More and more brands are jumping into content marketing. But only a few websites dominate Google search results in any given niche. That’s because only those few chose to do it right.
So how do you know that you’re doing it right? And that you’re not wasting your time and money? Of course, you track and analyze the right content marketing metrics based on your goals.
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Content marketing metrics
Your content investment decisions going forward should be based on objective content reporting data, not hunch or guesswork. A report shows that 72% of successful content marketers measure their content marketing ROI.
So to boost audience engagement, it’s a must to pick the right objectives and content marketing metrics. Then keep a track of them to determine what works, what doesn’t, what is to be removed, and what has potential.
So let’s take a look at the major types of objectives and their corresponding content marketing metrics you may want to track when it comes to analyzing content performance.
Website traffic metrics
Traffic is the lifeblood of your online business. If your content is not driving traffic, you don’t have the visitors to read the content, let alone turn into leads and customers.
So traffic is essential to measure content marketing. In order to assess your website traffic, the content marketing metrics you should be looking at include the following:
Users/unique pageviews - This content metric represents the total number of unique people who visit your content.
Pageviews - This content metric measures the total number of times your content has been viewed.
You can employ the data from these content marketing metrics for a sense of traffic coming to individual pieces of content on your website.
To track and view these content metrics, set up a web analytics solution such as Google Analytics. Then go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.
If you know your way around Google Analytics, you can also break down this data to see the websites from where your traffic is coming, the geographical locations of your visitors, and the type of device they use to view your content.
This information is useful to make decisions about your future content strategy. For example, if you target UK customers but the majority of your visitors are from the US, you can tailor future content distribution to your UK visitors.
Or if you’re investing more in LinkedIn marketing but the majority of your traffic is coming from Twitter, you may want to rethink your priorities.
In most cases, search engines are going to be your major source of traffic. So it’s important that you’re tracking content marketing metrics that indicate the success of your SEO efforts.
One way is to track the proportion of your traffic that comes from searches. However, this is not enough insight to tell whether your site is doing well in search engines.
One of the most important content performance metrics you should be tracking is the SERP (search engine result page) ranking for your target keywords.
To track and view this content metric, you’ll need a rank tracking tool such as SERPWatcher. It’s an easy-to-use, beginner-friendly, and affordable tool that makes it a breeze to analyze how your content is performing in search engines.
To get started, click New Tracking and fill in your tracking details. These include your website’s domain name, target location, and whether you want to track the ranking on desktop or mobile devices.
Next, enter the keywords you have targeted with different pages of your website. You can always add more keywords or remove a keyword from this tracking when adjusting your keyword strategy.
Then click Start Tracking. The tool may take a couple of hours to gather where your website pages are ranking for your keywords. All the data will then be presented to you in a beautiful and intuitive dashboard.
As you track your ranking over time, you’ll see that it’s either climbing up, going down, or staying the same. So you could take appropriate action to fix your content if necessary.
Getting traffic is one thing, but engaging users is another. Traffic metrics tell you that people are finding your content, not if they are reading and engaging with it.
So to be sure that your content is actually valuable to your audience, your content reporting should include engagement as one of the content metrics.
For instance, you can track how much time they’re spending on your page, how many pages they’re viewing in each session, and what percentage of traffic bounces off without any action.
Average time on page – If your visitors are simply scanning through the content and not spending enough time, then it may indicate that the content is not very engaging. And that you need to put in some serious work.
Behavior flow – This allows you to understand how a visitor navigates through your content, starting from where he started, and then exited from. The pages which are causing the most exits may need improvement.
Bounce rate – The percentage of visitors who leave from the first page they visit, which means they didn’t check out any other page on your website. Again, you’d want to improve content with high bounce rates.
Return rate – Return rate shows you how many new vs. returning visitors you’re getting on your content.
Pages per visit – The more pages are visited on average, the more valuable you can assume the bulk of your content to be.
Of course, the goal is to engage them and keep them longer on your site on every visit.
Getting this data is easy if you have Google Analytics or other analytics solution installed on your website. You can see the average number of pages per session, average session duration, and bounce rate.
To access this data in Google Analytics, head to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.
Another great way to check engagement is to see how much your content is being shared or commented on social media.
Social media shares and likes – This includes tracking shares, retweets, re-pins, and so on for your target social media platforms.
Comments – How many people are responding to your content is another measure of engagement. Reading those comments also allows you to get ideas for new content for more engagement.
