By Michele Linn published October 19, 2010

More Than 20 Tools to Measure Content Engagement

With the help of our CMI contributors, we’re tackling how to make content more engaging, which was the biggest challenge identified in the new research about B2B Content Marketing.

Over the past three weeks, our contributors answered these questions:

This week, our contributors answer the question, “What tools can content marketers use to measure engagement?”


Measuring engagement can be a easy as tracking blog comments, content shares and interactions with other customers. You can start with Google Analytics and something like Hootsuite, which lets you monitor most of your social networks (pages) in one dashboard.

Barbra Gago (@barbragago)


There are different tools for each of Forrester’s four kinds of engagement. For Involvement (site visits, time spent, pages viewed) and Interaction (blog comments, reviews, etc.) we use Google Analytics, though bigger clients might use Omniture.  For what Forrester calls Intimacy, it’s about sentiment tracking, so Alterian and some of the social media tools can contribute.  And for measuring your Influence, things like surveys — Kampyle and ClickTools – can help.

Doug Kessler (@dougkessler)


Different types of content require different tools to measure effectiveness.

  • Google Analytics gives a lot of information about traffic generated by a specific piece of content.
  • The comments section of a blog is another good way to measure engagement, especially when readers are responding to a question posed at the end of a post.
  • Analytics from sharing widgets like “Share This” or “AddThis” are a good source of information.
  • Email marketing software like MailChimp provide their own measurements for success.

Sarah Mitchell (@globalcopywrite)


There are many tools marketers can use to measure engagement, though to make this task more feasible, it is important to have a goal.  What do you want to accomplish with this particular piece of content?

  • If you want to gain backlinks, you can use Yahoo Site Explorer to measure success.
  • If you’re looking to attract traffic, make sure Google Analytics is enabled to track visits.
  • To evaluate positive or negative sentiments about a particular piece of content, I recommend using Social Mention – a free tool that gives you real-time social media search results.

Elise Redlin-Cook (@redlincook)


Facebook Insights provides good numbers, but in my opinion does not slice the data in a meaningful way.  We’ve started using some simple spreadsheets in combination with the Insights data to work against our objectives.  That said, doing this has helped us to uncover some trends related to offline interactions and fan base growth on the Facebook page.

Nate Riggs (@nateriggs)


Possibly the best part of being a marketer in 2010 is that we (finally!) have the means to easily measure online customer activity.  The starting point is often setting up a free Google Analytics package on your own website. You’ll immediately have access to a vast array of data: where are your site visitors coming from, how long do they stay, what content do they like best, etc. This is must-have intelligence, since these visitors are likely to be your biggest “fans” to date – they are the folks that already care about what you have to offer. Perhaps more important, their data patterns can be the jumping off point to develop content for the folks who haven’t heard of you – yet.

- Elizabeth Sosnow (@elizabethsosnow)


Marketers can access a variety of tools to help them measure engagement:

  • Marketing automation and sales force automation tools – Determine how frequently prospects have visited your site, what actions they’ve taken online, and the content they’ve downloaded.
  • Social media tracking – Understand where, when and how your content is being shared via social media by embedding social-media sharing buttons in your content and by using social media monitoring tools.
  • Tynt Insight – Identify the most popular content on your site.
  • WebEx – Measure interest of webinar attendees.
  • PDF tracking – Capture registration information when your PDF is downloaded and read.

Stephanie Tilton (@stephanietilton)


Tools abound for monitoring and measuring engagement – some free, some not. As marvelous as many of the for-pay tools are, I consider it important to learn, explore and calibrate what you obtain meaning from using free tools. By the way, this also allows you to determine whether your business goals are realistic and appropriate for your content.

Two of my favorite tools for measuring blog and web engagement are Google alerts and Google Analytics. In Google alerts, I like to monitor my URL, my brand or blog name and my own name. Alerts let me know when conversations sparked by my content take place beyond my site.

In Google Analytics, I like to monitor traffic patterns to understand which content resonates the most with readers and which words they may have used to discover my content. By the way, those patterns may suggest ideas for new content. I also pay attention to how much time readers spend on-site as a result of specific content or whether they ‘bounce’ off.

On your website or blog, you may opt for a social sharing widget [e.g., AddThis], and even a Facebook Like button. Both offer feedback on engagement. For other digital platforms, such as Twitter, you may want to use a URL shortener to measure the engagement of links you share [i.e., Bitly or Owly or Supr]. YouTube, Facebook and Slideshare offer stats and counts, too, and blogging platforms will keep count on your comments.

What’s important, given how many options exist for measuring content engagement, is determining the purpose of your content so you end up measuring interaction relevant to your goals and don’t get so caught up with the data that you lose sight of the human aspects of engagement.

