Proving the ROI of your B2B blog using marketing performance metrics is non-negotiable. You don’t want to pour resources into creating content without seeing the needle move—and your CEO or Director won’t let that happen anyway.
As you may have experienced, organic marketing, like blogging, can be hard to quantify in terms of sales and leads, which makes it difficult to prove your success. This is especially for businesses that aren’t selling services online—in many cases, all you can track are clicks to a contact or landing page. How do you attribute those clicks to phone calls and sales? In many cases, you can’t. But that doesn’t mean you can’t prove the value of your B2B blog.
Before you dive into the metrics, however, it’s important to take a step back. As Jodi Harris, the Director of content at CMI, reminds us: “Though you can measure just about anything these days it doesn’t mean you should. Metrics can quickly become all-consuming and confusing—especially if you try to gauge performance against too many goals at once. It’s helpful to start with a few measurement fundamentals.”
To make it easy and set benchmarks for your blog, start with these five (non-sales) marketing performance metrics.
1. Increased Organic Traffic
Organic traffic represents the number of people that find your website from a search engine results page (SERP), like Google or Bing. When a visitor types in a query and clicks on your site or page from the non-paid results, that counts as organic traffic.
Where to find it: In Google Analytics (GA) dashboard, follow: Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium
Why it matters: According to Zazzle’s 2019 State of Content Marketing, 89 percent of marketers agreed that the number one metric to measure the success of content marketing is increased website traffic. If your target audience is finding you from the SERPs based on searches, this signals that your keyword usage is successful.
Don’t worry if you don’t rank in the top 10 of Google. You can still drive organic traffic to your B2B blog. Check out this guide from Neil Patel for strategies on how to bolster this marketing performance metric.
2. Improved SERP Rankings
SERP rankings go hand-in-hand with organic traffic. In a perfect scenario, your site would rank in the top 10 (AKA on the first page of Google) for your target keywords. This would then increase the number of people that click on it and thus your organic traffic. This is why improved SEO rankings is also the #2 measurement for success according to the Zazzle study, with 65 percent of marketers using this performance metric.
As you work to increase this metric, remember that being on page one isn’t necessary to call your B2B blog a success. A recent study by Wordstream shows that the value of a #1 Google ranking has decreased by 37 percent in the past two years. Which means more people are going to page 2 and beyond to find what they need.
Where to find it: Use a content marketing tool to track your rankings for target keywords. Refer to Shout Me Loud’s list of websites and tools to track SERP rankings.
Why it matters: Your keywords are based on the needs of your target audience, so if you’re ranking higher for those terms, more of your target audience is seeing and interacting with your brand.
3. Subscriber Growth
Growing your email list is valuable for nearly any business because email provides you with another outlet to reach your customers. What makes it one of the most valuable, non-sales marketing performance metrics is that you can control how successful you are. You aren’t relying on Google to rank you higher or on websites to link back to your posts. Instead, you can create and test opt-ins, messaging, imagery and placement to find a rinse-and-repeat blueprint that drives your target audience to act.
If you’re new to creating opt-ins, check out my guide to creating digital freebies and then start tracking your success.
Where to find it: This depends on which type of email marketing or opt-in creator program you use. I prefer MailerLite because you can use it to create highly customized landing pages and opt-ins, in addition to managing all of your contacts, setting up automation flows, and tracking subscribers.
Why it matters: If someone has read your blog post, and then opts-in to your email list, it’s a good indicator that they liked what they read and want more.
4. Inbound Blog Metrics
Inbound metrics refers to the data that speaks to the behavior of your site visitors. We’ll break it down to two specific areas of focus, both of which are equally important to telling the story of your blog’s growth.
This data point shows how many new people your blog reaches. Ideally, as you refine your strategy and create more content, you should be expanding your reach, I.E., getting new visitors to your blog, rather than repeat visitors.
I recommend checking out Christopher Penn’s new versus returning users blog post. There’s value in both types of users, and he breaks down why that is and how to analyze both based on marketing medium.
Where to find it: You can see this in your main Audience Overview
Why it matters: Kyle Lacy, the VP of Lessonly, explains to SnapApp: “Net new users visiting our digital properties is always a better signifier of growth than total traffic.” This shows your expanded reach, which is especially helpful if you try new content marketing tactics.
Time on Page
This metric helps you gauge the value of your blog post. It stands to reason that the longer a visitor spends on your page, the more they’ve read or found value in your content. Start with both Pages/Session and Avg. Site Duration for your blog as a whole, which shows how engaging your blog is on a high-level.
Be sure to compare this data between specific blog posts as well because this provides insight into which content is keeping people around. That then guides your content strategy, allowing you to create more of the content that keeps visitors on your site for longer.
Where to find it: In GA, look at both Pages/Session and Avg. Site Duration on the main audience dashboard.
Why it matters: This is an important marketing performance metric because it shows that you’re keeping your target audience engaged with your brand, which is a critical piece of brand recognition in the long run.
5. Number of Backlinks
The number of backlinks to your blog posts is a good indicator that other blog writers or editors thought your content was valuable enough to link to. In the same SnapApp article, Andy Crestodina, CMO of Orbit Media, says:
“Publishing deep content or big research and following up with outreach to content creators can drive links and mentions. These are super important, but hard to track without a tool. This metric is undervalued by a lot of B2B companies.”
Where to find it: Check out Mention’s list of 10 backlink monitoring tools to find the best option for your business.
Why it matters: There are two main reasons that backlinks are one of the most valuable marketing performance metrics to track. First, it’s a seal of approval from another site that your blog post is a high-value resource that they feel comfortable sending their site visitors to. Second, backlinks help grow the overall SEO value and rankings for your site. For example, in Backlinko’s guide to ranking on Google, backlinking factors compromise of 46 out of the total 200.
Need further proof? Check out our CMO’s Guide to the Importance of Backlinks in SEO.
Track the Right Marketing Performance Metrics for your B2B Blog
These non-sales marketing performance metrics will help you prove the value of your B2B blog beyond just sales and leads. While it’s valuable to tie content marketing to revenue whenever possible, it’s also wise to have a variety of data points that provide a holistic view of your blog’s value to the business.