Web analytics and general knowledge of digital marketing key performance indicators (KPIs) have come a long way since the days when people were measuring “hits” on a site. Tools like Google Analytics, Omniture, and proprietary systems within companies have made digital marketing reporting more simple and accessible for the average marketing professional. These days, you’re nowhere in marketing if you don’t understand your basic web KPIs, including customer engagement and conversion rates.
However, as content marketing takes the forefront in digital marketing tactics — especially for B2B and SEO marketing — marketers are still stuck in the stone age as it relates to measuring the effectiveness and impact of various forms of content. For example, consider white papers (or any page turn publication) — they are a common lead generation tactic within content marketing, yet most marketers fail to measure anything beyond “downloads.” The question remains: What can a marketer do to better understand the effectiveness of this type of content?
The tactics that work in measuring a website or a traditional customer acquisition funnel do not always translate into content marketing measurement. For white papers, eBooks, blogs, eNewsletters, or whatever format you choose, here is a definitive guide to what KPIs you should be measuring for your content marketing initiatives.
1. Unique visits: UVs are the most standard measure of how many individuals have viewed your content within a given time frame (typically a 30-day cookie window). This KPI provides a good baseline for which to compare different forms of content and trends over time.
However, it is important to keep in mind that not all unique visits are the same. For example, a unique visit to a white paper might be much more valuable for lead generation purposes than a unique visit to a blog — especially if that visit spends more time with the content (which we’ll get more into later on).
2. Geography: Understanding where your content is being read is important in order to understand where to allocate more budget and resources based on where your audience is. Google Analytics provides page-level details of such geographic information, which in turn helps content marketers optimize for the geographical locations (or geos) that are most important to their business — and its bottom line.
3. Mobile readership: It’s great if you know how many unique visits (or readers) your content is getting. But how are they reading your content? Are 50 percent of them on mobile devices, as the latest content consumption research suggests? And which mobile devices are they using?
Understanding trends in how your content is being delivered to different devices is key to determining how to optimize your content and its design (i.e., responsive design) for future publications.
4. Bounce rates/time spent: An obvious goal (and one that’s critical to engagement) is to not lose your reader because you didn’t deliver on their expectation of what they were clicking on. A high bounce rate might mean just that. Another similar measure is how much time your audience is actually spending with your content. So what if you have 15,000 unique views if the average time spent is 12 seconds for a 30-page white paper? Both bounce rate percent and time spent metrics are good early indicators of how engaged the traffic to your content is.
5. Heat maps and click patterns: There are many great tools out there that illustrate how your audience is engaging with a page and its content. One such tool, CrazyEgg, allows you to create heat maps to see what sections of a page are getting the most views.
In addition, tools like Google Analytics can offer in-page analytics to track click patterns. My company (Uberflip) also does this for digital content through our Zoom Points product. Such information is critical to understanding what is relevant to your audience, allowing you to optimize content and design based on your findings.
6. Page views: This is another basic KPI that is often overlooked. We discussed UVs earlier, but understanding the correlation between UVs and page views (PVs) is an important one. A high page views/UVs multiple is a good sign that your audience is engaged — and quite often means that they are coming back regularly to your content. Further, with your digital content, it’s a good measure of how far along in a publication they may have gotten. Did they read four pages before dropping off? Is 90 percent of your audience dropping off before page seven? Answers to these types of questions will help you understand how to develop future content for your audience.
7. Comments: In the age of social media, almost everything you make available online becomes subject to two-way conversations. Don’t make the mistake of trying to restrict it or block it — embrace commenting and social sharing! Users are the best advocates for any product or service, so if they’re engaged enough to openly discuss your content, consider it a success.
Now, be mindful that the discussion may turn negative. However, often even negative comments can be great feedback for you, as they can help you gain better insight into the attitudes and pain points of your prospects and customers. Be ready to respond in a meaningful manner when this happens.
8. Social sharing: Making your content easily shareable is critical for almost all content marketing initiatives. What better way to find new eyeballs for your digital content than by having people share it to their networks? With just a few social shares, the reach of your content can expand exponentially at an amazing rate! Embrace this trend by incorporating sharing widgets throughout your content. At Uberflip, we like to use the AddThis widget, which allows content to easily be shared across dozens of popular social networks.
The ultimate goal of content marketing is to increase your brand’s reach and bottom line. Thus, the ultimate indicator of success is often the number of leads generated from your content marketing initiatives. However, by not overlooking these other KPIs along the way to a lead or a sale, you’ll be in much better shape while getting more out of your content!
For more tips on measuring key performance indicators, read CMI’s eGuide, Measuring Content Marketing Success.