Measuring the Impact and Success of Your Content - A Guide
It is all well and good spending time and resources on creating superb content for your website, but if you have no idea if anyone has actually seen it – well, what is the point?
For your content marketing strategy to be successful, you need to know if people are actually seeing it and what actions they take afterwards. You need to have clear goals and outcomes set – what do you want to happen? It may be that you want people to click through and buy something after reading your content, or it may be that you want people to share the content with their friends on social media.
According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute in 2020, 80% of respondents use metrics to measure success, but when asked if they use KPIs to measure performance, that number drops to 65% and even lower when asked if they measure content marketing ROI, it drops to 43%.
How Times Have Changed
Producing online content may not be the new anymore, but in the grand scheme of things, it is still relatively modern. Not so long ago a company would plough money into advertising with no real idea of what was going on or how successful it was. Newspaper ads, space in magazines, along with radio and TV could all be on the pricey side and they carried the risk of being complete failures.
A business would have to wait until the end of a year to run its figures. Then they could see what had worked and, more importantly, what hadn’t. Of course, by this time the money had already been spent and potentially wasted.
Using the internet to publish content and boost your brand has brought huge benefits. You can get in the moment updates on how your content is performing. If you’ve paid for ads you can see exactly what they are delivering right now. If things aren’t going quite to plan, there is the opportunity to tweak or even withdraw to limit any losses. To take advantage of this, you need to have ways that allow you to measure the success and impact of your content. This is where our guide will help.
Buzz vs Impact
Before we get into the ways that you can measure the success of your content, it is worth looking at what success and impact actually mean. Content can be successful in two ways: buzz or content. Hugely successful content may even deliver on both friends. So, what’s the difference between the two? Let’s take a look:
Creating a buzz around your brand may be your number one goal. There are often stories of content going viral and the impact this has with millions of views. Buzz is what can cause this viral effect. It is how many people your content reaches and how it increases brand awareness.
If your content succeeds in creating a buzz then that is great, however, it is rarely enough on its own. Buzz can, if you are not careful, transform into being all about vanity. Clicking up shares, likes, and comments don’t always translate to success.
The impact that your content creates is shown by how your readers then go on to act. What effect has your content had on them? What have they done with that information? Has your content ensured that your brand is at the forefront of their minds?
While buzz matters, impact is quickly becoming a more important measure of success. Knowing that your content can affect your readers’ behaviours after it has been consumed gives much more value to a business than a Facebook like does.
The most important metric is traffic because it allows all that follows: interaction and conversion. Without traffic, there is no ROI (return on investment). However, as a measurement on its own, it is not going to indicate how well it has performed.
Instead, what you want to look at is the increase in traffic over a period of time. If your content marketing strategy is being executed properly, you should see an increase in traffic to your site over time.
Are users finding your content on their own? Or are they finding your content from other platforms, such as social media? Perhaps the majority of users arrive at your blog via a monthly email newsletter – whatever the case may be, find out how people arrive at your content.
Google Analytics is an effective tool for this. It shows you who visited what and when. Keep a record of this over a sustained period of time and look at when you had higher numbers of visitors. This may indicate that the content that you posted at those times was more valuable, and so it gives you an idea of your next steps.
Users: The total number of unique visits to a specific page on your website is shown here.
Page views: This shows the total number of times a specific page on your website is viewed, whether it’s a product page or a blog post.
Unique page views: This combines pageviews created by the same user during the same session, allowing you to determine the number of sessions during which that page was viewed.
SERP stands for search engine results page. It essentially means where you show up if someone searches for a keyword that is used within your content. It is one of the clearest ways of seeing how well your content is performing.
You – or your content writer – will have (hopefully) done thorough research into keywords, and implemented a range of SEO (search engine optimization) strategies, including keyword analysis, meta descriptions and so on. If these have been done properly, and your content is deemed valuable and trustworthy by Google or other search engines, you are going to be placed high up on the results pages. The higher you are, the more click-throughs you will have. Keep an eye on your search engine position and aim to move up.
