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The 5 Most Popular Content Analytics Articles on CMI

How do you know what your audience wants to hear from you? Ask them – through one-on-one conversations, surveys, or general market research. Asking is always useful and critical as you build your audience.

Then once you establish an audience, you can look at what they do with your content – not just what they say they do.

I did that for visitors to the Content Marketing Institute website by grouping our most popular content – in this case meaning those posts that drew the most traffic – from 2019 and 2020 by category. Throughout the summer, I’ll share insights and observations about what content marketers are consuming.

And, hey, look at that, one of the most popular categories is actually measurement and reporting. That’s not surprising, given how tricky measurement can be.

Here’s what content marketers like you have been reading on the topic lately. I put them in an order that felt logical to me (broadest to most specific) and noted their popularity ranking within the analytics/measurement category in case you’re curious.

1. Nail Your Content Performance With This Measurement Starter Kit

Measuring your content marketing measurement performance shows what’s working (and so, worth continuing). It also shows what you should change or fix and what you might need to stop doing to spend more time on what really brings value.

This guide to content marketing measurement helps you figure out what’s important – deciding what to track in the first place. After all, just because you can measure something doesn’t mean you should.

How do you decide? The article suggests:

  • Outline your organization’s definition of content marketing success so everybody on your team understands what their efforts are meant to achieve.
  • Identify your top performance priorities – based on the content marketing goals that are most important to your business – and the various metrics you can track to measure for them (more details on this can be found below).
  • Establish performance benchmarks for content in your industry to enable easier analysis and comparisons to be made across all your efforts.
  • Calculate the baseline costs involved in executing on your content plan to effectively gauge content marketing ROI down the line (more on this below). 

Popularity rank (page views): 4

Key takeaway: “Knowing where your company’s priorities lie is essential to determine which goals to measure for.”

Your company priorities are essential to determine which goals to measure via @CMIContent. Share on X

2. How to Use the 4 Most Helpful Reports in Google Analytics

The title may sound basic, but there’s a reason this is the most-read article in the category – this is useful stuff. You probably know how to get a basic overview of traffic to your site and to specific articles. (If you don’t, definitely read the article.)

The article goes deeper, showing you how to run three other reports: navigation summary, traffic from organic search, and conversions.

More important than simply pulling the reports, though, is knowing how to act on the data. And that’s an attribute reader Vicki Jakes commented on: “I’m going to pass this to my clients to reinforce the idea that they should be seeing the flow of traffic through a site rather than hand-wringing just over page views.”

Popularity rank (by page views): 1 

Key takeaway: You might think you can ignore high-traffic pages. They’re getting views, so everything’s fine, right? Not so fast:

“Remember, though, just because a page gets a lot of traffic does not mean it’s an effective page. That’s why you should review the pages that get the most traffic to:

  • Ensure that the page puts your brand’s best foot forward. Is this page on message? Does it have current information and the best calls to action?
  • Include your best links. Given that high-traffic pages bring a lot of visitors, make sure to include links to relevant, high-converting pages and posts.
  • See what visitors are doing. Are visitors spending time on the page? Are they exiting or moving to other pages on the site?”
Just because a page gets a lot of traffic doesn’t mean it’s effective via @CMIContent. Share on X

3. How to Visualize Data With Google Data Studio

This article is less about measurement and more about reporting. You know how much fun it isn’t to stare at lines in a spreadsheet to discern meaning for your own purposes. What happens when you need to share that data for others to understand?

You’ll have better success helping people understand the results if you create effective data visualizations. Google came out with a free tool to help. While Google Data Studio is not quite as easy to use as Google Docs and Sheets, this article does a great job giving you the tools to use this free, um, tool to express the meaning behind the numbers.

As reader Perry Matterson shared, visualizations do help get the message across: “I’ve had a lot more success in presenting my reports. They’re not boring anymore and my clients appreciate that they can easily understand what I’m sharing. GDS is a gold mine and it’s quite easy to use.”

Popularity rank (by page views): 2

Key takeaway: You get more out of Google’s Data Studio if you start with an idea of what to create: “Before you log into Data Studio, think about what data you want illustrated. Do you want to analyze your website metrics? Display multiple data points on the same chart to tell a longitudinal story? Create a graph to illustrate concepts? Develop a standardized report for your team?”

Start with an idea of what you want to create to get the most from @Google’s Data Studio via @CMIContent. Share on X

And if you’re not sure what data you could or should use for visualizations, read this: Rant Alert: Content Marketers Must Up Their Data Game. (It’s more than a rant.)

4. Calculate Your Influencer Marketing ROI in 5 Steps

Most brands invest in some form of influencer marketing. And like every investment, when dollars are tight (and even when they’re not), it invites scrutiny. Can you show that your influencer marketing dollars have paid off?

This article lays out a step-by-step approach to help figure out whether your influencers are worth it. And, yes, like most things with content analytics, it starts with understanding what you’re trying to achieve.

Popularity rank (by page views): 3

Key takeaway: “While most brands measure the performance of the overall campaign, that usually is not enough. Pick an initial group of influencers to begin the campaign. Track each influencer’s performance at the start. Document the engagement rates for each influencer’s post and compare them to the collective group of influencers.”

Don’t know how? Don’t worry, the author shares a couple of ideas:

  • Use unique URLs: Create a custom URL for each influencer to track the direct traffic coming from that influencer’s blog or social media posts (use a service like or append the information you want to track to the URL).
  • Provide unique discount codes: Having custom discount codes for each influencer helps you track the sales each person brought in.

5. 7 Social Media Metrics That Should Really Matter to Your Brand

Used thoughtfully, your social media analytics provide a peek into what your audience expects from your brand – and how well your social content delivers on those expectations.

It’s easy to get dazzled by “likes,” follower counts, and other vanity metrics. If you want to show value to the business (and you should want that), look a little deeper.

Popularity rank (by page views): 5

 Key takeaway: When you track the right social metrics, you’ll be able to discern (and report on):

  • What your audience likes and dislikes
  • How many social followers turn into website visitors
  • How engaged followers are with your pages and page posts
  • How much traffic converts to your desired goal (e.g., sales)

Keep analyzing

I hope you found this one-stop resource for popular content analytic topics useful. I’d love to hear if you’ve implemented any of these tips or have questions these articles don’t address. Let me know in the comments.

Finally, thanks to all CMI website visitors for consuming the content, which let us tally these “votes” for the most popular articles for analytics and reporting. We’ll keep counting them up and sharing the most popular by categories this summer.

Sign up now for CMI’s free weekday newsletter and you won’t miss the upcoming top-five articles.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute