It may be hard to always know which metrics to track when it comes to content marketing success. You could spend hours in your web analytics tool trying to make sense of all the data. At Dlvr.it we believe a few simple metrics provide the biggest impact. And it is always best if you start out with a simple plan in mind, goals that you strive to meet.
We boiled down Content Marketing success into three factors called your Engagement Score. These three metrics will help you determine if your content marketing program is successfully engaging your target audience:
- Time spent on your site
- Number of pages each visitor consumes
- How many meaningful interactions occur
The Engagement Score is a benchmark that can easily be tracked and improved upon throughout your content marketing strategy.
For example, the Engagement Score uses a scale of 1 to 5 to rank each metric for each piece of content, where one metric’s maximum number is 5. The higher the Engagement Score the better. This process assumes you are tagging each headline link and tracking it individually within your analytics system – if not, that is the first order of business (dlvr.it appends each headline with a unique tracking code specific to your analytics service).
The goal is to understand where your content ranks today (your benchmark), and create strategies to move towards a higher-rank (5) within each metric, or greater engagement.
Start with a benchmark which is your current average and give each metric a one. You could even give more weight to a particular activities that requires the most engagement for example an interaction (comment, sale, form fill) you might start with a score of 3. For example:
- Time spent on your site = 1
- Number of pages each visitor consumes = 1
- How many meaningful interactions occur = 3
Total Engagement Score = 5
Next, go through your last 10 content items and rank each article individually on each metric and see what content is most engaging. Compare each individual article off the average. Give a 5 to the article that generated the most pages per unique visitor for example. Start building from there. Ask yourself, why did content A have a higher rank versus all the others? Was the distribution different? What was the subject matter compared to the others?
Why These Three Metrics Matter
A key measure of the value that the reader takes away from your content is how much time they spend on your site. Are you interesting enough that they will take the time to read through your content? A measure of the time spent on your site lets you know if your audience is interested in your message.
In order to make this measure more meaningful, however, use it to find what makes your audience spend more or less time on your site. Have a clear ‘next step’ in mind. Think through the next action you want your visitor to make as if you were holding their hand through your site.
If the time spent on your site increases or decreases after adding new content or changing the way things look, you will have some idea of what makes your site effective. Dumb luck does not help future plans. Track your changes and compare them to the time spent in order to make this metric mean something. Test, test, test.
Number of Pages
Along with time spent, the number of pages gives insight into the target audience experience on your site. Is it interesting enough to look at another page? Does the site automatically lead to further exploration?
When you find that there are not enough third and fourth pages looked at, it is time to ensure that the content itself is compelling. CMI’s recent 2010 review of content marketing benchmarks finds that the single largest concern among content marketers is the quality of the content. A lack of quality will show up when fewer readers go beyond the first or second page.
Here comes the bottom line. What do you want from those that came to your site? Is it a sale? A registration? A Facebook friend? A comment? What do you want them to do? What is your content marketing strategy?
A clear idea of what makes your site successful is needed here, and a hard number that will tell if what you want to happen is actually happening. It is particularly true if you are using branded content to know exactly when that marketing strategy works for you. Or if content marketing actually draws users or dollars to your company. Set goals, design the metric, and then, measure.
The key to having a useful content marketing Engagement Score is to define, measure and track the score on a regular frequency. It is a simple methodology to evaluate trends and influence overtime.