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Content marketing programs need strong analytics to measure and maintain their effectiveness. In an era where there are countless things to measure, it is important to hone in on the right metric for your client. Leave the Facebook likes, Instagram followers and other kudos that add nothing to the bottom line to the Kardashians. A business needs to focus on web traffic and behavior that draws and sustains clients and sales.

What types of web analytics help zero in on strengths and weaknesses of a marketing campaign to refine it and make it even stronger? It may be fun to look at how many people visited a site, length of visit or the clicks on a piece of content. But that information does not tell a marketer what drove visitors to take action. More importantly, it does not tell what drove visitors to NOT take action.

Here are key metrics to focus on when analyzing and using data to measure and strengthen content marketing efforts:

Inbound traffic sources

How potential customers or clients get to the information presented – particularly content that generates more business – is one of the most important metrics to monitor. It shows both where the traffic came from and whether the traffic is the right kind.

A lot of visitors does not equate to bottom line boosts if the visitors are not really potential customers. A content marketing effort for a company striving to attract customers in the Northeast U.S. would be inefficient if a lot of the traffic and content readers came from outside the area.

Look at the types of web sites, types of social media platforms, and search tools that generated the most traffic as well as geographic data to determine if the content is resonating with the target audience. This should be done via a variety of means. If customers or clients click on the site to buy something or complete an online form, it is easier to track how they got there. But phone and foot traffic is trickier to capture. Depending on the type of business, it may be more important, so develop a mechanism to capture the information.

Also, keep an eye on what traffic is coming from mobile sources. If that is driving traffic, it is time to present content with mobile in mind.

The path taken

Content marketing analytics also need to focus on what readers did once they reached the article or post. This is an area that varies by type of industry and whether the site leads directly to sales, generates phone calls or is just trying to build awareness. However, an effective campaign will always look deeper into behavior on a site to help guide visitors to a desired action.

If online sales or completion of a form is the intended reader result, it is important to know where people abandon the process and determine why. Is there a requirement to create an account or a tedious form or other impediment driving them away? Or does most of the traffic flow smoothly once they start the transaction process?

Likewise, if a blog posting typically generates visits to other blog postings on your site, what content is most relevant to highlight and ensure links are there?

Conversely, content that gets lots of page views and has a high bounce rate is not bad if the area they bounce from contains the phone number and caller data indicates they saw an item online before calling. Likewise, unique visitors versus total visitors might be telling over time if potential customers typically visit the site several times before initiating a transaction.

User engagement that matters

Content marketing is an important tool in reaching, educating and engaging an audience. But, it is a continually evolving field. To be effective, a campaign requires a great strategy, great copy and great analytics. Metrics are an important part of the equation. But an effective content marketing effort takes time to resonate with an audience.

As noted in a recent Forbes article, “likes and tweets are great for distribution.” Real reader engagement is impact – whether immediate sales, word of mouth (retweets), reviews and, depending on the business, people in the door. In the end, the key analytic for a content marketing campaign is user engagement that adds to the bottom line.

If you have a content marketing program, or are planning one, download our ebook:  100 mistakes businesses make when starting, optimizing and scaling content marketing programs.  Learn from the mistakes of hundreds of other companies.  100 mistakes walks you through common and uncommon challenges that they faced with their content marketing programs.

 Looking for help with your content marketing efforts? Tempesta Media is a managed services provider of custom content for digital agencies, website developers and PR firms. We can help you and your clients put content marketing to work on your clients’ sites. Contact us to learn more about our services.

Michael Marchese is the founder and CEO of Tempesta Media. He is responsible for corporate strategy, executive team leadership and overall business operations across all the company’s segments.

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