It isn’t always easy to tell how effective your current content marketing strategy is or whether it needs tweaking, but there are metrics you can use to determine if you’re getting the best return on investment.
Many small-business owners know whether people look at their content or share it on social media, but they can’t tie their investment to a measurable business outcome. It’s important to define what success looks like, to measure your content’s performance, and to track which content is most successful for you.
Is Your Content Getting Engagement?
Your first content marketing goal is to get your work in front of prospective and current customers. Then, you want your content to elicit responses that prompt your audience to engage with your business.
Did They See It?
These stats tell you how effectively you’re getting your content in front of people’s eyeballs.
- Impressions, reach, and email opens. Impressions are the number of times your social media posts appeared in news feeds or streams, and reach is the number of people who potentially saw each post. If you’re sharing content over email, tools like Litmus can tell you how long emails remained open before visitors clicked away.
- Unique visitors and page views. The number of unique visitors, which you can find in your Google Analytics dashboard or WordPress Site Stats, tells you how many people visited the URL where you posted your content. Page views tell you the total number of times both unique and returning visitors looked at each page.
Did They Spend Time With It?
These content marketing metrics demonstrate whether people spent time looking at, reading, or watching your content.
- Average finish. This metric tells you which percentage of visitors likely spent time reading your content. You can set up Google Analytics Event Tracking to show pinpoint the times at which visitors loaded your content, started scrolling down the page, and eventually reached the end of the page.
- Engaged time. Engaged time measures how long visitors stayed active on your page, including time they spent scrolling, clicking article links, or keeping your page in an open tab. According to marketing research from Chartbeat, customers who spend three minutes reading an article are twice as likely to return to it later.
Did They Engage With It?
Engagement happens when your audience visibly responds in the form of comments, social shares, or downloads to content you create. Check each page’s bounce rate to see whether visitors went on to explore more pages on your domain — which suggests your content made them want to learn more — or whether they navigated elsewhere.
Is Your Content Building Trust?
Over time, visitors will start viewing your content as more trustworthy. Establishing trustworthiness builds goodwill among your audience and motivates them to seek out your content.
- Domain and page authority. Authority is boosted by inbound links from high-quality sources or influencers. Install MozBar in your browser to test the authority of your domain and its individual pages, and use Open Site Explorer to see which pages link back to yours.
- Influencer sharing. When people share your content, use a tool like Klout to research how influential they are. Having your work shared by influencers is a vote of confidence, both to your audience and to search engines.
- Return readers and visitor loyalty. The Returning Visitors report in Google Analytics shows how many visitors return to your content one or more times. To measure visitor loyalty, set up a Google Analytics Event measuring the number of return readers within a time interval of your choice.
- Longevity. Some content gets a lot of traffic in the beginning, but your most valuable content continues earning traffic over time. Create content that earns not only initial traffic but also residual long-term visits.
- Brand lift. Use SurveyMonkey’s free tools to set up surveys measuring visitors’ perception of your brand. Conduct surveys both before your content marketing push and after the content push, and note any changes in visitors’ positive perception of your brand.
Is Your Content Delivering Specific Business Benefits?
Ultimately, content marketing has to move past heartwarming measurements to demonstrate that your content investment makes money. Visitors can become leads, usually by subscribing to one of your channels, downloading something, or viewing an exclusive webinar or video. They can also become customers and make purchases connected to specific pieces of content.
Lead Generation and Nurturing
Use tools like Google Analytics and browser cookies to see which content converts visitors into leads, or simply put different phone numbers on each landing page to see which page elicits the most calls. You should also track which referral sources — organic search, email, social media, PPC, or direct URL entry — send leads who eventually make a purchase.
If you use marketing automation software, track which pieces of content convert the most leads into customers. Develop a sequence of content, delivered at optimal intervals, to maximize conversion.
When you close a lead, note two things in your CRM software: which pieces of content customers read before purchasing, and how many times they read it.
- Assign a dollar value to your customer. Calculate the customer’s projected revenue, including the present purchase and projected future purchases.
- Allocate the total among different pieces of content. Use a weighted average to assign a revenue value to each piece of content. For example, imagine a customer who makes a $10,000 purchase after reading both Content A and B twice and Content C once. Content A and B would both be valued at $4,000 while Content C would be valued at $2,000.
- Compare what you spent on content development to the amount of money you made. Calculate the cost of creating a piece of content compared to how much revenue it generates. Make more content that gets maximum results for the lowest cost per conversion.
Keep Doing What Works
If your content marketing metrics are disappointing, take time to test and troubleshoot your content strategy or hire a digital marketing agency to give your strategy a boost. You could be creating the wrong kind of content. You could also be using the wrong referral sources or promoting it in a way that doesn’t resonate with your audience. Use this formula to determine what works best for your particular audience.
Experiment with multiple types of content as well as different placement and promotion strategies, and keep a watchful eye on its performance. With patience and time, you’ll perfect a small-business content marketing strategy that delivers maximum ROI.