How to Set Goals for Your Small Business Blog

Learn how to align your business goals with your blogging goals and measure the impact of your content.

If you own a small business, blogging can help increase revenue and profit. Some businesses, however, can struggle to see the positive effects of maintaining one.

So is a blog really worth the time, effort, and resources? And will it work for your business?

The businesses that see success approach blogging with real business goals in mind. Whether you’re looking to grow your business, improve relationships with existing customers, or increase awareness of your products and services, a blog can help.

Approaching small business blogging with goals in mind

It’s important to consider your goals before you begin creating content, because without clear objectives, you have no way to determine whether or not that content has been successful. Creating blog posts for a small business costs time and money. And if you don’t know whether or not it’s been successful, you won’t know whether it’s worth investing the time and money to continue.

If you’re wondering what to write about, it depends on what business goals you’re looking to achieve. Some of them might include:

  • Growing your business
  • Increasing customer engagement and loyalty
  • Increasing awareness of your company

It can be useful to break down these types of business goals into your blogging goals.

Here’s how you can approach each goal in your blog—and how to measure the impact of your efforts.

Blogging goals to fuel growth

There are a range of ways you could use your small business blog to help grow your business. These include:

1. Increasing visibility in search engines such as Google

What’s the opportunity?

When people search for products or services, there’s likely a range of topics related to them that they’re searching for, too.

You could write some blog posts about these topics. If you’re able to rank for some of the terms people are searching for, you could boost potentially valuable traffic and reach new customers who might not otherwise have heard of you. Mailchimp, for example, offers a wide range of tools to help you grow your business. The content created on the site, however, goes beyond using Mailchimp’s Marketing Platform and covers broader topics to attract people who might be interested in Mailchimp features in the future.

What should you measure?

If your goal is improving your search visibility, you’ll need to look at traffic from organic search.

You can look at your overall numbers in regular intervals of your choice, such as month to month or year to year. You can also check how individual blog posts are performing. To do this, you’ll need a web analytics package. Google Analytics is free, and they offer a bunch of resources to help you get started within the Analytics Academy.

Your web analytics package can also measure things like email signups, leads or enquiries, and direct sales.

2. Driving website visits from social media

What’s the opportunity?

Sharing your blog content on social media can drive visits to your site and grow your social media following.

What should you measure?

Look at your traffic from social media sites. Again, you’ll need a web analytics package to do this. Similarly to looking at organic search traffic, you can look at your overall numbers in regular intervals of your choice, such as month to month or year to year. You can also check how individual blog posts are performing.

You can also measure things like follower growth as well as engagement with your social media posts, which includes comments, likes, shares, and more.

3. Attracting new customers and hiring people

What’s the opportunity?

Finding and attracting new customers—and talented people to hire—is likely to be key to the growth of your business. Creating content around your approach to business and your company culture could make your business more appealing to new customers and potential employees, too.

What should you measure?

When it comes to new customers, using your web analytics package you can measure things like email signups, new leads or enquiries, or direct sales. You can do this via individual posts or across your blog as a whole.

Depending on the size and scope of your business, you may also elect to ask 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.

You can try a similar approach for new hires. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to attribute a new hire to a single blog post, and that isn’t an effective goal, either. However, it could be interesting to ask how job applicants found you, whether or not they read your blog, and if so, the extent to which it influenced their decision to apply.

Blogging goals to increase customer engagement and loyalty

There are a couple of ways you could use your blog to increase customer engagement and loyalty. These include:

  • Educating customers
  • Gaining insights from customers

1. Educating customers

What’s the opportunity?

Do you ever wonder if your customers are making the best use of your product or service? If so, you could create a series of how-to posts, or you can write posts that detail how some of your customers use your products or services.

What should you measure?

Using your web analytics package, you can determine how many people read these posts. Plus, you can use comments on the posts or social shares as a metric to see how engaged your customers were by them.

Here are a few more metrics you can track:

  • Contact from existing customers. Are existing customers trying to find out more about what you offer?
  • Repeat sales and/or added sales. Are people buying more frequently? Are people buying additional products or services?
  • Changes in customer behavior. Are customers changing the ways they use your products or services? (If you can’t see any changes, could you ask them?)
  • Customer retention.

2. Gaining insights from customers

What’s the opportunity?

Do you know what your customers want? What do they think of your products or services? An online poll or survey can help you gain valuable insights about your existing customers, which you can then use to improve the products or services you’re offering.

What should you measure?

You’ll want to take your customers’ responses into consideration. But the real benefit of collecting these answers is the insight you’ll get into how your customers think and feel about your business.

Increasing awareness of your company

What’s the opportunity? Writing is one way you can become well known in your industry, which can lead to interesting opportunities, such as speaking at a conference or meetup, contributing to industry research, collaborating with other people, or being featured on another website.

Whatever your goals are, you can write posts that:

  • Demonstrate your expertise. Use these to support applications to speak or write externally.
  • Showcase your research. Use these to start a dialogue with relevant parties to get their feedback.
  • Provide analysis of news relevant to your niche. Use these to reach out to journalists.
  • Interview someone you admire. Use these as examples to help secure more interviews in the future.

What should you measure?

With your web analytics package, you can determine how many people have read these posts. Plus, you can also use comments on the posts or social shares as a metric for success. For example, if your goal was to engage with a particular group of people, did you achieve it?

You can also keep a record of other valuable achievements, such as securing a speaking gig, being quoted in the press, or meeting important new contacts.

How to approach measuring success

Hopefully you now have a few things to think about in terms of setting goals for your small business blog. Here’s a little more guidance about measurement.

It’s worth noting that humans are complex and nuanced, yet how we measure the success of various marketing tactics tends not to be.

For example, it may be tempting to attribute the acquisition of a new customer to a single blog post. It’s more likely, however, that they’ve encountered your business before. Maybe they saw you in an online ad or tradeshow. Maybe they read 10 of your posts, or their friend recommended your product or service. Maybe it’s a combination of all of these things!

Try to get a holistic view of your marketing efforts. When it comes to measuring the success of your blog, consider whether or not your blog is helping you achieve your wider business goals. This might be a better way of determining success than relying too heavily on any single metric.

What’s next

To reach your small business blog goals, a little planning goes a long way.

Think about how much time and resources you have to spend on your blog

Then you can figure out what your priorities should be, based on what you think is achievable. You’re far more likely to be able to do 1 thing well. If you spread your time and resources too thinly, you may find a decrease in the quality of your posts.

You might decide to start off with just 1 goal, such as driving awareness so that you can secure a speaking gig.

Make that your sole focus. Figure out where you want to speak and what you think you want to speak about. Think about what sort of blog posts would help you secure that gig and write those blog posts. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted with other sorts of posts. Focus on 1 thing, and do that 1 thing well.

Put your goals in writing and review them regularly

Decide what you want to achieve and determine how you’re going to measure whether or not you’ve achieved those things.

Here are some things you might like to think about:

  • Have you done what you set out to do? If not, what stopped you? Has something else become a higher priority?
  • What appears to be working? What doesn’t? Why do you think this is? What could you do differently?

Set a date to review your progress and make sure you actually do this review. You may decide to make small changes or big changes. Both are fine. But get those changes down in writing, too, so you can track all of your accomplishments.

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