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How to measure content marketing success

Read Time 27 mins | Written by: Wendy Woodhead

Content marketing is an essential way to get your website found online and convert that traffic into customers. But how exactly can you find out whether or not your content marketing strategy is actually having the impact you expected and providing an adequate return on investment (ROI)?

In this article, we discuss why it's important to measure the impact of your strategy, how to measure content marketing success, the metrics to check and how to build on that success going forward.

Table of contents

  1. What does it mean to measure content marketing success?
  2. When should I measure my results?
  3. Ways to measure marketing success: content marketing metrics
  4. How to measure content marketing success: 8 channels to check
    i. Before you start: Know your goals
    1. CMS analytics
    2. Google Analytics & Google Search Console
    3. SEO tools
    4. Social media analytics
    5. Customer feedback
    6. Subscriber base
    7. Email analytics
    8. Sales figures
  5. Why do I need to measure my content marketing success?
    i. Work out whether it was all worth it
    ii. Analyse your goals
    iii. Improve your future strategy
  6. How to improve content marketing success
    1. Pay attention
    2. Take action
    3. Maintain balance

What does it mean to measure content marketing success?

Measuring content marketing success means assessing the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts in achieving the goals and objectives of your content marketing strategy. You don't have to guess; you can do this using cold hard data found through a range of easily accessible tools and platforms we'll discuss in this guide.

The specific metrics (or data) used to measure content success can vary depending on the goals of your content marketing strategy. However, they are often based on growth in reach, visibility and custom.

When should I measure my results?

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. Content marketing takes time, so longer-term results and realistic patterns will only be visible after around 6-12 months of running any kind of SEO or content marketing campaign.

That said, you should still be benchmarking your results as often as you can – at least monthly but sometimes more often depending on the platform. That’s why an analysis of your content marketing strategy should take place over a period of time and does require some patience to stick with a campaign for a certain amount of time.

Ways to measure marketing success: content marketing metrics

Some common content success metrics used to measure content marketing success include:

  1. Website traffic: The amount of traffic your website receives can be a good indicator of the success of your content marketing efforts.

  2. Engagement metrics: This includes metrics such as time spent on a page, bounce rate and social shares. These metrics can help you understand how well your content actually engages your audience.

  3. Lead generation: Content marketing can be an effective way to generate leads for your business. Measuring the number of leads (potential customers) your content helps to bring in can help you determine the success of your strategy.

  4. Conversions: Ultimately, the success of your content marketing efforts can be measured by the impact it has on your bottom line. Tracking the number of conversions (or sales) generated through your content can help you determine its effectiveness.

  5. Brand awareness: Another important metric to measure is brand awareness. This includes metrics such as social media mentions, brand searches and overall brand reputation.

Bear in mind that when working out the ROI of your content marketing, you will need to analyse the success between organic versus paid traffic such as PPC (pay-per-click advertising). This can help you determine the effectiveness of each approach, but that's where content metrics and data come in useful. 

How to measure content marketing success: 8 channels to check

If you're wondering 'how do I measure success in content marketing', then here are 8 channels you can use to access data and metrics. But before we get there, what do you define as 'success'?

Before you start: Know your goals

It's important to establish clear goals and objectives for your content marketing strategy before you even begin creating your content, let alone measuring its success. This will help you determine the most relevant metrics to track and ensure that your efforts are aligned with your overall business objectives.

Think about what success looks like for your business, whether it's growth in leads, sales, profit or simply greater brand visibility. Now, on to the tools to help you do just that...

1. CMS analytics

A good starting point is using the in-built analytics in your content management system (CMS). This can usually tell you how many views a page has had, the conversion rate and where visitors came from. Most platforms offer some form of analytics software, whether you use WordPress, HubSpot, Shopify or another CMS for your website. 

