Key performance indicators…KPIs, they get a bad rep in some circles, but if you’re not closely monitoring them like a hawk, your business will be hitting the rocks in no time.

Content marketing is the new SEO. If you are serious about building trust as a means of acquiring long term customer base, your blog should be one of your primary acquisition channels. But it takes a high level of commitment.

And that’s why you need to monitor your KPIs. They help you know much ROI your blog is giving you. Here are 15 metrics that you need to keep an eye on.

1) Overall Blog Visits

How many hits does your blog rake in over a given period of time? Tracking this on a monthly basis will give you a good sense of whether your blog traffic is growing, has plateaued or is in retrogression. Also, tracking this KPI over a longer period of time gives you insights into monthly trends. For example, is March typically a strong month for your blog? Are there certain months in which your blog’s traffic is particularly low? Picking up on these trends allows you to plan your strategy differently for months you know are usually challenging.

2) Traffic Source Breakdown

Where is the traffic to your blog coming from? Social media? Organic search? Referrals? Of those sources, which social networks, keywords and websites are sending visitors your way? This information will prove instructive in pinpointing your high-performing channels as well as under-utilized ones. Where is your biggest opportunity for growth? Could your blog subscriber emails use some optimization to drive more traffic to your blog? Are you neglecting your blog’s SEO? These are questions your traffic source KPI will help you answer.

3) Blog Homepage Visits

So  your landing page is up; it’s beautiful, it follows all the best practices, but how many people actually see it?

Knowing this will give you a sense of how many visitors typically enter your blog’s URL into their browser to get to you (direct traffic), as against one that gets found through indirect sources. This will also give you a sense of the type of visitors you attract. For example, a lot of direct traffic is an indication of repeat visitors, whereas more traffic from indirect sources usually indicates a higher proportion of new visitors. Furthermore, if you notice that your homepage is generating a lot of your traffic, you might want to diagnose the efficiency of that homepage. Is it optimized for lead generation? What pieces of low-hanging marketing fruit is it missing?

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4) Number of Posts Published

Tracking the sheer number of blog posts published in a given time period is easy – and great for identifying correlations between blogging frequency and other results like traffic and leads. Usually, more blogging leads to more traffic and leads, but what about specifics? At what point does the law of diminishing returns set in (i.e. frequency of publishing blog posts in relation to amount of traffic and leads generated).

5) Top Viewed Posts

Which posts have pulled in the highest amount of readers? Identifying these posts can help you analyze the topics, types, and formats of blog posts that are your bread and butter for raw visits. Need to boost your traffic? Now you’ll know which types of posts to create to pull in even more eyes!

6) Average Views per Post

This metric is good for understanding how each individual blog post contributes to overall traffic. It’s also a great metric for understanding the correlation between volume of blog publications and results. If you’re publishing more, but your posts’ average views go down, this means each individual post you publish is getting fewer views. Which in turn means, you’re sacrificing quality for the sake of quantity – and generating the same results. Could you generate the same results with fewer, but higher quality posts that lead to a higher quality blog overall?
Time for one of those “content-type experiments”.

7) Average Inbound Links per Post

Are you creating content worth linking to? Inbound links are extremely valuable currency in the land of search engines. It’s a sign of validation. It tells search engines that your content is valuable to others and worth ranking well in search results. The more websites that link to your content, the higher search engines will rank you. Keep track of your average inbound links so you can keep tabs on the quality of your content. Are you writing stuff worth linking to? Do others think so?

8) Average Comments per Post

A lot of people consider the number of comments a vanity metric. But when viewed in the light of tracking engagement and sentiment among your readers, it gains significant value. By knowing the type of content which gets your readers talking, you’ll be able to zero in on your most engaging posts and content types.

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This KPI also helps you gauge your audience’s reaction to your content and how involved your community is. If engagement is low, experiment with ways to encourage it: pose questions in your content, try new types of content that might elicit a response, and get involved in the discussion in the comments of your posts as well. When your readers feel more engaged with your content, they’ll be more likely to come back in the future, share your posts with others, and help you expand your reach.

9) Social Shares per Post

Knowing the number of social shares per post will give you a good sense of which types of content perform well on social media – and also the specific networks. This can inform decisions about which types of content to promote on social and the particular network for the best ROI. It’s possible that some of your content will perform well on Twitter, for instance, but struggle on LinkedIn. Use these insights to improve your social media marketing strategy as it relates to blog promotion.

10) New Blog Leads and Customers

Traffic is all well and good, but let’s face it, your blog was designed with one goal in mind – generate leads and customers and raise your business’ bottom line. Track how well your blog is contributing to lead and customer generation over time. Doing this enables you to identify correlations between variables such as content volume, frequency, etc. and lead/customer generation effectiveness. You’ll also be able to diagnose inefficiencies in your lead gen strategy.

11) Lead Source Breakdown

Where are your leads coming from? Do you generate more blog leads from email than social media? Map this against your traffic source data for even deeper insights. For instance, if you notice social media isn’t a great source of blog leads but is one of the top traffic sources for your blog, you might want to focus on finding ways to convert more visitors from that channel.

12) Top Lead and Customer Generation Posts

Take your lead generation insights a step deeper by analyzing your individual posts’ lead gen effectiveness. Breaking down your blog’s lead generation on a post by post basis will give you a sense of the types of content that are great for generating leads. Does the topic matter? What about the format? This way, you can learn which types of posts are your true lead drivers and have that insight handy whenever you’re behind on your leads goals. Same goes for generating customers.

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13) Conversion Rate

A blog that does not convert or at least generate leads is useless, no matter how much traffic it gets or how much technical whizbandry is incorporated into the code, or how beautifully designed it is.
Calculate your blog’s conversion rate (visit-to-lead and lead-to-customer) to understand the relationship between traffic, leads and customers. This will help you pinpoint what you should be tweaking about your blog to increase conversion rate. If you improve your visit-to-lead conversion rate for example, you can generate even more leads from the same amount of traffic. On the other hand, you could also increase lead/customer generation by increasing traffic and keeping your conversion rates steady. Track this over time to understand how changes to your blogging strategy and tactics are affecting your ability to convert visitors and leads.

14) Active RSS Subscribers

You don’t hear this much, but a lot of people still read content via RSS readers. How many people are subscribed to your blog via RSS? More importantly, how many of those subscribers actively check your feed? The number of active subscribers you have is a great metric for evaluating how many loyal, dedicated readers you’ve attracted and retained. It’s also a great indicator of your blog’s stickiness. Do people just visit your blog once, never to return? Or do they love your content so much they want to keep coming back for more? Generating more and more of the latter type of visitor means you’re growing a group of content evangelists who are more likely to share your content and expand your reach to more potential readers.

15) Email Subscribers

Now this is something you hear talked to the highest heavens. Email matters. People don’t change their email addresses. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, people join and drop that pretty often. But changing your email address is a hassle. Email subscribers have all of the same benefits of RSS subscribers and more, since these subscribers have given you access to their precious inboxes. As a result, there’s a direct correlation between the number of email subscribers you have and the amount of email traffic you generate to your blog. If you haven’t put a lot of effort into generating email subscribers, you’re sitting on a gold mine of opportunity. Learn how to convert casual visitors into dedicated subscribers.

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