Content marketing is lately the most significant […and the most fantastic!] area of online marketing! According to Content Marketing Institute, its meaning is constantly growing. Content marketing provides people with useful information that can help solve their real problems and show how to handle different issues. Yes, content educates and entertains. This is why, any content marketing beginner should ask himself the question: What are the most important key performance indicators for measuring one’s efforts?
A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. Organizations use Key Performance Indicators to evaluate their success at reaching targets. [by Klipfolio]
If social shares and comments came to your mind first, you are partly right because they indeed indicate natural engagement. However, Twitter recently made it harder to expose social proof because they have killed free share counts. So, this case has become more complicated.
Nevertheless, a good content marketer shouldn’t solely rely on shares and comments because they only provide a rough guideline of your website’s status. There are much more significant metrics to keep your careful eye on! :-) Just take a look at your Google Analytics and you will find ALMOST all of what you need:
1. Pageviews show the Reach
Measure the reach of your content. This is nothing more than the total number of page views. Focus on how many users your content reaches and how many unique views a page gathers. Page views are a baseline for comparing different types of content and eventually evaluating trends over time. They will help you assess if and how quickly your reach is growing.
2. Time on page & bounce rate = User Engagement.
Apart from the reach, in the same Google Analytics section you can spot two other highly important quality indicators: time on page and bounce rate.
I’ve already spoken about bounce rate in one of my previous articles: What is bounce rate and how to reduce it.
These two metrics are critical and you need to observe both diligently. For the most useful and informative results, it’s best to wait at least 30 days before you measure your campaign. Make sure your results fit into averages according to benchmarks provided by Quicksprout.
These two quality indicators reveal how people who clicked through and viewed a page interact with your piece of content. In other words, bounce rate & time on site are your answer to the question of whether your writing fulfills their expectations, or not. The longer they stay on site and the lower your bounce rate is, the better. :)
Time on site
Time on page/ time on site is a standard metric. However, it is not an obvious one. In fact, very few people know exactly how it works. For instance, I used the time on site metric for quite a long time before I realized how this calculation is made. It turns out that time on site doesn’t start counting directly when a visitor enters your page, but after a subsequent internal interaction. Time on site is not recorded for a single page session nor for an exit page because the time is updated when a user digs further within your domain. Your visitor has to click on one of your internal links for the time on page to start recording.
Similarly, a bounce rate is also a vague indicator. For instance, a page will note the bounce rate of 100% when a user instantly abandons a web page because of its poor quality. This case is a rather obvious.
However, a page will also collect the bounce rate of 100% when a user loads a page, reads your 2000+ word article and, engaged and satisfied, closes the tab with the intention of returning to your page when you publish something new! This is because single page sessions always gain a bounce rate of 100% and time on site of 00:00!
Read the article Standard Metrics Revisited: #4: Time on Page & Time on Site by Google Digital Marketing Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik, and learn more about the topic.
No matter how many page views you gain, if people leave after 10 seconds without any internal interaction, your results will not be accurate. Watch your time on page and bounce rate and try to reach benchmarks for your niche by making your writing useful, enjoyable, readable, responsive, media rich and visually attractive. Keep people on a page as long as it’s possible. Plus, give them many opportunities to dig further by implementing relative internal links with accurate anchors.
3. Lead generation and conversions
Super important goals to execute within your content usually are newsletter subscriptions and free trial sign ups. They all come down to calls-to-action and their proper placement. Calls to action can make or break your content conversion potential. This is why you should test their design and locations. Make them visible, change their colors, test them, make changes, measure the results and do your best to maximize their effectiveness.
Find out more about basic calls to action designed for blogs by reading the 8 Types of CTAs You Should Absolutely Try on Your Blog on Hubspot Blog. It’s an excellent stuff!
4. Social Proof = Public Engagement
Now, let’s talk about social proof indicators like social shares and comments. Social shares and comments are worth paying attention to because they serve as public evidence that your content is engaging and people enjoy it. However, these metrics are not adequate for measuring real engagement so they shouldn’t work as the main KPI for you or your boss when evaluating your writing achievements. So if you are an experienced online marketer, you know that it is the traffic and conversion that should be tended to the most.
However, once a month, when you analyze and summarize all the results for a particular piece of content, write social shares and comments down too, compare and look at them as a whole picture.
5. Keywords Positions & Organic Traffic
Don’t worry; I haven’t forgotten about SEO. The fact is that content should be grounded on a solid search engine optimization strategy. Your content must be SEO friendly. It is the only way to make your website visible in SERPs and get stable organic traffic to your website. Make sure that you optimize your content for targeted keywords. We’ve already published several articles on this topic on our blog.
You can totally rely on Positionly in this field. Import your keywords list and start to measure your keywords positions daily.
Anytime you publish an article optimized for a particular keyword or keywords, add a note on a keyword graph
and wait patiently. Measure your improvement after 30 days and evaluate how much this action has helped.
Get to know your users better
Demographics and Interest Reports give you various information about your audience. And yes, in the “audience” section you can check where your content is being read. This is a powerful knowledge that can help you adjust your activities and resources much more effectively.
Knowing your audience by their geographical location, preferred language, interests, gender and devices they use tells you how to optimize your website to make user experience the most pleasurable. These parameters teach you about the needs your content should support and about the pains to alleviate.
Understanding your readers and delivering to them what they need, is the key to success and long-term conversion.
To sum up
Page views, bounce rate, time on site, conversions, keyword positions and social proof are legitimate KPIs for content marketing. It’s best to check all of them at the same time when assessing the content quality and your achievements. When you produce a piece of content, wait it out and check your results after 30, or even 60 days. Compare the results month by month and figure out your growth rate. Do your best to get to know your readers on your way and use that knowledge to your advantage. As it happens to be the beginning of the new year, perhaps summing up the old season by preparing a report isn’t such a bad idea?
Do you agree with this KPIs selection? Would you add anything else? Leave us a comment.
Also published on Medium.