Reviewing and analyzing content metrics as part of your strategy is essential to a successful digital marketing campaign. Recent research has shown that content is responsible for three times as many leads per dollar as paid advertising. In other words, your content is potentially the most valuable marketing tool you have at your disposal.
How do you measure the potential, performance, and value of your content? Simply looking at traffic is not good enough. An article that receives 10,000 monthly visitors and generates 5 qualified leads is less valuable than an article that drives 100 monthly views but generates 10 qualified leads.
While it can be a good indicator of the traction your content is generating, traffic is just one of a few important key performance indicators. In order to see the full picture, there are five key metrics that you need to consider:
- Lead Generation
The key is understanding how to measure these metrics.
1. Viewership Metrics
Though it’s not necessarily the most valuable metric, it’s important to look at viewership and engagement metrics. If no one is reading what you write, it’s dead in the water—rendering the other four metrics useless. Before you can depend on lead generation or sales, you need to ensure that you’re getting eyes on the content.
For tracking users’ engagement with your content, Google Analytics is going to be your best friend. Note metrics such as the total page views, organic traffic, and overall traffic trends. As long as traffic is trending upward, you should be in good shape. If traffic is stagnant or trending downward, focus on SEO and content marketing to increase your total viewership.
2. Keyword Rankings
Though search engine rankings are closely connected to viewership in most cases, they are one of the content metrics that deserves attention of its own. It’s important to track your search engine rankings for a number of reasons:
- Tracking which keywords your content ranks for provides insights for further optimization opportunities.
- High rankings are often indicative of how much of an authority Google sees you as in your vertical. Sometimes your rankings for certain topics may be better than others. This is a huge clue from Google for future opportunities. (ask us how we use this)
- Poor rankings can indicate that your viewers are not finding your content useful enough. Search engines look at behavior metrics to determine which pages are useful to readers. Factors like bounce rate, time on page, and click-through rate are just some of the metrics that indicate value to search engines and reinforce the strength of your content.
- Tracking your rankings allows you to adjust your general content strategy properly. This is especially critical for content calendars and conversion optimization. A page with high rankings but poor conversion metrics means either the topic is a poor choice or it needs some CRO.
Ahrefs and SEMrush remain top-rated tools for tracking and monitoring keyword rankings. Professional SEOs love the two platforms because they allow you to track your rankings as well as the rankings of your competitors. Other similar purpose tools include SEOprofiler, SE Ranking, RankWatch, and Advanced Web Ranking.
3. Share Statistics
Your content may get all the views in the world, but do your readers/viewers love it enough to share it with their own followers? That’s how you know it’s really making an impact. This is a higher level of engagement that can positively impact both your rankings and viewership.
There are a few ways in which content gets shared, including:
- Social media shares (Facebook reposts, retweets on Twitter, LinkedIn shares, etc)
- Social bookmarking shares (Pinterest, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc)
- Links to the content in forum discussions (fan forums, niche forums, etc)
- Website links to your page (bloggers or journalists referencing your content)
Direct social shares are easy to track. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook provide instant notifications when someone shares one of your posts. Tools like Sprout Social and Awario allow you to look deeper by tracking your brand mentions and content shares across all platforms.
For link-based shares outside of social media, you can use the Ahrefs backlink checker or a similar backlink checker. You can also monitor your traffic sources in Google Analytics to see where your traffic is coming from and which shares are having the most impact on your viewership and engagement.
In the end, the amount of shares indicates how much value readers see in what you write. It can guide you how to properly adjust your content by changing up your tone (to get more engagement), including more calls to action (encouraging to share), or fixing whatever else may be lacking.
4. Number of Leads
Lead gen is the stage of engagement at which your content potentially becomes profitable. You haven’t made a sale, but you’ve made a connection that indicates a potential buyer. For e-commerce businesses, this is one of the single most important metrics.
There are different ways to solicit and measure lead generation. For the consumer, the process usually involves filling out a form, whether in exchange for a consultation, a free product (such as an ebook), a free trial, or a newsletter subscription. Each form completion represents a lead.
Lead generation can be more challenging to track in relation to content because it isn’t always apparent if a particular piece of content influenced the form completion. If the content itself is the lead bait (like a free ebook acquired in exchange for a form completion), you can determine its effectiveness pretty easily. But if the lead is generated after the content is already consumed, you’ll have to get a little more creative with the tracking.
To determine if your content—and which content—is having an impact on lead gen, you can set up a browser cookie that lets you track leads that occur minutes, days, or even weeks after your content is viewed. For phone leads, you can install a script that reveals a different trackable number whenever someone engages with your content.
Your CRM should allow you to create and easily track your form submissions in relation to user behavior. Platforms such as HubSpot CRM, Salesforce CRM, and Freshsales are good examples.
5. Number of Sales & Revenue Generated
If all of the previous metrics have shown to be successful, you should have no trouble achieving the final and most important metric: sales. If you’re in business to make money, it’s the ultimate goal. But as with lead generation, it can be difficult to ascertain the extent to which your content influences this metric.
Once again, it can be helpful to refer to your CRM platform. By cross-referencing the content consumed by a given customer with the sale that was made, you can estimate the value of the content. The key word here is estimate. It’s not always cut and dry.
A customer will often digest several pieces of content before making a purchase, in which case you must divide the value between those pages to get your best estimate. If they consumed three pieces of content before converting into a $9,000 sale for your company, you would assign $3,000 worth of value to each of those pieces of content. This is an over-simplified explanation but it illustrates the point.
The best CRM and sales automation platforms for tracking the content consumption of buyers include Salesforce, Marketo, and Eloqua.
Watch These Content Metrics Closely
It’s important to monitor all of these metrics because they’re all closely related. To make the sale, you need to generate leads. To generate leads, you need to find, engage, and grow your audience.
If one of these content metrics demonstrates poor performance, you can often diagnose the problem by reviewing the other metrics. For instance, low viewership can be the result of poor rankings. If your viewership is high but you’re not generating leads, the problem may be poor relevance or engagement. You can use this data to strengthen your content and turn onlookers into lifelong customers.
It’s important to be proactive about creating, promoting, and monitoring your content. Nearly 30% of U.S. adults are “almost constantly” online. Thanks to smartphone technology and increasing broadband access, the world is engaging with online content on a scale that once seemed unfathomable. In other words, there’s a goldmine of opportunity out there so make sure you content helps your business.