Is there a marketing discipline with more variables than content marketing? For one, content marketers have so many different formats and types of content to play around with. The benefits of producing marketing content are proven — but unlike other marketing initiatives, content is difficult to connect to your typical revenue metrics. Simply put, marketers often have a tough time knowing how to measure content marketing success.
We can track ROI, lead generation, web traffic, sure. But marketing content has a big impact on less tangible performance indicators too. Sometimes it’s the more under-the-radar metrics that give you a bigger picture of what’s resonating with your audience.
These are just a few guidelines you can use to tell whether your content is hitting the mark. As your campaign continues, you’ll likely find more quantitative ways to determine the success of your content.
1. Track social media engagement.
Move over, ROI. ROE — return on engagement — is taking the spotlight. Since 30% of web traffic is driven by social media (source), measuring shares is a great way to determine what type of content is king.
Even if social engagement doesn’t directly result in traffic, it’s still a valuable metric for monitoring content performance. If your audience is sharing, liking, and commenting on your posts on social media, it’s proof that your content is helping to strengthen your brand. And today, brand awareness and recognition is more important than ever.
Tips for Improving Engagement
- Share visual content: On social media platforms, visual content is more eye-catching than posts that are 100% text (source).
- Add hashtags: Using relevant hashtags when you share your posts will allow you to reach new audiences who might not have discovered your content yet.
- Promote discussion: Produce and share content that gets your audience talking. Lists, polls, debate-worthy topics, and other fun concepts will boost engagement by inspiring your audience to participate rather than simply consume your content.
2. Measure your scroll depth.
Scroll depth is a metric that tracks the place on a page where your visitors stop reading. This is a valuable and perhaps under-appreciated metric, as it gives you a more accurate picture of how much of your content your audience is really reading. The deeper the scroll, the more likely it is that a reader enjoys your content beyond the initial click.
Tips for Improving Scroll Depth
There are a number of causes for lackluster scroll depth. It could that your content isn’t resonating with your target audience — but more often than not, it’s indicative of a poor user experience on the page itself.
If users are abandoning your content early, examine the page experience. Is the page user friendly or is it difficult to navigate? Are you front-loading your content so that only the first few sections offer value? Is your content aesthetically pleasing?
Consider using a heatmap, a software that tracks on-site actions and tells you where users are clicking and which parts of the site they’re spending more time on. The more heatmap data you have, the more you can fine-tune your content and keep them scrolling.
3. Analyze your exit pages.
The last page a visitor checks out before they leave the site is known as the exit page. Some pages, such as contact pages, act like bookends and naturally have higher exit rates. But in general, content pages like blog posts should have lower exit rates — because you want the reader to be so engaged with the content that they dive deeper into your website.
High exit rates result from a number of problems, from confusing information hierarchy to a lack of CTAs.
Tips to Improve Exit Rates
Keep the user’s journey in mind every time you create a piece of content. For example: what next step do you want a reader of a specific blog post to take? Obviously you don’t want them to leave your site, but do you want them to visit a different content landing page? Do you want them to sign up for a newsletter? With a little planning, you can guide your target audience to the exit page of your choice.
4. Track backlinks to your site.
Backlinks to your content from other publications is another clear indicator that your content strategy is gaining momentum. Here, pay attention to quality over quantity. A backlink from a website with a high domain authority is much more valuable than a dozen links from low-quality websites.
Tips to Increase Backlinks
Creating high-quality, valuable content will enable you to increase backlinks to your website organically. But, you should also prioritize link building as part of your overall content strategy. Reach out to other websites and publications within your industry and arrange content exchanges, guest post swaps, etc.
Mutually beneficial content exchanges won’t cost you anything, but will help boost your authority and search rankings over time as you receive more backlinks.
Normally, we’d tell you to take it easy and focus on the big fish. But this time, sweat the small stuff! Metrics that you usually overlook could give you vital clues as to what your audience is paying attention to. Plus, they’re just plain fun to keep track of.
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