Measuring the success of your content marketing efforts may seem ambiguous but there are some metrics you should be watching and analysing.

The only metric that really matters for any form of marketing is whether it increases sales.

However, working out why and how more people are buying from you isn’t always that easy.

These days someone is likely to have read something you published, had someone recommend you, visited your website and then read a review about your products or services. It’s impossible to say which one tipped them over the edge and into the sale.

So how do you know if you’re content marketing efforts are working? Here are four simple things you should be looking at:

Metric 1: Your website traffic

Some content marketers think it’s a waste of time measuring ‘old school’ stats such as page views and clicks. I disagree. Web traffic still matters.

But instead of looking just at the raw data in the form of pageviews, dive a little deeper. Even a simple analytics program such as Google Analytics will show you not just how many people came to your site but how or why they came and what information they looked at.

Are people coming through your front door – ie your homepage – or is it your content that’s directly luring them in?

If it was your content, how many people then crossed over to look at your products or services? How long did they spend on the page? What did their journey through the site look like? And what percentage of returning visitors are you getting or how many came back for more?

Simple metrics can tell a much bigger story, so also pay attention to:

  • Number of views vs unique browsers

  • How long they stayed on pages

  • How many people didn’t hang around (or bounce rates)

Metric 2: Your email open rate 

Effective content marketing almost always requires a good mailing list. And because nothing turns of potential audiences than irrelevant content, your mailing list will be infinitely better if it’s segmented. But for every campaign you send you should also be measuring how many people open, how many times they opened and what they clicked on.

To measure that you need to have your stories hosted outside of the email itself. The time for sending PDF-based eNewsletters was 1995 not 2015. So if you’re still doing that, stop now. Any decent mailing software – such as Campaign Monitor or Mailchimp – lets you see who opened what, how many times they opened it and whether they shared it around… Pretty powerful stuff if you want to know exactly what works and what people engage with.

Oh, and if you’re struggling to get people to open your emails in the first place, read our article on how to do it well.

Simple email metrics you should pay attention include:

  • Open rates

  • Clicks (Which articles really grabbed readers’ attention? Who opened multiple times?)

  • Emails forwarded

  • Unsubscribes (some will be expected, but too many shows your content isn’t hitting the mark)

Metric 3: Shares, Likes and Plus Ones

Social media metrics such as ‘shares’, ‘likes’ and ‘+1’s’ (Google Plus) matter because they show people are engaging with your content to the point where they’d recommend it to someone else. They act as an amplifier sending your content outside of your immediate contact lists and into other people’s feeds. Platforms such as LinkedIn Pulse are great because they show you the number of views you’ve had for your posts too.

Just remember with this one: not all likes and shares are equal. So take note of what’s being shared by the kinds of people who matter to you rather than people per se. And also remember, some people like to be discreet, so they won’t be liking or sharing anything you do, even if they love it. That’s particularly the case for some professional industries.

Finally, you know someone’s really engaged when they take the time to comment. Well, either that or they like the sound of their own voice. But again, don’t take it to heart if no one does. Commenting is like being the first to open your mouth in the lecture room.

Simple metrics to look at include:

  • Likes, shares and views via LinkedIn Publishing platform

  • Follows on LinkedIn

  • Likes and shares on Facebook

  • +1’s and shares on Google Plus

  • Retweets and favorites on Twitter (although be warned, favorites often come from bots)

  • Comments

Metric 4: Time

Anything you post will hang around for a long time, for all to see. So don’t analyse your stats after 24 hours and get disappointed if you’re not an overnight success. Review and compare your stats regularly, over time. Often it takes some time for momentum to build.

You can read more about just this in our article why content marketing is like a Jane Austen novel.

Contact Antelope Media to find out how we can help your organisation win more work through quality content marketing. 

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Read more: 6 content marketing hacks to save you time and money

Read more: Why content marketing is like a Jane Austen novel

Read more: 5 reasons content marketing doesn’t work

Related services: Content marketing

Ralph Grayden

Ralph Grayden

Ralph Grayden is content director at Antelope Media.