How to Review and Measure the Success of Your Small Business Blog

Revisit your goals to find out what you did well and where you can improve.

Your blog has a lot of data points—from social shares and social media follower growth to traffic from organic search, referring sites, and email. Then there’s email signups, new business leads, sales, and more. Being confronted with so much data can be overwhelming.

Turn all that data into insight with the right tools and strategies. This insight will help you determine what you should do more or less of to achieve your business goals.

Revisit your goals

When you set goals for your blog, reviewing and measuring your success becomes much easier. Think about the results you wanted to achieve when you first started your blog, or when you started a certain initiative or campaign with your posts. If you haven’t already set goals, don’t worry. You can still review your activity and use the results to inform future goals for your blog.

Review your performance based on your goals

What you should review and measure depends on the goals you have for your blog. Scroll down to find the goals that best match yours. If you haven’t set any, review the goals below that align best with your blog.

Goal: Increase traffic from search engines

What should you review?

If your goal was to increase traffic from search engines like Google, you should first review your traffic from organic search via your web analytics package. You can also see how your various blog posts are ranking on Google by using Google Search Console.

How should you approach this review?

You can look at your blog posts overall, or you can review how individual blog posts are performing. Are some blog posts ranking well and attracting lots of traffic while others aren’t ranking well at all?

Bring it back to business goals

Attracting traffic from search engines is great, but it’s probably not your only goal. You might hope that visitors to your site go on to do something else, like sign up to receive emails from you, inquire about your services, or even buy something.

It’s important to review how your blog posts are helping you achieve that goal, too.

Take action:

Your next steps will look different depending on your results.

Do you have blog posts that aren’t ranking well? Review search engine result pages to to see how well-ranked content compares to your own. What can you do similarly? How can you improve your content? Reading up on search engine optimization might help you improve your rankings.

Do you have blog posts which are ranking really well and attracting lots of traffic? What can you learn from those posts? How could you apply these learnings when you create new blog posts?

You might have posts that attract search traffic without improving your business goals. In this case, you should consider reviewing your posts to make sure there’s a clear tie-in and call to action related to your business. A great call to action to include at the end of a post is a sign up button for your email newsletter.

Goal: Drive visits from social media

What should you review?

If your goal was to increase traffic from social media sites, you should review your traffic from these sites via your web analytics package and take note of which posts are shared the most on social sites.

You might also want to review things like overall follower counts and engagement on various social media sites.

How should you approach this review?

Like driving visits from search engines, you can choose to look at your blog as a whole or specific posts. Are some blog posts attracting a lot of visits, while others are attracting just a few? Are some posts attracting a lot of social shares while others aren’t?

Bring it back to business goals

Attracting traffic from social media is great, but ideally you want visitors to further engage with your business, whether they sign up to receive your emails or make a purchase. Make sure you’re keeping in mind whether visits from social are helping you achieve your larger goals.

Take action:

Do you have blog posts that don’t attract social shares or traffic? Review specific posts from others in your industry that are performing well. What can you learn from them? Are there new things you could try? Social media optimization can help you increase engagement and traffic.

If you have posts that are performing particularly well and attracting visits, take some time to reflect on what you did well there. How can you apply your successes to future posts?

If your social media posts are driving blog traffic, but you’re not seeing any business benefit, consider adding a call to action (CTA) to the post. Testing is helpful here—you can play with the wording and placement of a CTA and see which posts attract more business.

You should also take some time to reflect on goals specific to social media. Did you strive to post a certain number of times, or spend a certain amount of time engaging with customers and others in your industry? Did you reach those goals, and if not, what stopped you? Reviewing how you met your own goals is a great way to set future goals.

Goal: Attract new customers

What should you review?

Many marketing analytics packages allow you to review metrics like email sign ups, new leads or inquiries, and direct sales.

You might also have been collecting data manually. For example, you might have been asking new business prospects how they heard about you, whether or not they’ve ever read your blog, and if so, the extent to which it influenced their decision to get in contact. If so, take some time to review that data too.

How should you approach this review?

It may be tempting to attribute the acquisition of a new customer to a single blog post based on data from your analytics software. But is that really true?

