content-marketing-how-to-measure-successOne of the most common questions we get asked is how to define content marketing success.

In school, and in any investigative work, we were/are taught about asking the fundamental questions: who, what, where, when, how and why? The same approach works well in spotting and identifying successful – and for that matter unsuccessful – content through the right metrics.

Who did you reach?

This can be a tricky question to answer. If you are sharing your content through your Facebook business page, you can obtain a lot of good demographic data. However, traffic through your website may be harder to analyse. Alexa.com – although not completely accurate – can provide you with some demographic data.

The best way is still to ensure that your goal tracking and calls to action are set up properly. Does every page of your website have a call to action? If the content is going onto other sites or is likely to spread virally – like an infographic – then ensure that your author details are on there and, where possible, get links back to your site so that you can hopefully convert the visitor.

What did they read?

This is generally the core of any web analytics package. In Google Analytics, this comes under the ‘Content’ section – from here, you can identify your most viewed pages and, just as important but often overlooked, the ‘landing page’ ie. where they entered the site as often this isn’t the home page.

However, none of this tells you just what value your content has. Many of you will have set up goal tracking on your site but have you assigned a value to that goal? There is no hard and fast rule on the ‘value’ of a goal. In eCommerce, it is normally the value of the product sold, here though you need to consider the overall cost and importance of the lead, so is a ‘newsletter sign up’ more valuable than a ‘direct email’ for example?

There are a lot great articles covering this subject but essentially once you have done this and entered the value into your analytics package, you will start seeing the ‘page value’ metric coming into play.

Where did they share it?

All of the major social networks, Facebook, Google +, Twitter and Pinterest, have sharing buttons that you can integrate into your site which will give you on-page reports such as the number of shares as well as integrating with the business page analytics.

Another excellent tool is ‘add this’ which, with only one piece of additional code, allows the reader to share via 300 different social or sharing platforms. The additional bonus here is that, if you create an account, you can see which tools were used on which content and when!

When did they find it?

It’s always worth looking at the timeline trends of content, so open up the date ranges and see if you can spot any trends. Compare some of your best performing pieces against each other and also have a look at some of your older pieces to see if they are still relevant. If so, could they be referenced in other articles and so on?

How did they find it?

So how did they find your content? Again, this is the core of any web analytics package – in Google Analytics, the ‘traffic sources’ section is dedicated to this. From here, you can easily identify direct traffic, traffic from search engines and traffic from referring sites. The referring sites comes into play for content marketers more than most, as this will allow you to see which guest blogs or infographic placements have been sending traffic your way.

Again, as with the content reports, if you have assigned values to your goals, you will see a ‘per visit goal value’ allowing you to see which sources are most profitable.

Why did they like it?

This is the Holy Grail question. If you have set up all of the above, then some of these answers will become apparent. If you get a lead, ask the question, if someone tweets your content, reply and ask them. Also, by using the process laid out here, you should start spotting what resonates well with your audience.

Just ‘who’ your real audience is, is often overlooked. The internet is vast and whilst you may feel that your product is perfect for IT directors, it may be small and medium business owners or new start-ups that like what you have to say or offer. So, stay open minded and look at what the facts are telling you, not just what you want to see.

Summary

  • Set up goal tracking
  • Assign values to your goals
  • Get familiar with content reports, especially top content and landing pages
  • Use all the tools you have, including Facebook Insights, Pinterest Analytics, Alexa.com, Google Analytics and more
  • Pull apart the traffic reports to spot your most valuable sources
  • Ask real questions of real people
  • Do the reverse to spot poor performing content

So what are the most important content marketing metrics?

Essentially, they are the ones that best answer your questions. Different people will flip data in different ways depending on what they are comfortable with, but by ensuring you have set up the basics, you will be able to build and develop your content more successfully.