Social Media Shares And Backlinks
The ultimate aim of the content is to provide value to readers. Though there is no single measure that can demonstrate this, social shares and backlinks can provide insight into whether or not people are open to sharing your content with their own audiences.
Things To Look For:
Retweets, Repins, and every other channel-specific social share metric that shows the scope of your content and that it resonates with your audience and that they find it valuable and interesting.
Comments: Since it takes more time for a reader to leave a comment on a blog post than it does to like it, this is also a good indicator of how interested the audience is. This may include both Mentions and Tweets that connect to you on Twitter.
Follower growth: Include any new followers in your regular reporting; they chose to be exposed to the content you are sharing.
BuzzSumo is a great tool for tracking social media metrics for your reporting.
Backlinks are important too. In fact, they are incredibly important. They help boost the DA (domain authority) ranking that Moz will give your site, and it also shows that other websites are seeing your content as valuable and trustworthy. Use Ahrefs – a favourite tool amongst marketers – to see what is being backlinked and where. It also gives you an insight into what and how your competitors are doing.
Content marketers need to consider how many leads their content generates. Demonstrating that content helps marketers achieve their lead acquisition and, nurturing goals is crucial for securing budgets for many marketers. Google Analytics is a great tool for doing this using the Goals tool. Preview requests, contact form submissions, and asset downloads are all common conversion incentives. After that, managers can use Analytics segments to see how many conversions came from the website or other resource hub.
What does your audience do the moment that they finish consuming your content? Do they go on and click to read more of what you have produced? Do they visit your homepage or about section because they now want to know more about what you have to offer? Or, do they simply disappear? The latter is known as a bounce by Google.
Your bounce rate is a great way of measuring the success of your content. If your content is great and working well then visitors are going to want to consume more and more. Simply vanishing never to be seen again suggests that your content didn’t quite do the job.
There are debates around how much bounce rate matters. The key takeaway from these is that if your success hinges on people visiting more pages on your site then a high bounce rate is a bad thing for you. What is a high bounce rate? Here’s what the numbers mean:
- 26% – 40% is classed as the optimal range
- 41% – 55% is the average bounce rate
- 56% – 70% is on the high side
Your New And Returning Visitors
Google Analytics is full of useful ways to measure how your content is performing. One of the things that it will show you is how many new visitors that you have in a set period as well as how many people have returned to your site. Having a mix of both is ideal.
New visitors show that you are driving traffic to your site. This could be from paid ads or it could be that your content is ranking well in the search engines. It could also be that you are having success with your social media platforms. Regardless of the how, the end result is that you have new opportunities with new visitors.
Looking at returning customers matters just as much as this shows if they like what they saw the first time around. If you have a high number of returning visitors this suggests that your content has hit the mark. They liked what they consumed and they are back for more.
Does your website have a form for your readers to sign up to receive your company newsletter? Maybe in exchange for their email address, you offer them something such as a free ebook or another download? Is your email list growing, static, or never really got going in the first place?
If your content is successful it is more likely that your readers are going to be willing to part with their email addresses. Poorly written content means that readers are not going to do the same. If they don’t like what they have already consumed, why would they sign up to get more of the same?
If your content seems to be delivering in other areas, but your email list isn’t growing, there is also the possibility that your content isn’t the problem as such. It could, instead, be what you are offering in return for an email address. Is it enough just to offer a newsletter? Do your readers want to be sent relevant offers? Are they looking for a freebie? If your content is proving successful elsewhere it could be worth experimenting with what you are offering and then measuring your level of success again.
Calculate your content marketing ROI
Last, but not least, to measure your content marketing effectiveness, calculate your return on investment. It is really simple to do using the following formula:
Return minus investment, divided by investment, expressed as a percentage
As a general rule of thumb, if you are spending less on producing the content than you are earning in sales, you are on the right track.
The key thing to remember is that you set yourself targets and goals, and measure your metrics against those. You will not need to use the above metrics for every single piece of content that your produce – after all, different posts and pages may have different purposes with different outcomes. The important thing is to build up a general overview so that you know what is and isn’t working.