Setting up a measurement plan for your content marketing effort project can be difficult, frustrating and time consuming. To make things simple, we laid out some fundamental content marketing metrics along with tools and basic steps you can take regardless of which analytics platform you choose. Start by deciding which metrics you want to and can measure. It might not be worth your time and money to focus on all of them, especially at the beginning. The main thing is to build in an expectation from that beginning the tracking progress is an important value. It’s also important to remember that none of these measures is supposed to be absolute proof that would hold up in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Don’t get focused on picking at the shortcomings of each possible measurement. You just want to start accumulating reliable information that can assist your decision making later. Jay Baer, founder of marketing consulting firm Convince & Convert, identifies four broad categories of metrics, which I’ll go over below, looking at specific metrics and tools within each. I also added a fifth category: search engine traffic metrics.
Someone who consumes your content has to at least visit a piece of content. After that, they can either leave immediately, consume the whole piece of content, click through to another piece on your site or start converting to your product. Here are the specific metrics you can use to measure this, along with the common tools:
- Unique visitors
Measuring unique visitors means counting each individual who has visited your content. If the same person visits a site twice, that’s only one unique visitor. How to track:
- Page views
Page views are the total number of pages your customers visit during a period of time, which you can use your analytics tools to set. How to track: previous set and…
- Bounce rate
The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who visit your site or content and immediately leave without clicking on anything or fully consuming content. You want your bounce rate to be less than 40%, according to the Content Marketing Institute. How to track: previous set and…
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Set up the web tracking code for your platform. No matter what platform you use, you will need to implement some tracking code on your site to generate the above consumption metrics. It’s easiest to have a developer set it up. If you dont want to hire one, try using instruction manuals such as this one from Google Analytics. Most platforms have a help center and plugins to help you such as this one from Clicky.
Search engine traffic metrics
Search engine traffic is the amount of traffic coming to your site through search engines (mostly Google). If you have any, it means your content is helping you rank for valuable keywords. Use Google Analytics to easily measure this. You can use purely SEO tools like Moz, SEMrush, SearchMetrics and Majestic to look at more specific SEO metrics but only if you think it will be worth the extra time and money.
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- Start by exploring the reporting and dashboard functions in Google Analytics.
- Go to some of the paid SEO tools above and try out their limited free versions to get a sense of their functionality and what kinds of reports you can generate.
- Most platforms will have a section for search engine traffic metrics on their dashboards.
Social media is the most common way your content can to get shared and possibly go viral, and social shares will help SEO along with inbound links. Most content management systems can tell you how many likes, tweets and shares your content received, but the counters aren’t very consistent, and only social media analytics tools can dig deeper. Most social media platforms have their own analytics, so start there, and you will also have access to good reporting tools if you use one of these social media management tools. Here are some tools if you want to have all your social media data and management in one place:
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Start familiarizing yourself with the reporting function on your social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook and on any and social media management tools you use. They will usually appear as a sidebar or extra option when you log in.
Lead generation metrics
If your buying process is more complicated than clicking through and purchasing something online, you will need lead generation metrics to see which pieces of content are guiding people further down the sales funnel. These are helpful if you have lead forms that pop up when someone visits an article or video, or perhaps they need to fill out the lead form to view certain pieces of content. Software review company Software Advice has an excellent list of tools you can use for measuring and generating leads.
A conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who take an action such as signing up for a newsletter, giving their contact information or buying a product. Above 3% is pretty good. Google analytics and most other platforms have good funnel and conversion tracking tools. That should be more than enough to get a sense of whether your content is performing well. You can, however, set up even more depending on time and budget.
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If your platform doesn’t include conversion rate calculations or you don’t have time to set them up, you can calculate the conversion rate yourself by choosing a time period — one month is typical — then dividing the number of people who completed your goals by the total number of visitors.
Sales metrics allow you to determine the long-term value of a customer and assign value to your content based on which pieces generated customers. If a piece of content generated a customer who pays you $10,000, that piece is worth at least $10,000. The tools for tracking this, though, can be extremely expensive — Marketo or Salesforce are for large enterprises — so here are some affordable ways to deal with them:
- Estimate content value by looking at conversion rates on a piece of content and multiplying by the value of your product. That doesn’t account for what else might influence the sale besides that piece of content, but it at least helps you start to track trend lines.
- Use the leads your content generated to contact customers and get the sales data directly from them.
- You can consider some tools like Sugar CRM that are generally more affordable than Salesforce but have less capability.
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Make sure that your process or your customer relationship management software (CRM) records where leads are coming from and therefore when leads are generated by content marketing. That way, as those relationships turn into sales, you’ll have a basis for attributing the sale at least in part to the content and starting to calculate the value of that content.
Don’t get overwhelmed!
This may seem overwhelming, but remember you only have to use one of these tools to measure the metrics you value most. Some marketers are happy using Google Analytics for everything, especially in the early stages of a content marketing effort. Others, as their content assets grow and they start to get more strategic about connecting those to business objectives, will need to invest in tools built for the purpose. Either way, there are some simple steps you can take to get started right way.
Guest AuthorJoseph Rauch is a content writer and journalist who plans to publish his novel and use his content marketing skills to ensure it sells.