The online marketing and web analytics company Hubspot recently reviewed some data that they collected from some of their customers, and the data provide some pretty interesting numbers for people who wonder if blogging is really all that useful as a business marketing tool. Hubspot looked at website traffic and other stats for approximately 1500 of their US and Canadian customers, most of whom were small- and medium-sized businesses. Roughly half of these businesses had a blog as part of their website, and the other half did not.
The results were pretty impressive. Overall, compared to the companies that did not have a blog, the companies that were blogging had:
- 55% more visitors to their website
- 97% more inbound links
- 434% more indexed pages
While there are many details we don't have about their sample and their data collection approach, and while it's important to note that correlation does not imply causation, these are still some interesting numbers to consider. In fact, the comments section of the blog post provides a great place to start.
The author of the post notes that for the purposes of this study, the operational definition of a "business that had a blog" was simply one that a) had blogging software installed on their website, and b) had more than one blog post. This is a pretty low standard; it makes one wonder if businesses that blog more actively tend to see even better results.
Several of the commenters noted that the results reported by Hubspot matched results they had seen with their own blogs, and one of the commenters said he works for a company that also helps businesses "get the most out of a blogging program" and that they "track similar metrics and have similar findings."
A number of commenters pointed out that there were many things unknown about the businesses in the sample, and that some of those things might have a big effect on how one interprets the data. For example:
- Perhaps the blogging businesses are simply more "digitally savvy" in general, and would be connecting more effectively with potential customers even without a blog. In particular, perhaps the blogging businesses conduct more effective SEO or PPC campaigns, send out more email, twitter, or facebook alerts, and/or simply have more or better content on their site.
- Perhaps the blogging businesses already have a better online reputation than the non-blogging businesses.
- Perhaps the blogging businesses are simply larger and thus have more resources to devote to the quality of their website.
One commenter noted that focusing on blogging and increased site visits may actually be a distraction, suggesting:
Companies that [already] have a lot of site visitors tend to start blogging.
Blogs tend to increase fluff visits and have little effect on the bottom line, other than draining marketing resources into writing blog entries.
Blogs that are about blogging tend to attract a lot of commenters whose main purpose is really to get another link to their own blog out there.
The blog community perpetuates itself. The average consumer is relatively untouched.
Still, even with the limitations noted above, this is in fact a good "starter set" of data. As long as you don't take these data to mean that all you have to do is start a blog on your website and your business revenue will magically increase, you might find that they provide you with some insights that could help inform the marketing plans for your own business.