Content Marketing Metrics You Should Know
You've made the plunge and decided to try your hand at content marketing, but how do you know if all of your hard work is worth it?
Fortunately, there are several data points you can measure to determine how successful your campaigns really are. And even more fortunately, you can measure almost everything you need for free using Google Analytics.
The natural inclination seems to be just tracking how much traffic is coming to your website, but that's not nearly enough information to give you a complete picture and help you improve your marketing.
Here are the most important metrics you should capture and monitor to evaluate how well your content marketing campaigns are performing:
New Visitor Conversion
Since new visitors to your website interact with your content differently than returning visitors, it's important to isolate the conversion rate so that you can improve their experience with your business. Low conversion rates from new visitors can indicate that your offer is not compelling to people who don't already know you.
Return Visitor Conversion
When someone visits your site more than once, that is an indicator that they're interested in you and what you share with your community. If return visitors are not taking advantage of your offers, especially free offers, spend a little more time paying attention to what is being discussed in the market. It could be that the words you're using to make the offer aren't resonating with your visitors.
Visitors to your content can originate from a variety of sources. At a high level, traffic sources can be broken down into three categories:
- Direct traffic, which is visitors who typed in your website URL to get to your page.
- Search traffic, which is visitors who clicked on a link to your website after searching for something in a search engine.
- Referral traffic, which is visitors who clicked on a link to your website from another website.
It's helpful to calculate what traffic sources are giving you very little traffic, and also what traffic sources are sending traffic that doesn't convert. One reason this is important is because, if you discover that you're publishing content on a website that's not giving you any return on the investment of your time, you should consider removing that website from your content marketing plan.
Pages per Visit
Monitoring what people do while they're on your website can give you an idea of what changes you need to make in order to make their experience more satisfactory. For example, if you discover that most of your traffic leaves after viewing only one page, it might be time to review your site's design and usability.
Bounce rate is the percentage of website visitors who land on one of your pages and leave without taking any other action; they don't click on any links, fill out any forms, watch any videos – they just leave. This metric is important because a high bounce rate means people are not seeing what you have to offer. High bounce rates also have a negative impact on search engine rankings. If you are concerned with the percentage of people who are leaving your site right away, investigate the traffic sources and be sure your messaging is congruent through all of your marketing channels.
The exit page is the last page a website visitor lands on before leaving the site. Monitor your site to see which pages people are abandoning. If it's a natural step in the process, like when they've reached the download page, that's not a cause for concern. If, however, a high number of people are leaving when they reach your capture page, revisit the design and wording to be sure your message isn't chasing them away.
Page views are just what they sound like – the number of times a page has been viewed. It's a key metric because a high number of page views can indicate that your market particularly loves something you've published. On the other hand, an unexpectedly high number of page views could tell you that there's a problem and your visitors can't access what they're looking for.
Time on Site
One of the easiest ways to determine if your content is driving the right visitors to your site is by tracking how long people are staying on your site once they arrive. When people leave quickly, it's likely that your content isn't meaningful to them, so you might need to evaluate your traffic sources to make sure you're publishing content in the right places.
Most social media sites offer some level of measurement to give you an accurate view of how your content is performing. In addition, if you write a blog, it's a simple matter to track your user interaction. It's important to pay close attention to what content gets likes, shares and comments, because this is content you want to model in the future. It's also important to keep track of what kinds of content your audience doesn't like so you don't waste your time creating more of that.
Any time you share a link to your content (or other people's content that you share as part of your content marketing effort), use a trackable link. There are several services that provide tracking for free (Bitly and Goo.gl are great!). Using tracking links in conjunction with your other metrics can give you very important insights. For example, if you offer a free gift on Facebook and a lot of people click on the link to get it, but then very few people actually convert into leads, you can quickly see that the problem is not the offer, it's something on your landing page.
Once you begin to monitor your numbers and adjust your marketing based on your visitors' behavior, you'll be better equipped to create high quality content that truly connects with your target audience.