A guide to measuring success for content marketers
Before you sit down to measure the success of your content marketing strategy, you first need to define your goal. It can be anything from spreading brand awareness to driving conversations around the brand to actual sales.
Only when the goal has been outlined can you realistically attempt to gauge the success of your content marketing strategy. However, certain broad metrics can always be considered: the campaign’s popularity, its longevity, the level of message retention, the number of leads converted into customers/sales, and the revenue generated.
Let us consider each of these individually.
You could make a start by trying to measure the popularity of your content through the following metrics:
- Page view: This is a basic Key Performance Indicator (KPI) of your site’s popularity, as it shows you the pages viewed on your site. It also indicates which pages have been visited the most, and which the least. As such, it is a vital content performance gauge, particularly for key landing pages.
- Unique visitors: How will you know how popular your site is if you do not know how many people visited it? This metric reveals the number of visitors, whose IP addresses and cookies left on the browser give you an idea of the size of your target audience.
- Demographics: You can gauge if your content is reaching the target audience from the age, gender, and general interests of your consumers. If it is, you know you are gaining traction among the right demographic. Use Google Analytics for this.
By this metric – the longevity of your content – you can establish its extended value. In other words, how ‘sticky’ is it with your target audience? The problem is that the attention span of the average consumer is low; it is up to you to expand it.
By one reckoning, a blog’s average lifespan is two years, but it extracts 50% of its worth by the 10th day and takes another 700 or so days to extract 49% more. You can use Google Analytics to find out your content’s longevity.
This longevity can be stretched by repurposing from time to time, as the success of your campaign content depends on its longevity to a great extent.
Longevity brings us to message retention: how far has the consumer retained the essence of your content? Let us consider two ways to measure this.
- Bounce rate: This metric reflects the percentage of visitors who left your website after viewing one page; a high bounce rate means people are leaving the site after the first page instead of browsing through more. Message retention is likely to be insignificant in this case. Bounce rates are generally high for specific information such as movie schedules, ticket availability etc. because people find what they are looking for and leave. It is generally on the lower side for (say) parenting sites, where readers tend to browse around for a while.
- Page time: This metric provides insight into audience engagement. If a visitor spends 20 seconds on your 2000-word content, you can assume the message retention is nil. The longer the time spent on a page, the higher is the consumption/retention level. (Google Analytics does not take into account those periods when a site is inadvertently left open for hours.)
Another measure of success for your content is the conversion rate. This shows the number of people who, after perusing your content, actually go on to perform the requisite series of actions needed to turn them into customers and which lead to sales.
For instance, the number of customers who engage with your brand’s mailers and newsletters could help determine the email open rates.
For many content marketers, the only thing that counts is conversions. They believe that if leads are not converted into profitable customers, it does your business no good. By this yardstick, your campaign/content marketing strategy would have failed.
It can also be deemed unsuccessful by another measure. Let’s assume you do have lead conversions, but it would fail to serve its purpose if the cost of conversion is more than the profit you generate from that conversion.
This brings us to revenue. In any form of business, traditional or digital, profitability is measured by the ROI or the Return on Investment – a percentage figure that reflects the revenue earned compared to your expense on developing that business, campaign, or product.
For many in content marketing, ROI is the most important measure of success of the strategy as it is directly tied to income, though others also look at metrics outside of hard monetary gains, such as quality of leads, web traffic, onsite engagement, exposure, and SEO success.
The strategy of measuring content marketing ROI is simple when people read your content, click on your call to action, and buy something. Sometimes, however, there is no direct link between content and sales; but if you add up all the sales that resulted from a piece of content, you can figure out your rupee returns.