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A Smart Way To Use Google Analytics To Guide Your Business Blog

by Russ Henneberry

One of the reports I look at every three months for The Daily Egg blog is the number of subscribers at the post level.

If you need convincing as to the importance of an email list for a business blog, read this.  Otherwise, let us move on.  🙂

What I have found is that it is very difficult to determine how well an article has done for the blog simply by looking at traffic and social shares.  Traffic and social shares, while important, are secondary goals to email subscribers and software free trial sign ups.

But simply looking at the subscriber numbers per post is not necessarily sufficient either.

Here is a look at part of this report:

Subscribers By Post

Subscribers by post

If subscriber numbers per post were all we looked at we could glean some information but we may draw an incorrect conclusion and take the wrong actions.

For example, based on the above information we might assume that the top post on this list was most popular or that it converted visitors to email subscribers the best.

Not necessarily.

Add a few more rows of data and we get a more complete picture.  This is the same data with Unique Visits added.   With unique visitors added we can then calculate the conversion rate:

Subscribers / Unique Visits = Subscriber Conversion Rate

In this case, our article on Three Testing Strategies For Sophomore Conversion Testers and 3 Ways To Get More ROI Out of Your Email Marketing are the top two posts.

In fact, the top post in terms of generating subscribers is now near the bottom in terms of conversion percentage.

Subscribers by post with conversion rate added

Let’s dig into this a bit deeper to see if we can figure out why this is happening.  If we begin to understand why it’s happening, it can guide our decision making in the future.  I’ll get to the decision making in a second.

It seems that most of the traffic to the post in question is coming from a couple of solid Google rankings we’ve secured on a number of keywords:

Traffic Sources

Organic search traffic for the post that sent most subscribers

While approximately half of this search traffic is showing the keyword as ‘not provided’ or ‘not set’ (grrr….)  it is clear that this post is getting a bunch of search traffic from people trying to design a newsletter.

In my experience, traffic from search engines tends to be colder than other types of traffic but it’s alright with me when Google is sending the massive volume of traffic that it is capable of sending.

Actions to be taken

Based on these reports, I’ve got some work to do.  Here are the three actions I will take based on this data.

1)  I will be taking a hard look at the following posts

Each of these posts did fairly well from both a traffic and conversion standpoint.

I will be taking a look at the traffic sources (search, referral, direct?) , headline, offer and the message of each post.  If you are interested in what I find when I take this deeper dive, let me know in the comments and I will write it up here on The Daily Egg next week.

2)  The posts that had low traffic and high conversion rate need more exposure.  They have a good chance of producing more subscribers if they are seen.  I will be working these back into our social media channels and finding ways of cross-linking these posts with new posts.

I will also use be taking a look at these posts to guide topics that are covered here in the future.

3)  For the posts that got high traffic but low conversion percentage, I will add an additional call-to-action in the post to see if it will boost subscribers.  These posts are mostly getting traffic from Google search so I will be taking a look at the reasons I believe these posts are ranking for the keywords they are ranking for to improve my understanding of Google’s current ranking algorithm.

What do you think I should do with the data I have here?  I would love to hear your thoughts!



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Russ Henneberry

Russ Henneberry is the Editorial Director at Digital Marketer. He's worked on digital marketing projects for companies like CrazyEgg, and Network Solutions. You can connect with Russ on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or on his blog.


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  1. Igor says:
    December 3, 2012 at 11:31 am

    This is an interesting observation, thank you for sharing. I wonder what kine od call to cation do you have in mind?

    • Russ Henneberry says:
      December 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm

      I’m thinking of adding an overt call-to-action to “join the email community” within the text of the post to see if it increases subscribers.

  2. Steffen says:
    December 2, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    very interesting approach and so easy to do. for me it seems that when people are in the action-mode (they r looking for solutions they can implement right after reading an article, they want/need to take some action), then the chance that they act on ur site (email subscription) is higher. and i think the headline has great impact on this, since ppl use it to filter out theory-only articles. this is just a thought and i have no proof for anything.

    • Russ Henneberry says:
      December 3, 2012 at 9:01 am

      Excellent point Steffen.

  3. Terence says:
    December 2, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    That’s indeed a great way to figure out how to convert your visitro better. Great article.

    Can’t believe people are still subscribing to comment.

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