As content marketing continues to develop as a discipline, there is an increasing focus on analyzing content marketing efforts. As with all marketing, moving the needle comes from understanding performance, benchmarking against competitors, and learning from the best.

Content marketers are generally a creative bunch, happier writing or designing than burrowing their head in a spreadsheet. However, getting deep with your data is usually necessary to succeed, so now is the time to learn.

Here are five quick tips that can help you analyze your content to gain invaluable insight into your data:

1. Research and understand your toolset

Excel is an analyst’s best friend. Simple but robust, it can help with content analysis at a number of levels. If you’re going beyond the data capabilities of Excel then you’re already at a pretty advanced level and might consider taking a look at sites such as ‘R’ for statistical computing and Tableau for visualization of that data.

But for most, the analytics available in the tools themselves will suffice. For example, get familiar with Google Analytics early on and learn to navigate the dashboards that are collecting data you need (or better yet, design your own customized dash!). This might include page views by content, traffic sources, and device type of the audience.

There are a plethora of content analysis tools available, but these are good to start with:

  • Like Explorer – great for quickly pulling out broad social media share metrics on articles
  • Google Analytics – the best place to pull out your own traffic stats
  • Audience Insights – for understanding your target audience through social data

The key at this stage is to understand which tools you need, what data each captures, and how you can get hold of it in the best way to make data-led decisions.

2. Start with your data

Once you understand what data you can access, the next step is to analyze your own properties. This will include your website and blog, as well as your active social profiles.

Start with Google Analytics (or your preferred web analytics provider). The goal is to understand what content is and isn’t working so that you can improve your overall strategy.

Pull out all of your Google Analytics data per post or per page alongside metrics like bounce rate, page views, time on page, and conversions. From this information you’ll be able to get an instant snapshot as to which content is driving value for your business.

You can also go beyond this by exporting analytics data into an Excel spreadsheet and appending social shares to give an even clearer picture of the performance of each piece of content.

3. Learn from the competitors

Studying your competition is hugely valuable. Not only can you see how you compare in terms of performance metrics, but you can also monitor the type of articles they’re generating, as well as how they’re presenting the stories they’re telling (e.g. list posts, infographics, opinion editorials, interviews, etc.).

In the content world, your competition is any person or brand that is competing for the limited attention of your audience. This means that you also need to study brands outside of those that directly compete with you on a commercial level.

Analyzing competitor performance is slightly trickier. There are numerous social media tools (e.g. Socialbakers and UnMetric) that can tell you which content is performing best socially for any brand, but when it comes to blogs and external content placements it takes a little more creativity. At Datify, we measure comments and social shares on content where we don’t have analytics access – allowing us to create educated opinions on content performance.

4. Pull it all together

Once you have data from your properties and your competitors’, the next step is pulling it all together. There is no definitive, single best way of joining data, but categorizing is a good way to start thinking critically about what you have in front of you.

Categorizing content can be a time-consuming, manual process, but finding common ground with your competitors pays off in the end. At Datify we typically categorize by type of content (blog post, guest post, creative content, etc.) and content topic (competition, brand awareness, launch, how-to, tips, etc). Categorizing in this way allows us to create insight in terms of the volume of a particular type of content over time, as well as its performance. From this you can amend your content strategy appropriately.

5. Actually use your data

This is a simple tip, but one that is often forgotten amongst the rush for more data. Many marketers go to great lengths to collect data on their content, without taking it to the next level. Data has no value if it is not processed and analyzed to create actionable insight. Only then have you truly created new information.

If you have a small team it is easy to drive change based on data. Study as much data as you can amass, test new theories, and learn from the results to continually optimize your content marketing efforts.

If you’re in a larger corporation it can be difficult to gather and analyze large amounts of data, but it is achievable if you present and disseminate your data-led insight in the right way.

For more information on creating insight from content data, take a look at Datify’s example content audit below:

Example Content Analysis Insight from Ben Harper