2. Google Analytics & Google Search Console

Setting up Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts offers even greater and more accurate insights. These tools are free, and integrating them into your website will provide a wealth of data on everything from customer demographics to site usage. Take a look at some of the metrics they offer below:

Google Analytics

  • traffic
  • number of users
  • number of page views
  • traffic sources
  • length of time visitors spend on your site
  • crawl rate
  • bounce rate
  • conversion rate (when you have tracking enabled)
  • visitor demographics (location, sex, age, interests) 

Google Search Console

  • clicks
  • impressions
  • click-through rate
  • indexed and non-indexable pages
  • linking
  • page load speeds
  • keywords per page
  • ranking position per keywords

Read More: What is CTR?

3. SEO tools

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

One of the most useful tools when monitoring the effectiveness of your SEO content is Google Search Console as mentioned above, but you can also use specific paid SEO platforms. Examples of such SEO platforms include:

  • Semrush
  • Ahrefs
  • Moz Pro  

When you link your Google accounts and website, these platforms can help you track how high you rank in the search engine results page (SERPs) for certain keywords, report on your backlinks, integrate your social media channels to get a holistic view of traffic sources, compare yourself against competitors and understand the monetary value of your content marketing via a handy metric such as Semrush's traffic cost stat. What's more, they can give you valuable keyword data to help you plan your content marketing strategy.

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.

Read More: How to measure SEO effectiveness

4. Social media analytics

In addition to measuring how many likes or retweets you get, another useful method for how to measure digital marketing success is by using the deeper analytics software offered on most social media platforms. These tools allow you to gauge:

  • impressions
  • engagement
  • profile views
  • number of followers
  • follower influence
  • audience demographics
  • mentions

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.

Most social media platforms also offer ways to boost your reach through paid advertising. If you use this option, monitoring your ROI through clicks and transactions will be key.

5. Customer feedback

Qualitative data is just as important as quantitative data when it comes to measuring your content’s impact. 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 and existing audiences. 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.

6. Subscriber base

Whether it's a YouTube channel, LinkedIn account or blog, one way to keep a check on your success is 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 so overall you want this to be trending upwards. 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 the market has changed.

Consider the quality of your posts, the subject you are discussing or whether you are providing enough unique, in-depth value that visitors are looking for. Compare your most recent posts to previous posts and try to work out where the problem may be. Remember, a drop-off in followers can also be down to algorithm changes, so bear this in mind.

You can also monitor how many people subscribe to your newsletter (including drop-offs). Use A/B testing on email newsletters and on your subscription opt-in page to see what kind of copy and content most effectively results in signups.

7. Email analytics

The last point brings us neatly to email analytics. This is one of the original forms of online marketing - sending email newsletters to existing clients or new website visitors. One way to monitor how well your emails marketing strategies are doing is to monitor metrics such as:

Most email marketing platforms offer these kinds of metrics for you to monitor your email marketing strategy. Use A/B testing in subject lines to see which content is more inviting to recipients. You can also play around with the time of day you send your emails to see whether this has an impact on your open rate. According to Coschedule:

"The top five best times to send email are 10 a.m., 9 a.m., 8 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m."

If you present new products or offers to your audience through emails, ensure you are tracking these leads and the source when measuring ROI. It can also help to compare how much your subscribers spend compared to those who don’t subscribe so you know how to direct your marketing in future.

8. Sales figures

Sales figures are one of the most powerful metrics you need to be measuring when considering the success of your content marketing. To do so, you need to track how much revenue your content is generating over a period of time. This can be done by setting up conversion tracking for your website, creating unique landing pages for specific campaigns and tracking sales attributed to those pages.

By analysing the sales data, you can see which content platforms (and types of content you publish) are driving the most revenue and adjust your strategy accordingly. That said, it's important to remember your goal before relying solely on this data. If your goal was to increase brand awareness, for instance, then tracking sales figures won't be of as much use.

Why do I need to measure my content marketing success?

If it all seems like a lot of effort, you might want to know whether it's really so important to measure your content. Well, no prizes for guessing that yes, it is. Here are just some of the benefits to be gained from measuring your content's performance:

Work out whether it was all worth it

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. Measuring the success helps you understand whether the investment was worth it.

