You’ve put in the work creating hundreds of different pieces of content: videos, emails, blog posts. But what do you do afterward? How and, more importantly, what do you track to determine which content works and what doesn’t?
The difficulty with content marketing metrics is that there isn’t one focused, identifiable place to find all the information you’re looking for without using third-party software. At the same time, you need all this data to avoid wasting time creating content that isn’t working.
As someone who got into marketing with limited knowledge of the field, I want to help you avoid the same mistakes I made when I first started. That means identifying the content marketing metrics that’ll lead to better performance and help you ignore the noisy metrics that don’t.
What is Content Marketing Metrics?
Content marketing metrics measure success or failure using data from your content platforms. Nearly every service has its collection of proprietary tools and analytics (which sometimes do not match each other).
For example, the Shopify platform features analytics tools that track sales, purchases, and website traffic. If you decide to use Google Analytics to measure traffic, those data points may not match up. Same if you use SEMRush, AHrefs, or Moz.
In my experience, Google Analytics continues to provide the most accurate and up-to-date analytics, and the other tools work best when supplementing that information.
Some examples of content marketing metrics related to blog posts include organic traffic, number of keywords, SERP rankings, traffic source, and conversions. If you’re using social media, you will want to look at impressions, engagement, and clicks. Open rate, click-through rate, and sign-ups are all important for email content.
To identify the best content marketing metrics for better performance, measuring only what’s essential to your goals is important. Set your content goals first, then determine what data you need to measure success.
What is the Most Important Metric for Content Marketing?
The most important metric to track when it comes to content marketing is dependent on your goals. If your content campaign aims to build brand awareness, metrics like traffic, engagement, and impressions are important. For eCommerce and B2B businesses, tracking conversions and email (or SMS) list sign-ups is essential.
Before beginning any content marketing campaign, establish key performance indicators to help guide you toward which metrics to focus on.
Dashboards, Dashboards, Dashboards
My business coach always emphasized “Track and Adapt” during our weekly meetings and asked about my dashboard.
Dashboards are single-view tables that easily measure your performance and content marketing goals. With so many measurements available, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by data which is why dashboards exist.
Creating a Google Sheet or Excel Spreadsheet with specific metrics is enough for some content marketers. Others may want something more automated.
Google Looker Studio is a free option that allows you to import data directly from Google Analytics 4. One issue is that it’s not incredibly intuitive, nor allows for multiple integrations. Automated dashboards like Jepto and Databox provide much information at a glance, but finding specific information about posts or campaign hubs might be challenging.
No matter what software you use, dashboards allow you to measure KPIs and other metrics quickly, which is precisely why they are essential to the success of your content marketing campaigns.
The GA4 Elephant in the Room
Everyone’s Google Universal Analytics accounts will be toast when this article is published. Once one of the easiest ways to collect data for your website, Universal Analytics has been replaced by Google Analytics 4.
There are clear benefits to GA4: tracking for web and app data, new event-based reports, and improved funnel visualizations.
At the same time, GA4 lacks the simplicity and ease of use Universal Analytics provided and has become more of an integration for other Google products such as Looker Studio.
But despite the outcry, the fact is that GA4 is here to stay while Universal Analytics is not.
A lot of what you loved about UA still exists in GA4, but the intuitiveness of the former is gone.
While you may switch to a multi-functional analytics tool like Moz, Ahrefs, or SEMRush, GA4 is still the most accurate option for tracking detailed information about your website, the traffic it receives, and the people viewing it.
9 Content Marketing Metrics for Better Performance
When compiling this list of the best content marketing metrics, I wanted to assemble a holistic collection that works for various audiences, goals, and platforms.
This list isn’t the end-all-be-all. Your content marketing goals may require a unique solution. Use this list to get started and adapt your metrics accordingly.
1. Organic Search Traffic
I wasn’t entirely sure whether or not I wanted to include organic search traffic as a metric only because, so frequently, it is seen as a vanity metric. What I mean by that is the overall number of people visiting your web pages might not be helpful if you’re trying to track new lead sources or conversion paths.
The best way to measure organic search traffic is through Google Analytics 4 in combination with Google Search Console. GA4 provides real-time data on who is visiting your page, while Search Console provides you with the specific keywords users use.
Organic search traffic is the most straightforward way to immediately identify which pages Google has picked up and measure how well your keywords work.
Other platforms that provide similar data don’t seem to offer the same results or levels of accuracy.
You may notice that GA4 and Google Search Console provide different results; that’s because they are trying to solve different problems for users, thus using different ways to track the same information.
2. Scroll Depth
Scroll depth provides data on how far a user scrolls on any webpage. When creating web content, you need to know where users stop on your pages to deliver the most relevant information in the correct location.
This information lets you know how much of a webpage a user has seen before deciding to leave. If someone reaches the bottom, then that’s perfect. But if they stop above the fold, and all of your call-to-action are in the middle, then that user never gets to the point where they can convert.
You’ll notice that many people won’t scroll far, and even fewer make it to the bottom of your page. Use this data to help design engaging web pages that provide as many opportunities to convert users as possible.
3. Conversion Rate
For any eCommerce business, the conversion rate is just as important a metric to measure as sales. But even if you’re in the information business or something more B2B, conversion rate still matters.
