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You never know what’s going to happen when you click on a link

So I was researching blogs on the weekend. I typed “Top blogs in Canada” into my browser and clicked on the first link that came up. Instantly, a big red box and a flashing “Warning!” from my anti-virus program popped onto the screen. Then it actually started beeping at me. “This site is designed to steal your credit card information!” the box said. “It will compromise your computer and any network you are connected to!” it continued.

Wow.

I don’t know about you, but I’m never sure what to do in situations like that. It seemed to me that there were three possibilities:

  • One, the site was a fraud and I better click on the flashing-and-beeping “OK” box that my anti-virus brought up; but,
  • Two, hold on a minute, the anti-virus warning itself might be fake, a clever copy of the real thing, and clicking it might do all the bad things it was pretending to warn me about; or,
  • Three, my computer might already be infected and anything I do is going to bite me.

So I just closed the browser entirely. I was temped to tip-toe slowly, walking backwards, out of the room at that point, but that seemed a little silly. I ran my anti-virus security program, and it didn’t find any problems. Okay. I guess I dodged the bullet. (This time.)

But, after that little adventure, back to the blogs. I find it pretty hard to believe myself, but this is my 60th blog and we’re wrapping up our first five years of blogging about all the things we deal with in the benefits management business. (Here’s a link to all 59 back issues.)

What I really wanted to find out was, basically, how are we doing? Our IT people tell me our numbers are pretty good, and Constant Contact, the distribution service we use, is always sending us “superior performer” awards for open-rates and click-throughs. But, honestly now, do they say that to all their clients?

Once I got past that virus-infested site, I found out that there are about 18 million blogs in North America, that most of them come and go pretty quickly, and that few have open rates above single digits. A handful of celebrity sites are really big, of course. (Yep, Justin Bieber is still killin’ it.)

But what about serious sites and the kind of B2B we do? Constant Contact had the numbers there, broken down by industry, listing open-rates and click-throughs for comparison. (Open-rate is the number of people who open the e-mail, and click-through is how many read the article.)

It seems the average open-rate is about 16% and the average click-through is about 7.5%. Interesting. And, at the risk of blowing my own horn, I’m happy to say our open-rate averages over 40%. The most popular one we’ve done recently was on Personal Emergency Leave, which had a 47% open-rate and 33% click-through. A couple of blogs we did on marijuana and another one on sleep in the last few months also got really good numbers.

Last month’s blog on workplace drug policies got republished in Small Biz Advisor and Benefits Canada Magazine. (Okay, I admit it, I am blowing my own horn.)

We always track the numbers, and I get a fair amount of feedback from people, especially when I talk to them one-on-one. And here’s just a few things I’ve learned about blogging so far:

  • The topic is everything. It’s all about giving clients what they want to know (and not about what we might want them to know, or think that’s good for them or whatever else).
  • It’s important to get right to the point. Clients tell me they want the facts, the details, the what-I’ve-got-to-know, with none of the yada-yada-yada.
  • They do not want a sales pitch.
  • The first line is make-it or break-it. It’s got to say, “Here’s something you want to know.” (And then the rest of the blog has to deliver, or they’re never coming back.)

I actually had a lot of fun reading about blogs, and – if you’re interested – there are a couple of sites I found that I thought were really helpful and to the point: 20 Killer Facts about business blogging and 5 Simple strategies to improve your blog email open rates.

So, okay, back to business. The legislative changes just keep coming. Did you know that Ontario workplaces are probably going to have to develop mental health policies pretty soon? That’s what the next blog in January is going to be about.

Fortunately, we do get a break in between, and a time to focus on family and friends and all the things we are so very thankful for. From all of us to you and yours, I truly hope you have a safe, happy and healthy Holiday Season. I look forward to working with you in 2018, and I wish you a successful and fulfilling New Year.

If there is a topic that you would like me to write about, please email me at bill@penmore.com.

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