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Even though the Internet is full of articles that praise content marketing, recent research has shown that less than 6% of those who invest in this type of promotion feel they’re doing it right.
With more resources than ever being poured into content marketing, it has become crystal clear to everyone that most people are struggling to get their content to work for them. It’s getting harder and harder for all sorts of companies, entrepreneurs, freelancers and marketers to justify their efforts in this department.
Why is this happening? Why are people failing to get their targeted audiences to interact with their content?
Content marketing is still a tough cookie to crack. Regardless of all the hype that constantly surrounds this practice online, things just aren’t falling into place for most people who invest in it.
Even though most people feel that their success via content marketing is limited by their fierce direct and indirect competition, studies have shown that the cause of this problem can usually be traced back to the publisher.
The Challenges of Running an Effective Content Marketing Campaign
As HubSpot reports, a miserable 32% of all surveyed B2B marketers say they have a documented content marketing strategy, while 55% of them have publicly declared they aren’t really sure what content marketing success looks like.
This is a huge problem. The above mentioned statistics clearly state that a lot of people who invest in content marketing don’t really have a genuine strategy for their efforts. They just produce random articles that they think their targeted audiences will love, and hope for the best. None of their efforts are data-driven, which, of course, is the main reason why they continue to fail with their content marketing.
If you want to achieve success in this department, you need to plan your moves carefully, learn how to analyze your performance, what you need to do in order to improve the overall quality of your content and feed your audiences with what they actually need from you.
Here is a definitive list of KPIs you should be measuring for your content marketing initiatives:
1. Unique Visits + Site Retention + Geography
It’s all about traffic. But not just any type of traffic. If you want to make your content marketing really work for your brand and business, you need to know what kind of audience you really want on your website, where does your current traffic come from, and what type of content generates the most views on your site. Once you figure all that out, you can easily come up with a bulletproof pattern to replicate (and even exceed) those numbers with your future content marketing efforts.
Google Analytics can help you acquire that information. If you’re interested in finding out which page brings the most traffic, head over to Google Analytics > Behaviour > Overview. From there, you can start analyzing your unique visits, site retention, and geography.
These 3 KPIs provide the necessary insight that could help you understand how a specific piece of content is performing. Measuring how many people have viewed a single piece of content in a given time-frame and from what location will help you get a clear view of the actual size of your audience.
Combine that with the average time your users spend on your site per session, and you’ll understand if your visitors are actually reading your content, or are they just scrolling through it in order to find the information they’re looking for.
If you’re a brand, it’s in your best interest to get as many intelligent visitors to your site as possible. If you see that the majority of your visitors comes from a specific location, you should probably think about personalizing your future content marketing efforts for that area.
If you’re a brand, you also don’t want to chase page views or people who don’t have a real potential to become your actual paying customers. Your goal is to stimulate a specific group of people to hop on your pages and follow your chosen path through the site, not stuff your funnel with garbage.
On the other hand, if you are a niche publisher, you may not have a huge audience, but it may show loyalty and engagement by clicking deep into the site and generating page views.
Both examples have one thing in common – having a real, data-driven understanding of just how satisfied your visitors are with your content could help you significantly improve your efforts in this department.
If, for example, as I have already mentioned, you see you have a lot of unique visits to a particular page, but your visitors are just scrolling through your content, because the average time spent on your page per session is low – this probably means something is standing between them and their desired information. Maybe you have a big opening that bores them to death, maybe you have written your content in a tone or voice that doesn’t really suit your targeted crowd – the possibilities are endless.
The important thing to have in mind is that you have something truly good on your hands. All you have to do is figure out a way to make your information attractive to your viewers.
2. Exit Rates
Exit rates are often confused with bounce rates. Unlike bounce rates, which give us an overview of the people who have landed on one of our pages and immediately left, exit rates provide us with the percentage of visitors who have actually clicked away to a different site from one of our pages.
