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Developing the perfect content marketing strategy is an art in itself. You need relevant, high-quality content, the right channels, a suitable promotion strategy, and of course you need to aim it at the appropriate target audience. Anyone who meets all this criteria is on the path to success. Content marketing will help not only to promote customer confidence in a way that is rarely possible through push marketing channels, it can also have a positive effect on sales figures as well as enormously increasing brand awareness.
But just how do you go about proving that there is a positive effect? Is a particular strategy definitely proving to be successful? And if not, is it the case that the overall goals need to be reconsidered or maybe it could just be the core aspects of a strategy need to be reset? Questions like these are being asked by marketers all the time, especially given that the professional execution of a well-planned, well thought through strategy requires a lot of time and money. At the end of the day, this investment must be worth it, i.e. the benefits must outweigh the costs – profitability is and will always remain the driving factor behind online marketing. Below we outline how you can measure content marketing success, the best tools for content marketing analytics, as well as how to identify exactly what requires improvement and optimisation.
- Can I use content analytics to measure success?
- Content marketing KPIs
- The best content analytics tools for measuring success
- Data – collecting it, analysing it, and correctly interpreting it
Can I use content analytics to measure success?
In order to begin measuring success you must first have well-defined goals. Measuring success is impossible without a clear and well-defined list of objectives. The aims of a content marketing strategy are intrinsically linked with the primary marketing objectives, which among others are:
- Awareness: this could also be called brand awareness. Content marketing is often used to strengthen the brand name of a company. Consumers should associate certain products and services with a specific company - and consider them to be experts in that field.
- Loyalty: content marketing is a useful means for building and securing consumer relations. Many online businesses are in an ongoing battle with declining customer loyalty. Having said that, customers are attracted through the use of interesting and informative content that can coax them into becoming regular customers.
- Engagement: social media, for most companies, is the foundation of content seeding. But simply sharing content is usually not enough, which ensures that consumer engagement, i.e. actual interaction between the customer and the company, is the name of the game.
- Leads: in marketing a lead is the successful establishment of contact between companies and potential customers. With content marketing, generating substantial leads is one of the major aims.
- Turnover: this particular aim is pretty self-explanatory. Ultimately, all new measures should contribute to the financial success of a company, and in most cases that means an increase in sales figures.
Content marketing KPIs
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are values used in order to assess the progress made in the context of overall aims. This allows for the identification of successful components, the uncovering of weak points, and subsequently the continuous optimisation of a strategy. The most common content KPIs for marketing used as control measures are as follows:
- Awareness: visitor numbers, page impressions, video views, hits, downloads, social media activity
- Loyalty: newsletter subscriptions/unsubscriptions, opening rates, average length of stay, bounce rate
- Engagement: social signals like Likes, Shares, Retweets, blog comments, competition entries, inbound links/backlinks
- Leads: newsletter subscriptions, enquiries via online formulae or emails, conversion rate
- Turnover: sales, downloads, transactions
In our digital guide you will find an overview of the most important online marketing KPIs. But bear in mind that just because something is measurable does not necessarily mean it will help provide you with an overview of the profitability of your content marketing activity. Below we have outlined some of the most important content marketing KPIs that often seem to be misinterpreted and should therefore be approached with caution.
Visitors to your website, especially unique visitors, are a very important figure. However you need to be careful with how you interpret this statistic, as the bare numbers actually provide very little information regarding what the visitor has actually done on the page. Are they spending several minutes on one page? Are they downloading something? Or have they maybe moved on very quickly from a certain article? Visitor numbers are a purely quantitative figure and for that reason give do not give any kind of deep insight into the user’s interaction with the site.
When a unique visitor clicks through your website or blog, they create what is known as page impressions. Similarly to the visitor numbers, this also refers to a purely quantitative figure. Ultimately it provides no indication of how a person has behaved on the page. A high number of page impressions, in some circumstances, will mean you have an interesting site. However it could also mean that the visitor has not found whatever it was that they were looking for, and as a result has just randomly clicked through the site. When viewed alongside figures like bounce rate and stay time (see below), page impressions can prove to be an important indicator for how attractive and interesting the content of a certain page is.
In terms of analytics, the bounce rate refers to users who leave the site immediately after arrival. ‘Immediately’ in this case means without having undertaken a single scroll or click.
The bounce rate provides a ratio of visitors who stayed for longer and engaged with the site, against those who departed again almost immediately. This ratio can be seen as a parameter for further potential optimisation, and especially with regards to search engine optimisation the bounce rate certainly plays a big role. A high bounce rate lets the search engine know that the quality of the content provided does not correspond with the expectations of the visitors.
