Critics claim that content marketing metrics are not measurable business-wise (such as ROI), and therefore content marketing cannot be a marketing mix centric tool. It is of course not the case. Content marketing and its performance can be measured, at least not worse than any PR campaign.
Any new phenomenon or tool passes some natural stages of maturity. First, there is a place for enthusiastic interest, and then for justified criticism. Content marketing is no exception as there is a certain level of sobering up in the professional marketing environment in its regard.
What is content marketing? The major definition is
creation and promotion of information in some form, that is valuable to audience on its own
If there is a call to action-centric – that’s not content marketing per se but rather dull ad copy. Content marketing assumes that your brand or product helps the target audience with a piece of knowledge or solution making its life more comfortable. In return, the company gets exposure, increase potential clients awareness about its solution, etc.
Looks clear enough but how to measure “the easiness of life for the target audience” afterward?
It is possible to make life easier for a neighbor in different ways: to support him, to help with advice, to suggest a solution to the problem, to educate about something new, etc. Content marketing skeptics rightly claim that qualitative assessments downside is their subjectivity.
PR professionals faced the same objections. They meet them now as well when submitting reports only on the number of published press releases in an old fashioned way.
In the digital world, however, both PR coverage and other content marketing performance metrics can be measured relatively accurately thanks to advanced analytics tools.
Lead generation metrics
Lead conversion sources are easily set up and tracked in Google Analytics, where form analytics will show in detail what medium and page in particular lead to the desired response.
Often, one of the tasks of working with content is to collect a database of subscribers, which subsequently, along with useful information, unobtrusively offers the company’s products.
For example, you can offer a so-called “white book” – a collection of useful information, recommendations that will be of interest to the target audience, or a free webinar in exchange for subscription or contact data.
In the era of social media, audience interest and content quality can be measured by the number of social interactions such as Like, Share, Retweet. Such data are collected using various monitoring services (YouScan, Topsy, Wobot, etc.) or platforms’ resources (e.g., Easy Social Shares plugin for WordPress).
Note, that despite sufficient adequacy of indicators of social metrics, we do not recommend count on them as macro conversions. However, in terms of content marketing, they are an excellent opportunity to contribute to your micro conversions strategy. The wish to share the information is not always related to content piece quality. Some studies indicated that many people share information to support their own perceived identity (both private and professional).
I’d also include here metrics such as ‘views \ read ratio’ popularised by Medium.
Coverage and outreach metrics
One can and should include in content marketing metrics set an indicator of “coverage” – what in PR is called Media Outreach (speculation on how many people reached).
To analyze the effectiveness of a given campaign one can study the growth of branded traffic from search engines, the rate of new and repeated visits over a certain period, etc. If the target audience has a clear set of characteristics, for example, socio-demographic, these data will also show how adequate media coverage was, their themes, sites, and extension.
However, I firmly believe that in terms of digital marketing one should count on
- direct leads from publications
- SEO impact (more on it in the next section)
Views per se is a vanity metrics not worth pursuing.
One of the content marketing aspects is its influence on search engine marketing. With сукефшт strategies, the impact can be so powerful that content marketing is often called the evolution of SEO.
High-quality content helps to increase: time spent on the site, relevance of content requests, social signals, number of indexed pages, etc.
A large amount of data to analyze the effectiveness of hosted content is available in Google Search Console (can be linked to Google Analytics): the number of specific search queries, the average page position and Click Through Ration. At GRIN tech (the company behind the blog) we extensively use Ahrefs alongside with tools by Google.
Blog performance (content interaction)
Sources of visits, bounce rate, time on site and other built-in Google Analytics metrics contribute to overall content marketing metrics a great deal.
One can go deeper via ‘calculated’ metrics – conversions linked to ‘single page creation price.’
To sum it up on content marketing metrics
Today almost any content marketing activity is analyzed with the help of free and paid tools.
The main problem in any analysis is not so much the lack of tools as the analyze itself. In most cases, the purpose of content marketing is to kickstart unobtrusive communication with existing and future customers. That is a rather short and very effective way to gain the credibility of the brand. Unlike sales and lead generation, the analysis of goals such as recognition, trust, loyalty, the image requires a greater subjectivity and attention from the analyst to understand what indicators are behind them.