This is a guest contribution from Rizvan Ullah of Ranktactics.
The term “content marketing” refers to strategic marketing techniques where you create valuable and relevant content to attract a clearly defined audience. You’ll use this content to market a product and/or service in an attempt to generate profit through your blog or business. Since Google has changed the way they rank content, often giving higher rankings to that content which provides value, you can use this technique to dominate online. For example, imagine writing content on “link building” and mentioning a few products which streamlines your entire process. With an in-depth post, you can rank high enough and generate enormous commission through referrals. However, there’s a growing problem…
Many people are moving away from older marketing techniques because they are expensive, highly regulated (PPC) and provide little results, it’s becoming more important that you utilize content marketing more effectively. It’s no longer as simple as putting together 1500+ words hoping to generate sales because many bloggers are failing to analyze the long-term benefits. There’s NO point in writing 20 blog posts and none of them generating the desired results you want. It’s important to have the right tools in place and know what to look for so going forward your time equals money (T=M).
If your business relies on content to generate profit, then it’s important to analyze the right metrics and tweak them until you’ve achieved the desired results.
Let’s look at the five most important content marketing metrics to keep an eye on and how they can help double your conversions.
Before starting any type of campaign you need to determine what your trying to achieve. You need a “target” to compare your overall results making it easier for you to analyze how effective your campaign actually is. Through content marketing, you have many different types of desired results like profit, traffic, social media buzz, subscribers or even advertising conversions.
Once you determine what your trying to achieve, you can move into the next step which is production.
Before you continue, ask yourself this question…Through content marketing, am I trying to…
- Generate income through a product or service?
- Increase traffic to my blog and/or website?
- Increase user engagement (clicks, decrease bounce rate or forum interaction)?
- Increase social buzz through shares and/or likes?
- Double or triple email subscribers?
- Generate income through advertising published within the content itself (banner ad, contextual, etc)?
Answering these questions will allow you to create a clear cut plan going forward. You can even tweak your content marketing to compliment your desired results. Once you determine your objective, it’s time to move to the next metric.
In order for you to generate a report, you need a trial group, in this case, a wide range of content to analyse. Without having a blog with content published you won’t be able to determine what’s working and/or what’s not. That’s why the “production” metric is so important because when you analyze the results, you’ll be able to see where most of the organic traffic is flowing or user engagement is occurring. The question is…
How much content do we need?
It’s no secret that Google loves a website which produces “high quality” content, and fresh content is great for brand awareness. However, if you’re not achieving the desired results then both high quality content and brand awareness doesn’t really matter. With that said, it’s important that you have enough content on your blog to provide results. For example, you need to ensure that you get a clear cut reading into what content, landing page, queries have been producing significant results. There are many FREE tools which will provide EXACTLY what you are looking for.
Google Analytics has been my tool of choice to analyze my data daily. It provides me with the information I need to tweak my content and landing pages. It’s a good idea to connect your Google Webmaster Tools with your Analytics so that you can get the entire reading under one platform. In the next step, you’ll learn how to correctly explore user engagement on your blog to pull out the information you need.
One of the best ways to analyze data is to view user engagement and how it’s increased or decrease over the weeks. These days you have many options available which will allow a reader to engage directly with your content. For example, you have: social shares, blog commenting, click through, bounce rate and even opt-ins. When you see an increase in engagement, it’s a great indication that your content resonates with your readers. The higher the engagement, the higher the chances you’ll achieve your desired results.
Once you find content which has high user engagement, you can tweak it to optimize conversions. For example, if I know that my “create a website from scratch” post has enormous shares and comments, I’ll strategically try different things to see what works well and if it achieves my desired results. If I want to increase email subscribers through content marketing, I’ll try placing opt-ins boxes in different places until I achieve optimal conversion.
Here are FREE user engagement insight tools to keep an eye on:
Facebook: When you publish content, look for the amount of Facebook “Likes” your content is receiving. If you notice that some content has much higher likes than others, then you can devote more effort into tweaking that content to increase your conversions. An indication of “Likes” will also provide you with a good idea of content which resonates with your readers.
Twitter: Add a “Tweet” button and analyze what content got shared on Twitter. Just like Facebook, the content shared several times is a good indication of where you should be focusing your attention. In the next section, you’ll learn how to make full use of engaging content.