When selling a product or service, the conversion rate is simply the number of leads you’ve turned into customers. At the same time, conversion rate measures form fills phone calls, downloads, or any action you ask customers/readers to take.
Because of its broad interpretation, there are multiple ways to measure the conversion rate. Most eCommerce platforms provide this information in the analytics section of their platform. Google Analytics 4 also tracks conversions.
For pop-ups or form-fills, whichever software you use usually provides data such as the number of impressions, clicks, and entries.
The reason conversion rate is so important when measuring content marketing metrics is that the data tells you exactly what leads/customers want throughout the buyers’ journey.
Is the conversion rate for your eCommerce website low? Use this information to identify a potential problem (is it price? Website experience? Shipping?). Is no one signing up for your email list? A/B test your messaging before scrapping the whole project.
4. SERP Ranking
Once the end-all-be-all metric for content marketers, Search Engine Results Page rankings are a bit more complicated thanks to Google’s continuous upgrades. I’m sure you have noticed lately that the number one ranked article for any search term is falling further and further down the page thanks to the addition of advertisements, Youtube links, sponsored products, People Also Ask Questions, and now, Bard.
That complicates things when it comes to SEO. But remember, Google knows more than us regarding user search intent.
SERP rankings need to account for traditional SEO-like page rankings and other elements, such as getting the featured snippet or being an answer on People Also Ask.
SEMRush provides the most comprehensive tools when it comes to measuring SERP rankings because they include a variety of different individual metrics, including snippets, images, video packs, and more.
GA4 only tracks this as organic traffic without specifying where your users are coming from, so you need to use outside data sources to gather this necessary information.
This also explains why you may need to use an external dashboard creator since this pertinent information isn’t tracked through any Google products.
5. Traffic Sources
For those content marketers using a variety of platforms (Youtube, social media, blog posts, infographics, etc.), identifying where your traffic is coming from helps you avoid spending too much time creating content for locations that don’t work.
You’ll want to know whether or not traffic is coming from pay-per-click ads or an email list. By measuring how people get to your website, you gain invaluable insights into where your audience likes to hang out and the types of content they want to engage with.
Once again, the best way to measure traffic sources is through GA4. Using the segments and free explore reports, you can even break down which pages, in particular, attain traffic from which sources. To improve the content you make for the audiences you desire, measuring traffic sources is a content marketing metric you must pay attention to.
6. Content Shares
Social media marketing is complicated, and there are plenty of controversies about how each platform tracks its metrics. One indisputable metric is content shares. This measurement allows you to identify which of your content resonates with users so much that they want others to view it.
There are a couple of methods available to measure content shares. First, WordPress offers plugins allowing readers to share articles directly on social media. It’s easy for site owners to implement and use. These plugins include analytics highlighting how often people are sharing an article.
If you’re using Twitter or Facebook, shares are the sole analytic tool to track how users spread your content to their audiences. The aim should always be to identify what’s working, what’s not, and adapt from there.
Also, look through your GA4 reports to see if any other unique traffic sources, such as Mix or Reddit, pop up for you. The internet is so large there is no limit to the variety of expected and unexpected places your content may be shared.
7. Open Rate & Click Through Rate
Regarding email marketing, you need to measure two key content marketing metrics: open rate and click-through rate. Open rate is the number of times users have opened your emails, whereas click-through rate tells you how many users engaged with your content.
The open rate is beneficial when identifying whether or not the content is getting delivered to inboxes (versus spam folders) and which content your readers want to know more about.
The next important email marketing metric is click-through rate. Once a user opens an email, you will want to know if they are interested in moving through your sales funnel. Click-through rate provides the data of people interacting with the content of your email and visiting your website.
You will have to rely on information collected by your email distribution platforms to track this data. All major distributors provide this information, whether you’re on a free or paid subscription plan.
Ever wonder how a competitor’s webpage with the same type of content, number of images, and keywords ranks above you? More often than not, it’s because of backlinks.
Backlinks are how Google establishes how trustworthy, valuable, and authoritative your web pages are. Whenever someone else links to one of your pages, that’s a backlink. Some backlinks are worth more than others: a link from USA Today will count for much more than a link from a regular Joe’s blog.
Consider backlinks a personal “vouching” from another website. They believe your content is worthy of others reading it; thus, they “vouch” for your authority. The more (and better) backlinks your content has, the more likely it will shoot up the Google rankings.
9. Time on Page
“Time on page” refers to how long someone spends on a webpage before leaving. When creating blog content, more often than not, the goal is to keep readers interested throughout the piece, thus leading them to spend more time on your site (and be introduced to more content, calls-to-action, and branding).
The longer someone interacts with your content, the better.
Across all industries, the average time on a page is 54 seconds. First, use GA4 to track how long someone stays on your content, and for an even better view, create a new report broken down into content hubs to find specific areas of your content that are working better than others.
*Note: Time on page is a valuable metric but becomes invaluable when paired with services like Clarity or Hotjar. These tools allow you to watch people interact with your website to see how far they get before moving on.
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The best way to improve your content marketing is by analyzing your content marketing metrics to determine what’s working and what’s not. That’s why The Loop Marketing’s data–driven content marketing services provide you and your business with unique content on the right channels delivered to the perfect audience.
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Ready to upgrade your digital marketing? Schedule a free consultation with The Loop Marketing, and get started today.