Content marketing metrics to measure success

In today’s tight economy, measuring and proving ROI is more important than ever. Businesses and site owners want to know that every dollar of their marketing budget is being put to good use, and that includes content marketing. Content marketing is the lynchpin of all your other online marketing efforts (SEO, social media, link building, PPC, etc) and is the last thing a site owner should be pinching pennies on, but few businesses are willing to take that statement at face value.

Here are 3 metrics you can use to measure and prove the value of content marketing:

Content Marketing Metric to Measure #1 – Your Visitors

Measuring the amount of traffic a particular blog post or article gets is probably the easiest metric for most site owners to keep an eye on. It’s as simple as opening up your site’s analytics and seeing how many unique visitors that page of content got. For most bloggers and site owners, this is where they start and stop measuring their content marketing’s success.

The general rule of thumb is the more eyeballs the better, although these numbers can be deceiving. For instance, your blog post might record 100 unique visitors, but the bounce rate was over 90%. This means the vast majority of people who found your blog post weren’t interested in what you had to say, indicating that you are targeting the wrong keywords. It’s very easy to make data fit what you want it to say instead of taking a critical eye to it; don’t let human error lead you astray!

While more traffic is good (and you want to see a steady uptick in your blog’s traffic as it ages), it shouldn’t be the end-all-be-all measurement of success when it comes to your content marketing.

Content Marketing Metric to Measure #2 –  Social Shares

The next metric to measure your content marketing success is seeing how many times it was shared by your readers. Most of your content sharing metrics are going to come from social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Who posted your article to a LinkedIn group, Liked it on your Facebook page, Tweeted a link and gave it a +1? Readers can also share your content on social bookmarking sites like Digg or Reddit or e-mail it to friends, family and coworkers. Each of these shares magnifies the number of people who can find and read your content.

Social share signals are actually an incredibly important component of SEO. While not the most influential factor, the search engines have admitted to looking at social signals and author authority as one of their ranking factors for a page of content. The more people who share your content, the more important it will become in the eyes of the search engines and the better it will rank in the long run.

In order to give your content the best possible chance of being shared by your readers, it is important to install social share buttons on your website and blog. These share buttons make it easy for your readers to post your content to their favorite social networking sites with just one click, enhancing the overall usability of your content. Incorporating the share buttons also means that readers won’t have to click away from your site in order to post your content somewhere. You want to keep visitors on your site for as long as possible in order to increase your chances of conversion.

Content Marketing Metric to Measure #3 – Website Conversions

Measuring how well a piece of content turns a visitors into a customer is no easy feat, but it is the best metric you have for measuring the effectiveness of your content marketing. One way to see if your content is leading to conversions is to track where your audience is coming from. For instance, how many people filled out your proposal form via a link in one of your blog posts? How many phone calls were prompted by an article your target audience read on a 3rd party site? Did you ask readers to fill out a contact form before they could download your whitepaper?

It’s hard to directly assign conversion to one piece of content because you don’t know how many other times that customer interacted with your brand. For instance, one of their friends may have reposted your blog post on their Facebook wall, so they clicked over to your blog that way. After reading that blog post, they checked out one of the related posts you had linked to and ending up subscribing to your RSS feed. Maybe 2 weeks down the line they were reading a guest post you had published on an industry site and headed over to your site, and that’s when they decided to fill out your lead form. Which touch point should be created with the conversion?

One thing to keep in mind is that content marketing, especially blogging, is an incredibly long term process. A new blog just doesn’t have the trust factor or reputation to rank well in the search engines and attract hundreds of visitors right from the start. Don’t cut your content marketing short because you aren’t seeing the results you were hoping for as fast as you wanted. It’s important to be patient and consistent with your content marketing and you’ll reap the benefits down the road.

About the Author – Nick Stamoulis

Nick Stamoulis is the President and Founder of Brick Marketing a full service SEO and white hat SEO link building company based in Boston, MA. With over 12 years of SEO experience, Nick Stamoulis shares his knowledge by offering SEO consulting and by posting daily SEO articles in his blog, the Search Engine Optimization Journal.