Five ways to measure content marketing success

Measure content marketing

By Neil Barraclough

Your team’s spent days finding the perfect idea, weeks producing a big budget piece of content and you’re just about to hit publish.

But what happens next? How do you know whether it’s been worth all the effort?

How to measure success

Set clear and definite objectives when you start with any content marketing project.

“We want more people to see our brand” is not a measurable objective. Try this approach instead: “We want 100 social shares and 10,000 extra visitors.”

Whether it’s 40 inbound links, 2,000 social shares or an extra 5,000 visitors, you need to have a mark against which you can measure your results.

Moz’s Open Site Explorer (OSE), and your own web analytics package should provide you with enough to assess the reach and impact of your content.

Your goals will vary for each project, but most campaigns normally focus on any combination of five key metrics.

Some of them are ‘soft’ and are more difficult to put a cash value on; others are more concrete, such as increased conversion rates.

They are:

1. Traffic generated

Have you seen a noticeable spike in page views and unique visitors? Monitor the traffic viewing your latest piece of content – and track where they go from there. Do they stick around and explore the rest of your site?

If your content includes a clear call to action, don’t forget to track conversions.

2. External coverage

If your overall aim is brand visibility, then external coverage of your content – either on other sites in your industry, or the mainstream media – is crucial to putting you in front of a big audience.

Set up a Google Alert or a Moz Fresh Alert to help keep track of any coverage your content generates.

3. Inbound links

Moz’s OSE shows how many external sites are linking to your content.

More than 200 factors affect Google’s algorithm, but relevant links from authoritative sites are one of the key indicators Google uses to assess the quality of your content – which, in turn, affects your subsequent search rankings.

As with external coverage, you’ll often first be alerted to inbound links through alerts from Google or Moz.

But also look for new sources of traffic showing in your analytics package.

4. Social shares

If the aim of your content is to raise brand visibility and social engagement, both OSE and will help you monitor social shares of your content.

Like any other metric, it’s important to set some initial targets in order to assess whether your content achieved what you were hoping given the time, effort and expenditure that went on it.

5. Conversions and assisted conversions

Not all content is made for generating direct sales. As we’ve discussed, some pieces of content have an indirect impact on sales by enhancing your site’s SEO and building an audience.

But clever content can, in its own right, generate conversions (whether that conversion is an enquiry, a newsletter sign-up or a sale).

Track direct conversions through Google Analytics – but don’t forget to also track assisted conversions.

Consider the following scenario:

A user finds your content through social media and arrives at your site. They enjoy the content, but leave the site once they’ve finished with it and don’t make any purchases. A week later, that user then searches your brand and comes back to your homepage and makes a purchase.

Or perhaps you’re using your PPC campaign to retarget users who’ve visited certain pieces of content on your site. If you drive people back to your site through a PPC retargeting campaign, and they buy on their second or third interaction with your site, you need to know about it.

In these situations, the content piece didn’t drive a direct conversion, but it assisted in a conversion later down the line – and that’s something that has a measurable value.

Is the pay-off worth it?

Content marketing can be high risk – if it’s done badly.

But when you get it right, good content marketing:

* Has a positive effect on SEO.
* Engages social audiences.
* Gets people talking about your brand.
* Leads to new customers – directly or indirectly.

By measuring your results, you’ll be even more focused on getting the best possible ROI.

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