Length of stay
A further qualitative factor that should be considered is the average length of stay. The time spent by someone on the site provides an insight into how visitors interact with a site’s content, more specifically whether they actually read what is written there. It is seen as a bad sign if the average length of stay comprises of just several seconds, and there is definitely room for improvement and a need for optimisation – in certain circumstances this might be regarding the presentation or visual layout of the site. On the other hand, a longer length of stay demonstrates that the content is interesting, and can certainly be seen as a positive sign.
Social media activity
This is an umbrella term that covers many individual key figures and content marketing KPIs, including reach, likes, shares, etc. The level of interaction on social media platforms is a major factor for many businesses. But just like the figures mentioned above, these numbers should also be taken with a pinch of salt. In order to increase interaction with Facebook statuses, etc., many editorial desks will use cheap tricks like so-called clickbaiting. However when it comes to content marketing, the quality of the posts should always be the priority.
The best content analytics tools for measuring success
Once your goals have been outlined and the content marketing KPIs defined, now begins the constant supervision of the success of your content. Every professional content campaign should be intertwined with a clear customer journey tracking. There are several tools specifically for content marketing analytics that are there to help with observing and analysing of your online content.
Chartbeat has shown itself to be the ideal tool for content analytics. Not only does it analyse which articles, topics, and headings have gone down well, it also offers real time visitor data – visitor sources (i.e. where they came from), visitor behaviour, length of stay, and click paths are all easily viewable. Marketers have access to a dashboard that offers a clear overview of all relevant activities in real time. This live success monitoring of a website and its content allow businesses to immediately react and if needed, to quickly interact with website visitors.
A very simple tool to use, Like Explorer provides a quick overview of which content has been well received on social media. At one glance it shows how many people have liked, commented, and shared. Simply enter the URL, e.g. of a blog post, and the tool will show the interaction statistics for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, StumbleUpon and Pinterest. This allows for an easy comparison of various articles and posts.
Google Analytics, seen as the standard tool for web-based analysis, is also useful when it comes to content marketing analytics and measuring the success of a campaign. Google Analytics allows you to assess the performance of individual posts, e.g. a blog entry, and see how many people have read it, how they came across the post, and how long on average someone spent reading the article.
A powerful tool, which offers a lot more than just content analytics and optimisation, Google Analytics gives you the opportunity to assess and enhance your online project. Naturally there are alternatives to Google Analytics, like for example the open source software from Piwik. As part of our digital guide, we have another article completely dedicated to these alternatives.
Marketers who are looking for an efficient social media management and monitoring tool should consider Socialbakers. This software makes it possible to read the likes and comments from your pages and accounts, as well as allowing you to directly compare your social media presence with that of your competitors. In order to analyse the success of a campaign, the tool also makes it possible to draw on relevant factors like retweets, likes, reach, comments, replies, etc. Additionally it also available as an API interface integration for Google Analytics.
The free tool Social Mention is ideal for companies that tend to focus all of their communication on social media platforms. As a business, it’s possible to exactly plan and outline what you communicate via your accounts and profiles, however the target audiences’ reaction to this content always remains an unknown factor until it is actually released. This means that to some extent social content will always remain incalculable. For this reason companies should always keep an eye on what consumers are saying about them, their brand, and whether this discourse is mostly positive or negative. Social Mention can scan over 80 social media and provide real time evaluations of the user-generated content. Among other things, marketers are able to view the ratio a.k.a. ‘sentiment’, of positive mentions to negative ones, as well as giving an overview of the most important keywords, users, hashtags and sources.
The analytics tool SumAll also offers a good overview of all social media channels. One glance gives the user a view of all relevant figures such as reach, likes, fans, etc. across all appropriate social media websites. It’s possible to connect profiles and accounts from up to 30 platforms, which of course include the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. SumAll allows marketing teams to assess the performance of individual profiles and then compare them with others.
Data – collecting it, analysing it, and correctly interpreting it
No content strategy can succeed without diligent monitoring and the use of content analytics. Only through analysing and understanding the successes and failures of a campaign, can you optimise it further. The tools and programmes mentioned above can provide a huge amount of relevant figures; the subsequent evaluation and interpretation of these figures is precisely what is essential to making progress. At this point it is also imperative to recognise the correct correlation of these figures, not to ignore uncomfortable or undesirable realities, and to critically scrutinise all of the information at hand. Anyone who does this, should be able to create target-orientated content and as a result, offer consumers better content. This is the key to long-term success in content marketing.