Having good content is only one part of a two-part formula. Content marketing as a whole is a careful process that can take months to hone in on a strategy that works. Even when you think you’ve perfected a strategy, you still need to add new components and elements to it, ensuring reach. A key part of this process is content analysis – understanding the metrics you use by analyzing the data generated from published content.
To know whether your content strategy is working and meeting your objectives, you need to know what metrics to follow, and what they mean. Being just the content creator is not enough anymore. In fact, not knowing whether or not you need to adjust your content might create redundancy – causing you to lose valuable time and money.
To continually grow and improve means you need data and because there are literally hundreds of data points in Google Analytics alone this is not an easy task. The measurement strategy you introduce to your content marketing will allow you to know where and when to adjust your content marketing approach.
It is easy to get bogged down in the data, so we’ve picked the most important metrics for you to focus your content analysis on first. Whether you’re a beginner or just curious to learn more, take a look at our top picks for metrics to watch.
Consumption metrics look at the number of readers who consume your content, the channels they use, and the frequency of their consumption.
Consumption metrics will provide you answers to questions like:
- How many people are consuming your content?
- Which channels are these people using to consume your content?
- How frequently do they consume your content and how in-depth is the consumption?
Consumption metrics allows you to observe consumer’s behavior and preference for content which in turn lets you know what your audience wants to see more of. The metrics you’re measuring will differ depending on the type of content you’re focusing on.
Website or blog
Metrics you should be looking at are users, page views, unique page views, and average time on page.
- Users: this provides the total number of unique visitors to a particular page on your website.
- Page views: tell you how many and which of your content pages your visitors are consuming.
- Unique Page Views: Unique page views aggregates page views that are generated by the same user during the same session. A unique page view represents the number of sessions during which that page was viewed one or more times.
- Average time on page: give you insight into how people are consuming your content. Are they reading or viewing the content thoroughly or are they quickly skimming?
Each of these statistics is easily available via Google Analytics or a similar web analytics tool.
E-Books, white papers, guides, or anything
downloadable can be kept track of by using download or form completions such as
Marketo, Eloqua, or other content automation tools. You can also build your
own required form to be completed before the download button becomes available.
Keep in mind that if your asset is indexed by
search engines, people may be able to download the content directly from the
search engine, bypassing this submission form.
Social media: If you’re sharing your platforms page, for example, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter account on other channels, using tools like bit.ly can help you measure click-through action. Bit.ly allows you to create a new and shortened link to share while keeping track of how many people are clicking on this link.
Some social media platforms also have internal software that allows you to take a look at “Reach” or impression statistics e.g. Facebook. Unfortunately, there isn’t a completely accurate way to measure how many people viewed a particular social media post because exposure to content does not necessarily mean that the content was actually consumed.
You can, however, measure how many people clicked a link within a social media post, which serves as a fairly accurate measure of consumption. The easiest way to measure click-throughs is again a link-shortening tool such as bit.ly. Instead of just putting the full link to a blog or another site into your social media post, try this.
Email: MailChimp, Marketo, Eloqua, and Constant Contact measure areas such as open rates and clicks for your email campaigns. However, you have to be careful with open rates because they only record when the email is loaded. Emails that have a lot of images may not load completely due to spam protection, although the text might be completely readable.
This is when open rates are underreported and falsely show that image-heavy emails appear to perform better than others since they encourage recipients to load images.
This is also true of click-through rates which
only reflect the clicks on an embedded link in an email. Although super useful
to understand which calls-to-action actually work, a lot of your email
receivers are reading the content without ever clicking through. This is
especially true if your email content is text heavy, and include
- Click-Through rates only reflect the number of clicks on an embedded link. This data can help you understand which calls-to-action are most appealing. But many recipients gain value from email content even without clicking links. For example, if your emails include the full text of articles, your click-through rates will underreport consumption as a reader can consume your content without leaving the email.
metrics are the metrics that tell you if your content
is effective at holding the attention of your audience. These
metrics are the ones that will tell you how much of your audience reach is
retained as returning visitors.
How likely are your visitors to check out other pages on your website besides your landing page? How many people are coming back to consume other content? What amount of people are subscribing to receive future content updates? How often are they coming back to consume other content?
These metrics also tell you if your followers are leaving or staying.
Let’s take a look at a couple of content
channels and the different retention metrics you can watch to help inform you
of whether your content is doing well.
Website or blog: Similarly, to consumption metrics, you can use a tool like Google Analytics to gain insight into how many of your visitors are returning, how many people are visiting in general, the pages per visit and what your bounce rate is. If your bounce rate is high, it means most people are leaving your website without looking beyond the landing page.
Of course, this is not what you want. If people are leaving before even looking at the content you produce e.g. blog posts or videos, what is the point of having them on your site?
At the same time, bounce rates are not necessarily always bad. It really depends on the layout of your landing page. Do you have a submission or contact form embedded in your landing page already? What is the goal of your website or landing page? If people are leaving your landing page but still filling out the form, then having a high bounce rate is not necessarily bad. Especially if all your information is listed on your landing page anyways.
Social media: You can track your followers on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and other social media platforms. A formula to see what your retention rate is:
Number of Followers (At the end of period) – Number of Followers (Acquired over period)
Number of Followers (At beginning of the period)
Pick a period you would like measure by. The easiest way is to choose a month-long period. Let’s say I had 100 followers on Twitter at the beginning of November. At the end of November, I had 105 followers, but I also know that I had 60 new followers through November. Using the above formula, it would look like this:
(105-60)/100 = .45, or 45% Retention Rate. I am retaining a little under half of my followers.
Email: MailChimp, Marketo, and Eloqua can measure the number who unsubscribe or opt out from your email content.
The key with content metrics focuses on the ones that matter. Google Analytics is such a powerful tool that it is easy to get overwhelmed with the data and track everything which ultimately means you confuse yourself or your boss and make the wrong decisions. Take a long-term approach to content marketing and track your consumption and retention metrics which we have outlined above and you will know if your efforts are working or not.
If you think there are other metrics we should be tracking let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.