Posts that are connected into a series (that is, explicitly identified as a series, numbered and interlinking) will show better metrics in terms of site experience, such as pages per visit and duration of visit, and bottom line conversions.The Experiment Design In order to determine an uplift for series, I needed first to settle on a good definition of a “series”. A series is 4+ posts that all cover a similar topic, that are identified as a series (with a name for the series), that link to one another extensively and that appear in relatively quick succession. For those more versed in content management, a series could be considered as just a more explicit version of a category or topic. The series is a familiar way of presenting a story over time, and building suspense. Heck, even the Victorians were serializing novels in a big way in the 1800s. I was quickly able to identify three relatively recent series from the Velocity blog:
- The Open Robe series – Our behind-the-scenes study of the performance of Velocity’s own effort to promote and track the B2B Marketing Manifesto.
- The B2B Masters series – A series of video interviews published earlier this year, with John Watton of Expedia Affiliate Network and our Stan Woods.
- Diary of a content pimp – This series itself, which applies some of the same thinking of Open Robe to Velocity’s promotion and tracking of the B2B Content Marketing Strategy Checklist.
- A high page per visit number isn’t necessarily a great site experience metric. For example, people addicted to a series may come religiously to read only the latest post in the series, in which case they will have only one page per visit (despite a great experience with the series). The same can be said of duration per visit.
- Three of the four series I’ve selected are all about promoting our eBooks – thus, they inherently drive conversions (it’s their raison d’etre). To say that a series of posts designed to push people towards conversion, actually does so, doesn’t necessarily speak to the performance of their being in a series.
- Four series, each of only four posts a piece, are a limited number from which to draw conclusive results. I would say that the results can only be considered “indicative” (which, for all blogging purposes, is probably good enough).
- Readers love predictability. A series concentrates the output of a blog, and presents it for easy consumption, into a neat package.
- Readers like a feeling of progress. It’s a form of suspense, once they’re hooked. They will want to know what’s next in the series.
- Readers click on the links they see. It sounds silly, but simply pushing a bunch of links in front of people’s eyes has some effect.