That new customer may have encountered you in a variety of ways beforehand. For example, maybe they saw one of your ads online or noticed your business at a tradeshow. Maybe they’ve read 10 or more of your posts. Maybe they were recommended by a friend. It could even be a combination of these things. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should look at overall trends, not specific customer cases.

Take action:

Do you have blog posts that don’t seem to generate email sign-ups, leads, or sales? In some instances, that’s not a cause for concern. Take a moment to consider the goal of the post. If you wanted to achieve brand awareness, for example, a lack of leads and sales is nothing to worry about.

On the other hand, if you created a blog post in order to get people to download an e-book or sign up for your newsletter and you aren’t seeing results, you may need to review your strategy. Check the traffic going to that page to make sure that your social media and search engine efforts are optimized and bringing in visitors. If your posts are receiving traffic, make sure you’ve included a clear call to action and have convinced readers of the benefits of taking a particular action.

Goal: Educate customers

What should you review?

Perhaps your concern was that customers weren’t making the best use of your product or service, so you created a series of blog posts explaining how to get the most out of whatever it is you sell.

Using your web analytics software, you can determine how many people have read these posts. You can also use comments on posts and social shares as a metric for engagement.

You might have been measuring changes in customer behavior, contact from existing customers, and repeat or increased sales. These are less data-based metrics but are still important to consider.

How should you approach this review?

First, determine whether or not your customers are reading and engaging with your posts. If you aren’t receiving this engagement, consider focusing on optimization. If your posts do receive engagement, look at overall trends in customer behavior instead of individual posts to make sure your education initiative as a whole is working.

Take action:

First, find out if customers find your posts useful. If you have good relationships with a handful of customers, you can simply call or email them to ask. If not, an online survey is a great option to get your readers’ opinions. You can use what you learn to write your posts in the future.

Think about what problems your customers might have with your product, or what about your site or business confuses them. Do your blog posts clearly and effectively answer these questions?

Goal: Gain insights from customers

What should you review?

Maybe your goal was to find out about what your customers want or what they think of your products and services. You should ask yourself 2 questions. First, are your customers responding to the surveys or polls you’re hosting on your blog and offering feedback in comments? If so, what are they telling you?

How should you approach this review?

You should definitely measure the number of customers responses, but the real benefit here is the insight you’ll get into how your customers think and feel about your products and services.

Take action:

If your customers aren’t responding to polls or surveys in your blogs, think about what you’re doing to promote them and how you can give them better visibility. If you have a satisfactory number of responses, look for trends in how your customers have answered. Use their responses to inform your future posts—continue to do what they like, and retool what they don’t. Qualitative or free-response questions are often the best way to get concrete insights for what you can improve upon.

Goal: Drive awareness

Brand awareness can be tough to measure. To make your review a little easier, consider picking a more specific goal to measure. Examples of awareness blog goals include collaborating with other content creators in your industry, guest writing a piece on another website or publication, or connecting with experts and influencers to share your posts.

What should you review?

With a concrete goal, this is easy. You’re simply reviewing what you’ve done to reach this goal, how well specific efforts have worked, and whether or not you’ve achieved that goal.

Many of these checkpoints and goals aren’t measurable using software analytics, so keeping track of your efforts and their outcomes is key.

How should you approach this review?

Approach with honesty. Have you reached your goal? If not, what got in the way? How can you revise your future goals to be attainable?

Take action:

If you’ve made goals you haven’t yet reached, how close are you to achieving them? Take time to consider both what you did well and what could use improvement. Maybe you were great at promoting your blog in face-to-face interactions, but could focus more on following up with emails and social posts afterwards. Consider whether or not your goal was realistic.

If you did reach your goals, review your success and how you can apply your strategies toward future goals. What benefits did this goal yield you? Begin to think of attainable next steps.

Review your priorities and plan what you’re going to do next

After thoughtful review, you’ll likely have lots of ideas for future improvement. But before you begin new initiatives, stop for a minute and determine whether you have the time and resources to make your plans achievable. Don’t be afraid to step back from your original ideas.

You should prioritize projects based on both your bandwidth and what you think will most likely deliver results. Don’t forget to set measurable goals at the beginning of new initiatives—it’ll make the next review process much smoother and will help you continue to grow where it matters.

Written by Hannah Smith for Mailchimp. Hannah is an expert in content marketing.