When asked about their company’s top marketing challenges, 39% of professionals answered ‘proving the ROI of marketing activities.’ This is the second biggest challenge according to HubSpot, just behind increasing leads and traffic. Yet, extensive studies have shown that content marketing can produce up to three times as many leads, while costing significantly less than other efforts like paid search.
There’s often a disconnect because it’s difficult to quantify the value and ROI of content marketing. If you track the following metrics in your reporting, however, you can not only analyze the effectiveness of your content but prove the ROI of your content marketing.
(Haven’t started content marketing for your business yet? Get up to speed with our introductory content marketing guide here.)
Sessions count the number of people that come to your website. Paired with time on site, you can also see the amount of time they’re active before leaving. This metric is important when looked at on a page-level because it shows which pages—or pieces of content—are seeing the highest traffic, and how long a visitor spends on that page. The latter allows you to gauge the value of the page; the longer a visitor is there, the more likely it is that they’ve found value in what they’ve read.
This metric is important to give you a high-level idea of how many people are consuming your content. When tracked over time, you can see whether your content marketing is effectively driving more traffic or not. When looking at sessions on a page-level, you can see the content that’s getting the most traffic, which tells you a few things:
- Your audience likes that topic
- Your SEO is working (see the section on organic traffic below)
- Your marketing tactics for that piece were especially effective
Use the metrics: Keep track of sessions and session length month over month, and use this to track improvement over time, both for the site as a whole and on a page level. Look for patterns in which specific pages are generating the most traffic and consider how you can continue to cover similar topics or repeat similar marketing efforts.
Pages per session
Pages per session tells you how many pages are viewed with each visit. This metric provides insight on whether visitors are finding what they like, and if your content is engaging enough to keep them clicking around. Ideally, people landing on your site will enjoy a piece of content enough to click a call-to-action (CTA) on that page or others.
This metric pairs well with bounce rate—the number of people that visit your site and leave after viewing the page for less than 30 seconds—which tells you that visitors are not finding what they like. A high bounce rate would indicate issues on landing or home pages, a disconnect in messaging from where they clicked through (a social media post or ad), or general issues with content value.
Use the metrics: Start by tracking this data month over month. If you see a decrease in pages per visit, consider what changes have been made: Did you start working with new writers? Have you been forgetting to link internally? Is your paid advertising targeting the wrong people? Note that you can also see a more holistic view of where your users are going by visiting the Behavior Flow dashboard in a tool like Google Analytics. Use this to see which destination pages are driving the most traffic to conversion and leadpages.
Think of organic traffic as the gold standard of content marketing. It means that people are actively searching for a query, term, business, or service and finding your site through SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The more that people organically find your site via search the less marketing you have to do to get them there.
This number is directly related to your SEO efforts, which starts with on-site keyword use. If you have that taken care of, consider whether you need to branch out with off-site efforts like guest posting, which helps you build a strong backlink profile. Learn more about why that’s important and why this tactic matters in 5 Reasons Guest Posting is the Missing Piece.
Use the metrics: Track your organic traffic number each month—you should see an increase month over month if you’re continually optimizing your content and making use of off-site tactics. If you’re not sure where to start, check out this helpful guide to SEO for your site or blog.
The source/medium function in Google Analytics will tell you where traffic to your site is coming from. The sources you’ll see are: organic, direct, social, and referral. Social and referral break out into the specific sites, like Facebook (social) or a website that’s linking to your site (referral). This gives important insight into where you’re traffic is coming from.
Source/medium is also extremely helpful if you’re doing link building or guest posting. You can monitor the amount of traffic coming from the sites that you write for and use that data to choose which sites to continue working with.
Use the metrics: This data is essential to optimizing your content marketing efforts. For example, if you see a lot of traffic from LinkedIn, but Twitter is dwindling, consider slowing with Twitter and spending more time and resources on LinkedIn, where people are already interesting in what you have to offer.
Top blog posts
This is an important metric to track monthly, and then analyze for patterns each quarter. Ask yourself: Which blog posts are getting the most traffic, and is it remaining consistent month over month? Use this data to figure out which topics are most interesting to your audience and create a plan to produce more of that content. If certain topics consistently have more traffic, consider updating those posts, adding a stronger call-to-action, or turning them into a series to capitalize on this traffic and interest.
Use the metrics: In addition to updating highly-trafficked blog posts, you can repurpose successful content into ebooks, downloadable freebies, and more. This way you’re capitalizing on the work you’ve already done, allowing you to get the most out of your resources.
Use content marketing metrics in your reporting
Data is a content marketer’s best friend and using the right metrics will allow you to gauge the overall success of your content marketing strategy. Use this data to adjust and optimize your content marketing so you can continually build on your efforts, earning more traffic and therefore driving more potential lead and sales.
The information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.