Content marketing is an effective way to build brand awareness and grow revenue. The evidence is in the sheer volume of companies—including 89% of B2B—that have content marketing programs. But knowing that content marketing is effective and measuring it are two very different things. If you can’t analyze what works and prove its value, the program may not be as successful as you think.
It’s not enough to just create content, send it out into the world, and hope for results. The most successful content marketing programs are those that track essential digital marketing metrics and use them to engage in constant refinement and improvement.
Digital marketing analytics helps marketers understand the value that content marketing brings to a company and its audience. Determine the right metrics to measure; set goals for email marketing, blog posts, and social media marketing; and work from those goals to determine KPIs. With established KPIs, it’s simple to track the right metrics, prove content marketing’s value, and revise campaigns for better results.
4 Steps to Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Analytics
Choosing the right digital marketing metrics to measure is a four-step process:
1. Determine the goals of the program. Some standard goals for digital marketing programs include growing website traffic, generating leads, increasing conversions, engaging audiences, and building brand recognition, credibility, and authority.
Example Goal: Generate more leads.
2. Transform goals into KPI’s. KPIs must be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. KPIs must specify exactly what goal you’re trying to achieve (specific), what metrics you’ll track to determine success/failure (measurable), and when you plan to meet the goal (time-bound). The entire team should also agree that the KPI is attainable and realistic.
Example KPI: Generate 100 new leads for sales in the next 90 days.
3. Determine the specific strategy you plan to use to hit the goal and meet the KPI. Some of the more popular digital marketing strategies include email marketing, blogging, and social media marketing.
Example Strategy: Publish new posts to the company blog to promote gated content.
4. Select a relevant metric for each KPI based on the types of campaigns you’re planning to execute.
Example Metric: Track the number of gated content downloads over 90 days, specifically gated content that was promoted with blog posts published during that timeframe.
What you’ll have after completing this exercise is a well-defined execution and measurement strategy for each important marketing goal.
Digital Marketing Analytics for Email Marketing
To find the right email marketing metrics to measure, first determine the goals of the program.
Common email marketing goals include:
- Building/growing an audience.
- Engaging that audience or keeping them engaged.
- Increasing traffic to site content.
- Driving prospects deeper into the purchasing funnel.
- Increasing conversions.
After defining specific goals, transform those goals into KPI’s, and choose a metric for measuring progress.
Take building/growing an audience as an example:
- The specific goal is to build an audience of your own, to become less dependent on external sources—search, social, and advertising—for getting content in front of prospects and customers.
- Define a value that signifies initiatives were successful, such as “grow subscribers by 10%.”
- Set a specific timeframe for achieving that goal—“grow subscribers by 10% in the next 90 days.” This becomes the KPI for that goal.
- Evaluate the KPI to determine if it’s both attainable and realistic. For example, if subscriber growth rates have been 1% month over month for the last 12 months, 10% growth in three months may be too much of a stretch. The entire content marketing team should review historical metrics and weigh in on whether or not the KPI is realistic and attainable in the established timeframe.
- Finally, select a metric to measure to determine success. This goal can be measured by tracking subscriber list growth.
With a SMART KPI and measurement strategy defined, begin executing campaigns designed to grow your subscriber base. Over the 90 days allotted to meeting the goal, keep an eye on progress, and revise the approach as needed. Expand initiatives that have been the most successful in growing subscribers, and abandon those that aren’t producing results.
Keep the following three best practices in mind to form a plan for gathering actionable email marketing analytics:
1. Start with the basic metrics provided by your email marketing platform. All email marketing platforms provide basic analytics. Use subscribe and unsubscribe rates, open rates, and click-through rates as a simple starting point for measuring the effectiveness of email marketing initiatives against established KPIs.
2. Build and track more complex KPIs over time by adopting advanced analytics platforms. Basic metrics are a great starting point, but to truly measure success, you’ll eventually want to set KPIs like “convert 50 prospects from email campaigns in the next six months.” To measure the necessary metrics for this goal, use a marketing automation platform or set up custom campaign tracking in Google Analytics.
3. Remember: important metrics aren’t exclusive to how users interact with emails. Even if subscriber rates are increasing, you’ll be at a disadvantage if you don’t know what content/forms are driving subscriptions. And even if click-through rates are high, time-on-page values could be low, suggesting that content isn’t engaging subscribers. It’s crucial to track both email and website metrics and use them both together to form a holistic picture of success.
3 Key Blog Metrics and How to Use Them
To determine what metrics to track to determine the success of an overall company blog—or even individual posts—start by defining goals.
Common goals of blogging include:
- Increasing organic traffic from search engines.
- Generating more leads for sales.
- Engage new and existing audiences.
- Driving visitors deeper into the purchasing funnel.
- Converting leads into customers.
- Establishing a brand as an expert in its industry.
