You’ve got a topic for your blog article, so you sit at your computer and start clicking away. Stop where you are! Do you know specifically what you want your article to achieve, as well as how you will specifically determine if it hits the mark? Knowing how to write high-performing blog posts isn’t a matter of guesswork and it isn’t random. Short-and long-term blogging success requires preparation, especially in the area of goal-setting.
We often have a vague sense of goals: I want to increase traffic, I’d love to get more social shares, or I want to improve campaign results. If these statements sound familiar, the road you take will be slow and winding. Why? They don’t specify the level you’re starting at (your benchmark), what signifies success, how you’ll measure it, how you’ll get from A to B, and how well your article performed.
The bottom line is that if you don’t lay out this information in advance, you’ll simply be swatting blindly at a pinata. On the other hand, having realistic objectives, a roadmap to success, and a way to definitively gauge progress is how you’ll break open that pinata and get all the good stuff inside. And it all starts with having actionable goals.
Use the SMART framework to set actionable goals.
One way to write high-performing blog posts is by using the well-known SMART goal-setting framework. This approach takes you away from loosey-goosey objectives to clear ones that can help you achieve better results in less time. Perform these planning steps and you’ll set the wheels in motion for more engaging individual blog articles and a more results-driven blogging program.
The letters of the SMART acronym stand for:
- Specific: Attract high-quality leads by setting specific, narrow, well-defined article parameters rather than larger generic ones. Often, the “who, what, where, when, and why” factors will point you in the right direction.
- Measurable/Metrics: Define the metrics and key indicators you will use to track the progress of your blog articles over time. How many blogs will you do a month? Where will you post them? How many people have subscribed to your blog? How many likes and shares do your articles get? How successful are your calls-to-action (calling you, clicking on a link, registering for a webinar)?
- Assigned/Agreed Upon: All stakeholders (managers, clients, designers) should agree on the blogging goals, including deadlines and responsibilities. Many people define the “A” as attainable, achievable, or action-oriented—but these words can be easily confused with the “R” in SMART (see below).
- Realistic: Set realistic goals based on your resources and how much time you can devote to blogging. Do you have creative personnel or freelancers available? Do you have the budget? Are there competing projects? Note that some organizations replace the word “realistic” with relevant, results-oriented, or reasonable.
- Timeline: Set a specific end-date for achieving the goals. Also include a timeline for all steps in the planning, publishing, analysis, and reporting stages. Again, take into consideration your other responsibilities, available resources, and competing priorities. Alternative terms for the letter “T” are time-bound, time-frame, or trackable.
As shown above, bloggers and marketers may use alternative words for each of the five SMART terms. If you Google SMART goals, you’ll see the variations I included above and probably some others. The ones in bold are my preferences, but my advice would be to use the ones that are most relevant and helpful to you and your organization.
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Write high-performing blog articles by getting specific.
Regardless of your business defines the acronym, the SMART framework is a great way to plan, write, and measure an article’s performance. Your SMART goals can be used to analyze an individual article or a group of articles (such as all those on a similar topic or those posted on a particular day of the week) to see which ones performed the best (and the worst). You can then re-evaluate and refine your blog writing strategies as indicated, and ultimately you may find you need to adjust your metrics if they are unrealistic or unhelpful.
You can see the difference between “dumb goals” and SMART goals in the abbreviated examples below:
DUMB Article Goals:
- Goal 1—Subscriptions: Increase subscriptions to the blog.
- Goal 2—Leads: Get more leads for the sales force.
- Goal 3—Likes: Increase “Likes” on social media.
- Goal 4—Click-Throughs: Improve click-through rates.
SMART Article Goals:
- Goal 1—Subscriptions: Increase blog subscriptions by 5% by August 1.
- Goal 2—Leads: Get 20 highly qualified leads each month.
- Goal 3—Likes: Get 100 likes each month.
- Goal 4—Click-Throughs: Increase click-through rates by 20% by October 30.
Program planning is necessary to write high-performing blog posts
The SMART goals are vital, but they mean nothing if there’s not a process to get there. While the end goals above are specific, they don’t include the ongoing programmatic processes and tasks needed to reach these goals smoothly and effectively—from week to week and from month to month. Some of the basics include:
- How will article topics be decided and how frequently will you post? Generally, this will call for an editorial calendar.
- Who will be writing (and approving) each blog before posting?
- Who is responsible for promoting it on social media, company e-newsletters, and other channels—and who will handle social media comments?
- Do you have an approved budget for any necessary freelance writers, graphic designers, SEO experts, or other consultants?
- What will your evaluation process look like?
Unpack complex, long-term program elements.
Some of the questions above may need to be further broken down in the program planning stage. Just one example is in the “Measurements” in SMART. You’ll need to nail down all the issues related to analytics, such as:
- Is your analytics program capable of giving you the data you need to evaluate success?
- What will reporting look like?
- Who is responsible for analyzing and reporting results?
- How often will you receive results, and who will they be shared with?
- How will you plan for refinements in the program?
Google Analytics is one of the many great tools for measuring website traffic and performance. This tutorial gives step-by-step tips you can use to measure your blogging program’s performance.
Don’t forget SMART goals to write high-performing articles.
If you don’t know where you currently are, have only a vague destination, and have no map or GPS, you’re likely to end up wandering around in the dark. Instead, leverage your writer’s hard work and make your entire team more effective by set SMART goals. Once you’re set up, your writer will be able to craft articles that meet your larger marketing goals. For help writing high-quality, insightful blog articles, contact Boston-based Westebbe Marketing.