Whenever you start a new exercise regimen to gain muscle or lose fat, how do you determine whether you are successful or not?
Do you just look in the mirror? Stand on the scale a few times a week? Occasionally take body fat measurements?
Well, if you are smart you will do all three.
The mirror does not give you any quantifiable measurements, the scale can be misleading, and your body fat does not necessarily indicate that you are achieving your ideal physique.
And this principle is the same in the realm of content marketing.
I know a lot of people who track a few metrics.
Maybe they track conversions, or page views, or sales after they launch a new campaign.
But that is not enough.
If you want to succeed as a content marketer, then there are a number of key metrics that you need to be tracking on a regular basis to ensure your success and continual growth.
What are those metrics?
Well, I am glad that you asked.
1. Page Views
While measuring this metric is as simple as can be, understanding what it truly signifies is a little bit more complicated.
I want you to think about this for a moment.
What does a high number of pageviews really mean?
Does it mean you had maximal audience engagement?
Does it mean that you created an impact in your niche?
All a high pageview means is that your article generated some buzz and had a high reach.
For example, if you had an article you released that had an insane number of page views but only generated 3 conversions, would you consider that a success?
What if you had an article you released that had only 300 pageview but had loads of conversions?
So then what in the world are pageviews useful for?
On their own, pageviews are of little relevance to most marketers.
However, when you combine this metric with other metrics (that we will talk about later) and a clearly defined set of goals, your pageviews will give you invaluable insights.
For example, let’s say you have a goal of increasing audience engagement and notice that you have an article with thousands of pageviews but only a few comments and 0 conversions.
Well, this will let you know that you probably need to be a little bit more targeted in your content marketing.
You are obviously attracting people to your article, but to reach your goals you need to attract the right people.
2. Bounce Rate
I want you to imagine that you are out on a date with a great looking guy/girl who is funny, smart, and successful.
The date concludes, and even though you don’t move in for the kiss, you still think everything went great and so you call them up a few days later to schedule a second date.
But you don’t get a reply.
And this happens time and time again with every person you go out with.
That would suck right?
And it would give you a good indication that something needed to be changed.
This is how I want you to think of your bounce rate.
Your bounce rate is basically just the metric that tells you what percentage of people show up to your site and then leave without going to any other pages on your site (the second date).
This is not good.
If you have a high bounce rate, odds are your pages are not optimized to engage and entice users enough that they are interested in the rest of your site.
The simple way to fix this is to go into your Google Analytics dashboard and find your highest performing and lowest performing pages based on bounce rate.
Analyze the pages with the highest and lowest bounce rates and take note of the differences.
Once you have figured out what is causing the difference in bounce rate, go back and optimize all of your pages with the highest bounce rates accordingly.
3. ATP (Average Time on Page)
Let’s go back to the exercise analogy for a moment.
If you are trying to lose weight fat and your only form of measurement is the scale, this can be incredibly misleading since you might be losing the wrong kind of weight.
Unless you pair the scale with some kind of body fat measurement, you might spend months training and dieting in the wrong way, losing lots of muscle but no fat.
In the same way, while a high bounce rate is usually an indication of a problem with your page’s content or optimization, you need other metrics to determine whether it is truly a problem.
To determine whether a page’s bounce rate is as problematic as you might believe, you also need to examine the average time a user is spending on that page.
If you notice that you have a page with a high bounce rate that also has a high average time on page, this is usually a good thing.
When people come to a website or article, particularly when it is something informative and business related, they are typically on that page to accomplish a specific goal.
So if you notice that people are coming to one of your articles and spending 12 minutes on that article before leaving your website, this is a sign that they have accomplished their goal.
This is why tracking all of the right metrics is essential to your content marketing success.
Comments are one of the most essential metrics to track to maximize the impact of your content and your engagement with your audience.
But to understand their impact, you first need to understand the difference between buzz and impact.
If an article generates buzz, it will typically have a short but fiery lifespan where it is shared thousands of times and viewed hundreds of thousands before becoming irrelevant.
It is important to realize that, despite the numbers, these articles rarely accomplish much other than a short increase in brand recognition and maybe some new traffic.
And while this is a fine goal to have, I personally feel that it is more important for your articles to have a significant impact on your industry.
An impactful article is the kind of “uber-article” that takes a while to get shared and build up traction, but is so valuable that it is then used for years to come.
One of the best ways to determine whether or not your articles are having an impact is to track the number of comments you are generating.
If you have a high number of comments on a certain page this means a number of things.
First and foremost it means that people are actually reading the content.
They aren’t just skimming over it and then bouncing away.
Not only are they not just skimming through and bouncing away, if they are commenting on your article, it likely means that they read the whole article!
And, not only did they read the whole article, but they developed strong enough feelings about the article to then share their thoughts and opinions in the comments section.
This is a big deal and, depending on your goals, is a greater indicator of success than just about any other metric on this list.
5. New vs Returning Visitors
This is about as straightforward as metrics come, but it is still incredibly useful for the development of your content marketing campaigns.
This metric tells you how many users on your site are new (a.k.a. Have never visited before) and how many are returning.
This metric gives you two distinct insights.
The new user metric will help you to determine whether or not your content is being marketed effectively.
If you notice that all of your users are returning visitors, then this likely means that your marketing efforts are falling a little bit short and you are not reaching enough new individuals.
However, if you notice that you have a high new visitor rate and a low return rate, then this is an indicator that the content you are creating needs spicing up.
Your goal then, should be to strive for both.
If you are consistent in your tracking, then you can have a steady stream of new visitors coming to your site on a daily basis and have them returning the next day, eager for more.
Losing fat or gaining weight requires you to strictly track your caloric intake, training regimen, and the results.
And content marketing is no different.
If you want to succeed, you need to be religiously tracking the tests that you are running, the actions you are taking, and the results these actions are yielding.
The above 5 metrics are all that you need to get started.
While there are plenty of other industry specific metrics, by using the above list you will be able to develop a killer content marketing strategy that will leave your competition in the dust.
So, go ahead and get tracking my friends.
What metrics do you currently track? Which metrics are you going to start tracking based off of the above information?