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How to measure content marketing success

by Wendy Woodhead on

If you want to use content marketing to get your business website found online and convert that traffic into customers, you need to know how to measure content marketing success. But how exactly can you find out whether or not your web content strategy is actually having the reach you expected and providing an adequate return on investment (ROI)?

The truth is that content marketing takes time, effort and money, whether you turn to a copywriting agency or in-house staff to produce your content, or even choose to write it yourself. While online marketing often enables you to gain more tangible and useful data than offline marketing, it’s unrealistic to expect immediate success with the click of your fingers. That’s why an analysis of your content marketing strategy should take place over a period of time.

Below, we’ll discuss some of the ways you can measure the reach of your content marketing through different avenues, analyse this to work out your ROI, as well as how to ensure success going forward.

Monitoring the reach of your content marketing strategy

1. Web analytics

To begin with, one of the most helpful ways of monitoring the impact of your website’s content is with an analytics platform like Google Analytics or your website and/or blog host’s inbuilt metrics. Here, you can view data such as the number of page views, the length of time visitors spend on your site, the crawl rate, the bounce rate and the inbound links visitors clicked on, as well as visitor demographics.

'Digital Britain Final Analytics' - Joss Winn
‘Digital Britain Final Analytics’ – Joss Winn (Flickr)

Conversion rates should be another key point of focus. You aim is to secure loyal visitors by feeding them through the sales funnel. That means engaging them, seeing what they respond to, and making necessary adjustments to your web content or layout based on your findings.

2. Search engine ranking

SEO plays a large part in content marketing; however, it can take months for you to see success from your efforts. Therefore, monitoring SEO campaigns over a period of weeks and months is crucial when it comes to the success of your website or blog content. Ways of measuring your SEO strategy include:

  • Search engine results page (SERPs) ranking
  • The number of organic visits to your website
  • Which of your pages are more popular and reviewing/comparing the use of your keywords and content
  • The customer journey through your website and whether they cross over to other platforms (e.g. your social media pages, blog, etc)
  • Conversions (newsletter signups, purchases, eBook downloads…)

There are numerous tools you can use online that can help you pull data on the success of your web content, including SEM Rush. You can also find out what content is performing well across the internet (and on which platforms) using a tool like Buzzsumo, which can influence the topics you discuss on your blog or social media as well as show you how many backlinks you have secured.

When working out the ROI of your SEO campaign, you will need to analyse the success between natural SEO against a paid strategy such as PPC (pay per click advertising), for example. You will need to work out the sales growth and subtract any marketing costs, in order to analyse whether paid content marketing has been a successful investment.

Having unique, keyword-rich web content is important to drive up your organic search results and ensure you are not penalised by Google for having poor-quality content on your site. Hiring content writers who specialise in creating effective, on-brand and targeted copy is an ideal way to do this.

3. Social media metrics

Another useful way of monitoring your digital content strategy is through analysing social media metrics. Most social media platforms come with some analytics options so that you can gauge:

  • Reach
  • Engagement
  • Buzz
  • Participation
  • Transaction
  • Advocacy

This enables you to monitor the success of your posts, videos, photos and infographics on social media and helps you see whether you need to change your tactics to achieve higher results.

Some social media platforms also offer more in-depth analytical tools, such as Twitter analytics and Facebook business pages which provide post stats and insights into customer demographics, as well ways to boost your posts further by paying for a wider exposure/audience imprints. If you use this option, monitoring your ROI through the available insights into post reach will be crucial. You’ll need to subtract the amount you spent from the monetary value of imprints. Again, tools such as Buzzsumo are another way to monitor your social footprint and see which posts have performed well.

4. Feedback

Qualitative data is just as important as quantitative data when it comes to measuring your content’s impact – perhaps even more so. The way in which your visitors engage with your business online through comments on your blog, social media or review sites allows you to understand how your content is coming across to new visitors and potential clients. It also allows you to step into the conversation and build relationships which are vital for a strong online presence and credibility amongst your online audience.

View negative comments in a positive light so you can change up your strategies to aim more towards your target audience. By treating any type of comment as a positive, you can make the necessary amendments to your website to gain more visitors. However, you should ensure you have a moderator who can check comments over before publishing them, in case they contain offensive, potentially harmful or spam content which, if left unchecked, could put readers off, cause damage to your brand’s reputation and eventually even impact your ROI.

5. Subscribers

If you have a video channel or blog, one way to keep a check on your success would be to see how many subscribers you are gaining on a regular basis. Building a loyal following is a good way of getting return visits to your page, with each new content piece you create. If you notice that you aren’t gaining as many subscribers as you were previously, it may be that your content just isn’t cutting it or you have new competition.

