Content marketing is a long-term strategy. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and while it can be a little slow going to get things moving and for momentum to start building, it can be a key pillar of many brands’ marketing mixes.
We know that content can generate site traffic, help build brand awareness, and even help drive sales, making it an appealing marketing strategy, but it can be a particularly fickle one to track.
Understanding whether or not your content is doing its job is important. If it’s not, after all, you’ll want to adapt, switching up your strategies so that you can start to get the results you’re hoping to see. Otherwise you’re throwing away a ton of time and, if you’re outsourcing to agencies or quality writers, a big chunk of money, too.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to know whether your content marketing is successful or not, and in this post, we’re going to look at 4 of the most reliable signs to pay attention to.
1. It’s Driving Actual Results
Before you start generating ideas and creating the content, you should always outline specific goals that you want to accomplish.
Are you using the blog to establish yourself as an industry expert? Do you want to generate new leads, funneling interested users to lead magnets like webinars or ebooks or even just a newsletter subscription so you can nurture them to conversion? Or maybe you just want increased site traffic and domain authority and are planning on using the content for link building opportunities.
Consider what types of results you want, and then come up with the KPIs that can help you evaluate the success of the content accordingly. You can easily track lead sign-ups, especially once you’ve set up trackable funnels on Google Analytics to see which content is most useful for this purpose.
Here are a few examples of goals and KPIs to keep in mind:
- Brand awareness and thought leadership can be tracked by tagged mentions on social and an increase in backlinks.
- Sales can be tracked through Google Analytics goals to help you see what content brings in and nurtures customers.
- Take a look at organic search traffic as the referral to see how much new search traffic your blog is bringing in.
- Track position rankings to see how you’re doing, and monitor your domain authority.
2. It’s Getting & Keeping Traffic On Your Site
Check out your Google Analytics, and look specifically at your different pages and see what’s bringing traffic to your site. Try to take a good look at each post so you can see what’s high performing and what isn’t.
Content that’s bringing in high traffic likely aligns with search intent and often indicates that you’ve chosen a smart keyword for your domain standing and have optimized your content well.
In addition to seeing what’s bringing the most traffic to your site, you also want to look for indicators that it’s relevant to your audience and fulfilling their search needs. The metrics of average time spent on a page will be key to assess here; if someone only stays for a few seconds, that’s not a great sign.
Ideally, a 1000 word blog post should hopefully keep people for at least around a minute if not more, and preferably your bounce rate would be low. You can add internal links to keep people bouncing around your own site to keep the bounce rates down.
3. Quality Backlinks Keep Coming
As things start to pick up steam and the momentum keeps building, most quality content will start generating backlinks from other sites. Over time, the quality of these sites will start improving, and you’ll hopefully start getting links from high authority sites, which in turn can help your domain authority improve, too.
Keep an eye on your backlink profile with an audit tool like SEMrush (pictured above) or Moz. Not only will this help you assess how well your content is doing, but it also gives you the chance to keep an eye out for any harmful backlinks that might be hurting you so you can take action.
4. It’s Generating Social Proof
Social proof isn’t the end-all-be-all of content marketing. I read plenty of great blog posts on a daily basis and am not someone who is naturally inclined to comment or even share it. A chunk of your audience members will, however, and keeping an eye on growing social proof with the help you know that your content is headed in the right direction.
Many people are likely to share content that’s original and feels completely new to them. If it’s valuable and useful, even better. Install a social sharing bar on your content to make this easier for users, and consider adding “Click to Tweet” CTAs into your blog posts featuring snappy soundbyte-style quotes.
You can also take a look at the mentions you’re getting on social media, which can be tracked through social listening software like Agorapulse or even Mention.
Content marketing isn’t about vanity; there’s no point for businesses to continue to devote their time and energy to strategies that aren’t working in their favor. Though content is so long term and can be so tricky to track, watch for these signs that indicate success to know if you’re on the right track. When in doubt, don’t forget to review our list of best practices to maximize your content’s potential.
Remember that it will take some time to see results– this is normal. Sometimes it can take three months to start to see initial results, and in some cases, it can even take as long as six. It may take up to a year before you start seeing sizable results, so be patient, but be ready to adapt when there’s no indication of things picking up steam.
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What do you think? How do you track whether or not your content is successful? What metrics and indicators do you focus on? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!