We love blogging. It’s a great opportunity to share our thoughts about marketing, branding and design issues, and to hear your feedback and ideas.
Does that mean, though, there’s any business ROI (Return on Investment) in it? Could blogging instead just be something that keeps us busy and self-satisfied – a giant exercise in existential navel picking?
Fortunately, there IS a positive business return on the typical blogging investment, with plenty of evidence to back it up. Read on, and you’ll see how your blogging time, resources and investment can generate significant ROI that moves the needle for your business. (And your worries about existential navel picking can be tossed aside…)
The State of Blogging
It’s estimated that there are 600 million+ blogs online today. Looking at it from a user perspective, U.S. internet users spend 3X more time on blogs than they do on email. People actually view over 20 billion blog pages each month.
According to B2B Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 89% of the B2B companies surveyed were blogging. Clearly, the investment in blogging is significant and the business value is worth investigating.
The ROI of Blogging
Blogging is obviously generating significant returns for many companies. Let’s dig a little deeper now and explore the specific ways that marketing teams are leveraging their blogs to maximize value for their companies.
Lead Generation Growth through Blogging
The analytics software company KISSmetrics is a good example of the power of blogging. They re-thought how to grow a software company, essentially building the business on top of a meticulous blog-building methodology. Through publishing posts regularly and through the inclusion of unique guides and infographics in their blog, they increased monthly blog visitors from zero to more than 350,000 over the course of a few years. The blog ultimately accounted for 82% of the company’s site traffic and over 70% of leads!
Stratabeat as well generates a large percentage of our leads through our blog. By integrating various calls-to-action (CTAs) throughout our blog posts, we’re able to not only engage our blog readers, but to drive them to action. For example, the blog post “6 Elements of a Winning B2B Brand Strategy” alone has earned more than 6,800 page views since its publication. Even looking at a more recent post, such as “Rebranding Strategy: 8 Steps to a Successful Makeover,” the page has received more than 1,800 views in just over one year. Each of these posts includes CTAs for the reader to contact Stratabeat to discuss how to take their branding to the next level, and this has resulted in a steady flow of prospect inquiries.
B2B businesses that blog achieve 67% more monthly leads than those that do not. Lead generation is one of the most common goals of content marketing for B2B companies, and when executed well, blogging is clearly a successful lead generation tactic as part of the marketing mix.
Revenue Growth through Blogging
When Tim Soulo became CMO at Ahrefs, the company blog was attracting approximately 15,000 visitors a month. Three years later, Soulo and his team achieved 1,136% traffic growth. And during two of those years it was with two posts per week and one of those years with merely one post weekly.
The results from the blog were not limited to traffic. Annual recurring revenue (ARR) climbed at a similar 10X clip in parallel.
A 10X increase in revenue in three years, mainly through blogging. Talk about the ROI of blogging!
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Website Traffic Growth through Blogging
Blogging builds website traffic. Through optimization of your posts for the search engines, blogging is a surefire method for increasing your reach and traffic.
In our own case here at Stratabeat, seven of our top eight landing pages for our site (the first page a site visitor lands on) outside of the home page are from our blog, acting as a solid acquisition funnel. Blog posts rank in organic search results, delivering qualified traffic aligned with search intent.
One of the greatest aspects of blogging and SEO is that each of your blog posts can rank for a wide range of keywords, not just your top target keyword for a post. For example, our post “The Ultimate Guide to High-Performance B2B Websites” is currently ranking within the first three pages of organic Google results for 34 different keywords, while our post “6 Top Responsive Web Design Testing Tools” is currently ranking for 99 different keywords. By optimizing your posts to rank for a range of related keywords, you get an increase in ROI from every post you write.
Backlink Acquisition through Blogging
Acquiring high-quality backlinks is one of the most critical factors in Google organic rankings. How can you increase your backlinks substantially?
Websites with blogs have 97% more inbound links than those that don’t. This post is an updated version of a post published previously. How did the original version fare when it comes to backlinks? Two-hundred eighty-one (281) dofollow links from 92 websites. Among those, 19 of the sites boast an Ahrefs Domain Rating of 70-100, representing a range of top tier sites.
How can you increase your backlinks even more substantially?
Blog posts that are longer than 3,000 words typically get 4X more shares and 3.5X more backlinks than shorter posts.
If you want more high-quality backlinks for greater ROI, look to high-quality, long-form blogging.
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Influencing Decision Makers through Blogging
Blogging is also a constructive way to reach decision makers. Eighty percent (80%) of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement (Source: Content Marketing Institute). Considering that 57% of the buyer journey is complete before prospects reach out to vendors, your blog can act as an important part of your funnel before you even begin a conversation.
Getting Even More ROI Out of Your Blog
Want to get even more ROI of your blog, regardless of your industry or target audience? Use behavioral analytics so that you can decipher the digital body language of your blog readers.
Are they engaged? How far down the post are they scrolling? Are there any points of friction?
Behavioral analytics provides you with heat mapping, click mapping, scroll mapping and attention mapping so that you can understand the experience that your readers have once they are on the page. Page views won’t tell you that. Google Analytics won’t tell you that. But behavioral analytics will.
Further to this, many behavioral analytics packages include the option of recording the sessions of your site visitors. Many companies study this information on product and service pages, but you should also be capitalizing on this functionality for your blog. Watch actual blog visitors navigate through your posts. See what drives the most engagement. See what drives them to click on CTAs while on the page. The insight from the recordings is simply invaluable, and is sure to drive your blogging ROI even higher.
Measuring the ROI of Blogging
To calculate your blogging ROI, you should factor the costs underlying your blogging activities against the benefits and returns. As costs, remember to include the following in your calculations:
- Employee salaries for those involved in managing, writing, designing and editing for the blog
- Overhead for those employees
- Costs for freelancers and contractors
- Development costs
- Content management and SEO software
Once you understand your costs, you can weigh them against your returns. Specific metrics you can use in your blogging ROI calculations may include:
- Lead Generation: As mentioned above, lead generation can be a strong metric against which to measure the success of your blog.
- Sales: In the case that your website is transactional in nature, sales can be a good success metric for your blog.
- Blog Subscriptions: A new blog subscription increases invaluable brand touchpoints during the sales process, and can be effective at building loyalty and repeat purchases among existing customers.
- Organic Traffic: Blogging is an effective way to capture real estate in the Google search results, helping you to get in front of your audience at the precise time they are most receptive to your message and your solutions.
- “New” Unique Site Visitors: This metric is valuable in ensuring that your blog is introducing your brand to new prospective clients.
- Customer Engagement: For companies that may not be looking to generate “leads” as much as engage with customers and build loyalty, a blog is a fantastic opportunity to have a conversation and build a community.
- Social Shares: Blog posts tend to be shared exponentially more than standard web pages, enabling you to expand your reach and visibility.
Understand not only the immediate benefit derived from a new mailing list subscriber or new lead or new client, but also the expected first-year revenue after becoming a client as well as their lifetime value.
Whether you’re looking to generate leads, sales or simply top-of-the-funnel, first-time site visitors from your blog, the ROI is clear for your business. The ROI of blogging is undeniable. Focus on making your blog as valuable as possible for your target audience, and see your marketing results go skyward!
This blog post was originally published on Feb 19, 2015. It was updated on September 8, 2020.