However, social media engagement depends heavily on the nature of your business and your content.
For example, if your business operates in niches like travel or fashion, your content is more likely to be shared than in niches like finance or medicine.
So don’t solely rely on social media engagement to determine the quality of your content and to measure content marketing.
You can check how much traffic you’re getting from social media in your analytics tool. Plus, if you use a software or plugin to add social media buttons to your content, it may also have the ability to display the number of shares.
Another way is to use a tool like Buzzsumo.
Just enter your website URL and you’ll see the top-performing content on your website in terms of social media shares.
So let’s say you’re getting a good amount of traffic. This means visitors are reading your content. But what do they do after the fact?
Conversion is when a visitor follows your call to action and expresses interest in your offer.
Depending on your main goal, it may mean signing up for your newsletter, enquiring about your service, or adding a product to the cart and checking out.
But the link between content and conversion isn’t straightforward. Plus, very few visitors will buy your product or enquire about your services immediately after reading an awesome piece of content.
So ideally you should:
#1. Start with a very low-investment and lucrative offer. While someone consumes your content, don’t expect them to do something that takes a lot of effort or money. Instead, ask them to download a free ebook, get a free sample, or start a heavily-discounted trial.
#2 Then track different actions and content marketing metrics at each stage of the customer journey for an accurate sense of content performance. For example:
Leads generated – This content marketing metric will help you associate new leads with specific content pieces. Your marketing automation and analytics tool can show how many new leads you’ve gained from each piece of content on your website.
Existing leads influenced – To convert your leads into customers, you also need a sense of how many times a lead needs to touch base with your content before they buy.
Lead quality/score – The quality of leads is just as important as quantity. So you should not ignore the importance of qualifying leads. There should be a metric in place to assess this.
Revenue influenced – This refers to analyzing just how much of your revenue comes from customers who started their journey with you by arriving at one of your content pieces, or have read your content at any phase of the cycle.
Funnel conversion rate – To measure content marketing, you want to track conversion rate not just for optins or sales, but for each stage of the content funnel.
By analyzing a combination of these content marketing metrics across the content funnel, you’ll get a holistic sense of how content performance is impacting the bottom line.
For example, how many people join your newsletter after reading your content, what percentage of newsletter subscribers are opening your emails, and what percent of those who arrive at your landing page are actually buying.
Brand authority metrics
Authority is one of the most intangible things to measure in content reporting, yet you still need to assess it over time. It is a measure of your brand awareness, perception, and trustworthiness.
The higher authority you have, the more influence and leverage you’ll have with prospects. Needless to say, it takes the longest time to build as compared to other objectives we discussed.
Though not perfect, there are some ways to get a rough idea about your website’s authority to measure content marketing.
Moz Authority Metrics - The SEO company Moz has two authority metrics that can help in this regard:
- DA (Domain Authority) - A score out of 100 for your overall website. A higher score means higher authority.
- PA (Page Authority) - A score out of 100 is assigned to each individual page.
To be able to see the value of these content metrics for any website, including your own or your competitors, you’ll need the Moz toolbar.
It is free and can be installed as a Chrome extension. Once added to chrome, it will show you the DA and PA for each page you visit.
Inbound links – The number and quality of sites referring to your content is also a good indication of your brand authority.
You can evaluate the number and strength of your backlinks using a tool like LinkMiner. Enter the website URL to see all your backlinks, or the URL of a specific page to see backlinks only to that page.
Linkminer will then show you the web pages linking to your website, the number of inbound links, the strength of each backlink (how impactful the backlink is), and other useful information.
This data will help you refine your strategy accordingly. For example, if a piece of content has plenty of backlinks, you may be better off creating more of similar content in the future.
Social media followers - Keeping a track of how large your social media following is getting over time is also a good estimate of brand growth.
Final thoughts on content marketing metrics
Measuring and understanding blog analytics and content performance aren’t easy. There’s no shortcut or magic bullet. But with relevant content marketing metrics decided in advance, you can confidently move in the right direction.
Continuous adoption of analytics and measurement will help your business not just survive, but thrive in a competitive world.
As you proceed with content reporting, also keep in mind to never focus too much on any one content metric in isolation. The whole story is usually explained by a combination of different content marketing metrics.
A single metric can be manipulated or interpreted differently to create a pretty picture. But stories are less likely to lie and give an accurate snapshot of your content performance.
So take a holistic look across all aspects to ensure that you’re not missing the big picture, and you’ll be good to go.