Certain types of marketing or advertising campaigns can feel relatively cut and dry, even with factors like complicated attribution tossed into the mix. Google Ads, for example, will show you exactly how many clicks an ad got, what terms were used, how much you paid, and whether or not the user convert. Boom, nice and simple, you can see what’s working.
Other types of marketing are a little murkier. Social media marketing is one example, but content marketing is perhaps an extraordinary example. Content marketing is designed to be a long-term marketing strategy designed to do everything from attract site traffic to generate leads and drive sales. There are so goals, in fact, you can attempt to accomplish with content marketing that I make it a point to specify what my clients want to accomplish before we’re sitting down to create strategies.
While content marketing can be slightly more difficult to keep track of, it’s not impossible and it’s actually really important that you do stay on top of it. And with the right key performance indicators (KPIs), you can.
In this post, we’re going to take a close look at the best KPIs for content marketing in 2019 that will be relevant no matter which goals you’re optimizing for.
How to Track KPIs for Content Marketing
Before we start talking about which KPIs you want to track, it’s helpful to actually discuss how to track these KPIs at all.
If you aren’t familiar with Google Analytics yet, get ready: it’s about to be your new digital best friend. It’s a free tool available to all site owners, and it’s easy to install, with just a single tracking code needing to be placed on your site. If you’re not techy, you don’t have to sweat it; many CMS systems like Shopify have integrations to just drop the code in one place on the site, while others like WordPress have plugins that make it easy.
Google Analytics will show you how traffic is moving through your site, how they got there, and what they’re doing once they arrive. It can give you clues as to what content your audience loves, and what’s getting them to leave the site. It will give you all the KPIs that are most important to watch for your content marketing campaigns. Now, let’s take a look at each.
1. Number of Users
The number of users tells you how many people are coming to your site within a set period of time. The default time frame is often thirty days or the last month.
Since a large focus of content marketing is increasing site traffic, watching the number of users visiting your site rise is something you want to be doing. Keep an eye for new vs. returning visitors; you want enough new visitors to increase overall traffic, but you still want returning visitors to indicate that your quality is good enough to be building a readership.
2. Pages Per Session
Pages per session tells you how many site pages the average user views when visiting your site. Ideally, for example, they won’t just land on your blog page after finding it through a specific keyword search, read it, and then leave. Hopefully, they’ll have found it interesting enough to check out some of your other recent blog posts, your “About Me” page, or the lead magnet in the widget on the side.
As pages per session increase, you can start to gauge the interest of the user and the relevance and quality of content to them.
3. Time On Page
When you’re viewing individual site pages in Google Analytics, you’ll be able to see “average time on page.” This KPI tells you how long users spent, on average, on any given page.
It goes without saying that you want this number to be high, because the higher it is, the more users are reading and finding value from your content. When evaluating this metric though, make sure you’re accounting for the amount of time it will actually take users to read each post; they’ll breeze through a 500-word summary post in no time, but take much longer on a 2,000 word, how-to, resource-heavy ultimate guide.
4. Page Value
If you have conversion tracking set up on your site with monetary values added in, this is a powerful KPI. Essentially, it works by allowing you to set up trackable funnels on your site, so you can see how your site visitors are getting to conversion.
If someone lands on your blog post, then clicks to your “about us,” and then decides to get in touch, purchase, or book a service, it will earn part of the monetary conversion value of that sale. This allows you to see what content is most directly impactful towards reaching specific conversion goals, and what’s earning you the most ROI.
5. Page Entrances & Exits
Page entrances and exits can be viewed when you’re assessing the individual content pages, and they’re going to give you two distinct insights.
Entrances to a site page can help you assess how valuable certain pieces of content are in attracting new traffic. Certain blog posts, for example, may be shared a great deal and usher in traffic that way; others may rank well for a high-value keyword, or have a backlink from a high authority publication.
Whatever the case may be, you can use “entrances” to track down your high performing content and assess what it is about it that’s helping it bring people to your site.
Exits, on the other hand, can indicate that your content isn’t doing what’s needed to keep them. While a healthy chunk of an exit rate is normal (plenty of people will come to a blog to look for an answer, find it, and then leave), you want to see that at least the majority of your site traffic isn’t leaving on any given blog post. If they are, it could show that the content isn’t high enough quality, it isn’t relevant to your audience, or it isn’t utilizing links to your other content or CTAs to keep people engaged on your site. Use this metric for troubleshooting to see what the underlying problem is.
Bonus: Keyword Ranking Position
Keyword ranking position tells you what slot you’re currently ranking for in the SERPs for your target keyword. It’s an important KPI if you’re aggressively going after search traffic and SEO benefits with your content marketing (which you almost certainly are), but I’m including it as a bonus because you really need third-party software to track it well.
My go-to resource is SEMrush’s position tracking tool, which lets you enter in your site domain and the keywords you’re targeting. They’ll watch your position for those given keywords, and let you know where you stand, alongside how difficult those keywords are and what your potential visibility is. This is incredibly valuable knowledge that can help you make sure your keyword strategy is on point and track your progress.
Content marketing can be incredibly effective. It can help you increase site traffic, improve your keyword ranking positions, establish relationships and authority, give you backlinks that boost domain authority, and even generate leads and sales. Any given blog post, webinar, or lead magnet can even accomplish all of the above when optimized correctly.
Make sure that the time, money, and effort your putting into your content marketing campaigns is worthwhile so you can actually see those results by carefully tracking the right KPIs. The metrics discussed above all are important to help you assess the quality and relevance of your content, along with getting a solid idea of how it stands up to what’s already out there. Take some time to dig around in Google Analytics and keep an eye on the metrics, and you’ll stay heading in the right direction.
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What do you think? Which content marketing KPIs are most important for your business? What metrics do you think are the most telling? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!
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