Tackling the age-old question: “How do I measure the success of my content marketing efforts?”
Creating and publishing winning digital content is no easy task. Optimizing copy for both search engines and (most importantly) your customers takes a tremendous amount of time, planning and skill.
And the work doesn’t stop just because you pressed the blue “Publish” button – in fact, it has only just begun.
Measuring how your copy performs in the days, weeks and months that follow publishing to see which efforts paid off – and which efforts didn’t – is a crucial component of ongoing content marketing success.
Knowing what works and what doesn’t can save you a whole lot of pain and heartache down the road by indicating whether your content was effective or flopped like these Olympic Filipino divers:
Analytics to the Rescue!
Fortunately, there are plenty of analytics programs you can install that make evaluating the performance of your content easy and effective.
In my experience, Google Analytics is one of the best. Once connected, Analytics will give you more information than you ever wanted to know about each page of your site. In fact, you’ll probably be drowning in metrics, but there’s only a few that you really should look at in order to get a solid grasp on how your content is holding up.
Continue reading below to learn about the most valuable metrics for rating your site’s copy performance.
Metric #1: Traffic
While the number of pageviews a post receives certainly isn’t the end-all measurement of its overall success, the quantity of readers your content attracts is still a valuable performance metric. Google and other search engines still consider traffic to a site an important ranking factor. Plus, attracting more eyeballs to your site is a positive thing, opening up more opportunities for brand awareness and conversions.
Seeing a big spike in traffic to a certain post can also be a good indicator of a popular topic that your target audience finds interesting. Consider expanding this post further to continue capitalizing on boosted web traffic.
Metric #2: Average Time on Page
After website traffic (a quantitative measurement), one of the first metrics I look for when analyzing the performance of content is the average time spent on each page (a qualitative measurement). This measurement indicates the average amount of time each user spends reading, clicking, highlighting and focusing on your page’s content.
Evaluating this metric can tell you a ton about a post, such as:
- How many visitors are actually reading your content?
- What topics most interest your audience?
- What keywords are most effective?
Determining your goal for average time on a page is dependent on numerous factors, such as the length of your post. If you’re analyzing a short blog post, you should shoot for visitors to spend an average of 30-45 seconds on the page. For longer articles, 5-10 minutes may be ideal.
If the average time on the page is less than your goal, it means visitors are likely scanning the page too quickly and moving on. You probably didn’t gain much from that visitor encounter. On the other hand, if someone is spending longer than estimated on your page, there’s a chance they left the tab open while doing other things. Setting a reasonable goal for this metric is key to determining the effectiveness of each page.
The minutes (or seconds) a visitor spends on your pages isn’t everything of course. It’s also about how engaged they are with your site – which is why the next metric is also important…
Metric #3: Bounce Rate
While more traffic to a page is typically a good thing, the numbers can be deceiving. That’s why it is also important to look at each page’s “bounce rate.” Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who left after viewing a single page, rather than investigating your site further. Posts with a high bounce rate can indicate poor quality content, misleading headlines, bad keyword targeting, or a user experience issue (i.e. annoying pop-up ads or missing page) causing a visitor to exit your site.
The higher the bounce rate percentage, the worse the page is performing. Almost every page will have some at least some sort of bounce rate – it’s inevitable considering how people browse online these days. In general, a “good” bounce rate is anything under 50-60%.
It is important to consider the goal of your page when looking at its bounce rate. For instance, if your page is strictly intended to inform, then a high bounce rate with a high average time on page can be a good sign – meaning a user came to the page, got the information they needed, and left. (Take sites like WebMD or Wikipedia, for example.) In these scenarios, a page that receives a high amount of traffic and/or has a high average visitor time may be viewed as a success even if it has a high bounce rate.
However, if the goal of the page is to get visitors to continue onto other pages or make a desired action, then a high bounce rate can indicate that improvements should be made to the content and page.
Metric #4: Social Engagement
In today’s social media-driven society, you can quickly gauge the success of a post or page by viewing social metrics. The more engagement there is on social media– via tweets, likes, shares, +1’s, upvotes, etc. – the more successful a post can be considered. Each action magnifies the potential reach of your content.
Studies show that social media platforms and bookmarking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Reddit are increasingly becoming one of the most popular ways people consume information and news in the modern world.
While not the most important factor, social share signals are also a very important component of rankings and SEO. Search algorithms see social sharing as a sign of page authority and credibility, therefore they will tend to list the content higher in their ordered results.
To expand the reach of your post in the social media world, you should add social share buttons on your site and blog. Publishing new articles and posts on your business’s active social networking sites is also a great way to boost the visibility of your content.
Metric #5: Goal Completions/Conversions
One of the best ways to see how effective your content marketing strategy is and how well a page is performing is by measuring its conversion rate or goal completion rate. The tricky thing about this metric is that there’s no tried and true way to assign a conversion or goal completion to a particular post or article since you don’t know how many times the visitor interacted with our site beforehand.
For example, let’s say a visitor goes straight from a blog post to your site’s contact form. Who’s to say they didn’t read several blogs before taking the conversion step? Or maybe they interacted with your company a week ago via social media and are simply checking out your site before purchasing or sending an inquiry. Which individual pages/channels should be attributed to the conversion? In these scenarios, a single conversion can be attributed to multiple channels and pages, not just one.
While measuring the conversion success of individual content marketing pages can be difficult, it is possible to get a general overview of how your content streams are adding to your conversion rate or goal completions by looking at the Referral reports. If a large chunk of your new online customer base is coming from your blog or knowledge center, then the conversion rate of your content marketing efforts is likely high.
If you take away anything from this post, let it be this: Analytics is key to measuring the success of your content marketing strategy. If you aren’t constantly evaluating what works and what doesn’t, then you’ll have about as much luck in your marketing efforts as those Olympic Filipino divers had at winning the gold medal.
Of course, content marketing is a long-term process so don’t be disappointed if you aren’t seeing results right away. Keep at it and you should see those metrics improving!
What other metrics do you look at when analyzing content performance? Drop a comment below and let us know. We’d love to get your feedback and swap ideas!