Are blogs still relevant? A 2020 strategy for measuring blog effectiveness

Posted on 03/01/2020 by Team Hallam

As we say farewell to 2019, is it time to say farewell to blogging? Not according to our data. Blogging remains one of the most impactful forms of content in your digital marketing toolkit.

Generating fresh, relevant, and useful content is the cornerstone for many businesses’ digital marketing strategy.

Content can take many forms, and with the growth of podcasting and audio content, video content, short-form and long-form content, there is one question marketers should be asking:  is blogging still popular, effective, and relevant as a digital strategy?

Each year I undertake a review of Hallam’s blogging content. I reflect on what has worked well and what could be improved, and measure the impact of blogging on our overarching marketing objectives.  Most importantly, an annual review of your blog content should guide and shape your content planning for the coming year.

10 key metrics for measuring the relevance and effectiveness of your blog

  1. Lead generation: Content generating the most leads and enquiries, and most importantly, causing the phone to ring
  2. Conversion: Generating the greatest number of “most desired responses,” like data capture through form completion, or an email newsletter signup
  3. Acquisition: Traffic from the search engines, with the blog post acting as a landing page
  4. Social engagement: Shares, likes and comments on social networks
  5. Email engagement: Best performing content across the email platform
  6. Website and brand engagement: Pageviews per visit, bounce rate, comments
  7. Thought leadership: Mentions and inbound links from other high-quality websites
  8. Brand awareness: Number of times the blog post has been read
  9. Best fresh content: Newly written posts, topical and fresh for your readers
  10. Best evergreen content: Long-lasting, useful content that does not go out of date


Blogs for lead generation

Lead generation… it’s the holy grail for most B2B and B2C digital marketers.

Measuring lead generation activity is a combination of quantifiable metrics. For example, enquiry forms submitted, combined with qualitative measures, such as getting your sales teams to ask prospective customers how it was they made the decision to buy from your business.

For this year, I am using our telephone tracking data that integrates with our website.  In other words, we are measuring which piece of content actually caused the phone to ring and as a result, we had a conversation with a prospective customer. We are able to measure the number of phone calls right in our Analytics.

Reviewing our telephone tracking data, it is clear the content that generates the most phone calls is where we freely give away our advice in a range of how-to articles, helpful articles, where we share our expertise.

One particular piece of content, UTM Codes: How to track campaign URLs in Google Analytics written by our Performance Director Ben Wood, generated an exceptional number of phone calls. In addition to measuring the call numbers in analytics, our sales team have confirmed new clients mentioning this specific post is what triggered the sales enquiry.

It is a great big long post, with lots of useful content. And a great lead generation tool:

Blogging for conversion

A conversion, or most desired response, can take many forms. For us, conversion means an exchange has been made in the form of data capture.

In terms of our best performing blog post for conversion, we are generating gated content that requires the user to provide their details in order to download a piece of content.

The secret to a successful gated content campaign is that the content has to be valuable enough to warrant giving away an email address in return for access to the content.

And our most successful blog post for generating data capture, written by our Head of Content and Social, Kieran S Lawler, is our social media calendar:

Blogging to support your SEO strategy

Google loves professional blogs. Fresh, relevant, useful content. Written by you, an expert in your field.

If you are looking to gain rankings in the search engines, and drive traffic to your site for users searching for specific content that is helpful to them, then blogging remains as relevant as ever, as our analysis of our own Google Analytics demonstrates.

Over the course of 2019, we had well over 500,000 clicks from the Google search engine straight to a number of our high ranking blog posts.

And the single post that got the most clicks straight from the search engine results page in 2019 was our Senior PPC Strategist, Pete Keyworth‘s post Using Google Analytics event tracking.

Blogging as a thought leadership activity

One excellent quality signal you are generating great content is when other high-quality sites cite your content and create a link to your content as a recommendation.

By definition, these links are created by a human who is curating great content. For example, the University of Illinois’ online Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme selected one of our recent posts for their Digital Media and Marketing Strategies module written PPC Strategist, Jack Brown, A beginner’s guide to Google Ads display advertising.

And our content is regularly selected by industry experts in our field for inclusion in their roundups.  In particular, our expert blog posts are regularly featured  in industry-leading publications like Search Engine Roundtable.

This post, Which Google Ads position is best for traffic and conversions? written by our Paid Media Strategist Leo Worsley was our top-performing post selected by Executive Editor Barry Schwartz for inclusion in his daily update.

Blogging integrates with social media

Our social media content strategy incorporates sharing stories about career opportunities (which gets the greatest social traction), the events we organise, and then we also regularly share out our blog content.

There are a number of measures you can use to measure the effectiveness of your blog content when it comes to social media:

  • Amplification: the number of shares and likes, taking into consideration the amount of activity on each network
  • Engagement: the number of comments
  • Traffic: the number of clicks from social media back to the blog content on your website

And one other great measure is the reputation and quality of the individuals engaging with your blog content via social media

We are grateful to see social media experts like Mari Smith with 585,000 Twitter followers sharing our content, including this post on Monitoring Your Digital Footprint

Engagement with your blog content

Engagement with your blog content can be measured in a number of ways.

For example, how often does the blog post then encourage the reader to click through to another article on your site, thus reducing your bounce rate?

What is the average time spent reading the post?

Of our top 10 posts for 2019, our readers spent the most time reading 5 Ways Google Ad Extensions Can Improve Your AdWords Campaigns

And that is just for starters…

You should have plenty of ideas from just these examples for how you can be using blogging within your marketing strategy.

But there are plenty more opportunities to drill down and look closely at how your blog is performing. Which blog posts get the most interaction from your email newsletter readers? Which evergreen blog posts have you updated that are once again high performing?

Be sure to share your ideas with how you measure your own blog effectiveness… and be sure to share this post on social media for me so I can list it in next year’s blog league ranking report!


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Are blogs still relevant? A 2020 strategy for measuring blog effectiveness

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