Essentially, calculating your ROI entails offsetting the money you have paid out on the necessary marketing strategies against revenue you brought in from these campaigns. Investopedia defines the formula as:

To calculate ROI, the benefit (or return) of an investment is divided by the cost of the investment. The result is expressed as a percentage or a ratio.

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.

Analyse your goals

Although your revenue will chiefly be in the form of sales, 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 these results may not yield immediate monetary gain but will help you benefit from customer loyalty (and ultimately sales) in the long term. Keeping track of these figures can help you reassess your goals in future.

Improve your future strategy

Measuring the success of your content marketing allows you to work out what to do more of (and less) in future. Doing this for each aspect of your strategy will allow you to compare different elements of your content marketing strategy to see where you are most successful and where you can save on budget and resources.

You can also compare your digital marketing's success against offline marketing to gain a perspective of how successful digital marketing is for your company as a whole. That said, since results from digital marketing take time to accrue, it’s important not to make any hasty conclusions.

How 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. Pay attention

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 "54% of social media users use social media to research products and 71% are more likely to purchase products and services based on social media referrals". If your content marketing strategy is neglecting social media or the platforms your customers use, then you may be missing a trick when it comes to attracting new leads.

2. Take action

Next, you should use this awareness to consider taking new steps to improve your content. Your main aim should be to create genuinely interesting and entertaining content that your audience values. Thus, constantly reviewing and adapting your strategies with your goals in mind can help. Some aspects to think about are reach, engagement and conversion:

Reach

If your content is failing to make much impact overall, then 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 a great content strategy that brings in organic leads.

If you've analysed your positions in the search results and you're not getting good enough traction, then you might need to do a keyword audit of your site and build a new keyword strategy to follow. This can help you identify the keywords you're already ranking for, the keywords you'd like to rank for and what are the best ways to achieve those.

Read More: How to do a comprehensive keyword audit for your site

Engagement

Once your visitors find your content, either through a listing on the search pages or by clicking through, your content needs to be engaging and persuasive. This starts with your headlines and is built on through providing informative content, as these are the elements that are more likely to get you ranking higher in the first place and incentivising those click-throughs.

Perhaps you have noticed that your bounce rate is high or you're getting impressions but not enough clicks? Aim to create content that hooks readers, poses questions to engage their curiosity and answers all their questions in the most useful way possible. Think: informative blog posts, tutorials, guides, news pieces, research/white papers, competitions, company updates, videos and infographics. You may want to review your old content regularly too, to ensure it's still providing recent and relevant advice. 

Conversion

Finally, your content should be aiming to convert engaged readers to perform whatever action it is you need. This could be making a purchase, signing up for your newsletter or submitting an enquiry.

Look at your conversion tracking metrics and use these to determine which of your landing pages are underperforming. This could be down to some simple issues such as conflicting navigation, broken links, not having a strong enough call to action or not selling the benefits of your offer.

Read More: How to write content for a landing page

3. Getting the balance

Although it seems like a great idea to use as many different kinds of content marketing channels as possible, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. The risk is that you don't just neglect your customers but your brand presence and content quality.

Instead, think of your data as your superpower. Use it to determine where your investment is best spent so you focus on building a sustainable and impactful content marketing strategy that's tailored to your brand and customers and can result in long-term gain. Remember, this might change over time and that's OK - in fact, that's to be expected! So keep your finger on the pulse with regular performance analysis and updates and you can't go far wrong. 

✏️One of the best ways to improve content marketing success is with great content. Discover how a professional copywriting agency can help your business grow.


Image credit: Trevor King, ‘Measuring Up’

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Wendy Woodhead

Wendy is the Account Director at Copify and a qualified copywriter and proofreader. She has spent six years copy editing and copywriting for B2B and B2C clients and has experience in freelance and in-house arts marketing and digital content creation. Wendy likes to write about language and literature, digital marketing, history, current affairs, and arts and culture. In her spare time she enjoys yoga, reading and writing fiction.