This is part of a 3 part mini-series looking at the planning phase of setting up and starting your business blog.
Each post will focus on one of the 3 key questions that you should have clear answers for as you set up your blog before you start to write it.
What do you want to achieve?
Unsurprisingly, what we want to achieve with our blog is linked inextricably to how we intend to use it and who we are trying to appeal to – the first 2 key questions. If you want your blog to help raise your profile and demonstrate your expertise in your field, then you might be looking to build up references (and hence inbound links) or potential business contacts; on the other hand, if it forms part of your customer service offering, then you will want to see an improved customer satisfaction and reduced customer care calls.
In both of these cases, though, to get the best results from the blog, we need to both write and develop the blog with a clear focus and goal in mind. It not only gives us direction but also gives us a yardstick to measure each decision about our blog against, whether that’s what topic to post about, changes to blog design, positioning of services etc. If it doesn’t help us to achieve the goal, then perhaps we should be rethinking it. It sounds harsh, but ultimately our business blog is an element of our business and therefore needs to be contributing to it.
What we need to know clearly at the start is what we want to achieve with the blog and this, combined with the answers to questions 1 and 2, will help us to decide how the blog should look, where key elements need to be located, what to write, how to market it and so on.
But, what criteria should we be using to see how successful the blog is? Ideally they will be in line with the main objective that you set out for your blog but its necessary to have some way of measuring this. Here are some possible ones to consider:
- You might consider that it is the number of new or repeat visitors to your blog;
- It could be the number of comments that you receive on your posts which can indicate the level of interaction you are achieving;
- Number of subscribers to your RSS feed may be important because you feel this shows active interest;
- Number of blogs and websites which link to your blog or refer to your articles via trackbacks;
- Quantity of new customers who get in contact through the contact form on your Blog or specifically the sales generated by the blog either directly or indirectly;
- Number of sign ups to a newsletter which you have as a marketing call to action
- Reduction in support or care calls if you are running your blog as part of your technical support or customer service function
- Number of additional book copies sold if you are using it as part of your book promotion activities
- Comments and suggestions if your blog is being used as a market research tool or product development support
- Press contacts or offline articles generated directly as a result of your
Because the possible uses of a blog are so wide, so are the possible goals you can have and ways to measure them – it’s simply a case of deciding which is the most appropriate for you in accordance with the aims you have for the blog and your business. Bringing them all together should give us a feel for the overall Return on Investment (ROI), at least to a certain extent.
Above all, have your objectives and goals in mind will help your blog fulfil its potential and deliver the results you want. As the refrain goes, “when you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will do” – so keep a careful eye on what you want to achieve and you’ll make sure you’re on the right road from day one.