You will need to look into aspects such as the quality of your posts, the subject you are discussing or the in-depth value that visitors are looking for. Compare your most recent posts to previous posts and try and work out where the problem may be.

You can also monitor how many people subscribe to your newsletter. Use A/B testing and regularly switch up the content on your newsletter subscription page and inbound links through social media to monitor over time the content which most effectively results in signups.

6. Email statistics

One of the oldest forms of marketing is sending email newsletters to existing clients or new website visitors. One way to monitor how well your emails marketing strategies are doing would be to monitor metrics such as:

  • The number of emails opened
  • The number of emails clicked on internally
  • Conversions
  • Sender score

Through monitoring the top scores, you can use these figures to change your email marketing strategies to gain a higher success rate of sales. Use A/B testing in subject lines to see which content is more inviting to recipients. You can also do this with the time of day you send your email to see whether this has an impact on your open rate.

If you present new products or offers to your audience through emails, ensure you take these leads into account when working out your ROI. It can also help to compare how much your subscribers spend compared to those who don’t subscribe.

Do I need to measure my content marketing return on investment (ROI)?

Measuring ROI in marketing is an essential part of monitoring your success as a business. Essentially, it entails offsetting the money you have paid out on the necessary marketing strategies against revenue from these campaigns. Expenses refer to the costs of hiring marketing staff, the money put into an SEO or PPC campaign/agency, and the money invested if you hire a copywriter.

Your revenue will chiefly be in the form of sales. Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge there is more than one kind of return for your efforts. While monetary value is key, so is building a position as an authority in your field, inspiring discussion and attracting/connecting with new customers – all of which may not yield immediate monetary gain but will help you benefit from customer loyalty (and ultimately sales) in the long term.

Doing this for each aspect of your strategy will show you where you are most successful. You can compare this ROI against offline marketing to gain a perspective of how successful it is for your company as a whole; however, since results from digital marketing take time to accrue, it’s important not to make any hasty conclusions.

Want to find out more about monitoring your success? Check out this helpful guide to measuring return on investment for all you need to know.

Actioning changes to improve content marketing success

Now you know how to measure content marketing success, how can you improve your content marketing strategy to maximise reach?

1. Awareness

You should keep a lookout for recent trends in your industry and amongst your target audience. This doesn’t just mean an awareness of the amount of web traffic, followers and search engine rankings but new social media platforms your customers or clients are using, what they are passionate about and how they choose to interact with businesses or organisations online.

For example, a recent survey found that over 15 million consumers turn to social media as the first point of call to find out about products and services and review the company on whether they are reliable. If your content marketing strategy is neglecting social media, you may be missing a trick when it comes to attracting new leads.

You’ll need to decide on your goals, which may include creating brand awareness, building relationships, generating leads and making those clients then take action (for example, signing up to receive a newsletter or purchasing a product). Try not to focus on too many goals at once but narrow them down so you have a better focus on how to monitor your content success.

2. Consideration

Next, you should use this awareness to consider taking new steps. Your motivation should be to allow users to engage with your content, therefore constantly reviewing and adapting your strategies. Your main goals within these sectors should focus on reach, engagement and conversion.


Your main aim should be to reach out to as many visitors, customers, followers and subscribers as possible, through non-paid and/or paid reach such as PPC. Buying your reach, whether through search engines or social media, should not be your sole emphasis. This is because long-term sustainability is developed through a loyal audience, and that relies on having great content that engages and inspires. However, your content strategy can be bolstered by paid advertising such as Google AdWords to get your great content seen by more people initially.


Once your visitors arrive on your site, you need to impress them in order for them to engage with your landing page content. Therefore, create content which is unique, timely, informative and relevant to your audience and which will keep them returning to your site. Think: tutorials and guides, news pieces, competitions, regular updates, videos, infographics…


Finally, you should aim to fulfil conversion. Conversion aims to turn the acknowledgement of engagement into action; for example, taking out a subscription, using a coupon code, or another form of action which entices visitors to make a move. With a clear call to action on your landing pages (such as a ‘buy now’ or ‘sign up’ button) you can monitor the success of your content.

3. Getting the balance

Although it seems like a great idea to use as many forms of reach and engagement as possible, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin and risk neglecting content (and customers) in one particular area. Find out which is your strongest marketing avenue while striking the right balance to attract new customers on key platforms across the web, so you focus on building a sustainable and far-reaching customer base which helps you monitor the success of your efforts.

Crucially, ensure you know how to write great web content which is regularly refreshed and reviewed, or hire a professional copywriter who does. Once you’ve built up a cohesive web content marketing strategy, measuring its success using the techniques above is essential to understanding your position online and is the key to strengthening your marketing and outreach.

Image credit: Trevor King, ‘Measuring Up’
Wendy Woodhead

Wendy Woodhead