Yes, Virginia, There Really is Measurable Content Marketing

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Here at Brandsplat, we’re often surprised to learn that new clients once shied away from joining the blogosphere simply out of fear that they couldn’t measure the results of their efforts. Had they never heard of Google Analytics? Some hadn’t, so we set that right. Others had, but felt overwhelmed at the prospect of tracking Return on Investment (ROI) on content marketing. Still others had tried using Google Analytics to help them paint a picture detailing which content provided what audience and so forth. But all of them had thrown their hands up at one point or another.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. But measurable results are vital to ensuring your content is doing what you ask of it. And, frankly, it’s part of our sales pitch: We want to get you measurable results, so we have to know how to measure them. So let’s walk through a few tips for using Google Analytics to judge just how well your content marketing plan is performing.

Arnie Kuenn, author of Accelerate! Moving Your Business Forward Through the Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing, admits that using Google Analytics can be overwhelming at first.

“The amount of data available are innumerable,” Kuenn says. “However, there are specific subsets of data that are valuable in assessing content marketing success once you have determined your goals.”

Kuenn suggests choosing just one of the following three ways to measure content marketing using Google Analytics: traffic/time spent on your page, conversions, downloads and referral traffic. Of course, it helps to know a bit more about how each of these things is expressed in Google Analytics, so let’s take a look.

1. Measure Time on Page Alongside Traffic Figures

We know that traffic alone doesn’t tell the whole story, but when you’re investigating the ROI on your content marketing strategy, it’s a great place to start. It is safe to assume that if a page gets a lot of traffic, there’s something on there that visitors dig. It might be as simple as a headline. Or it may be that your content’s SEO and ads have boosted its click-through rate. But have you checked to see how much time they spend on your pages?

“When the average time-on-page for a certain page is higher than the site average, it implies this page captures and keeps visitors’ attention more than other pages,” Keunn notes.

Rest assured, even Google Analytics newbies can navigate around the site and find this information. With a few simple clicks of your mouse, you’ll be viewing these in no time. Then ask yourself: What is it about the content of your most popular pages in terms of time on page that is holding (not just capturing) visitors’ attention?

2. Measure Conversions

What do your conversion numbers look like? Whether you’re asking them to purchase something or simply to provide their contact information as a prospective business lead, do you know what your rate is? Do you know what pages visitors frequently view before they sign on the dotted line? By setting up a goal in Google Analytics, you can effectively track visitors’ interactions with your site and learn more about what motivates them. There’s a bit of decision making ahead, but don’t let it deter you: The information on the other side of this tool is worth it.

There are four types of goals you can set up via Google Analytics. The first is Destination, which tracks when a visitor lands on a specific page of your site. This is a raw numbers tool, allowing you to monitor page visit growth, for example. Duration, the second tool, allows you to determine a specific length of minutes or seconds and then track visitors who meet that goal. This way, you can monitor visitors who, for example, spend quite a bit of time on your site. Did they commit? Did the ones who committed spend more time on a specific portion of your site? The Pages/Screens Per Visit tool lets you see how many pages or screens each visitor viewed while at your site; from this information, you should be able to glean some insight as to which portions of your website are holding visitors’ interest. Finally, the Event section helps you see who played a video or downloaded a white paper (hopefully you’re set up to trade this “event” for the visitors’ contact information — but that’s a whole other blog).

3. Measure Referral Traffic

How did they land on your site? Knowing the answer to this question gives you immediate ROI on any content marketing and advertising strategies you use. Did they click through via a social media link? Google AdWords ad? Email your company sent directly to that visitor? You’ll see which of the tactics you’ve used to spread the word about your company ultimately worked best. Then you can use this information to tailor your next round of outreach efforts. What could be better than that?

Finally, you can use Google Analytics for free if your site is generating less than 10 million hits per month. That means more money for hiring content writers to help boost your time on page numbers, now that you know the baseline!

But what say you, dear readers? If you’re already using Google Analytics, do you have any other tips? Let us hear from you in the comments section below!