Content marketing has seen rapid growth in the past few years, but marketers still face significant challenges implementing and scaling an effective content strategy across their business.
Most notable among these challenges is measuring content effectiveness.
Tracking the right metrics and using the results to optimize content efforts is crucial to success. After all, content is one of the 6 buckets that need to be considered within Marketing Forensics.
In an effort to simplify the process, we’ve compiled key metrics that can help Content Marketers optimize their strategy.
Consumption metrics are perhaps the most basic and frequently examined type of metrics used by marketers. And while, by themselves, they offer a limited view of your content strategy, it can be a great place to start.
The first question to ask yourself when examining your content strategy is to identify how many people have consumed your content. After all, if you’re creating content you want to be able to quantify that number. Pageviews can help answer that.
Put simply, pageviews are equal to one single person loading a webpage.
Any time a visitor comes to your website you have an opportunity to persuade or convert them. Combining your pageviews with engagement and lead generation metrics can help you identify what works in your content strategy, and more importantly what doesn’t.
Here’s a great example of a startup that grew their page views to 200k+ in a year:
2) Traffic Source
Once you’ve identified how many people are visiting your website, it’s time to find out where all that traffic is coming from. Traffic Source can help you understand how well your content marketing efforts are working and how better to invest in your site content.
Looking at “All Traffic Sources” in Google Analytics can help identify the most active traffic sources and their medium. So for example, you can find out how much traffic you get from organic search engine traffic or from a referral link on another website.
Rob Yoegel, VP of Marketing at Gaggle, shares some insights on why this metric is valuable:
Understanding where you content is being read is just as important when it comes to allocating resources based on your audience’s location. Google Analytics offers details on geographic information, which can help marketers optimize for various geographical locations that are important to their business.
Here’s an example of Geo concentrations for content:
Now that you’ve published your content, are people sharing it? If so, which content are they sharing? These questions are essential to content marketers because they help identify how, why, and when consumers are sharing your content.
That’s where sharing metrics can help.
4) Total Social Shares
Total Social shares is perhaps the most commonly used metric for content marketers. It offers a cumulative view of shares across all your social channels.
In fact, social media is the #1 driver of all website referral traffic:
Tip: An easy way to drive this metric is by making social sharing easier for your consumers.
5) External vs. Internal Referral Sources to landing pages
When you’re reviewing the performance of your landing pages, take a look at external and internal referral sources.
External referral sources indicate external sites that are sending traffic to your website. These pages can give you valuable insights on what channels you should focus your off-site efforts on.
Internal referral sources are pages on your own website that are driving traffic to landing pages. This metric can help you identify content that is driving referrals to your landing page and also content that may be under-performing.
These metrics let you track how well you retain your audience when they visit your website. Combining consumption and retention metrics can help you understand whether your content is encouraging your audience to build a relationship with your brand.
6) Unique vs. Returning visitors
You can track traffic to your website by measuring the number of unique visitors. Whereas, returning visitors indicates the number of people who return to your site and validate the “stickiness” of your content.
A good mix of unique and returning visitors means that you’re attracting new people with your content and you’re able to retain and convert them into long-term brand followers.
7) Bounce Rate
Have you ever opened a website and subsequently left without engaging on the page? Well, that’s a “bounce” and it’s an important metric you should be measuring as a part of your content strategy.
The bounce rate indicates whether or not people are interested in what you have to offer i.e. is your content interesting and relevant enough.
Bounce rate can be found on a page-by-page basis in most analytics tools, so be sure to track it carefully. If any of your pages have a high bounce rate, it’s important to improve the quality of your content so that your visitors stick around.
Here’s a handy infographic from KISSMetrics that explains how you can improve Bounce Rate:
8) Exit pages
Exit pages are the final pages within a user’s visit. So these are the pages your visitors see before they leave your website.
Monitoring your analytics for these pages can help keep users on your website and drive conversions. Keep an eye out for broken pages or error messages because they can be easy exit pages to fix and could increase retention.
Lead Generation Metrics
Lead Generation metrics help you attribute leads to specific pieces of content that may be part of a middle-of-the-funnel activity.
9) Number of Qualified Leads
A great example of lead generation metrics is the number of qualified leads generated in your content. Common use cases include form fills collected when sharing gated content.
This metric can help validate your content marketing efforts, nurture leads through the funnel and ultimately drive sales. Dharmesh Shah, Founder and CTO of HubSpot shares why it’s a crucial part of measuring inbound success:
10) Lead conversions
Of course converting leads is no simple task. It’s most likely a herculean feat that your marketing team has to tackle on an ongoing basis. But tracking lead conversions is another crucial step in validating your content efforts.
After all, identifying which content is effectively nurturing your leads and ultimately helping them convert is a crucial part of the process.
11) Organic Leads
Organic traffic is valuable and more cost-effective than it’s paid counterparts. So it should come as no surprise that organic leads are very valuable.
Content marketers should track the percentage of leads they receive from organic sources and leverage it in their content efforts.
Engagement metrics are closely related to consumption and retention metrics, but they do vary because they give you a more in-depth look on how your audience interacts with your content.
Identifying which content initiates some kind of action or engagement from your audience is crucial to optimizing your content strategy.
12) Visit Duration (Time on Site)
Time on Site or Visit Duration is the amount of time visitors spend on your site. But not all time on site is equal.
When you measure the time on site metric, be sure to take into account why someone is going to your site. If a page with FAQs has low time on site, it could mean that visitors are finding their answers quickly (which is a good thing). Whereas, pages with high time on site could be more appropriate for content-heavy pages.
Use this chart to help identify your time on site goals and remember to take into account the purpose of each page and why your audience visits it:
Comments are a great way to track how well visitors are engaging with your content. You can also leverage them to build loyalty and convert visitors.
14) Page Depth
Page Depth shows how many pages your visitors are visiting per session. Tracking this metric will let you know if your audience is just reading one piece of content and then leaving your site? Or if they’re more engaged with multiple pieces of content?
Use this metric to improve your content and retain visitors for a longer period of time.
15) Heat maps / Click patterns
Want to find out how visitors engage on your website and what they click on? Track their behavior with heat maps and click patterns.
Various tools can help you create heat maps that indicate which sections of a page are getting the most views. Or you can track clicks and identify which content is grabbing your audience’s attention.
Here’s an example of heat maps that we use ourselves:
16) Revenue generated
Perhaps the most crucial metric in your marketing mix is revenue generated. After all it’s the holy grail of content marketing metrics.
Measure your revenue, production costs and distribution costs for each piece of content. Keep track of the content your prospects consume, and when they’ve turned into a sale assign the relevant revenue to those content pieces.
Here’s a simple breakdown of relevant sales metrics by Curata:
Wrapping It Up
Content marketing offers a variety of metrics you can track, but identifying the right ones and establishing a process for measuring them is crucial to your success. Start out with basic consumption metrics and work your way down the list using Google Analytics or another analytics tool.
Tracking these metrics and optimizing your content efforts based on results can help you drive conversions and achieve content marketing success.
What are some metrics you track as a part of your content strategy? Share them in the comments below. And stay tuned for the next post in our ‘Metrics That Matter’ series.
Read more content marketing-related posts here.