Measuring the efficacy of your content marketing efforts isn’t something you can just do on the fly. A lot goes into making content marketing measurable.
In this plain-speak, non jargon post, we will take a look at how one can go about creating an end to end strategy that takes the right data and uses it to draw insights that can further inform your content marketing strategies and efforts. There’s more to it than tracking pageviews on Google Analytics, you know.
This is divided into three parts that ought to apply to content marketing efforts for most business objectives. A wholesome measurement strategy essentially answers three key questions and lays down the groundwork for doing so:
- What to track
- How to track it
- How to turn data into insights, i.e., information that can be used to tweak the content marketing efforts to achieve your larger goals.
What to Track (aka, KPIs)
KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators are basically metrics that are important to you. Remember that not all of the analytics data holds the same importance for your business or content marketing objectives.
Here it falls on to you to outline what content marketing success means to your business. This will inevitably involve nailing down the top priorities/goals, marking the metrics that will help you monitor progress of those goals, establish benchmarks for your business to adhere to. Here’s how you can do it, considering you already have a sizable content centric marketing game going.
This helps you understand what kind of content you have published, whether it did what it was supposed to do, and whether it sets a benchmark for future content marketing efforts. Taking an inventory lets you sort valuable content from garbage pieces, and once you know the kind of content that’s valuable to your business, you can put more energy into trying to create more of that kind.
This can take a while, so be prepared for it. Make a list of everything you have published, media format (text post, video, ebook), and distribution channels, etc. You can use Screaming Frog or Export the google analytics data to CSV if you don’t want to do it manually.
Then go through the inventory, matching content with easily identifiable metrics for success. The posts that ranked high on SERP, or the most twitter shares to its name? This should give you a fairly good idea of which direction your content has been going this whole time.
The success of your content will depend on more than just previously mentioned metrics you’ve audited against. Think – What’s the most immediate big-picture goal? Website traffic, brand awareness, leads and conversions, or something else? You could even be looking to reap greater benefits by employing the cheapest way to make a website. In the end, it’s all about accomplishing individual website content and marketing goals.
This step helps you prioritize the content marketing goals so the efforts can be focussed accordingly. Once you have the goals, define KPIs for measuring how your content is performing in regards to that goal.
This is simple when you think about it critically. For instance, conversions and leads can obviously be measured by number of forms filled, newsletter subscribers, etc. Brand awareness is directly associated with traffic growth (page views, referrals, etc.). You can also define KPIs by each content type for more granular measurement and monitoring. Check out this handy guide from Content Marketing Institute to see the KPIs that commonly go with each content type.
Tracking and Measuring Data
By using the right techniques, you can keep track of data and measure your content’s performance at any given time. Whether you’re starting a website or managing an existing one, this section should teach you to incorporate data into decision making right from the start.
For common, automated measurement, the most popular tool available is Google Analytics. With a few clicks, you can use it for day to day monitoring and analysis. And you can look up others, like Mixpanel, for deeper, more customized insights.
The focus of this section, then is on the following:
- Setting a Schedule: Measuring your KPIs too often is just as detrimental sometimes as not doing it at all. Analytics tools need data to report on, and for that to happen, you need to give it time to accumulate. Any meaningful insights or patterns need time to emerge, but that’s not to say you can leave your measurement tools unattended for prolonged periods of time either. Start with a monthly-basis KPI tracking, compare with previous month’s performance to see the differences. From there, customize to your needs and account for seasonality.
- Customizing your Dashboard: The KPIs that are most significant to your business need to be front and center so everything you publish gets measured – and monitored – on those grounds. Easy enough to do so in Google Analytics. Good way to start is by adding metrics like page views, organic traffic, direct traffic, bounce rate, referrals, etc. but you can add more or less, depending on your goal priorities.
Once you know what to monitor and how to keep it within easy reach at all times, you will have no trouble creating a simple editorial status report when the time comes to share the state of your content marketing efforts with the rest of the team.
Drawing Insights from Data
You can very well track all the metrics your analytics dashboard has and still not glean anything truly useful if you don’t know understand what those metrics mean for your goals and objectives. That’s what the previous two points were partly about. Now that you understand what your metrics represent, you can use the data tracked to really see how the content marketing efforts are doing and identify missed or growth opportunities.
You can use Google Analytics to great effect in this case with a few tweaks and custom made reports that will tap into the metrics and draw insights automatically for easy access. You can head over to Google Analytics Solutions and import some of the more popular user-created reports for yourself from within the analytics dashboard. Whatever else you pick, I’d suggest you also get “SEO custom reports” by Greg Habermann as well as “Site Speed Metrics by Browser and Browser version” by LunaMetrics.
Just like publishing content, monitoring and measuring its efficacy is a continuous process that involves multiple steps and iterations. Even if you do come up with a workable monitoring and measurement strategy, there’s no telling when you’d have to adjust or tweak anything – from KPIs to custom reports or basic benchmarks that spell success for your business. And that’s not a bad thing at all. Continuous iteration is the name of the game. It’s how we learn and grow.