Blog Commenting: I’ve been a big fan of blog comment because it increases interaction and provides content ideas. For example, many times people would often drop a question within the comment box which I can answer in-depth next time I publish content. Either way, analyzing the commenting between content on your blog will provide insight into what content works well with your audience.
Topsy: This is an awesome tool that many people don’t utilize to the full potential. It’s a great indication of the type of content which resonates with readers online. Type in a keyword and Topsy.com will provide a breakdown of content which have the highest social shares, etc. How can you use this information?
If you plan on marketing a specific product or service, use Topsy.com to find what topic creates a massive buzz. Visit the 1st website on the list and create something better. You already know the content creates buzz so tweaking it into something more in-depth will work well for you.
A great way for you to track click-through rate and/or conversions is through Bitly.com. Bitly.com is a FREE URL shortener which you can embed into your contents external links. Every time someone clicks on an external link, it will be tracked within the Bitly backend. It’s a great way for you to find out which external links are being clicked and within what content. When you have enough data gathered you’ll be able to determine two very important metrcs:
First, you’ll be able to determine the content marketing strategy working through content creation. Next, what anchor text resonates with your reader, for example “buy now, “read more” or even interlinking structures.
The goal is to figure out where the conversions occur so time and effort can be focused around creating similar content with identical links.
This metric still remains the most important of all providing you with information crucial to your content marketing strategy. For example, if you have traffic, your marketing strategy is working however if you don’t, you definitely need to do some damage control. The traditional traffic metrics include: organic, direct and referral. The good news is finding out this information is NOT difficult since all you need is a Google Analytics account.
Simply, log into Google Analytics, then click on Acquisition>All Traffic
You have several metrics you can view under this dropdown which will provide you valuable information. It’s important to connect your GWT account to your GA so you get a breakdown of the queries & landing pages. Let’s see how you can use some of this information…
Organic Traffic: Acquisition through search queries and is FREE traffic. This means that content and corresponding keywords are ranking within the SERP’s. Depending on content marketing strategy an awesome way to build readership and/or get conversions.
Direct Traffic: A good indication of people who are loyal readers and know your URL. They regularly visit which means an awesome source providing user engagement via social shares, comments, etc
Referral: Many people don’t understand the power of referral traffic. This means that other platforms are sending traffic to your blog. For example, through social media, other blogs, social bookmarking, etc. The more referral traffic, the higher the user engagement however this can also mean that people are linking directly to your content which can build readership and your link profile.
When you connect your GWT to your GA, you can click on Search Engine Optimization under Acquisition and get a clear breakdown of the queries, landing pages and geographical structure. Now what?
Simple, I would analyze the highest performing pages, etc and optimize those with banner ads, email opt-in forms or even affiliate links to increase conversions.
All the metrics discussed are very important as they are solid indicators of a successful content marketing campaign, For example, “production” indicates how hard we are working while “user engagement” is a good indication of quality. “Traffic” can provide valuable information because it can shows progress overtime and what content should be the focus going forward. However, when analyzing the “effect” your content has had on your readership, nothing beats actual conversions. This is why it’s important to keep checking your statistics in affiliate networks, email platform or advertising network.
Content marketing is about achieving what we discussed in factor number #1 which is “desired results”. Personally, the effect of your content marketing is an easy metric to follow since the results depend on production, engagement and traffic. All that’s needed to track results is to log into your different platforms tracking sales, clicks, subscribers or anything else.
Wrapping Things Up…
Going forward, you’ll be surprised how important content marketing will be online. So far, over the past several months, we’ve seen Google implement changes to their algorithm focused on eliminating poor content pages. Let’s think for a minute…
If Google will be promoting high quality content especially which provides a complete resource to readers, it’s a great way to start marketing your products, services, etc. Obviously the focus should be on providing users with the best experience through your content however it’s a door which has just been opened to your marketing efforts. The only roadblock within content marketing is NOT finding out what works compared to what does. This is why having unique analytical tools in place is so essential. Start by using these metrics above and if you have more of a budget then others, you can purchase tools which will provide more in-depth analytics.
Rizvan Ullah is the founder of Ranktactics, which provides internet marketers with tutorials on traffic generation, social media marketing, product reviews and case studies. Learn how to create a profitable blog step-by-step from the ground up. Get started by reading his expert roundup post on effective link building techniques. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.