5 Easy Metrics to Judge Your Content Marketing Efforts
Only the final stalwarts of the ossified advertising ancien regime still argue that online content marketing isn’t a good idea for a business. The Revolution is over; the content producers have won — even if they don’t get paid sometimes.
But with great power comes great responsibility. In 2013, it’s no longer okay to just blog willy nilly and hope customers will be interested in learning more about more your company’s culture. Bloggers have become more senior; they’re called things like Content Managers, sometimes even Strategists. Like when Andre Agassi won Wimbledon, the former revolutionaries are embraced and then co-opted by the establishment.
With all the resources and attention focused on content marketing, how can we judge our new big programs and the people running them? These 5 metrics should provide a strong, sequential yardstick.
1) Percentage of total traffic site traffic coming from search. Some companies break out “branded” (i.e. those search terms with the company name in it) from non-branded (search without it) but I like to bucket them together when reporting because, while SEO for non-branded terms is a major part of the content marketer’s job, so is building brand awareness.
More specifically, every action on Facebook, Twitter, email and other inherently social channels spreads the word about your company. These efforts should increase the number of times your company name is searched for on Google and Bing, thereby also increasing organic search totals, which is another big part of the overall traffic puzzle.
2) Keyword rankings for what’s already working. SEO is still super important, so here’s what I do when I first take over a site: I go into Google Analytics and find which non-branded keywords (again, those without the company name in them) have driven the most traffic in the last 3 months. This isn’t so easy because Google is now cloaking almost all referring keywords today but you can still get a fairly good idea based on the small percentages and landing pages receiving organic traffic.
Next I take these top 30-40 keywords already driving traffic and put them in a spreadsheet, before checking their current rankings on the Rank Checker plug-in on Firefox. This process shows these keywords’ current ranking on both Google and Bing; as I make general SEO improvement to the site, I check and record these rankings weekly to gauge the general search health of the site. If the rankings of the KWs start to fall, I know there’s a negative holistic trend in terms of the site’s health. If the rankings start to improve, I know I can toot my horn at meetings.
3) Free social traffic. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and (increasingly) Instagram are more than ready to take your money. But unless you have sophisticated paid advertising operations, it’s really difficult to return the investment on social spend.
That’s why getting free traffic from these sites is so important. Eye-catching and high-quality content shared on FB, Twitter and LinkedIn is crucial to traffic and cost-per-acquisition numbers. Content marketers should be judged on their ability to churn out this high-quality content frequently. Juxtapose total “free social” traffic from one month to the next to see if this channel is growing for your business. If not, shame your content marketer in the public square.
4) Average page views. This metric shows how many page views each page on your site has earned from folks who land on that page from another domain. Page view numbers hold a symbolic importance for your site; the more pages people look at, the more they like your company. But it’s also important for SEO cred: Google privileges sites with low bounce rates (percentage of people who leave the site immediately after landing on it, without looking at any additional urls). In other words, content marketers should be creating pages that also make visitors click around the site.
Page view averages for visitors entering through blog posts will inherently be a bit lower than those for the homepage or specific landing pages geared for conversion. That said, they should still hover close to your site-wide average.
5) Homing in on the price and ROI of content. This one isn’t so easy, so if you arrive at precise data please drop a line and share notes. The goal should be to figure out if your content is actually making your business money.
A healthy — though terribly unscientific — starting point here is to assume that every article costs about $100 to produce. Of course salaries and hourly rates differ radically in various parts of the world but again… this is just a starting point. And then see how much traffic that page has attracted over the last six months and how many customers converted from it. You may conclude that, say, blog posts are a financial waste of time of time and that you should instead focus on email marketing. Or you could discover what many marketers already know: the content is an asset for a company, to created and managed. Happy hunting.
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