Not using analytics for your content marketing is like sending a message in a bottle out to sea – once you’ve put that piece out into the world you don’t know where it’s going, who’s seeing it, or what impact it’s having.
Content marketing analytics are essential for measuring the success of your campaign, understanding what makes your prospects tick, and informing the future direction of your marketing.
There are a lot of analytics programs, including Google Analytics, KISSMetrics, and ChartBeat, and sometimes it can feel like you need to study a Masters to be able to use them. But a firm understanding of some basic metrics can help enormously when trying to understand content marketing analytics, and will put you in good stead to make future decisions based on this data. Let’s have a look…
Basic Analytic Metrics to Understand
This is a simple one – this is how many visitors visited each page. You can use this to gain an understanding of which blogs or pages (it could be as simple as Contact Info or Gallery) reached more people.
Bounce rate is the number of visitors who did not click through to any other pages than the one that they landed on. This can help you to question what is not working and how you could improve your site to make click-through pathways clearer.
Traffic flow shows you how visitors navigate through your site. This can show you the pathway to conversion and where you are losing visitors before the conversion process.
This indicates who’s linking to your page and how visitors are arriving at your page. It is essential to look at these referrers to get an idea of the kind of person who is visiting your site. Referrals give insight into who is interested in you.
Time on Page and Total Time Reading
These metrics are some of the best indicators of what people like. If someone only spends ten seconds on your page, you know that they’re not enjoying your article or reading it to the end. If they’re spending minutes on end visiting multiple pages it’s a good indicator that they’re enjoying your page.
New and Returning Users
This is self-explanatory – this is the number of visitors who have been to your site before as opposed to the number of new users. Either one can be helpful depending on your goal – are you aiming for retention or reaching fresh eyes? Everyone’s interpretation of ‘success’ will be different.
Shares by Content Length
This is an important metric for informing future posts. The length of a post that was most shared is probably a good indication of how long you should aim for your posts to be.
Click Through Rate
CTR shows how many people are clicking through to sign up to mailing lists or lead generation lists.
You can set goals for which keywords you would like to improve your exposure for. With this metric you can see who is visiting your page through which search terms and measure if visits to your content have increased or decreased for particular search queries or keywords.
Geography is great for understanding where your visitors are and whether you’re reaching the audience you want.
It’s important to check how visitors have accessed your site. With particular analytics apps or systems you can measure time on site and other metrics against mobile readership, which can indicate whether mobile viewers are getting as much out of your site as desktop users.
Social Media Metrics
Likes, Retweets, Repins, etc
Social media platforms are often easiest to measure success because the numbers are right there in front of you. These sharing or liking metrics are important for gauging what your audience liked or found interesting.
Comments on Instagram or Facebook, or Mentions on Twitter all take more energy than a simple like or retweet. These are a good measure of how engaged your audience is.
Follower growth (or loss) across social media platforms is a very simple yet very important indicator of how well your content marketing is doing.
If you’re paying to promote content on Facebook or Twitter there is a metric which they provide to measure what actions visitors are taking after clicking through on your promoted content. It’s very useful for working out Return on Investment (ROI), although Facebook is phasing this metric out by the end of 2016.
Open Rates are an excellent tool for measuring what subject lines were effective and which weren’t (these are content too, after all). It’s a good idea to A/B test subject lines so that you can easily measure which is most successful.
When your emails include links to various blog posts or site pages, it’s a good idea to measure where your email readers are clicking through to.
Unsubscribes or Opt-Outs
Although they can be a bit of a downer, keeping an eye on your unsubscribes is one of the most critical ways of learning what your audience are and aren’t engaging with and how they are responding to your email content.
Far more fun than unsubscribers, checking out who is signing up to your emailing list is important to understand the type of people who have actively chosen to seek your content.
How to Use These Content Marketing Analytics Metrics Effectively
Now that you have an understanding of the most important analytics metrics and why they are so, analyzing your data should be much easier. Although, when you’re not an IT guru or statistics buff, it can be hard to interpret some of the more complex ones to guide meaningful change. An increased number of likes on your Instagram picture is easy to measure – people like that type of picture!
For a lot of the others, however, it makes more sense to look at them in conjunction with others. The easiest way to approach this is to frame questions and use the data to answer them. For example, “Are mobile visitors enjoying our site as much as desktop users?” Filter your data by mobile readership, look at the bounce rate and the time spent on page. You’ll get a fuller picture by looking at multiple metrics alongside each other to get a better overview and answer to that question.
Look at Social Media Metrics Together
Each social media platform has its own analytics function and they’re great for really free-diving into the data of that platform. It’s a good idea, however, to enlist the help of a program such as Buzzsumo which will analyze the data from all platforms to provide one cohesive social media report.
Check Regularly, but Also Look at Long Term Trends
Checking your content marketing analytics daily or at least a few times a week is important to keep your finger on the pulse. Things can change quickly in the world of content marketing – if you’re tweeting three articles per day and one does particularly well, you want to be able to continue this trend for your next post, or opposite if a new tactic tanks. However, sometimes this can cause a bit of short-sightedness. What tanks in the first few days could actually perform better than other posts over a longer period of time.
Some trends don’t become apparent over a daily basis, but might only show up when data is viewed as part of the bigger picture. Make a commitment to check your analytics once a month, bi-monthly, and/or quarterly to obtain an understanding of your content marketing’s performance over time.
Analytics are an essential element of the content marketing process. If you don’t know how your content is performing and how your page visitors and social media followers are reacting, how can you determine the success of your campaign?
Unlike traditional marketing, where you’d have to wait for end of financial year figures to measure the result of a campaign as measured against sales figures, there are analytics programs which can provide a myriad of data at the click of a few buttons at any point in your campaign. And that’s a wonderful thing, as long as you can understand them and apply them appropriately.
And now that you’ve read this article, you can!