This is the last – Part 7 of the Metrics that matter for bloggers series. In this chapter, we will cover metrics that are important for validated learning and gaining insights into what works for your market and readers and what doesn’t. The rule for you as a new blogger is that you want to learn and get market insight as fast as possible.
Only a superior strategy and understanding of your market will enable you to build a viable and scalable business model around your blog.
We will also cover how you can use different dashboard services to follow your metrics in one place on a daily basis, besides your Excel template that you should use once per month to dive deeper into your metrics and progress. Here we are:
- Part 1: Metrics that matter for bloggers – understanding the basics
- Part 2: How to make money blogging and financial metrics
- Part 3: Website analytics
- Part 4: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) metrics for bloggers
- Part 5: Email marketing metrics for bloggers
- Part 6: Social media metrics for bloggers
- Part 7: Validated learning and dashboards for bloggers
You can also download (1) the completely free eBook with all the seven chapters included and (2) a free Excel template for your monthly blogging metrics report and analysis. Plus, (3) a list of potential ways to make money blogging and (4) a list of 170+ affiliate programs and ad networks for bloggers.
List of files available for download:
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Validated learning for bloggers
As mentioned in the beginning, when you start blogging and are focusing on understanding your market and readers, validated learning is the most important thing and should be part of your actionable metrics.
Two of the best ways to learn what works and what doesn’t in your industry and for your readers are employing interviews and doing split testing.
You have a chance to gather qualitative (interviews) and quantitative data (split tests) by interacting with your readers. To refresh your memory (from Part 1: Metrics theory), quantitative data are deep insights you get about your target markets and your product (descriptions).
While quantitative data are more exact (numbers), qualitative research helps you gain an in-depth understanding of something. The main difference for qualitative data is that there is no statistical data analysis. Here is how you do it.
Ask your readers
The important rule of blogging is to connect with your audience in person. That means engaging in comments, replying your emails, showing that you care and asking your readers for their insights.
Make sure you connect with people who subscribe to your email newsletter, not only by regularly sending them emails, but also on different social networks (export your mailing list and import it under add contacts).
Here are the three main different ways of gathering qualitative data:
- Focus groups and group discussions
- Individual in-depth interviews
- Observation of your readers to evaluate user experience
Because it sounds too abstract, let’s raise that to a more practical level to see how you can do it:
- Ask a few of your friends if they can visit your blog in your presence while you observe them.
- Find top 10 of your fans (the people who read your mailing list the most or like everything) and ask them if you can make an in-depth interview with them to see what they like and what they don’t. Then ask them to share your content even more.
- Add people from your mailing list to social networks and start a chat with them, asking them what they like about your blog and what they don’t.
- Form a FB group to gather recommendations for improving your blog.
You can also learn a lot about your readers by gathering quantitate data with structured online surveys and interviews. You can, for example, send an online survey to your email subscribers and gather important data on the direction into which you should further develop your blog.
Besides surveys and interviews, split testing is a must to gather data about your readers and about what works for your blog and what doesn’t.
Split testing, also known as A/B testing or multivariate testing, is a method of conducting controlled, randomized experiments with the goal of improving your blog metrics. You try to improve the number of clicks or other completions on your blog, such as clicking a banner, feeling a form or making a purchase.
The good news is that website testing is actually not very complicated. You simply show different versions of parts of your website to your readers and track which one works best. With many different software solutions and plugins available, it’s not difficult to set different split tests.
Therefore, you should follow the rule: Always be testing! As a blogger, here are the things you should be constantly testing:
- Call-to-Actions and banners
- Social buttons
- Visual elements
- Website navigation
- Landing pages for your products
- When you send out your emails etc.
You can test many other things like typography, colors, font-size, different widget positions on your sidebar, copywriting, testimonials, form fields etc. The basics are simple, but at some point things get really complicated.
Fortunately, there are many quality free resources online. Do the same with split tests as with metrics. Start with the basics and then add tests as your knowledge and blog maturity develop.
Last but not least, you need a good system for gathering, tracking and analyzing your metrics. As mentioned before, I copy all my metrics into an Excel file once a month. It helps me not to forget about metrics and just work based on my instincts. Even more, it forces me to really analyze my blogging progress.
Besides using the Excel file, there are a few dashboard solutions that help you gather all the metrics in one place and visualize them. I use a dashboard to follow my main metrics on a daily basis. Here are a few dashboard solutions you can check out:
You won’t be able to gather all data on your dashboard, so you may use any additional analytics software, especially for Search Engine Optimization (Rank Tracking) and Social Media. Buffer and Hootsuite are very popular for social media analytics.
Again, there are many resources online telling you which dashboards and analytics software make sense to use in which cases. For me, a combination of Excel, Google Analytics, Cyfe and Hootsuite works perfectly.
These it is. Validated learning and dashboards was the last chapter. I hope you enjoyed the Metrics for bloggers series and that you learned a lot. It’s not an easy topic, but blogging isn’t only about writing content. It’s about creating quality content, distributing it to the right audience and achieving your micro and macro conversions.
To have your conversions as high as possible, you have to know what works and what doesn’t. The only way to do that is to measure and analyze metrics, and take action based on metrics. Data are always proof. Don’t base your blogging only on intuition. Intuition is an important part of blogging, but it isn’t enough.
That’s it, we’ve come to the end. If you would like to further research the topic and learn even more, here are a few recommended books:
- Lean Analytics by Alistair Croll and Benhamin Yoskovitz
- Web Analytics0 by Avinash Haushik
- You Should Test That by Chris Goward