There is no specific answer to how your content marketing endeavours are working out, how much is your ROI from the same and why you actually create content.
If this is what you think it is, then you are going wrong.
Your content marketing endeavours should be strategized and should have clearly defined goals.
Now, when you have a strategy ready for the same, you need to pen down the entire plan and measure the results in order to find out if your endeavors are going in the right direction.
A balanced and effective content marketing strategy gets developed by stacking up audience research, content scheduling, as well as content repurposing as building blocks.
When you do this appropriately, you will see results. But, where can you see those results? Can you track them too?
Well, content marketing is not something new. Although, still there are businesses who rarely have conversions through content marketing.
Audience research, content scheduling, and content repurposing are all building blocks that need to stack up correctly. Once you manage to get everything aligned, the results will begin to show. But where will they show? And how will you track them?
Even though content marketing has been around for quite some time, some businesses – especially smaller ones – have trouble grasping that content marketing results rarely show as macro-conversions.
In the end, content marketing contributes significantly to the final step (a new sale or lead). But there are other equally important, more revealing, and useful metrics to help you measure your CM efforts to determine how exactly it’s helping your business.
Using the right metrics will help you identify poor-performing content that can be improved. It will also empower you to pinpoint your best-performing content. Data analytics can help you to find the perfect “recipe” for content creation and marketing. Then just rinse and repeat the process to achieve content marketing success.
Before you decide which B2B marketing metrics to track, every member of your marketing team (and your client if you’re an agency) should understand the objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) of every content campaign.
This is different from the overarching “how do you measure content marketing ROI?” question (which we answer near the end of this article). Identifying your primary objectives and KPIs is an essential step in determining which metrics to use to track your content marketing efforts.
This question comes after you’ve built the business case, convinced your business or client of the potential ROI, and gained the approval and funds to start building your content marketing program.
To pinpoint your objectives and then identify your primary KPIs for measuring your performance, start with your “why.”
I know this sounds like I am not answering the question, but stay with me here.
To understand how to set the objectives and KPIs for your content marketing, you need to have a deep understanding of why your business exists.
Simon Sinek profoundly explains this premise in his famous Ted Talk: Start with Why – How Great Leaders Inspire Action. He explains, “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”
So your business needs first to understand why you do what you do – your higher purpose – before you can define your objectives and key performance indicators. There is a top-level objective that you need to determine based on your business purpose and your marketing goals overall.
I have spoken about share of conversation (or share of voice) a little bit before. The concept starts with a fundamental belief that marketing is a conversation. It includes any form of measurable brand awareness, including online mentions, website traffic, and PPC.
In a nutshell, it shows you how popular your brand is compared to your competition. In other words, it helps you understand your position in the market.
You can go out and start up a conversation online, but it can be more powerful to join other relevant discussions already taking place. Ultimately, the goal is to lead them.
This is partly why content marketing is so essential. The ultimate objective of content marketing is to increase your brand’s share of conversation.
What’s the topic of conversation your brand should lead? You’ll know the answer once you understand your brand’s higher purpose.
Share of conversation is also a customer-centric goal. It forces you to think bigger than your business and focus on providing value to your target audience with content around your topic.
You can measure this by defining “share of conversation” as the percentage of brand mentions around the topic you want your brand associated with. Begin by measuring what share of that conversation (social + online) your business commands. Then seek to grow that share.
Once you have a fair idea of your content marketing’s “why,” you can dive into the following metrics that any content marketer worth their salt should be monitoring closely.
Traffic is the lifeblood of online content. If nobody is landing on your website, it doesn’t matter how amazing your blog posts are – nobody will read them, so they won’t be doing you any good.
If you want to strip it back to basics, traffic is one metric that you must measure. Of course, you can split this traffic up into different categories. In Google Analytics, the metrics you want to be looking at are:
Users – the total number of unique visitors to your page
Pageviews – the total number of times a page on your site has been viewed
Unique pageviews – If a single user has viewed your page multiple times, these visits are combined into one pageview to calculate this metric.
You can use the raw data from these metrics to get a rough idea of the amount of traffic coming to individual pages on your site. You can also break down the data to see where your traffic is coming from (geographically and how they found your site online) and the type of device they used to view your site.
This information can be useful to know for your future content strategy. For example, if you target U.S. customers primarily, but you’re getting a significant amount of traffic from the U.K., you can tailor future content to your U.K. visitors. Or, if a large proportion of your traffic is coming from one of your social media channels, you can tailor your content based on your social media followers’ data.
So people are visiting your site and reading your blog – excellent. But what else are they doing when they’ve finished reading? Are they clicking your links and reading more? Are they signing up for your newsletter? Completing an e-commerce transaction?
For B2B brands, the ultimate conversion is leads or even direct sales. Few buyers will move from not knowing who you are to buying directly from a fantastic article. So, B2B brands should track all the way down the buyer journey from lighter conversions like subscriptions or click-throughs to deeper conversions like offer registrations.
