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by Elizabeth Crawford Elizabeth Crawford on April 18, 2016

What Really Happens When Companies Stop Blogging? (Lessons From Our Own Story)

Time to get off the blogging roller coaster...we're a little queasy.

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In order to answer this question, we need to go back a bit and make sure we know the answer to a different question: what happens when companies start blogging? Let’s review:

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  • Companies that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not. Blogs attract traffic around the clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You own them, and they don’t go away. Even your old blog articles can get noticed if they contain helpful, relevant content.
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  • Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI. The more content you put up, the more chances you have to attract qualified prospects. And those are opportunities you wouldn’t have had without a blog.
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  • Companies that blog receive 97% more links to their website. When other sites link to your website, it’s a signal to search engines that your content deserves to move up in the rankings, and that means more website visitors will find you.
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  • Companies that post 16+ blog posts per month get 5x more traffic to their website than companies that post between 0-4 blogs per month. Not only that, but companies on the 16+ end of the scale also generate 4.5x more leads than companies with under 5 posts per month.

Okay, we get it. Blogging helps drive traffic and convert leads. But is it really that important? Aren’t there many other ways to generate traffic and leads?

Yes, there are other ways. But none of those ways are as effective or inexpensive as blogging. Blog articles capture people right when they’re searching for an answer to a question or problem, meaning that they’re feeling that pain point acutely right now. So, when they convert, they’re more qualified to buy. Not to mention, it costs over 60% less to acquire a new lead using inbound marketing than using traditional methods.

Here’s what happened when our agency started—and then stopped—posting on our blog

If we at DMG need proof that blogging works, we just need to look at our own company as an example. So, story time.

We moved our blog to HubSpot in 2014, and we published our first post on the platform that January. It was a post we had carried over from our old blog called “Does Traditional Marketing Still Feel Good?” and it could be considered our first attempt to explain the world of inbound marketing to our audience.

To be honest, it wasn’t a very good post. Actually, it was a terrible post. Since we started using HubSpot to track our efforts, it hasn’t even received any views.

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But we continued on, posting about 5 articles per month. We knew this wasn’t enough. We knew the statistics by heart, but we just weren’t devoting the time we needed to produce blog content. 

The blog posts had a nominal effect on our website traffic. The report below (April – June 2014) tops out at about 1,200 total visits per month. ­­­

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But that summer we made a hire who handled some of the day-to-day duties that had been keeping us from producing content. He even wrote a great article for us called “10 Best College Fair Giveaways.” Spurred on by this effort, we devoted more time to blogging. And guess what? It started working.

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September 2014 gave us a big spike in organic website traffic—almost double what it had been up to that point. The two most viewed pages on our site that month were blog articles. We were thrilled!

And before you say that website traffic is just a vanity metric, take a look at our visits-to-contacts rate during that time.

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The more content we were putting up, the more new contacts we were generating for our business.

But all good things must end, and we stopped posting as frequently. At first it wasn’t a problem. But after a few months, our negligence began to show.

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From 2,500 visits back down to 1,600 in 4 months. Ouch.

So far, this is what our content marketing efforts had produced:

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Pretty disappointing.

Our two most successful blog posts had gained traction and carried our website traffic on their own for a few months, but it was time for us to get serious about our blogging strategy.   So in summer 2015 we hired a content specialist who would be entirely devoted to creating blog content.

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As we published more posts, our website traffic went up. But it’s pretty obvious from looking at the numbers above when our monthly post count started dwindling once again. Even when we published 13 posts in November, it was difficult to recover from our few months of infrequent blogging.

It was time to double down. Not only did we increase our blogging frequency as a whole in January 2016, but we made some major upgrades to our website and hired a social media manager in addition to our content specialist. Plus, not only did we increase our monthly posting frequency, but we’ve also significantly increased the quality of the posts we’re putting out.

Here’s what the whole picture looks like, our website traffic from January 2014 to now:

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Our blog articles are the most-viewed pages on our website, and the majority of our traffic comes from organic visitors. Additionally, our visits-to-contact rate has been steadily increasing for the past several months as our content has improved.

Our Results

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  • Our website traffic increased by over 300%.
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  • Our blog accounts for over half of our organic website traffic. 
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  • Our visits-to-contacts rate increased by over 1,000%.
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  • Our sales increased by over 80% last year.

  So, you tell me whether or not blogging works.

Lessons We Learned

Our ups and downs with blogging have taught us a lot, and we’re not done learning. Here are a few of the important lessons we’ve learned over the past couple of years.

Distribution is everything

It’s not enough anymore to simply publish content and wait for the hits to roll in. Distribution and engagement are increasingly important. You may ask why we have a person solely dedicated to social media. That teal-colored block in the chart above? That’s all social media traffic. We’re putting a real focus on pushing out our content via social media, and it’s proven to be increasingly effective for us. And social media isn’t just giving us more visitors—it’s actually converting contacts.

Consistency is key

Look what happened when we stopped publishing blog posts for extended periods of time. If there’s one thing we now know for sure, it’s that consistency is vital. We’ve committed to a strict posting schedule, because fresh content on a predictable basis can’t be underestimated.

Quality over quantity

Yes, frequent blogging is necessary. But once we ramped up our content quality, we noticed a big difference in the response we got. And with our renewed focus on social sharing, high quality, helpful, relevant posts are more important than ever. It’s a well-known fact that you should write for your audience first and search engines second. Well, we’re finally taking that lesson to heart.

 

So that’s the story of what happened on our agency’s roller coaster ride of blogging. We’re done with the ups and downs, and we’re ready to get on a more consistent ride, like the Ferris wheel—predictable, perpetual, and always consistent.

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Elizabeth Crawford

Written by Elizabeth Crawford

Elizabeth believes that great content is the driving force of any inbound marketing campaign. She wields tactics like search engine optimization, social media, and blogging to get you measurable results across the web.

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