It can either be a depressing or fulfilling experience as you reflect on what you’ve accomplished with your blog. Whether it’s B2B, B2C or just for fun, regardless of how you feel, the prospect of doing better is always certain where there’s a will to do so.
This leads to a few big questions depending on your goals. How many new subscribers did I acquire? Or, how much did I earn this year from my blog? Was I able to double my traffic last year? Analyzing the answers and results from these questions will provide a great deal to learn. Whether your experience was positive or negative there’s always an opportunity for growth or corrections to be made where effort or results were not optimum. It’s quite possible that you could’ve made three times more money or acquired ten times more leads, for example, but you first need to be accountable for all you’ve done throughout the year with intricate detail. You cannot improve what you haven’t measured.
Here are a few vital foundations for assessing your blogging work and making viable plans for the next stage.
Not Measuring ROI or Being Accountable
Every plan of action should be accompanied by a set of key performance indicators (KPI) that are closely related to some tangible and beneficial outcome. Don’t try to get more traffic, social shares or subscriptions just for the sake of having them. Clearly define what each outcome or goal will mean for your blog and business. Honestly assessing the real impact of each activity will make it clear for you whether you should be spending time on that tactic or not; and gives you a chance to save not only time but money as well.
For example, your goal may be to increase traffic to your blog but what are you going to do with those new visitors when they land on that awesome blog post you spent the weekend creating? Are they going to just read, like it and leave or are you going to capture the heart of that lead then direct them to a killer landing page to do something meaningful?
In addition, using the right tools will go a long way in assessing overall ROI and measuring how various marketing activities add value to your blog marketing strategy. Oktopost, for instance, is a strong tool for B2B bloggers who want to track the performance of social media activities and how they work to attracts leads and traffic.
The platform integrates seamlessly with landing pages to capture and determine which of your network conversations or other activities lead to prospects signing up on your landing pages.
Many claim that real social media ROI is not measurable but it all depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. KPI’s are unique to each individual and value is relative. Find your own meaning and purpose for your work.
Lazy Content Distribution Tactics
Successfully distributing content is not just sharing your most recent blog post across every social network you can think of. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes many bloggers and marketers make is sharing a single regurgitated message across all platforms without any customization for each target audience. Each segment of your audience on Twitter is going to belong to a different profile and have different interests and expectations versus those you’ll find on LinkedIn, Facebook and so on. While sharing a post that says “Here’s my latest post – 10 Great Tips to…” for example, is standard, creating some context for the post through discussion will work better.
Write a custom message to accompany your shared link that relates specifically to each audience.
The above example is a neat Facebook post from Safeway. They’ve used a cute picture of a chicken and a bit of fun with words as they encourage their audience to shop. The message isn’t too push and they still get you to act.
In fact, using images will help increase engagement on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook indicates that photos account for 87% of all engagements on the network. Use facts like that to your advantage when sharing custom content. In addition, there’s no excuse for not including beautiful media within your blog and shared content when free stock images are as readily available as well as other free templates and resources for creating beautiful content.
Selling Too Much
Every blogger is a marketer in some form and is selling something; whether there’s a clearly defined and priced product or not. Traditionally, sales and marketing has been driven on the idea of “sell, sell, sell, sell” and your persistence will be certain to produce success. Gone are those days where brands relied on aggressive push marketing techniques to overwhelm and influence customers to action. Consumers are smarter and increasingly we need our audience’s permission to market to them. They are in control of the messages they consume. Therefore, while you may be driven to aggressively push for sales or some other response from your audience, you’ll need to give more first.
Taking from Gary Vaynerchuk’s fairly recent book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook…, your approach should be more “give, give, give, sell” which means that you’re investing more in genuinely building relationships with your audience through conversation and other value-driven activities versus advertising and selling all the time. Relationship building builds trust and when that is gained it will be easier to sell, acquire loyal customers and gain from higher value transactions.
The relationship matters – Image source
Haven’t Adapted to the New Age of SEO
Forget about keyword density, backlink hunting and pining over magical tools promising amazing SERP results. If you’ve been focusing a great deal of your energy over the years on these outdated tactics you’ll find that your gains are either missing or short-lived. SEO is definitely not dead but has instead matured and will require your investment of time and effort into creating beautiful and rich experiences for your readers.
Your focus should now be on delivering a seamless and useful user experience; and quality and relevance over quantity. For example, 1,000 backlinks from scattered unrelated and poorly maintained sites will be less powerful than 10 useful and relevant mentions from the likes of Forbes.com or Inc.com that point to some very interesting content on your blog.