It’s up to you what counts as a conversion. In some cases, the goal of your content might be to make a physical sale, while in others, it just might be to raise awareness of your brand and increase your authority. If this is the case, you might want to focus more on social shares and engagement metrics.
However, if your blog is primarily a sales tool, you’re going to want to track how many sales it generates. You can do this after activating ecommerce in Google Analytics by viewing the page value of all your content under the behaviour section.
This will give you the average revenue that each page has generated when users have gone directly to make a purchase or complete another goal you’ve set.
Sometimes the amount of traffic your content gets is more a measure of how effective you are at getting people to click your links, rather than how good your content is.
To really find out if people are engaging with your content, you’ll need to track how long they’re spending on your site and how many pages they’re visiting in each session.
Obviously, the goal is to keep them on your site as long as possible so they can read more of your content (unless, of course, you want to funnel them to a sales page as quickly as possible.)
You can see this information under Audience Overview in Google Analytics. Here, as well as seeing your total number of sessions and visitors, you can see the average number of pages per session, the average session duration, and your bounce rate.
Ideally, for content that’s designed to be read, you want a high number of pages per session, a long average session duration (depending on the length of your content), and a low bounce rate.
Another effective way to measure your content engagement is to see how well it performs on social media.
While there are various metrics you can track here, the most important is how many times your content has been shared on multiple social networks. A share shows that others are finding your content valuable.
This information isn’t available in Google Analytics, but if you have social share buttons on each piece of content, they will show you how many times that content has been shared on each platform.
BuzzSumo is another tool for tracking social media shares and is an easy way to identify the top-performing content on your site quickly.
You can also track the amount of traffic you’re getting from social platforms, which is another good way of measuring engagement. More clicks from social media mean that more people are sharing and interacting with your content. You can find this information under Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals in Google Analytics.
Not all your traffic will come from social media. You must be getting plenty of visitors from search too. You can track the proportion of your site visits that come from search in Google Analytics, but this doesn’t give you much insight into whether your site is performing well in search engines or not.
Instead, you’ll need to measure your SEO performance. There are a few different metrics you can track here. SERP ranking is probably the most important one – this is your page’s position in the search engine results for a particular keyword phrase. Rankings aren’t static and tend to fluctuate a little, but when you’re tracking your ranking over time, you want to see it either static (if you’re already in a good spot) or improving, which shows you are gaining trust and authority.
You can use Google Search Console to identify the terms you’re ranking for and keep an eye on how your ranking changes over time.
Better SEO will lead to higher traffic numbers, more leads, and hopefully more sales and conversions.
Authority is not quite as easy to measure as most of the other metrics, but it’s still important to try to increase your authority over time.
High authority will not only improve your SEO, meaning you get more search traffic, but it will also help to build your brand, increase trust, and improve your conversion rate.
Moz has its own authority metrics that you can use as a rough guide for how Google might judge your page and site’s authority. These DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority) scores range from 1 to 100, with higher scores corresponding to greater authority.
There’s no definitive answer on what’s a “good” DA and PA to aim for – you basically just want a higher score than your competitors.
Follow this simple five-step process to calculate your content marketing ROI.
Step 1: How much did you spend on content creation? Include tools and software, employee salaries, and outsourcing costs.
Step 2: How much did you spend to distribute your content? Include paid advertising, social media advertising, and tools and software costs.
Step 3: Add up your expenses to determine the cost to produce your content. This is your total investment.
Step 4: Add all the sales that resulted from your content. This is your return.
Step 5: Calculate your content marketing ROI using the formula below.
Understanding user behaviour is no easy feat. There’s no silver bullet. But with actionable metrics in place, you’ll begin moving in the right direction. Continually adopting metrics that help explain why specific content gets shared is mandatory if you want to survive in the competitive digital world.
That said, keep in mind that it’s easy to “game” these metrics if you only focus on one. Many publishers perform tricks to game their metrics.
You can always buy reach. You can also drive up pageviews by adding page breaks to your content, creating slideshows with multiple pages, and forcing your visitors to click through. You can force every visitor to some conversion action by over-promoting offers. Or you can refuse to add links that send visitors off your page, even when citing research or another person’s idea.
You can…but should you?
These approaches almost always impact the user experience and dilute or even damage your brand value in the process.
I recommend looking at balancing the importance of every metric so you’re rewarding the right behaviour. When conducting tests of content marketing designs, content types, or topics, take a holistic look at every area to ensure you aren’t sacrificing too much of the overall picture.
MIG’s Content Builder Services package will help you develop an effective strategy, implement it to hit your goals, and track important KPIs.
We will create quality, optimized content for you to publish on your website consistently. We’ll also promote your content for higher visibility and track your ROI, so you know exactly how it’s performing.
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