April 14, 2011

Blog Content Test: Short-Term Popularity vs. Long-Term Success

You don't know this, but this week, you were part of a content test.

No, not an A/B test (sorry analytics gurus), but rather, a change in direction regarding the content published on this blog.  For the past three days, I eliminated math from my discussions.

Result:  Readership is up about 35%.

Observation:  The more complicated, "math-based" posts cause people to hire me.

This is the challenge we all face.  It is easy to let popularity dictate content.  It is much harder to sacrifice popularity and short-term gains for long-term benefits.

Speaking of long-term benefits, I've always said that this blog generates 70% of my consulting revenue.  This spring, the relationship is changing:
  • 40% blog.
  • 45% booklets.
  • 15% word-of-mouth.
The booklets were published last fall, but this spring, they are producing long-term benefits.  This is another quirk that business experts have a hard time understanding.  Go out to Amazon, and take a look at where each of my books rank, in terms of sales.
By any account, folks would look at this and say "Why do you waste your time on this?"  In fact, one of the most reputable catalog marketing consultants (you'd know this person) told me just that ... said I was "wasting my time" writing content that is published in print, or via Kindle.  And yet, 45% of my business this spring comes from booklets written last fall.

Short-term success and long-term success are measured differently.  Both play a role, mind you, but the elements of long-term success are much more nuanced, requiring patience.


  1. I've found the same thing on my blog - simple, linkbait-y list posts can drive traffic, but the substantial, analytical posts get high-quality inquiries.

    One thing I've started doing is using a piece of software called Optify (http://www.optify.net), which does an IP lookup, and then looks up that company on D&B (or Hoovers). Now I can see which organizations are visiting my site, and which posts are driving traffic that can turn into great opportunities. It roughly lets you value the quality of your visitors, not just the quantity.

    (Obviously, if someone is surfing the web from home or traveling it doesn't work, but no analytics system is perfect.)

  2. Anonymous3:22 AM

    Hi Kevin,

    Thanks! This insight is very useful (trade-off between long/short term paybacks and efforts). As it is easy to lose sight of, especially when using blogs/writing/social media online for the largest part of your marketing, and when the effort up-front can seem futile at times.

    I'm also curious about the word-of-mouth figure. In your experience, would that be an accurate and consistent relative figure?

    Great to see you're getting payback from your books.

  3. Anthony --- the word of mouth number varies ... is 15% this spring, it varies between 0% and 50% at some times. Average ... 15%. For me, word-of-mouth leads convert at a low rate, those folks don't have a relationship with me. Blog followers, folks that have been with me for 4-5 years, those folks convert at a higher level.

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  5. Kevin, as a former database marketing analyst i can appreciate your findings. However as someone who is starting out blogging, patience is needed. I feel like i'm just shooting bullets every which way and watching the results, tweaking, then shooting again and more tweaking. Patience patience. :)

  6. An important point implicit in this article is measuring the right metric-focusing on profit, not pageviews.

    At my company we recently went from measuring some factors correlated to profit to being able to directly measure profit, and some of our recommendations changed quite a bit!


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