Many marketers who invest a lot in content marketing are at a loss when it comes to tracking their metrics. How do you know how far you are from reaching your blog’s purpose or your company’s goals with your content marketing efforts?
A lot of us depend on statistics like page views, social shares, number (or percentage) of signups which usually do not directly correlate with actual results. These are referred to as “vanity metrics”.
Some typical examples of vanity metrics are “100 million tweets per day”, “3000 downloads”, “1 million page views”, etc.
Vanity metrics are good to show off and in many cases give us a sense of achievement. And many online media platforms and even startups love to show off these numbers.
But these numbers do not show that there is good business happening at the back. For example, it’s great to see there are 100 million tweets per day on your Twitter account, but how many of those are going into actual conversions?
“Those clicks, views, and ‘likes’ are only there because they’re easy, not relevant.”Seth Godin
So how can you ensure that your digital content is doing it’s job?
Here are a few tips:
1) Have a well-organized Content Marketing Strategy
When you start off with your content marketing efforts, you need to start with a well-defined strategy. According to Semrush, an effective content marketing strategy has four elements:
a. Positioning your brand
If your brand and product is clearly defined, it helps you understand where you stand in your market or niche, who your potential audience is, who your competitors are and what your brand provide differently. This also helps you to brainstorm a lot of ideas that you haven’t thought about before.
b. Value Proposition
When you have defined your audience, you have to know what they like.
You can produce content in four formats – text, image, audio, and video. Understanding where your target audience hangs out most to look for information they like will help you think of the channels you want to promote in, the type of content you want to create, and the format you want to use.
This will also help you analyze your competitors’ content strategies and establish your niche.
Once you decide to develop your own content (owned media), you also need to look at other content publishers in your area of expertise as potential competitors for research.
c. Identifying your business goals
While your content attracts new readers and viewers, it should also drive your business towards its goals. You have to identify the business goals that align with your company’s vision and mission to understand how your content marketing is helping you achieve those.
d. Creating a strategic plan
Create a strategy for your content marketing that helps you focus on your business goals and how exactly you will achieve them.
A good content marketing strategy will help you decide whom you want to reach out to, how to deliver, and how you will achieve and measure results.
2) Define your metrics
We spoke about vanity metrics. While those numbers as is may not mean anything, most of them can help you to test and improve the engagement with your target audience on various channels.
Almost all social channels that you push your content to provide the “engagement metrics” which measures a specific action that your audience has taken on the content – likes, shares, comments, views, clicks, time on site, bounce rate, etc. But they do not give any insight to the return-on-investment (ROI) or value to you or your business.
Define your metrics that will help you understand how the numbers you get are bringing you closer to your primary objective.
As an example, if your objective is to make more money, you need to know how much of the engagement you receive have converted into sales. It would also help to know what steps were followed by the customer. You should measure these against the cost, revenue, and ROI, and the potential value in a specific customer that could bring in future sales.
3) Track, Evaluate and Improve
Once you have the above in place, it’s time to track them and see what’s working, why and through which channels. Some of the things you can track may be:
- What channels are giving you the most ROI?
- What content in those channels is converting well? Can they be repurposed?
- What is the effort put in against ROI for each of your content marketing channels?
- What steps did a customer take to buy a product from you? Did they reach you from an external link, search results, or another page on your own website itself?
- Are there outbound links that are getting the most clicks? What are they about?
- Which inbound links are giving you the most incoming traffic and proportional ROI?
- What content is NOT converting well and has the biggest bounce rates or has negative feedback? Can you improve upon them?
I believe you get the idea. Keep in mind that sometimes even negative metrics (dislikes, negative feedback, etc.) can also help you learn and improve your stats.
Using Tracking Tools
Using good tracking tools to evaluate your conversions is important. There are a number of paid solutions as well, but if you’re on a budget, start with Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is one of the best out there, and it’s free. It has a lot of features and provides you with a number of metrics including user session duration (how long they stayed on your website), pages viewed per session, bounce rate (how many of the incoming visitors left, and from where), traffic source (how did they reach your site), etc. The data is also provided in “real-time” (that is, it includes statistics from visitors currently viewing your content).
If you’re just starting off with content marketing, start with the above. Identify your goals, define your metrics, track, evaluate, and improve upon your efforts.
Content marketing is a long game, and it usually takes a longer time to see success. But it’s a strategy with a compounding effect that if done right with good commitment, the rewards are huge.