Everyone is doing content marketing but very few know how to measure it. It’s so important to be able to assess marketing efforts to determine their effectiveness, and ultimately the ROI. Yet, despite the number of analytical and data tools on hand, the best ways to accurately measure the performance of content marketing remains unclear.
So, what should you be looking for?
Step one – Website Performance
One of the main functions of a content marketing campaign is to increase the traffic to a website. Consistently reporting on website data will highlight the performance of the campaign against the key KPI, which is also a good starting point for any analytical report.
New Visitors & Traffic Sources
As we know, the campaign is designed to drive traffic and monitoring the number of new visitors via Google Analytics is one of the best ways to gauge whether this has been a success. The new visitors figure relates to those visiting the site for the first time and growth of this figure indicates whether the content marketing efforts are actively reaching a wider range of the demographic, engaging them and in turn leading them to your site.
From this, you are able to pinpoint the ways in which the traffic has found the site, either through an external link or through branded search.
The content marketing campaign will predominantly focus on off site activity, attempting to promote a website across the web. The most common approach generates links into a website, in order to increase a site’s overall authority. This is typically done through the creation of relevant, informative content containing links back to the main website before being placed on a site with the same level of relevance and authority.
Using River Island as an example, the below screenshot shows an informative, relevant piece of content that contains a link / reference to the River Island site. The article was published on The Express, targeting the fashion brands demographic, increasing exposure, and in turn the traffic to the River Island site:
Although the metrics detailed above are mainly applicable to off-site activity, understanding the number of referrals generated through external site placements can indicate how the new visitors are being directed to the site and how effectively the relevant demographic are being targeted.
Direct traffic refers to the way in which users are searching, either entering the site URL or using branded terms. Although brand awareness is notoriously difficult to measure growth in this metric can indicate higher awareness and visibility. Breaking this down even further, creating a brand vs. non-brand traffic comparison highlights the levels of direct traffic.
Non-brand traffic looks at the generic keywords that drive traffic to the website as opposed to brand traffic that sees users accessing the site by searching for the brand name. Making distinctions between the two will determine the success of the content marketing campaign which typically focuses on generic keywords, increasing the sites ability to rank for a relevant keyword set which can consist of product names, services, etc.
The higher the rankings for the keyword set, the more traffic that will pass to the website.
From a branded traffic perspective, increasing brand awareness will lead the target demographic to search directly for the brand, in turn increasing the level of direct traffic to the site. If the content marketing campaign focuses on increasing brand affiliation and visibility, then assessing the performance of branded traffic will determine the success of the strategy.
Segments can be created within Google Analytics to split the traffic in terms of brand and non-brand with a guide available, here.
Step two – User Engagement
Although driving more traffic to a website is important, it is essential to drive the right kind of traffic. The content marketing campaign has to target those with a genuine interest in the brand. If users are not engaged, they will simply not convert.
Bounce Rate & Average Session Duration
The bounce rate typically refers to the number of users that navigate away from a site after viewing just one page. This figure can sometimes be misleading and is one to monitor over a period of time. Content marketing campaigns drive greater levels of traffic to a site, which can impact the bounce rate. However, this is not always thought to be negative. Users may not be in the mood to buy, gathering information ready to use at a later date. Brand awareness would still have been instilled in these users, meaning they are likely to make a return visit, increasing the chances of conversion.
Another indication of engagement comes from the length of time a user remains on the site. The longer a user spends on site, the more they are becoming affiliated with the brand, suggesting higher levels of engagement. From a content perspective, this can identify which blogs are the most popular, the case studies users are reading, etc. something, which will help inform your content strategy moving forward. In terms of the users themselves, this also offers the ability to see which channel they are coming from, which will help to direct the strategy appealing to the most successful channels, whether that’s social media, direct, etc.
Step three – Effort vs. Reward
From a business perspective, ROI is the most valuable metric. Although it can be hard to attribute a figure against brand awareness, understanding the value of additional traffic and conversions can justify the overall spend on a marketing campaign.
Conversions can be used to create a value for the traffic the content creates or they could be used to understand the success of content at converting users.
It can be difficult to put an exact figure against the impact of a content marketing campaign for two reasons:
- It is slow building. Unlike PPC, it is not a case of turning on a tap, instead the campaign takes time to develop and see results, something that can take around 6 months.
- It is wide spread. Content marketing has a soft impact on a number of other mediums, across site metrics and other marketing channels such as social media, email marketing, etc.
To really understand the success of a content marketing campaign, a conversion needs to be given a clear definition. Again, this is something that can be established in Google Analytics, setting goals to track the performance of conversions, the process of which is outlined in this article. Either determining the value of a customer purchase or the lifetime value of a customer can help to establish the value of the additional traffic and in turn establish a clear ROI against the campaign.
Regular measurement of a content marketing campaign will determine its level of success and whether the current approach is the right one to be taking. Content campaigns do take time to develop, but be patient as the rewards are significant with increases in traffic and revenue making the campaign invaluable to your business.