Measuring your blogs with SiteCatalyst

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In today’s day and age, blog platforms are becoming more popular in the corporate online presence.  Many employees blog professionally about their area of expertise, and many corporations run blogs beyond their official website.  Blog platforms can be used in a variety of ways – beyond the traditional blogging.  Many of us use the blog platform to house our News or Media sites and Event sites, and so forth.

But how do you measure them?

Well, you could measure them in just the normal way – looking at the page name and counting page views and so forth.  However, if you just measure page views in the traditional sense, you’re missing out on some key insights.

Blogging at the corporate level typically involves multiple authors.  And categories.  And tags.  And search terms. And posts.  And it’s in this information that you’ll gain insight…

Some key measures

Generally, you’re looking for user engagement and popularity.

A measure of popularity:

  1. Unique visitors
  2. RSS subscriptions and click throughs
  3. Email notification signups (and then all of your traditional email metrics)
  4. Comments on the blog – who is interacting with your content
  5. Most popular blog topics, posts and authors

A measure of engagement

  1. New vs. repeat visitors, especially around topics or authors
  2. Time on site and page, and time reading posts by authors
  3. Number of post views per visit – is this increasing?
  4. Bounce – is your last post the only post they read, or do they go on to other posts?
  5. Scrolling – blog posts tend to be long – does your audience get through it all?

An insight into influence:

  1. Trackbacks and external links to your blog
  2. Best time and day to update your blog
  3. Conversions (Leads or sales)

While there’s typically no direct influence on conversions, one of the things you should be watching for is “does your blog drive traffic deeper into your site, or get them to convert on other things – such as becoming a lead, or purchasing a product”.  This is a long term measure.

Measuring blogs in SiteCatalyst is easy…just a few more eVars and events are used.

You’ll want to set eVars for the following:

  1. Author – the name of the author when a Post is viewed
  2. Post Name – the name of the Post
  3. Category – the name of the category viewed (but not when a Post is viewed)
  4. Tag – the name of the tag viewed (but not when a Post is viewed)
  5. Search Term (possibly) – the search term used

Then you’ll want to set events each time something happens…the main ones we use are:

  1. Author Views – When an Author’s bio is viewed, set the event
  2. Category Views – When a Category Page is viewed, set the event
  3. Tag Views – When a Tag Page is viewed, set the event
  4. Post Views – When a Post is viewed, set the event

If you specifically measure Authors, Categories and Tags (topics) and Post Views, you can get the insights that you’re looking for.  You’ll be able to see who is your most popular author, which topics drive the most views, which posts lead to more engagement at a deeper level and so forth.

Ok, now for some boring tech stuff…below is a snapshot of our s_code that we use to set the eVars and events.  Don’t forget to set s.props as well. I haven’t gone into the full code, because it varies quite substantially from traditional measurement (and that would take way too long).  But the main thing is eVars and events.

if(s.pageName.indexOf(“author”) != -1){
s.events=”event40″; // Author Event View
}
if(s.pageName.indexOf(“category”) != -1){
s.eVar42=s.thecategory;
s.events=”event42″; // Category Event View
}
if(s.pageName.indexOf(“tag”) != -1){
s.eVar43 = s.thetag;
s.events=”event43″; // Tag Event View
}

 

/* Set Author, Post Title and Post Read event */
if((s.post) && (s.post == ‘true’)){
s.eVar40 = s.theauthor;
s.eVar44 = s.thepostname;
s.events = “event44”; // Post Read Event View
}

In our blog templates we set s.theauthor, s.thecategory, s.thetag and s.thepostname on various pages (posts, tag pages, category pages and author pages).  We also set s.post to true on Post pages only.  Then in our s_code, we just pass those values into the correct eVars, setting events along the way too.  You’ll probably also want to enable Full Subrelations on Authors as well.

Now we’re able to see all of our key measures in SiteCatalyst – as well as all of our traditional things that we measure, such as Page Velocity, but from the perspective of the Author, the Post, the Category and so forth.

For RSS subscriptions, we use an onClick event on the RSS button links, and we use a campaign code on the RSS link back to the blog, which tells us click throughs from the RSS feeds.

We use pathing to understand cross-pollination of posts.

As we report this into both a separate report suite, and our global suite (dual reporting), we’re able to see traffic moving to and from the blog, back to main site, and understand if it impacts conversions.

Example of Author and Post report

Blog_Post_Views_by_Author

In the above example, we’re looking at article popularity by author – to get some insights into which authors are getting the most views.

Below we’re looking at which categories people are clicking on to see post summaries within each category.  Seems they don’t really do it…

category_views

As always, there are learning’s we can take away from this, and use to our benefit.

Social Media Measurement and Monitoring

Of course, the flip side to all of this, is Social Media measurement (which this is not).

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube – SiteCatalyst can measure all of those – but I’ll save that for a future post.

And then there’s social media monitoring, such as ScoutLabs, BuzzMetrics, and Radian6 (which I’ve just learnt can incorporate up to 10 SiteCatalyst variables into the Radian6 reports, which would be very interesting to see).  However, again, I’ll save Social Media Monitoring for another day.

Some parting thoughts

Armed with this information, you’ll know who your popular authors are and what types of posts people keep coming back to read i.e. popular content for different segments.

You’ll also be able to promote this content elsewhere across your site to drive further awareness about it – and hence increase its readership and hopefully engagement.

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