To judge the value of things, you need context.
In 2007, the Washington Post tested this by setting up a small experiment involving a violin virtuoso. They placed one of the world’s best violinists, Joshua Bell, in a Washington DC metro station. During his time there performing Bach, Schubert and Massenet, just six people stopped to listen and he made a total of $32. Only three days later, he sold out the Boston Symphony Hall where seats sold for over $100 each.
When it comes to measuring the success of content marketing, it’s the same story. Often campaigns will launch but, six months down the line, those involved will struggle to explain with conviction how well it performed. This is because they lack the context to measure the true impact of the results.
This lack of insight isn’t just inefficient, it can also hamper future campaigns. Without metrics it is difficult to self-improve and, as noted by our 2021 content marketing insights survey, gain buy-in from senior colleagues. To demonstrate the full value of content marketing efforts, and enjoy the benefits that come with it, it’s critical to have a concrete understanding of how things are performing. In other words, you need to keep close tabs on your metrics.
If you’re familiar with Google Analytics – which provides over 200 metrics across the entire funnel – this may seem a daunting prospect. To help you narrow your focus and understand which metrics really matter, we’ve broken down the most important ones into five key areas. These groups make a strong starting point for any company to begin measuring the ROI from their content.
1. Content performance
A successful content marketing campaign is made up of many different components. Understanding how each asset performs, or underperforms, is key to optimising over time. For example, if a bottom-of-funnel blog intended to direct traffic to a lead magnet has a higher bounce rate than expected, this indicates that you may need to consider other options for that purpose, or revisit the paragraphs where readers are dropping off.
To generate this insight, you can start by looking at the user journey. By following the path of users through the site and towards your campaign landing pages, you can see which pieces of content are functioning as expected (and pushing them towards conversion), as well as where site visitors are falling off. Using this, you can tweak your content to improve performance and determine how to further enhance its value.
2. Goal conversions
While making sense of the user journey, it is also useful to understand where this journey ends. As such, it’s important to fully utilise goal conversions. In doing so, you’ll be able to track the performance of every prospect touch point over time and what led them there – whether that’s a lead magnet, case study, ‘contact us’ form, etc.
The more granular you can make your goals, the better the results. For instance, if your goal is purely to drive leads, then you can use goal conversions as one of your sales pipeline metrics. While this process involves a few extra steps, understanding which assets are leading to your desired outcomes is invaluable for optimisation.
3. Web traffic
Goal conversion isn’t the only metric to monitor when optimising your content marketing efforts. An equally useful area to understand is your overall web traffic. Specifically, where it is coming from and how it is changing over time. By monitoring the effectiveness of your promotional efforts in the long term, you can see which channels generate the best value for your campaign and which may no longer be a good investment.
Even the best pieces of content can lose their shine over time. And what was a linchpin of your strategy last year may not have the same importance this year. For example, if your efforts to enhance organic search volume are paying off, and the data supports this, you may be able to pull back on paid promotion. Changes such as these will help you remain effective and cost-efficient.
4. Onsite engagement
Engagement is one of the most valuable things to understand for many companies, as it ultimately tells you which pieces of content audiences find interesting. This can be measured by scroll depth analysis to see how far through your content an audience is getting. For scroll depth it is important to note that 100% is rarely a realistic goal given the layout of most sites.
Equally valuable are pages per session and session duration to see if visitors are interested in exploring the site once they are on it. On the flip side, bounce rate is just as useful as it lets you know if people aren’t finding anything to draw them deeper into your content ecosystem once they do arrive.
5. SEO success
To add some longevity to your content and drive more traffic through organic search, you need to understand how your SEO is working. At a glance, your domain authority can give you a snapshot. But for more granular feedback, track the volume of inbound links over time. Also, keep a record of how your long-tail search intent-focused pages are performing. Using these insights, you can see which keywords your site is successfully owning and which need to be updated.
Entering the world of metrics can be a lot to handle. But for those who are yet to take advantage of these insights, there is a massive opportunity to improve and refine your content marketing campaigns.
If you’d like to find out what a metrics-driven campaign would look like for your business, contact: [email protected]