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Implementing an effective content marketing strategy is a challenge even for professionals. Not only is it difficult and time-consuming to develop relevant and high value-added content, we then have to understand which channels are optimal for sharing each different type of content.
Content marketing is really the best way for most brands to establish authority and connect with audiences, boost revenue and increase brand awareness. But how can you check that your content is actually relevant and valuable? How do you know if your strategy is effective?
Here, we’ll share some valuable insights about how to measure performance, including which tools are the best options for SEO and how to develop stellar content that just works.
What is content marketing and why is it important?
Before we go any further, let’s make sure that we have a solid grasp on what content marketing is all about. Content may consist of a number of formats, including email marketing, videos, ebooks, social media, and blog posts, just to name a few.
Marketing content may involve a number of different activities that revolve around the simple (but complicated) activity of simply getting your brand message out there. Content marketing tends to be on the engagement and educational (brand awareness) end of the funnel and to this end it’s more about having a conversation than conversions. That being said, it is really the starting point of an effective funnel, so it must be done right.
How to measure your content marketing performance
In order to figure out how well your content is engaging, you need to first understand what your purpose behind your marketing strategy is in relation to your business goals. Here are some things to consider:
Revenue: This goal is obvious. In fact, all the measures taken must ultimately contribute to the success of the company and an improvement in ROI.
Brand Awareness: Content marketing is specifically related to building customer loyalty and build brand awareness. To this end, the strategy must be built with the intention of differentiation and providing outstanding value in order to make a great first impression and maintain loyalty.
Loyalty/retention: Customer relationships are crucial when it comes to content marketing. Thus, keeping an eye on activities, trends and metrics that point to fluctuations in retention is crucial for understanding how well your strategy is doing. With informative or atypical content, you’ll find that it’s easier to engage with them at the outset and keep them coming back.
Commitment/Engagement: Social media is at the heart of content strategies, but it's not enough to simply share content. User engagement, that is, an authentic conversation between customers and businesses, is becoming more and more important.
Leads: In marketing, leads define a real contact between the company and potential customers. The number and quality of leads will always be one of the key indicators of how well your top of the funnel activities are going.
KPIs for content marketing
In order to meet the above goals, you’ll want to find and put into place some appropriate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These are used to measure your marketing goals in a concrete way and allow you to identify your success factors, fill in your gaps and finally gradually optimize your strategy.
Here are some suggested KPIs for marketing content:
- Revenue: sales, subscriptions, downloads.
- Awareness/Brand awareness: number of visitors, page views, videos viewed, activity on social networks.
- Loyalty/retention: subscriptions and unsubscriptions to the newsletter, time remaining on a page, bounce rate.
- Commitment/Engagement: social cues such as Likes, Shares, retweets, blog comments.
- Leads: newsletter subscriptions, request form or email, conversion rate
But it is not because these criteria are measured that they can tell you everything about the success of your project. The KPIs below are among the most significant for content marketing in general but must be assessed in the context of meaning rather than just looking at the numbers.
Number of visitors
The number of visitors on your page, especially unique users, is important. But we need to be cautious when looking at raw numbers, since they don’t give a lot of information as to how users are actually behaving. What’s more important than just the number of visitors is their actions, so we can ask questions like:
- How did they get to the page in the first place?
- Did they stay on the page for a few minutes?
- Did they read an entire blog or view an entire video?
The number of visitors is only a quantitative measure and doesn’t say a lot about the quality of your content. Thus, it’s best to pay attention primarily to qualitative factors to get the full picture of what’s going on. To that end, you’ll probably want to create some metrics out of different sets of data.
When a user (single visitor) clicks on your website or blog, you’ll be able to see these numbers clearly, but they don’t say much about what users are doing. But when visitors also indicates that they aren’t finding what they need, by, for instance, clicking around on different areas of your website and leaving, that can leave a trail of clues that, for instance, your site isn’t user-friendly or your product message is possibly unclear.
By correlating these numbers with other data like bounce rate and the time spent on a page, you can draw better conclusions and try to understand whether your content is attractive and interesting.
The bounce rate refers to the number of users who leave your website immediately after landing on one of your pages. By "immediately" we mean in this case that there was no interaction, such as clicks or even scrolls.
The bounce rate indicates the percentage of visitors who stay on the page for a certain time and who are active, compared to those who move directly to something else. This dataset shows what potential customers you could retain given the amount of traffic you are getting.
In addition, poor results indicate that you should optimize your site for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), since a high bounce rate indicates to search engines that the content does not meet the expectations of users.
(Check out this Kissmetrics Infographic for more information on optimal bounce rates by industry.)
Time spent on page
By observing the time spent by your users on one page, another qualitative factor comes into play. The time spent on site gives clues as to how the visitor moves on the page and more specifically whether or not they actually read content. If the average time is a few seconds, for instance, you have something to worry about. You can then use such indicators to improve your content or even work on the overall functionality of a given website.
Most social channels have built-in analytics tools (like Facebook Insights) that allow you to easily glance at the basic numbers to understand some key patterns and engagement trends. This is typically pretty basic information and should be interpreted lightly or combined with other types of data to get the full picture.
The best content marketing analysis tools
Once you have defined your objectives and the relevant KPIs for your content marketing, you’re going to want to choose a tool that works for your purposes. Fair warning: there are plenty of different tools out there so be sure to choose one that really works for your skill level, budget and needs.
Here are a few suggestions of some of the best analytics tools.
Google Analytics is a powerful tool that offers many possibilities for content analysis and optimization. With Analytics, you can evaluate how many users have read your different content, understand the relationships between various channels, and find the basic numbers which you can then interpret as you wish.
Socialbakers is great for monitoring and managing your social media. It offers, for instance, a clear view of likes and comments and it allows you to compare your performance directly with your competition. To analyze your campaigns, you will have access to the number of retweets, likes, comments, answers or traffic level, etc.
Chartbeat not only analyzes your most effective content, it also provides real-time user analysis: sources, user behavior, time spent on pages, and path to the desired page. Its dashboard clearly presents this data in real time, which means that site administrators can react and interact quickly with users.
Social Mention is a quick and free way to check trending topics and keywords. Once you pop a phrase into the main box, it shows you plenty of information about review traffic, lights, fans, etc. for all associated platforms and it does this in real time, so it’s a great method for quickly coming up with content in real-time.
The SumAll analytics tool is a user-friendly system for sharing and monitor social content across over 20 different channels.
Measure, Test, Repeat
With the right tools and knowledge, content marketing measurement is not too difficult to learn, at least on a basic level. By using some basic tools, you can easily get the baseline idea of how well your content is engaging audiences. But getting into the nitty-gritty of the buyer’s journey - that is, why they do what they do - is a little trickier.
That being said, even the most competent of us need to abide by the same rule: monitor, test, repeat. It is only through a process of trial and error that you’ll be able to understand what’s really working and what’s falling short when it comes to building your brand.