Content marketing sometimes gets a bad rep because its benefits are not exactly the most measurable of any marketing activity around. Most of its advantages are believed to be intangible, like the building of brand recognition and increased exposure.
Don't get me wrong -- those benefits are great and doubtlessly essential to successful online marketing, but we marketers often like to be able to get specific, measured benefits out of something. Never fear, for such benefits are certainly available with content marketing. Here are 9 content metrics that will help you determine tangible ROI from your content production.
The most important thing about a marketing campaign is the bottom line. Improving it and your customer base is essentially the objective of every marketing campaign. With that goal in mind, it's important to see how your content performs against the objective.
Furthermore, once your business has enough customers to figure out an average order value, you can even find out how much money you are generating from each piece of content by multiplying the number of sales by the average order value.
2. Time on Page
One of the lesser-known search engine ranking factors is average visit duration. The more people like your content, the longer they stay on your site. In Google's eyes, that's a good thing, which leads to a ranking increase.
Google Analytics allows you to drill down and see the average amount of time one of your visitors spends on a certain piece of content.
3. Bounce Rate
Bounce rate is another important ranking factor, a metric that measures the ratio of the number of one-page visits to the number of total visits. The lower your bounce rate, the better -- it means your content is engaging enough for visitors to want to stay and browse around.
Google Analytics also lets you see the bounce rate for a specific page on your website. Content with a low bounce rate usually has lots of internal links and high-quality information easily digested by the reader.
4. Lead Generation
Some say that content marketing is all about generating leads, and that isn't completely untrue. Lead generation is definitely one of the eminent focuses of successful content marketing campaigns.
Sometimes, it can be a bit difficult to measure the number of leads you generate with a specific piece of content (particularly if you have a complex funnel with several hoops and loops), but it's still one of the best ways to find out your content's ROI.
5. Mailing List Subscriptions
If you have a newsletter/mailing list on your website -- and you should -- then each piece of content you create should be trying to get people to sign up to it (because email beats search and social in conversions).
Some (not all) autoresponder services allow you to see from which webpage a subscription came from. That ability allows you to find out which pieces of content perform best in terms of bringing in new subscribers
6. Social Shares
This is one of the more obvious content metrics as it is easily observed, particularly when you have a handy social share plugin configured on your site.
Here's an example: a recent post I wrote for the Writtent blog on buzzwords obtained 1503 shares (to date). This particular post did quite well; the majority of posts at Writtent currently get <100 shares (but that number is steadily on the rise).
7. Backlink Generation
Backlinks are one of the most crucial aspects of a search engine algorithm. The more high-quality backlinks your content attracts from authoritative websites & blogs in your industry, the higher rankings and more traffic you'll get.
Typically, the more useful your content is, the more backlinks it will attract. That's why you should be trying to make each piece you release a real pillar resource for readers.
A high number of comments on a blog post (or any type of content that supports comments, e.g. a YouTube video or Facebook post) symbolizes a high level of user engagement on the post. It's a clear indicator of just how useful your content is to readers.
By analyzing the number of comments attracted by a piece of content you release, you can also discover what topics resonate best with your audience.
This isn't the most popular metric of all time, but it's an important one nonetheless if you want to be generating a positive ROI with your content. Content marketing generally comes with fixed costs (as opposed to variable costs in something like PPC/advertising), which makes it slightly easier, in that respect, to determine ROI.
Making 5 sales of $75 each for a total of $375 in revenue is great. But if you spent $500 in producing the content, your bottom line has just taken a -$125 hit. Continuing such content marketing would be counter-productive to your goal of improving your bottom line. You need to test and experiment to find the sweet spot where costs are reduced and profits are maximized with each piece of released content.
Which of these 9 content metrics are you already measuring? Which ones do you still need to work on? Let us know in the comments below!