Content Marketing: What and How to Measure
By Sarah Mueller on October 8, 2018 in Digital Marketing
Content marketing in the digital age is a little different. You can’t judge your success by how many copies of a book were sold or the subscription rate for a newspaper or magazine. Luckily, pretty much everything online is trackable -- but the downside is that there’s so much information available you may have a hard time narrowing down where to look and which metrics to track.
What to track depends largely on the goals of your content. Figure out what success means for you in order to know how and what to measure. Set goals for your content and your site as a whole in order to accurately measure your success.
Outline goals with a content strategy
We always recommend starting with a fully fleshed-out content strategy. A content strategy is a solid plan that outlines the purpose and goals of your content. Content strategy will guide your content planning, development, creation, delivery, and measurement. It’s a guiding force for all of the content created for your site and what you hope to accomplish.
A fully developed content strategy will guide your content marketing by defining your audience, buyers’ journey, objectives, and the individual KPIs to ensure every piece of content you create is relevant, engaging, and hits your targeted demographic. It’s really a map of what types of content you’ll create on your site, why you’re creating it, who you want to read it, and what you hope your audience will do after reading.
Goals for content can include things like brand awareness, visibility in organic search, or lead generation. To determine how your specific piece of content contributes to your goals, measure determined KPIs.
Measure your KPIs
KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator. A KPI is a measurement you track to determine how well you’re performing against your set goals. Goals that you’ve defined in your content strategy. See how this all fits together?
Individual KPIs can also vary based on the type of content -- content targeted to users in the awareness stage should focus on engagement metrics and conversions may not be your focus. If your content is targeted at users lower in the funnel, it will make sense for you to focus on conversion tracking in addition. Although your individual KPIs will look different based on the goals you’ve set forth for your site and it’s content, here are a few we typically look at and how they can help you measure success.
Measuring reach through traffic metrics
Pageview: An instance of a page being loaded (or reloaded) in a browser
Sessions: A group of interactions on a website that take place within a given timeframe -- one session can consist of multiple pageviews
Mobile: Understanding how your users are reading your content will give you clues into optimizing your page design for easy consumption
Source: Be sure to pay attention to where your traffic is coming from
Although pageviews is probably the simplest KPI, measuring traffic for a specific piece of content will allow you to determine success over the lifespan of a piece of content. Measure against other pieces of content to determine popularity, create benchmarks, and test different distribution tactics.
Popularity in search
Visibility and popularity in search can give clues into the quality and usefulness of your content to users. Google and other search engines strive to serve users content that is valuable and thorough enough to answer questions set forth in user queries. Their ability to serve the best content to users is a direct reflection on their quality and usefulness to their users. To measure a piece of content’s overall success in search, take a look at these metrics:
Queries: What keywords did users enter to find your content? Do they match up with your targets? Are there any learnings you can apply forward from user queries where you currently aren’t performing? Are there queries that have high impressions but low clicks? How can you optimize your content to capture your targets?
CTR: Click through rate measures your content’s ability to perform in organic search. If your piece of content has a lower CTR than your benchmarks, maybe you are missing the mark on your targeting, snippets, or descriptions. Maybe your content is less thorough or engaging than other pieces competing for those terms.
Measuring user engagement with your content
Time on page: How long are users spending with your content? Long enough to read through all of your of your content or just glance through it? If users are spending shorter periods of time on your page, consider redesigning the page to allow for easier skimming of content, break information out into sections, or using graphics to help tell your story.
Page depth and bounce rate: Did users leave your content without interacting with any other pages on your site? Or did they take the time to click around and view other pages within your site?
Social shares: If your users find your content relevant enough, they will share it on social media.
Inbound links: If other content creators find your information valuable enough to link to, it increases your credibility and authority.
Conversions: Depending on your goals for content, you may wish to track and measure conversion rates. You can set up tracking for conversions in a number of ways, but it typically involves a combination of GTM and Analytics. Conversion tracking will allow you to set specific goals for your pre-determined conversion markers. Perhaps you’d like to know how many readers called you after reading your content, or how many filled out a form to find out more about your business.
Optimize and plan for the future
Use your content reporting to help plan for future content creation and target existing pieces of content for improvement. Study your reports to uncover themes in popular content to help drive your upcoming content calendar. Evaluate under-performing content for optimizations and improvements.
In addition to measuring KPIs for individual pieces of content, it’s important to measure how your overall content strategy and production of content contributes to the overall success of your website. If your content marketing strategy focuses on creating content with a focus on increasing search visibility, be sure to look at your site’s overall growth in organic search traffic in addition to visibility for targeted individual keywords.
Know where you came from:
It’s important to benchmark your data before implementing a content marketing strategy in order to accurately attribute growth and separate data from the influence of seasonality or industry norms.
Your content strategy will guide your site goals with the production of content. Use your benchmarked data and your individual performance objectives to measure your success.
With the data you collect, you can analyze popular content in order to guide your future content plans and identify weak content to earmark for optimizations and improvements.