Welcome back to week 8 of my series, The Skinny on Blogging. Last week’s post covered time management and productivity when blogging and working full time. This week I’ll be writing about how to document and report your ROI (return on investment), so that brands continue to spend money on promoted posts and marketing with bloggers.
When I first started this series, it was only meant to last 8 weeks of content. I’ve received such positive feedback from you guys that I am considering extending this series for 2 more weeks, but I would love to hear what YOU want me to write about. I can go on and on about what I think you want to read, but I’d love to hear the questions you have related to blogging. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail with your questions (Bailey@herestheskinny.com) or write me a comment at the bottom of this post!
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In addition, I wanted to recap this series for you all in case you missed one of the previous 7 weeks. Below you’ll find a complete list of this series for you to refer back to:
- Week 1: How to Start a Blog
- Week 2: Incorporating Social Channels
- Week 3: Growing Your Blog and Driving Traffic
- Week 4: Building a Brand That Stands Out
- Week 5: Photography 101 with Drew
- Week 6: How Bloggers Make Money
- Week 7: Balancing Blogging and Your Full Time Job
I’ve mentioned many times how important it is to report back to brands that you are working with so that they know they are receiving value in working with you. This helps the industry as a whole, because if they don’t realize they’re receiving value, then the industry will gradually dissolve because they won’t want to spend money on this ‘type’ of marketing.
Show of hands… how many of you can understand your analytics and know the value you are driving to the brands you’re working with?!? I’ve heard from many of you that you don’t know how to read your analytics in order to prove the value you are providing in your promotions. If you can’t read your analytics, you certainly can’t report back to the brand so I thought this was a very important post to share with you.
For simplicity purposes, I will only be talking about your Instagram and Blog (Google) analytics. Every platform you use has some form of analytics and reporting, but because these are the most used for promotions, I decided to focus solely on those for this post.
If you have a business account on Instagram, then you should be able to see analytics on each of your Instagram posts and stories. You can even read demographics on your audience including top countries, cities, age ranges and popular activity times.
On each post, you will be given a reach, impression and engagement count. To put it simply, reach is the number of accounts your post has touched, whether its news feed, popular pages or hashtags. Impressions is the number of times someone has seen your post on their screen.
The reason impressions are usually higher than reach is because some people see your post more than once, so it accounts for every time your post touches a screen. In other words, if someone follows you and sees your post in their news feed and then searches a hashtag and sees you on the popular page of that hashtag, then that counts for 2 impressions. Engagement, which in my opinion is the most important, is an aggregate of your likes, comments and saves.
Everyone’s engagement varies, but I would say a general rule of thumb is that most of your posts should ‘reach’ 10-20% of your audience (I know, seems low because of the Instagram algorithm), and 10-20% of those accounts it reaches should be engaging with your content. This is why 1-2% engagement is considered average. Of course, there are times I have some photos that reach over my number of followers because they’ve hit popular on a hashtag or have shown up on the popular news feed, and I also have some photos that have done poorly because the algorithm didn’t value the post and prevented people from seeing the content. It varies significantly, but for me, that is a general rule of thumb.
How to Judge What is a “Good” Instagram Post
The Instagram algorithm has discouraged many bloggers on the platform because they don’t think their posts are being seen, I want to share a personal guide I use for myself to judge my content and determine what I think is a ‘good’ post. I like to look at my engagement in terms of a percentage of my reach. At the end of the day, you have very little control of what Instagram chooses to show your followers. Therefore, I always take my reach analytics and divide it by my engagement analytic. If at least 10% of those who have seen (reached) my content engage with it, then I consider that post a win.
For instance, if I have 10,000 reach on a photo and I receive 1,000 in engagement, then I am happy with the performance of that post. I have some posts that receive well over 50,000 in reach, but my engagement on that post is less than 10% (5,000). To me, a post that reaches 10,000 and receives 1,000 in engagement is a better post than one that receives 50,000 reach and only 3,000 engagement. However, it wouldn’t appear that way by looking at the number of likes and comments. Using that guide may help you keep a positive outlook on your content, and determine how to craft your content to what you audience would like to see.