CB Whittemore (@cbwhittemore)


When seeking tools for measuring engagement, recall that what engagement means differs by the stage your customer is at with your brand or company.  Therefore, we can look to different metrics to measure Engagement:  awareness, consideration, interaction, transaction, re-purchase, bonding, advocacy.

While there are literally dozens of metrics under each of these stages, a good place to start is to use measurements you already have at your disposal.  Tracking studies can help tremendously and can be opened up to include a handful of content marketing-specific questions.  Additionally, if you are lucky enough to have behavioral data at your disposal (website metrics, e-commerce sales), a simple experimental design can be conducted where a segment can receive zero content marketing communications to investigate the (hopefully) negative impact it has on what they do/how they spend (test and control).  Or, test differing efforts (e.g. heavy-up interruptive advertising vs. heavy-up content marketing) against like segments to gauge impact.

Note:  I am testing an aggregation algorithm for measuring engagement, N-Gauge Level™.  Please try, for free, a self-response test here to directionally gauge your brand’s level of engagement.  Let me know what you think; thanks!

- Keith Wiegold (@contentkeith)

Summary

Not surprisingly, the 800-pound gorilla to measure engagement is Google Analytics, which contributors recommend you use to measure:

  • Site visits
  • Pages viewed and what content your audience likes best
  • Time spent on each page and bounce rates
  • Where site visitors are coming from and how people discover your content

However, that is far from the only tool you can use. Contributors also recommend:

And, as a few people point out, the tool you will need will vary depending on the buying process.

I’d love to get your thoughts. What other tools do you use to measure content engagement?

If you want to get more tips on how to make your content engaging, stay tuned to our posts on Tuesdays. Even better, sign up so to get all of our content marketing how-to articles.

Other posts in this series:

Author: Michele Linn

Michele is the Content Development Director of the Content Marketing Institute and a B2B content marketing consultant who has a passion for helping companies use content to connect with their ideal buyers. You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn or read more of her posts on Savvy B2B Marketing.

Other posts by Michele Linn

  • http://www.leadsexplorer.com LEADSExplorer

    You are kidding: all the fuss just to tell us about Google Analytics.
    Did you just discovered it ?

  • http://www.leadsexplorer.com LEADSExplorer

    For a B2b site you need more than Google Anaytics as you need segregate between residential (home) surfers and people from companies.
    Have a look into http://www.LEADSExplorer.com

  • Christina Pappas

    We use Google Analytics actively as well, however, we cannot track the engagement of PDFs, slide decks, word docs, etc. beyond the click. Surprise nobody mentioned content analytics on digital publications. Is this just not as well known as the mammoth Google Analytics or is it not a high priority. If we are measuring how our audience engages with and responds to our content, then I feel that should go beyond the on-page, html content.

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      Christine,
      That’s a great addition. My two cents is that people are trying to wrap their heads around the best things that they should be doing, and it’s just not easy to know where to focus. Trying to figure out what the objective is and how to measure it is certainly a challenge. It’s a great idea to use the content analytics on digital publications. Are there specific metrics that you would suggest marketers tracks with these tools?

      Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  • http://parthenonpub.com/blog Matt Bigelow

    We use a number of tools mentioned (Google Analytics, Google Alerts, Facebook Insights, Yahoo! Site Explorer), but another one I might throw out there is Raven.

    Raven is actually a suite of tools, rather than just one tool, and it either integrates most of the tools mentioned above or provides the same functionality.

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      Matt – Raven is a new to me. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://bcox.me Brandon A. Cox

    Can I just say, I love the layout of these posts? I added every one of these folks to my Twitter Marketing & Social Media list and clicked nearly every link in it. Awesome Work!

  • http://flavors.me/40deuce 40deuce

    There’s some great tools in here, but I thought I’d throw one more into the mix.
    Check out Sysomos (http://sysomos.com). We can help you both measure engagement while engaging at the same time.

    Cheers,
    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

  • http://www.alexandalexa.com/ Stefanos Anastasiadis

    Interesting article. Any idea how can I measture my URL mentions with Google. Is there any online tool that can do that? I know that seomoz incudes that in one of the reports that it produces but is there any other way to do it.

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      Stefanos – This is a great question. I’ve reached out to a number of people to try to get an answer for you. Stay tuned . . .

    • http://www.epublishmedia.com/ Rick Allen

      Hi Stefanos. Are you looking to track your site as it appears in Google search results or track brand mentions globally? If you can link to the related SEOmoz report you mention, I’m glad to share tools I use that are relevant.

  • http://www.miniwardrobe.com/ Kids Designer Clothes

     How is a Hydrometer used to measure the alcoholic content of something?

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