Also, Google has set the stage for what the future of SEO will and that is the user-friendly experience. In fact, if your blog is not mobile friendly it will likely not show up in search results on mobile devices. That’s huge and you need to seriously take heed.
You Gave up on Guest Blogging
I know everyone was scared after Matt Cutts revealed that Google was hunting down and penalizing sites that aggressively used guest blogging as part of their SEO tactics. It was quite the shake up and as a result, a majority of bloggers stopped doing it. Google has done the right thing to crack down on the activity since most guest posts were really spammy, irrelevant manipulations. However, there’s always a bit of good in everything. Guest blogging is not dead but has simply matured. The problem lies with your motivation and the quality you’re willing to bring.
Guest blogging is still a powerful way to share your ideas, build your profile and connect with new audiences by leveraging other popular sites and communities. Shift your motivation from SEO towards community outreach and brand building. The truth is that this will be more closely aligned to achieving tangible results than a dry and narrow focus on SEO.
Didn’t Establish Your Blogging Brand
Are you still blogging without an official logo, an established color scheme or clearly defined value proposition for your audience? Are you inconsistent with your branding and messages across social networks and other communities? It’s time to step your game up and begin expressing yourself in the mindset of that of a real brand. Focus on establishing an identifiable image that appeals to your target audience. Whether you’re blogging as a hobby or professionally, a well thought out brand image will go a long way in getting attention for your content.
You Spread Yourself Too Thin
This is one of the most common mistakes across all industries where high achievers are glorified. You’re trying to do everything at once, covering every possible angle, spreading your net wide to catch all the fish. You’ll soon realize that this is counterproductive and while trying to cover every possible angle may seem to bring more opportunities, the opposite usually is the result. Focus your energy on a few relevant social networks or communities, narrow your vision to a few problems to solve for your audience.
Specialization is going to be better than generalization and your accolades will have more meaning than trying to be the master of everything. In addition, the SEO benefits will be profound as you delve deeper into niches, covering the long-tail topics that are typically ignored. You’ll have more time, freedom and energy as you direct your attention to a targeted few instead of all.
Your specialty will propel you and your blog.
You Don’t Dabble in A/B Testing
A/B testing was once reserved for businesses financially capable of investing in advanced technology and expert staff to run deep data analysis and sophisticated research and testing. Thankfully, the concept is now available with most marketing tools you’ll find online.
While you may have found a page layout, color format or message that worked to bring your blog to where it is today, there’s always room for improvement and A/B testing allows you to seamlessly test every possible outcome and approach.
Everyday tools in the online marketer’s toolkit are now built with the idea of A/B testing in mind. Useful services such as Google Analytics, MailChimp and even a WordPress email opt-in plugin like Bloom comes packed with basic testing features.
A/B testing provides valuable information to determine what works best in your marketing campaigns. You’d be surprised what you’ll find once you start searching and testing; so never become complacent.
You Didn’t Try Something New or Face a Fear
Are you petrified of public speaking and reaching out to strangers and therefore kept all marketing activities at home on your blog? Were you afraid to write about a particular topic because you feared criticism? Or did you leave your blog to run on auto-pilot and didn’t improve much from last year? You cannot grow without a challenge and if you didn’t push beyond any boundaries this year your results were probably not the best they could have been.
It’s time to do something new. For example, I know many bloggers are afraid of public speaking; and hosting webinars or video blogging, for instance, are out of the question. However, putting yourself out there and being vulnerable through video is one of the most effective marketing activities today. To support that, The Forrester Marketing group surveyed businesses and found that when marketers included a marketing or explainer video in an email, the click-through rate increased between 200% to 300%. (Source)
People love watching videos so why aren’t you delivering more content through this medium? Try recording a few explainer or commentary based videos and upload them to YouTube. Give live streaming apps like Periscope or Meerkat a whirl and you’ll realize it’s not as bad as you thought. Allow your audience to see who you truly are, giving them the opportunity to connect with you not just through written text on your blog but in a more personal way. This goes a long way in making your content easier to digest and is the starting point to developing a more dynamic blogging brand.
Out of your greatest fears often come the most satisfying victories.
To conclude, think about what you could be doing differently this year to achieve greater results. Do not allow this to be a negative experience where you punish yourself for not doing well but use it as a learning experience to formulate a new action plan and approach to getting things done.
What are some detrimental mistakes you’ve witnessed bloggers and marketers making this year? What are your plans for the rest of 2015? Share with us in the comments!