Your roadmap to full fitness starts here…
Guess what? It’s time to get your vital stats in order. Content marketing is a tough game – not everyone is cut out to succeed. To be the best, you need to monitor, assess, act on and optimise the metrics. Data is the fuel that will power you ahead to reach your goals.
In this age of multi-channel marketing, it’s less useful to think of statistics in different channel-based silos. Traditionally you might look at email metrics, website metrics, print metrics etc. But great content marketing should work across channels and platforms, creating a unified and coherent customer experience.
So we can first divide the essential content marketing metrics into two broad categories: those relating to audience reach, and those relating to audience engagement.
Reach is very important. Being able to get your messages and content out to as many of the right people as possible greatly increases your chances of making an impact and winning prospects, conversions and sales.
Perhaps the most widely cited and most easily understood web analytic is unique visits. Usually expressed as a per day, week or month figure, the unique visits count represents the number of individual internet users navigating to your website or webpage in any given period of time. A good basic indicator of the size of audience your content is reaching.
Where your audience is can be very important, particularly for content that is geographically specific or aimed at driving customers through a buying cycle that relies on location. Content marketers can use the page-level details of geographical reach to optimise for those regions that are most important to their business.
Which device your content is reaching users on is crucial. Now that mobile is so ubiquitous and widely used, it’s no longer just a question of optimising content and layouts to mobile devices. Now it’s also a question of which mobile devices, and how the design and usability of your content impacts different platforms.
Email marketing could be described as the workhorse of content marketing, as brands and organisations plough money into this highly effective approach. The number of users who have opted into your email database is an indicator of how many prospects are willing to invite your content and messages into their sphere of attention.
Although the number of fans or followers your brand has on its social channels is good to know, the real audience reach metric to consider on social media is impressions (or post reach). It’s patently clear that having 100,000 followers does not translate into getting each piece of content viewed by 100,000 people. Post reach is dependent on many factors, including the time of day (when are most users online?), and the quality of the content (is it shareable?).
Organic reach is also limited by the platforms themselves, notably Facebook and recently Instagram, who use algorithms to determine how much reach each piece of content gets. Relevance to the user, content format, and audience reaction all factor in. Quality content is crucial.
Video content is a hugely popular form of content, expected to account for 69% of online consumer traffic by 2017. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are supporting and encouraging native video with automatic play, which boosts video viewership. However, it’s important to look at active plays and views beyond a few seconds, in order to get a more nuanced picture of how much your videos are being viewed.
Video content is a hugely popular form of content, expected to account for 69% of online consumer traffic by 2017.
It’s vital not to lose visitors as soon as they land, perhaps because your content isn’t delivering on what they expected. High bounce rates are an indicator of such failure. The website’s overall bounce rate, along with that of individual pages, helps to build a picture of whether your content is gripping and satisfying web visitors.
Once people get to your website, are they sticking around, navigating to other pages, and exploring the site? Or are they simply visiting one page and then leaving? In some cases this might be appropriate, for example on a how to article or an FAQ section. But generally you want to get people visiting different pages and engaging on a deeper level.
Time on site
Like bounce rate and page views, time on site is an indicator of how engaged users are with your website. The three are interrelated. A high bounce rate goes with low page views, and, usually, a low time on site. Using longer form content, building in effective navigation and developing engaging content are all key to increasing time on site.
Heat maps and click patterns
Visual tools allow you to see exactly how your audience is interacting with different pages and the content on them. Heat-mapping applications actually show which parts of a page are getting the most views, allowing design optimisation to ensure the best possible results.
It’s no good having a colossal database if only 1% of your emails are being opened. The rate of opening is crucial because it is the true indicator of how many people are viewing your email communications.
The second of the two most fundamental measurements for email marketing is the clickthrough rate. Almost all email campaigns will include links, whether to products, white papers or other content. By monitoring how often these links are clicked, you can begin to optimise design, layout and content in order to push up the interactions.
Social media engagement encompasses a range of activities users may carry out in response to a piece of content. At the most basic level, they may choose to express their approval (or other emotion) via inbuilt one-click buttons such as the classic Facebook like. This is a low-level engagement but still indicates interaction.
Replies and comments are valuable because they provide deeper insight into user thoughts and opinions. They also provide a launchpad for the ‘soft sell’, allowing social media execs to gently guide users towards content, provide advice or recommend options.
Sometimes treated as an unofficial gold standard, social shares are so prized because they result in greater reach, as more and more users share your content to their audiences (which can, on rare occasions, lead to the coveted but elusive ‘virality’). As social networks increasingly ‘throttle’ organic reach in order to encourage ad spend, putting out great content that gets lots of shares is a crucial way to boost your reach.
Get into content marketing shape!
Now you have your vital statistics, get your head in the game! Watch these 15 key performance indicators like a hawk, keep your eyes on the prize and content marketing fitness will be yours.
- KPIs must be constantly measured and acted on to improve content marketing fitness
- Key metrics can be divided into measurements of audience reach and audience engagement
- Web visits, page views, email subscribership and social impressions are key indicators of reach
- Bounce rate, time on site, social media reactions and shares indicate engagement levels
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