While bounce rates are only based on sessions that begin with the page you’re currently analyzing, exits go beyond that. Exits may have viewed more than one page in a particular session, meaning they have not really landed on that page, but simply found their way to it while browsing through your website.
This KPI is extremely important for content marketers because it helps improve user experience. It helps us locate the problem areas of our site and content. Exit rates are there to help us tweak the pages that should naturally lead to further interactions with our site, but simply don’t. They need to be revised and optimized, yet again.
Even though exit rates could provide great insight about your user experience, pages and content, you need to be cautious with them. If, for example, you write a 10,000-word article about backlinks, but you decide to cut it into 4 different pages, and you see the exit rate on the last page is high, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Your visitors have reached the end of the article, so it’s quite natural for them to exit your site.
3. Heat Maps
Every successful content marketing professional is basically an obsessive person who constantly reviews and fine-tunes his work. Myself included. In order to win big with my efforts in this particular department, it’s imperative for me to constantly analyze and revise my work. I need to take a deep dive into my content and start messing around with the details. This is a delicate business. Even the smallest of errors can really hurt you.
As we have already mentioned in one of our previous blog posts, the average attention span of internet users is constantly decreasing. In 2017, the average attention span of people who frequently surf the Web is down to a miserable 8 seconds. The age of smartphones and instant information has left us with the attention span of a goldfish.
Having all this in mind, one could interpret content marketing as nothing more than the practice of tailoring custom information for impatient audiences. If we want to achieve success in this field in 2017, we constantly need to have a close eye on how our desired audience is engaging with a particular page on our site and its content.
Luckily for those who make their bread and butter by writing and publishing content on multiple domains, there are great tools for that. In addition to Google Analytics that can provide you with great on-page insights and help you track click patterns, there are tools like CrazyEgg, that make it possible for all of us to create heat maps and easily understand what section of a given page is getting the most views, and which are just being skipped.
This information is critical for everyone who wants to maximize their blogging ROI. Once you figure out which sections of your post have a negative effect on your overall page views, you can easily optimize them and improve your overall user satisfaction.
4. CTR (Click-Through-Rate)
We have already discussed the importance of tracking CTR scores on our blog.
You can read more about this metric in the post linked above.
As we have already mentioned, CTR is an important metric for everyone who engages in any type of marketing online, not only those who spend their days clicking and optimizing everything in Google AdWords.
Every successful content marketer tracks his CTR.
If you figure out how to maintain a good CTR score, you’ll improve your impression numbers, which will automatically help you position your creatives at the very top of your targeted search results. Once you do that, you will significantly increase your chances of being discovered by your desired audience, which will certainly have a positive effect on your overall conversion numbers.
Backlinks matter. They influence the popularity, relevance, and overall authority of a certain website. The more high-quality backlinks you have pointing back to your domain, the better. Backlinks help improve organic rankings in search and attract great referral traffic. In addition to that, backlinks also help Google index pages a lot faster, which naturally has an insanely positive effect on SEO. Even though they are extremely important for overall success online and everyone wants to get as many quality links as possible to point back their site – in 2017, in the post-Penguin era, backlinks cannot be built – they have to be earned.
This is where content comes to shine. Even though it’s now quite difficult to find a relevant subject that hasn’t already been covered thousands of times on various different websites across the Web, you can still come up with amazing material that has the potential of generating tons of shares and links for your website. All you really need to do is analyze what’s currently trending in your niche or industry, and build your story on that. If you want to earn a lot of links with your content marketing efforts, you’d better do your best to come up with authoritative content that answers popular questions, original research results, content that discusses trending topics with amazing insights, etc.
I hope this article has helped you understand how to elevate your content marketing efforts to the next level. As you can see from everything written above, there’s more than a few metrics to consider when designing a proper content strategy for your brand and business. Some of them may be more challenging than others, but it’s important to have in mind that every single one of these KPIs is there for a reason. Be sure to monitor them to ensure you’re building your content strategy on the right foundations.