If you are on the WordPress platform and you don’t have the Google Analytics plugin installed and connected on your blog, stop reading this post and go do that now. In my opinion, it is the single most important plugin you should be using. Of course, you can access Google Analytics by web browser, but I also like using the plugin to monitor page views daily because I think it is more accurate than any other analytics plugin.
At first glance, Google Analytics can appear very intimidating because there are SO many stats that you can look into. When I first started looking into my analytics, I gave up many times because it was completely overwhelming. For that reason, I am going to break down some of the things you should be focusing on and what brands actually care about. Of course, Google Analytics is a very important tool and you should try to understand it so that you can use it to it’s full capacity, but these small things will make you realize it’s not as big an animal to conquer as you thought. 🙂
Audience overview is a great guide to how you blog is doing not only in terms of page views/sessions, but it also tells you how well your site is designed. Brands care significantly about page views and sessions, but they care even more about your users statistic, which is essentially your reach. This shows them advertising value in terms of how many eyes see your blog on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.
Other items I pay close attention to on this page are bounce rate, pages per session and new vs. returning visitors. Bounce rate is the percentage of users that visit your blog and leave (bounce) on the first page. At first thought, you would think that you want this rate to be extremely low because it tells you that people are accessing your blog and not leaving upon first site of it, but in reality you want this percentage to be anywhere from 10-30%. Bounce rate is also a great indicator of how strong your SEO (search engine optimization) is. You want people to reach your blog organically because you’ve done a great job at SEO, but when they get there they may not necessarily see what they are looking for, so they bounce quickly. It’s a balance between showing up organically in search engines so that people stumble upon your blog, but also keep your readers engaged by making them click more pages. Does that make sense?
In addition, sometimes fashion bloggers bounce rate is higher than normal because people come to your blog searching for a specific item you are selling on social media, and when the click on your link, they immediately bounce off your site and onto the retailers. Well, I’m okay with that because if they like the item and purchase than I will earn a commission which is also valuable to me.
Pages per session is the number of pages someone visits per session on your blog (duh, right?). This is an indicator of how engaged your readers are as well as how great you are doing pushing people to other posts within your blog. Is your navigation organized? Do you have links to your previous post in your current blog post that pushes people to visit? Etc.
Last but certainly not least is new vs. returning users. I try to keep this percentage to be about 50-70% returning vs. new. That tells me that I am not only keep current readers engaged, but I’m also growing my readers.
As you can imagine, your audience demographics are very important to brands. This tells them the market you’re able to reach, and if it aligns with your goals and strategies, they’ll likely utilize you to reach that market. You should pay attention to age, geographic location and gender.
This tab on your analytics isn’t necessarily important to brands, but I think it is a tab you should pay close attention to when trying to grow your page views/audience. Acquisition tells you how people are finding and landing on your blog. A lot of my traffic is driven by my social channels, which is common to bloggers who have great social followings. You should also pay close attention to organic and referrals because those traffic sources significantly help your Search Engine Optimization and how you appear in search engines. A direct source referral, simply means they’re typing your blog in their browser and accessing it that way. To me, direct sources are likely your most loyal followers because they remember your blog name and are intentionally visiting it.
Behavior is one of my favorite tabs to look at because it tells me how people are navigating my blog from the landing page until they official ‘bounce’ off my blog. I can see what pages are visited first most often, and where my readers go after visiting certain pages. This helps me craft my content to take my readers where I want them to go through my blog. For instance as you saw at the top of this post, I listed by 7 recent blogging series posts. The hope is that when you finish reading this post, you may refer back to 1 of the previous 7 posts. This section of Google Analytics will tell me if that strategy was truly effective, so I can continue to use it in the future.
Phew, that was a long one. I hope this post helps you craft your reporting strategy when demonstrating your ROI to brands. Always remember to follow-up your promotions with a e-mail report on how well your promotions are doing. In doing so, you’ll likely repeat collaborations and as a result will have to pitch yourself less and less because you’ll already have relationships with brands that value you.
Don’t forget to leave me a note in the comment section to let me know what I should talk about in this series for the next two weeks!