Creating content is only the first step of the content marketing process. After producing carefully thought out content and distributing it to your audience, the next step is to measure the success of your efforts. Why? Because data is necessary for continual improvement. And if you don’t see results you want, you need to change the status quo. By including a measurement strategy into your content marketing initiative, you can adjust your approach, delivery and determine all possible paths to customer conversion.
There are dozens of metrics for measuring your campaign, but we’ve narrowed down the most important tools into three main groups. So put on your data hat and step into your conversion-trousers, because it’s time to get down and analytical.
User Demographics + Behavior
At the onset of measuring your efforts, look at your readers: Who they are? What channels do they use? How often do they visit? Understanding your audience is the starting point for success. Key words here: Starting point. Don’t let your measurements end here!Google Analytics will be your home base for measuring user demographics and behavior.
Here are a few guidelines to get you started:
- Pageviews: This metric shows you which and how many pages are viewed on a site. Any time a page is loaded (or refreshed), that counts as a page view. This is a basic KPI, but it’s oh-so-important in monitoring specific content performance particularly for key landing pages.
- Unique visitors (UV): This metric shows you how many individual people visit your site. It is determined by a user’s IP address and cookie on the browser they are using, so any repeat visits from that same user won’t be counted. UV’s help you understand the size of your target audience.
- Demographics: Google Analytics gives insight into your audiences’ ages, genders and general interests. You should keep an eye on these stats to ensure that your content is consumed by the appropriate audience for your brand.
- Geography: Now that you know who is viewing your work (and how many times), find out where they are coming from. By determining audience geography you can decide to allocate resources to a specific location and, if needed, adjust your budget and targeting strategy to market to a certain geographic area.
- Average time on page: This metric provides insight into the engagement of your audience. If you post a 5,000-word essay and the average time on page is 20 seconds, you can assume your audience is skimming, or not really reading at all. The longer the time spent on a page, the more likely it is that the reader is truly consuming your work. Heads up: Google Analytics doesn’t account for those times when users accidentally leave your site open for hours. That’s distraction, not engagement. In general, this is a good indicator of the effectiveness of your content.
- Bounce rate: This metric tells you the percentage of visitors who came to your website, viewed one page, and left. Unlike ‘time on page,’ a high bounce rate is a sign that your website is not user-friendly, meaning people left the site after the initial encounter instead of exploring other pages. To set an appropriate “bounce rate baseline,” consider user intent and content purpose. For specific information like movie times, the rate will be higher. For online shopping or newspapers, the rate will likely be on the lower side, as users are likely to browse around for a while.
- Bonus tip: Rather than placing so much emphasis on individual numbers, track the progression overtime to gauge which topics—and even days of the week—are of interest to your audience.
Social & Sharing
Social media deserves its own category. It is practically another world, after all. It’s difficult, but not impossible, to measure the success of your content on social media. First things first: Make your content easily sharable. Use widgets like Shareaholic or AddThis to allow visitors to easily click and share your posts across popular social networks.
As for measurement, keep an eye on these three things:
- Shares: The higher the share count, the more your audience believes your content is valuable and worth spreading to others. Consider it a word-of-mouth referral and a natural content promotion you should strive for. Good news: Shares also include retweets, re-pins, re-grams! You can also keep track of social shares, schedule posts and find relevant followers using a platform like Hootsuite.
- Follower growth: Notice I didn’t say “followers.” Growth over time is more indicative of your success than a static count. Have you doubled your Instagram following in the last five months? Increased your Facebook likes by 30 percent? Those increases are more telling of your content and the direction of your brand than a large, static number.
- Comments: For both a website and a social media post, comments show that your content resonates with viewers. Welcome any agreements, disagreements, compliments or personal stories— it’s a good thing if your post evokes some form of emotion.
Lead Generation & Nurturing
Now it’s time to determine the ROI of your marketing efforts—a crucial step in the measurement process. Once you understand how your campaign performs, you can continue to make actionable improvements.
Consider using these metrics:
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) A MQL is a lead for your business that is ready to be handed to the sales department. Cha-ching. They’ve expressed interest in your company by engaging with your content in some form, such as downloading ebooks from your site, filling out a contact card or using a free calculator on your homepage. Note: You must determine the exact parameters that define MQL’s before measuring the specifics. After that, you can look at these sub-categories:
- MQL’s per channel: Does one channel outperform others in producing MQL’s? Do you notice more leads from your email marketing versus website downloads? This data can help decide where to focus your marketing efforts.
- MQL to SQL: Ideally, this number is high. The conversion rate from MQL to SQL (sales qualified leads) shows both the success of your lead generation efforts and the cohesion of the marketing and sales team. Put simply: if the sales team deems your lead ‘worth pursuing,’ you did your job correctly.
- Email open rates: Emails are only a useful marketing strategy if they are being read. Use a platform like MailChimp or Pardot to monitor the open rate of your emails. These marketing automation tools will also keep track of your subscribers and unsubscribers. If the rate is on the lower end (below 20 percent), consider altering the copy, subject line or frequency to boost the numbers. (Source)
- Click-through-rate: Every email and web advertisement needs a call-to-action in the form of a link. Click-through-rates shows the percentage of your audience who not only opened your email, but also clicked on the link to your landing page. A high percentage means your content was compelling enough for users to read more.
Content marketers need to prove the value of their work. By using a data-based measurement approach, and analyzing the campaign at multiple points the process, you can make the smartest decisions for your brand. Go forth and measure.
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* Adapted lead image: Public Domain, pixabay.com via getstencil.com