Content Marketing Analytics – Why It Matters and How to Measure Content ROI

This post discusses the importance of content marketing analytics and explains some of the key parameters we should look at to better understand our content’s performance and ROI.

What is content marketing analytics?
If you look up content  marketing analytics or content marketing insights you can see many different interpretations. For the purpose of this post, we look at content marketing analytics as the system or method to measure and attribute the value of the marketer’s content activities and assets in relation to their goals. In other words, it is a tool that, ideally, should helps marketers evaluate how well their content marketing has been performing and what they should do in order to improve its performance in the future.   

Why is content marketing analytics different from standard web analytics?
One of the basic questions we get asked when discussing TrenDemon with new customers is “but I already use Google Analytics, why do I need another analytics system? How is it better/different?”. Now, we love Google Analytics, seriously, we use it every day to look at how our site is performing in terms of traffic metrics, campaigns, sources and more. But, Google analytics is not the right tool when looking to measure content marketing effectiveness. Google analytics does not provide is a clear picture of how our content is performing in relation to our goals as well as information about how our customers journeys through content look like. The fact is, todays common analytics tools simply don’t provide the answer and over 78% admit they are struggling with measuring content marketing ROI – see reference.

This is Why Standard Analytics Fail
Most web analytics tools like Google Analytics were built to measure performance of advertising campaigns and provide information about how the recent traffic that came to the site performed. This attribution model is good when you are trying to measure the effectiveness of an ad campaign you just ran and are looking to measure immediate results. Content marketing, on the other hand, works very differently, almost the exact opposite. If in advertising the last click is usually the most important, in content marketing it’s the least. Content marketing focuses on storytelling, educating a prospective customer and engaging the reader with valuable information. This process usually takes a longer time to mature into a desired action (like signing up for a demo, subscribing to the blog or buying a product). To measure this journey effectively and calculate the significance of each source and page in that journey, you have to look at more than just the last touch point before the conversion. When analysing the performance of your content marketing, you should look at the entire content journey (more on content journey analytics and optimization in this post), from the first point of touch to the last.

3D Site Map Illustrating the Complexity of Mapping & Tracking Content Journeys

It has to take into account the behavior of the user in each engagement point and correlate data from several sources (for example, data from marketing automation platforms or CRMs can help position the user on the customer journey correctly – read here on the intersection of content personalization and marketing automation). After all that crunching is done, the marketers should receive a clear output, one that presents the real value of its sources and content and make better decisions about its future efforts and investments.

Why should you care about content marketing analytics?

Ok, we get it, it takes a different analytical approach to measure content, but what’s the importance of attributing these values correctly? Let’s look at the following case: A company invests $10K/month in creating high  quality content in order to acquire and retain customers. It also allocates $5K/month for promoting this content across various media networks. By miscalculating the real value of its traffic sources and content pages, the brand can waste over 40% of its investment by promoting the wrong content in the wrong places. Over the course of a year, this translates to $70K of wasted budget which could have been better spent. More importantly, this can also be the difference between the company deciding to further invest in content marketing the next period or giving up on it all together due to poor results. So insights, as opposed to data or information, matter. With most brands we work with we usually see the challenge is not to generate more data, reports or stats but rather to empower digital marketers with clear insights that help them reach the right conclusions in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Some relevant metrics to measure and how should you measure them

It start with a goal
If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” – Lewis Carroll
Before any meaningful measurement of content marketing can take place, clear goals must be defined. These goals act as beacons which help us stay on course and indicate if we’re getting closer or drifting away. One of the fundamental questions marketers are still struggling today with is “how does our content impact our business goals”? It seems like a simple one to answer but as we shown above, attributing the impact of content to the conversion process is a bit more tricky and requires a different approach.

Traffic Sources Attribution
Another question which has a huge impact on media buying or content promotion decisions is source attribution. Again, as shown above, using the wrong attribution model can result in wasting valuable resources on the wrong sources. You need to move away from the default “last click” attribution model to more content-marketing relevant models which take into account not only their position but also the level of engagement with the content that a user had coming from a specific source.

Article/Post Scoring
When dealing with content, one of the more basic questions is “has this post/article been actually read, and if so, by what % of the visitors?”. Getting a clear metric that describes this will help understand which content is being consumed. A deeper and more difficult question to answer regarding page attribution, is what was the significance of a specific post in the user journey towards a given goal, and how that significance has changed over time. This presents a tougher challenge since now we have to calculate several parameters for each page, and in cases where we have several goals in the site, this challenge is compounded.

Relative Positioning
This last point is usually over looked. We’ve found that to reach optimal results, its not enough to calculate the overall performance score of each article or source but also to determine it best relative position on the content journey. The importance for correctly positioning the article becomes clear when you are looking to retarget visitors with content (check out this post for more on Content Retargeting),  or perform lead nurturing with content. An article can be very effective at getting new visitors aware of an opportunity and moving further down the content funnel, but may “turn off” more advanced visitors that have already read the entry-level content. This can cause a higher bounce rate simply due to the fact the article wasn’t shown to the right people at the right time.

The typical content journey and the relative positions of content items

Connecting the 3 Ps: Purpose, Process & Performance
After we’ve broken down content marketing analytics to the different pieces, it’s now time to put it back together in a way that can help us draw some meaningful conclusions and guide our decision-making process.
The output we need to compile from these metrics should helps us answer these questions:

  1. How well is my content performing in relation to my business goals?
  2. In which sources should I promote my content (a more advanced version of this question is: which content should I promote in which source)?
  3. What should I write about next to help get more visitors to reach the goal?

How TrenDemon Insights can help you answer these questions:
TrenDemon’s Content Insights provide you with a clear picture of how your content is performing in relation to your goals. You can see their read rate (how many people that visited the page, actually read it), the CTR (how many people that viewed the item on our content recommendations unit actually clicked on it) and the goal/journey score – the significance of the page to the conversion process (in other words, how many times did it appear in successful journeys vs. all journeys that passes through it).

TrenDemon Content Insights

Some other tools to supercharge your content marketing

Here are some free tools we use in addition to our own Content Marketing Optimization for other content marketing related:

Heat maps and user interactions – Yandex Metrika
Monitor your online presence – Mention
Create customised and engaging content journeys – Roojoom
Create awesome graphics online with no hassle – Canva
A fun image resizer for social media – Landscape by Sprout Social

Good luck!