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We started our blog in April 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic when we had a lot of time on our hands. We thought it would be a good way to keep in touch with our customers and peers in the industry and give us some additional first-hand data on whether blogs really work or not.
We made a commitment to blog once a week and then to promote our posts through a monthly “opt-in” newsletter and every week on social media through both our company and personal accounts. How hard could it be? Here’s what we discovered.
Increased web traffic
Regularly posting content to a blog is supposed to increase web traffic. Does it work?
Miraculously, in between client work and hard deadlines, we managed to meet our commitment of blogging once a week (more or less), sending out a monthly newsletter, and promoting our posts on social media. When we look at our analytics, the numbers are encouraging.
Over the year, our newsletter boosted web traffic by 192 percent. Wow, not too shabby! Mind you, this gain is somewhat dependent upon the strength of our newsletter as it performs quite well. (We received a 43 percent open rate when the industry average is 15 to 20 and a 13 percent click-through rate when the industry average is 2.5.)
Social media was a similar story. Overall, social media hiked up our web traffic by a whopping 350 percent. Even we were surprised it was this effective!
Did continually creating content and paying attention to SEO help? Well, it doubled our organic search. According to our analysis, nearly half of all incoming searches (49%) landed on one of our blog posts.
Social media promos of our blog hiked up our web traffic by a whopping 350 percent.
Did our blog increase web traffic? Yup, it did a really good job. It improved organic search and, when combined with outreach through our monthly newsletter and social media posts, it was exceptionally effective.
Engagement with customers is the holy grail of writing a blog. It’s also the reason behind today’s updated understanding of marketing.
So, the question is, do blogs increase customer engagement?
The way marketers typically track engagement is through blog comments, social media interactions, and links on other blogs.
Boy let me tell you, getting people to comment on a blog post is tough. Motivating someone to like or share your content on social media is equally difficult. One might even say lemon difficult.
A study conducted by Forester confirmed this is typical and that we do better than average. Our engagement rate on LinkedIn clocks in at nine percent while the average is 0.54 percent. Similarly, our engagement rate on Twitter is 2.4 percent while the platform’s rate is typically 0.4 percent. So even though we often hear the sounds of crickets when we post, we’re doing pretty well.
All this said, comments, likes, and whatnot are rather meaningless when you consider the granddaddy of customer engagement: direct customer interaction. Over the last year, we often had people send us emails or call us up directly to talk about something we posted. And these calls often led to new business. So, while this isn’t what most marketers mean when they quote a post’s “customer engagement” metrics, it is way better – it’s the reason marketing happens in the first place.
Did our blog increase engagement? It was difficult to create online engagement with customers through our blog and social media posts; however, offline engagement as a result was not unusual.
It takes a lot of work for most companies to track incoming revenue back to any one blog post. Most b2b technology sales are complex and involve numerous touch points to evolve prospects into customers. Luckily our sales cycle is less complex and, as a boutique agency, it’s far easier to track customer activity.
We can confidently say that we gained a number of customers as a direct result of our blog. Most people who reached out to us did so as a result of our keeping in regular touch through our newsletter. We estimate that we received 30 percent of our business last year from new clients as well as another 25 percent from accounts that had become dormant – both as a direct result of our newsletter.
We estimate that 55 percent of our business over the last year could be directly related back to our blog.
We have to blog way more!
First and foremost, we found this commitment to be far more difficult than expected. Finding the time during a pandemic is one thing, finding the time when business is back to its usual hum is a whole other. Some months we were completely on schedule, other months we ended up hammering out three blogs in three days to make the newsletter.
The problem is we all have our “real” work to do, which takes precedence. We’d honestly love a little help in that department, and we’ve been looking for almost the whole year. The problem is, it’s difficult to find good people, isn’t it?
Was our blog worth the time and resources? The short answer is yes but it was very hard to make a regular commitment to blogging as real work invariably got in the way. We believe it would be helpful to have some writing help to create our posts but good writers are hard to find. (See what I did there?)
In the end
Our blog is one mighty tool in creating new business. I have to admit that before I did this year-one research I was somewhat hoping the results would not be great so that I could get off the blogging treadmill. Alas, the results are in fact pretty great. I have to admit, with some solid evidence behind me, I am now quite enthusiastic about finishing this blog post and starting another!