Defining Blogging Success

nunsWhen you were working on your Internet business plan, did you anticipate a dedicated following in five days, five weeks or five months?  Have you defined any metrics to determine when your blogging is becoming successful?

As business owners, we naturally want to anticipate what’s coming and be able to predict success by defining goals and reaching them… but this is a difficult, if not impossible, goal when you’re trying to quantify the success of your business’s blog.  I’m not just blowing hot air up your skirt, if you’ve read anything here, you know I’m not full of shit like so many others.  I tell it like it is.  And here’s what I’m telling you:  blogging and Social Media are totally different creatures from any kind of marketing you’ve used before.

You can gauge how many customers you’re getting from the newspaper if you run a coupon in your advertisements, but all the SEO rankings, traffic reports and analytics can only give you a very vague idea of how successful your Internet marketing really is.  There’s a reason for this — the Internet is about building relationships and trust; you should really think of it more like networking than marketing.

Blogging is a Long-Term Commitment

So, you put up a blog to accompany your business selling used cars.  You run two blogs a week about buying used cars, offering tips for purchasing a good car, picking out the car that’s right for you, reviews of specific car models and so on.  These informative articles run on your blog and posted to social media go a long way to establishing your position as an expert in your field, but they don’t sell cars.  Not directly, anyway.

You may have that blog for six months to a year before you start seeing any real promotional value — compared to other types of marketing, that’s playing the really long game.  A lot of my clients reach a point of frustration where they don’t understand why their blogs aren’t turning into sales, and I have to explain to them, like I’m explaining to you now, that’s simply not what blogs are for.

Blogs (and Social Media) establish your credibility, demonstrate your willingness to invest in your customers over the long run and prove you can be trusted.  That last one may seem a little iffy, but think of it like this: a lot of your customers are terrified of giving any random website their credit card information.  They’re certain they’ll have their identity stolen at any moment and simply won’t risk it with a site they don’t have a history with.  But, if they’ve been reading your car buying blog for the last three months, guess who they’ll most likely come to for help first.

Leap Before You Look

I know it’s a huge leap of faith to just blog into the Tubes that are the Internet, but that’s what you have to do — and once your audience begins to build, you can do some surveys or use analytics to better understand who they are and what they want.  Once you’ve got those details nailed, you’re gold.  Your audience will click through your site, optimized for them, maybe buy something and they’ll tell their friends about your products.

That’s where this whole blogging thing pays off.  These indirect referrals are basically pre-qualified buyers.  They know they want what you’ve got, they have the money to spend, they just need to know they can trust someone to help them.  Like any type of referral, it takes a while to build these indirect referrals, but as they come calling, your reputation builds and poof!, instant Internet success.  Well, not instant, but certainly painless.

Where most businesses fail at online marketing is assuming that they’re not reaching enough people with their blogs.  If you’re properly SEO optimized, your blogs and sales pages are easy to find and navigate and you’re giving potential customers a reason to visit again and again, people will come.  It simply takes time, so don’t throw in the towel too soon.  You’ll be shocked at the difference a year makes.