is to be direct: Request that people comment at the end of the article! Be direct: Ask specific questions, in bold, at the bottom of your page (like I’ve done below).
Another way people engage with your posts is through sharing on social. Make sure your share buttons are visible and easy to access. Add a few quotes throughout your blog post with a click to tweet option. And lastly, make sure your social media manager is not only following and tracking these shares, but commenting, RT’ing, and responding to the shares people are doing on their own social pages.
3. Play with CTAs
First it’s the what of the CTA, and then it’s the how. Let me explain.
It’s no secret your blog should be a vehicle to drive people closer to your product. It’s up to you decide what you want to drive people to. Will you CTA be to a gated asset, like an eBook or white paper? Will it be to a downloaded case study? Is the ask to subscribe to your newsletter? Or are you driving people all the way to a demo request? Play around with the “what” of the CTA, and see what people click.
Then you need to test how you are displaying the CTA. A/B test the copy on the button, the style (button colors matter!), and even where you put the CTA. (Why do calls to action always seem to end up at the bottom of posts?) Try buttons, clickable images, or even just a bold font. The options for testing are endless here and can really help you figure out what generates the most click-throughs.
4. Test your titles
Typically, people will click through to your blog post based off one piece of information: your title. Make sure you’re testing which types of titles work best; I like to test the “straight forward” title against one that evokes curiosity. For example, the title of this blog post is “5 Ways to Use Your Blog to Test New Ideas.” I could have easily named it “Do These 5 Things to Increase Conversion on Your Blog,” but we’ve historically found that for our audience, more people click through with headlines that are direct and to the point.
And remember, your blog title isn’t the only title you create. Play around with different headlines for your email marketing campaigns, Facebook ads, and Twitter posts. Each channel should provide unique and consistent value to a varied audience, so different titles aren’t only nice—they’re necessary.
5. Consider content
We saved the best for last. Obviously what you write is important, but it’s also important how you present it. Do long-form blog posts typically do well? Or with the attention span of 140 characters or less (#thanksTwitter), should you stick to 500 worlds or less? How can you leverage video and other imagery to break up the text and keep people engaged? Pull-out quotes, surveys, and even gifs shouldn’t be strangers to your blogs. Play around with length, format, and style.
By looking at the right metrics, and testing how your content looks, feels, and resonates with your readers, you’ll be able to continually iterate and build a blog that isn’t only fun to read—but increases engagement, accelerates revenue, and reinforces the power of content in B2B marketing.
I’d love for you to answer these questions in the comments below, and tweet your thoughts at me: @lschwech!
What ways do you test your blog content? What has worked and what hasn’t?
What analytics does your team track? What constitutes a “successful” blog post on your team?