Living two lives (one as a blogger, the other as a startup marketer) helps me to question both roles constantly. Blogging informs my work marketing Chicory to bloggers in countless ways--from knowing what's an appropriate RPM for a blog of a certain size, to understanding the ins and outs of Wordpress. Lately, I've allowed my worlds to inform each other in the opposite direction.
Reconsidering my blog's success from the perspective of a marketer concerned with super-quick growth made me realize a few things about how I run my blog. What was generally a passive hobby for years has turned into my pet project; I'm testing out what does and doesn't work or what can transfer from my 9-to-5 to my after-hours gig.
I originally had a bunch of assumptions about how and why bloggers often do things differently from "traditional" marketers. The methods tend to be vastly different. But clearly both groups could be way more powerful the more they borrowed from one another. So, here are five goals bloggers should borrow from traditional marketers in order to track their efforts more effectively. (I'll keep the blogger tips for marketers to myself, at least for the time being!)
Leads and Customers
Ask any blogger (myself included) who their target audience is and their mind will immediately go to the people reading and consuming their content. But in thinking about blogging from a marketer's perspective, I realized something: the people that pay us money are not readers, they're brands and advertisers. If we were being smart marketers, we would design our site to convert these leads (brands, advertisers) in to customers (people paying you for your space and audience).
If this feels counter-intuitive, simply refer to the classic media model. A huge publication, let's say The New York Times, has tremendous content, but in addition to their editorial staff, they also have a biz dev department that might even outnumber the writers and editors. People are selling their product to keep the business side of things going. With this in mind, ask yourself: who are my qualified leads and how am I optimizing my site to collect their information and convert them to customers?
Many bloggers I speak to (and, again, myself included) tend to feel unsure about the value of their services. There are a lot of vocal advocates in the community who urge bloggers to put a premium on themselves, and a couple of helpful tools to help bloggers determine how much they should be charging for sponsored work.
But I rarely hear about bloggers determining their site's RPM. RPM, or revenue per mille, is the top metric for many media companies. In other words, how much money are you making for every 1,000 people who visit your site--and how can you inch that number higher and higher? When you think in terms of RPM rather than gross income earned, it might help you to get creative while you work on growing your traffic. You can monetize your existing audience and grow your RPM with new revenue streams without gaining a single reader.
In looking back to point #1, once you identify who your customer is, your next step is to optimize your site to attract those people and then get more of those people! In traditional marketing, this is where our budget/spend would come in. We'd look at our total revenue, determine how much money should be spent on marketing, and then do some planning in order to find more leads. The spend varies for each company, but in a blogger's case, that might go into social media boosts, conferences, other brand networking events, etc.
Next, determine your CPA (cost per acquisition) or CAC (customer acquisition cost). It will take investment in order to grow your blog and your revenue. But it's impossible to see what spends are worth your money if you're not tracking these metrics. So, start now! Simply divide your marketing costs by your # of new customers each month. That's your CPA.
What kind of CTAs (Calls to Action) do you have on your site? A major principle in marketing is to always be showing opportunities for leads to get deeper into the sales funnel (maybe submitting more info about themselves through a form or adding a product to their cart), or for qualified customers to push "buy." You want to eliminate friction and make more sales via a seamless checkout/conversion process. A great example of this is Amazon's 1-Click Ordering.
Take a look at your blog and think about what kind of CTAs you're presenting. If you sell an ebook or some other product, those are pretty simple: get click-to-buy technology in your sidebar, in your email newsletters, and embed them into various posts. But as you reconsider who your "customers" are, think of what other CTAs you can present (perhaps a prominent "work with me" form.
Then, once you have all of that infrastructure set up, calculate your conversion rate. How many people visiting your site are converting (clicking a button, submitting a form?). As you set up campaigns to promote your site, also calculate conversion rates for each of those, ie. if this Facebook boost reached 1,000 people and 10 of them clicked over to your site, this campaign had a conversion rate of 1%. Then, always be working to get that percentage higher.
Something we pay very close attention to at Chicory is our rate of acquisition versus churn. Occasionally, as in any business, we lose customers or partners for various reasons. It happens to everyone. But what you never want is for your % churn to outpace your rate of acquisition. Bloggers should consider this with their partnerships; do you do a ton of work only to acquire one sponsored post opportunity from a brand? Can your rate of acquisition of new relationships justify the churn of that one?
Returning to traffic numbers, too, bloggers should always be cognizant of their % new sessions every month. While your gut might tell you that % new sessions should always be inching higher, it could also indicate that your existing audience isn't as loyal as you might hope. Aim both for new readers, but also a high return rate on existing readers. If your traffic increases by 50%, then your % new readers should also land between 40 to 60%. This would mean that you're retaining those readers you've worked so hard for until now.