The Top 5 Metrics for Content Marketing

How engaging is the content really?

Engagement is a very vague terms so let me clarify it a bit more. All these metrics should be looked at on a long time scale. Use a quarter of a year as a good measure. Content is there for a while and if written well it ages like good wine and carries its flavour for a long while.
  •  Pages per session: You should really look to increase the number of pages viewed per visit. This signifies that your site visitors like the content they land on and want to view more of such content. Notice how when you land on National Geographic, you are compelled to look at some more pages. Use recommendation engines for publishers to push this metric up.
  • Bounce Rate: This metric tells you how the site hits a user the moment they land. The visceral reaction, really. Obviously, badly designed pages will have a high bounce rate (defined as one page sessions divided by total sessions in a given time period). However, if you are a media house, it maybe high because your customers are getting all the information they need on the home page. Then this metric can be as high as 60%-80%.
    • To make sure customers are getting value from your pages, you can add events that can tell you how many people scroll below the fold on your top landing pages. This is also a good substitute metric if your bounce rate is high and the design and load time of the page is also optimized. 
    • I would also recommend that you look at the repeat visitor bounce rate trends (it is always about trends. No metric should EVER be looked at in isolation). If that continues to be high then other investigations should be done on where the traffic is coming from.
  • Time on the site: This is a bit of a tricky metric because the time on the last page is not captured by Google Analytics. See Avinash’s brilliant and simple explanation. However, if customers continue to spend a long time on your site, that exposes them to more ads and it signifies that your content is sticky.
  • Repeat Visitors: In an ideal world, your traffic will continue to increase and the share of repeat visitors will continue to rise. Research on content sites shows that the click through rates on ads by repeat visitors is higher by orders of magnitude. So this metric is important to track over time and you should see AdSense revenues rise as repeat visitors increase.
  • Non-paid traffic: This is really a function of how well SEO is working for your site. If you have a niche site, then a lot of your traffic will either come to you through good SEO or correctly implemented PPC. The former is cheaper (SEO is not free. You do have to work at it) and so helps your bottom line. There is also traffic that come to you through the newsletters that you send out. This is a very engaged repeat visitor traffic and will consume and share your content the most so make sure that you are taking measures to increase it.

Speed of the page load

We live in a world where a website is supposed to do too many things. IT carries words of course, but is also loaded with tons of pictures, oodles of JavaScript and lots of ads. All this makes your pages slow down while loading.

Even if you are running asynchronous JavaScript, it still does impact user experience. Google recommends load times to be within 4 seconds. I think that is a little bit unrealistic considering the google JavaScript’s calls themselves take a bit long. But they call the shots on the internet right now.

I am a fond advocate of letting your words speak for you. Some pictures are good because they are pleasing to the eye (think National Geographic) but not every site has a need for high quality images.
My blog needs pictures of mammals and so I put a few here and there. I also link to videos from YouTube and other sources but not all sites have that need.

So keep the clutter off from the page as much as possible. You will find an excellent set of Site Speed reports within the behaviour section of Google Analytics that will help you in figuring out how to make your pages faster.

How socially adept is your site?

This depends on two factors. The social networks that drive traffic to you and  those that you post on most often.

 Pinterest and Instagram are all about pretty pictures and if that is your focus, there is a lot of traffic that you can get from these sites. Utilize stories and picture boards well and a lot of people will come through to you site.

Twitter and Facebook is more text and reading driven. Make sure that your post there are catchy for the casual user but also make sure that a user has to go through too many ads. It kills the experience and makes the customer not want to click anymore. Long-term there is going to be a negative impact on repeat visitors if you annoy new ones and that will cause you misery.

Reddit and Quora more towards discussions and so if you have a desire for techies to look at your stuff, post here. Quora also works well if you have engaging content.

Is your content mobile friendly?

We are moving towards a lot of very good mobile reading devices and so your content should be able to be displayed there for any traction. No matter what anyone says about Android capturing the market, Apple devices form the most cohesive segment of your populace so make sure that the site is Safari friendly. Make sure to monitor the segment of the site visitors that are mobile. If your reach is especially good on social media, the share of mobile traffic will grow. I would always check how a post looks on mobile before posting it.

Where are the money pages?

If you have ads to support your content, you have got to know where people land. You also need to know the pages that lead to most ads being clicked. The latter is particularly important if you are an affiliate for other companies. The focus on ad revenue is just so that you can replicate certain factors that make that page strong and perhaps create more writing like that page.
All these metrics are easy to track and there are lots of dashboards out there for you to use. I have built a small one for you to use if you like. Here is one in Google Analytics.

As your content grows, you should try to build customized reports for all the above metrics to show more information that can be acted upon. The above metrics are your first tripwires in terms of interesting information. I would use comparison time ranges to make sure that you are able to see trends right on the dashboard and then try to figure out why these events are happening.

I am always available for questions and comments, and critique. Please write to ateeqahmad at gmail or ping me at @ateeqahmad.


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