With goals established, formulate SMART KPIs, and attach those KPI’s to relevant metrics:
|KPI||Possible Metrics to Track|
|Increase traffic from organic search by 5% in the next six months||● Number of sessions that originated from organic search|
|Generate 100 new leads for sales in the next 90 days||● Number of gated content downloads
● Number of free trial subscriptions
● Number of demo requests
|Improve engagement by 10% in the next 30 days||● Bounce rates
● Time-on-page rates
● Time-on-site rates
● Number of pages-per-session
● Percentage of returning visitors
|Convert leads into customers||● Goal completions
● Number of completed transactions
When selecting what metrics to measure, consider tracking the following three key blog metrics to gather relevant insights:
1. Traffic Source: Determine what channels—search, social, email, or referral—drive the most and least traffic to blog content. Low organic search traffic may represent an opportunity to grow traffic with SEO. Low traffic levels from a specific social media site may signify that promotion on that channel isn’t worth the effort you’re putting into it.
2. Average Time on Page: Bounce rates don’t paint a full picture of audience engagement. Sometimes, users bounce because content provided the information they were looking for. Instead, focus more on increasing average time-on-page values. Longer time-on-page values represent higher engagement with blog content.
3. Goal Completions: To track gated content downloads, free trial subscriptions, demo requests, and completed transactions, set up goals in Google Analytics. Goals track visits to specific site URLs—such as thank-you pages that appear after a desired action is completed, enabling tracking of a specific number of downloads, shopping cart purchases, free trial subscriptions, etc.
Remember that it’s not enough to launch a campaign and forget about it until the allocated timeframe has passed. Track progress toward KPIs throughout execution to identify what’s working and what’s not, and use those insights to improve the likelihood of hitting goals.
3 Critical Considerations for Social Media Analytics
To determine what metrics to measure for social media marketing, again, start by defining goals.
Common goals brands hope to achieve with social media marketing include:
- Boost brand awareness and recognition.
- Increase traffic to a brand website and its content.
- Engage with new and existing audiences.
- Provide customer support.
- Generate leads and conversions.
Define goals, establish SMART KPIs, and select appropriate metrics to track:
|Goal||Possible KPIs||Possible Metrics to Track|
|Boost brand awareness and recognition||● Increase number of followers on Twitter by 25% in the next 90 days
● Earn 10% more likes on our next 20 Facebook posts
● Increase share counts on LinkedIn by 15% in the next six months
|● Number of followers
● Number of likes
● Number of shares
● Number of brand mentions
|Provide customer support||● Decrease call center calls by 10% in the next six months
● Increase support requests by 15% on Facebook Messenger in the next 90 days
● Respond to all social support requests for the next 30 days within five minutes of receiving a request
|● Call center incoming call counts
● Number of support requests started and/or completed on social channels
● Number of clicks on a “Get Support” or “Help” link from a brand website or social media profile
● Time between submitted questions and customer service replies
|Generate leads and conversions||● Convert 50 prospects in the next 60 days with LinkedIn ads
● Generate 100 new leads in the next six months by posting updates on social channels and linking to gated content
|● Ad/post clicks
● Goal conversions
● Number of content downloads
Social media metrics are notoriously difficult to track because efforts are usually executed across a variety of channels—each with its own built-in analytics platform. To simplify tracking progress toward KPIs on social channels, it may be worth investing in a tool or platform that centralizes social analytics.
When creating your goals and KPIs for social media marketing campaigns, make sure to adhere to the following best practices:
1. Measuring likes and shares isn’t enough. Nearly 60% of all social media posts that link to content are liked, shared, or retweeted without the linked-to content ever being read. To truly determine how effective social promotion efforts are, it’s important to also measure website traffic from social media referrals.
2. Use metrics to find the best channels for your brand. For most content marketing teams, it’s impractical—or impossible—to engage in effective social media marketing across every possible channel. Try a few campaigns on different platforms, and monitor traffic source metrics to see which are working and which aren’t. Over time, narrow efforts down to focus only on the sites that perform well for your brand.
3. Track targeted ad metrics to identify the right audience for each channel. Run some advertising A/B tests to determine a target audience for each channel. For example, run three separate Facebook ads: one targeted to Baby Boomers, one to Gen Xers, and one to Millennials. Measure the results—clicks, likes, and shares—and compare the results between the three ads to find out what age group(s) to target on that platform.
Measuring Success with Digital Marketing Analytics
From a marketing industry perspective, content marketing is considered to be one of the lowest-cost and most effective marketing approaches. But industry statistics and case studies from other businesses’ successes aren’t really enough to prove the value of your content marketing program. To prove value—and provide more value—track the digital marketing metrics that matter for your specific company, campaigns, and goals.
The starting point is defining goals for different campaigns on different channels. Once goals are defined, brainstorm ways to meet those goals, develop SMART KPIs, and identify important metrics to track to evaluate progress and success. With KPIs and key metrics defined up front, it’s simple to see what’s working and what isn’t. Use those insights to improve campaigns and increase the likelihood that goals are met.
Are there any content marketing metrics you measure that I didn’t mention? Share your thoughts in the comments below!