Essential Tips for Tracking & Measuring Your Content Marketing

Content marketing costs money and a takes a great deal of time to implement correctly. Therefore, measuring your results should be a top priority for you and your team. Setting up the right framework from the beginning is crucial to properly monitoring your content marketing strategy. With that said, there are still ways to implement a tracking program if your content is already out there.

#1: Understand What You’re Measuring

No matter the metric you choose to measure you results, you first need to understand what you are measuring and why. Typically, in content marketing, your overall goal is to achieve some sort of conversion or to build “brand awareness,” rather than a hard and fast metric like readership or ad revenue.

Because of the ambiguity with this goal, it is sometimes harder to track or even understand what you are to track with your content marketing strategy.

Your marketing and analytics team will need to merge together to set these goals. The first step in understanding what you are measuring should always be setting goals and determining what a conversion for your company looks like.

xConversions, Goals, and You
A conversion rate can mean so many things; a RSS subscriber, a user signup, a phone call, a sale or a number of other user interactions. Because of this, it is up to you to determine the actions that you consider a success.

It’s ok to have multiple forms of conversions on your site, and to value those differently. But before you go creating content, define what type of conversion you want to drive. Sales-oriented copy will have a different tone than copy that encourages an email newsletter signup – make sure you know your goal before you create.

After you have determined what your conversions are, you will need to set goals around it. For example, your content goal could be to increase user signups by 15% or to generate 20 more phone calls per week. No matter your definition or your goals around them, you need to do your homework here.

#2: Learn about Attribution Models

What is an attribution model?

One way of measuring your success as a content marketer is using a strategy based on attribution models. An attribution model allows marketers to look at a team of ads that contribute to a sale or conversation over an extended period of time.

xWhat is the goal of attribution models?
The overall goal is to obtain a full picture of what is happening in each marketing channel and to understand the degree of influence each ad has on a customers’ decision.

Listed below are typical types of attribution models that are used to track content marketing strategies. Each of the below models has its own set of pros and cons and should be utilized according to needs.

Last Touch Attribution

It is by default that Google Analytics attributes each conversation to the last referring touch-point. In the last-touch model, credit is given to the final interaction point leading to the conversion.

Although, we all know better, this model assumes that the only influence for the conversion was the final touch-point and gives no value to any other interaction the user may have had.

  • Last-touch model – assigns all credit to the last interaction before conversion.

Fundamental Single-Touch Attribution

This model, also known as the first-touch model assigns all credit to the first interaction the user makes.

It assumes that the first interaction is what led to the ultimate conversion of the user.

This model is beneficial and typically used when trying to determine which channel best led users to the discovery of a particular product or service.

  • First-touch model – assigns all credit to the first interaction.

Fundamental Multi-Touch Attribution

Many people find it useful to use their own custom models when tracing content marketing.

However, the following three fundamental multi-touch attribution models are at the root of any custom model you could create.

Each of these models assigns a value to each touch-point within the customer progression. Each model is also based on a set of goals, product offering, timing and marketing strategies. Pick the one that works for you if you aren’t creating a custom model for yourself.

  • Linear model – In this model. equal credit is given to each marketing channel along each of its touch-points.
  • Position-based model – Typically gives a greater weight to the first and last interactions along the marketing channel the user follows and the remaining positions are adjusted accordingly.
  • Time-decay model – Progressively assigns the most credit to the last interaction with a gradual incremental value.

#3: Set a Goal for Every Content Marketing Project & Be Patient

I briefly mentioned setting goals above, but it is important so I am mentioning it again in its own section. You are not going to be able to measure success and performance without first setting goals. Your goals are what dictate the metrics you need to track. Some examples of some high-level goals can be found to the right.

Know that your results with content marketing are more gradual and work overtime. The instant gratification we get with other advertising and marketing methods is not true for online content marketing. Have patience and realize this when you begin your efforts and start tracking your results.

xCommon Content Marketing Goals

  • Drive sales – Content can increase traffic to your site, lead volume, conversion rates, etc.
  • Save money – Content can help cut costs per lead, customer service costs, etc.
  • Make client(s) happier – Good quality content can help improve retention, customer loyalty, etc.

#4: Measure Your Content: Implement Tracking & Analytics

On-Site Content

Producing great content will only get you so far, you need to track all new content on your site with tracking and measurement tools that are readily available to us all. On-site content that needs to be measured usually comes in the format of a business blog but can be general content on your site as well as other forms.

Measuring your new content is fairly easy once you have the right tools. You will begin to learn a lot about your content as you starting getting your results. It will be fun to learn what is working well, what is popular and of course what is converting. You will want to track the following for your on-site content:

  • Traffic & Conversions – To truly see the traffic and conversions on your site, you will need to setup Google Analytics to track traffic and conversions. Once your settings are in place, you can go to Google Analytics and start seeing how your content is performing.
  • Social Media – Increasing your visibility online is most likely one of your goals. Therefore implementing and tracking your social media shares should also be a high priority. There are different plugins you can use to track these results. For example, if you have a self-hosted WordPress site, you can download Social Metrics Pro. This plugin will track social shares for your content, all within the WordPress dashboard.
  • Interactions/Engagement – Even though social media is a type of engagement, some people find actual engagement in the format of comments to be more meaningful and useful to their overall business. You can view your comments by going to your Dashboard and then All Posts within WordPress. If you have a high volume of comments, it generally means you are finding your target audience and topics that relate well to them. At the point people are engaging with your content is the point you know you are truly doing something right.

Off-Site Content

Off-site content is usually in the form of guest posting and article marketing. There is a different set of tools to use to track and manage your off-site content. Ultimately, you want to know which pieces of content drove traffic back to your website and which ones didn’t.
Measuring your off-site content is equally important as measuring your on-site content. Get yourself the right tools to do so.
xMeasuring Off-Site Content
One of many ways to track your off-site content is by setting up Advanced Segments in your Google Analytics. Sometimes it is also needed to create sub-segments based on certain criteria and topics. Once your Advanced Segments are setup you can view all of your Google Analytics data based on visitors from the sites you have placed content (off-site) on.

Infographics & Other Media Types

Infographics will be located both on and off your site, therefore you can utilize the tracking tools we have already discussed to track your results. There is also an additional measurement you will want to view as well; how many links you gained from the Infographic.

Realistically waiting 30-60 days will give you the most accurate results. A tool you can use at that point is Open Site Explorer.

This tool will let you track the number of backlinks as well as see the links gained from top sites. Since infographics are a strong content piece to use in your strategy, you will want to know how well they are doing for future use and creation.

Final Thoughts

Most of the tips I have given should help you with other types of content marketing as well but know I have only skimmed the service of tracking your content marketing strategies. The key is to think about what you want to measure and to create a strategy to track and measure it as you are actually creating the content.

Analyzing your content is the best way for you to know how well it is performing and what changes you will need to make in the future.

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” – Winston Churchill