Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, all the data-driven marketing hype couldn’t have passed you by.
It looks like a simple concept.
Track stuff. Get data. Get insights from data. Make decisions based on insights. Get money. Repeat.
So how come, next to all this track-and-convert simplicity, so many businesses wind up tangled up in ridiculous amounts of data they collected themselves, unable to make a single step forward with confidence?
Because in truth, paying too much attention to data that does not necessarily align with your business goals can create tunnel vision and put you into danger of taking your business in the wrong direction.
This is a quote Donald T. Campbell, a psychologist and social scientist who often wrote about research methodology:
“The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”
In other words, Campbell’s law implies that if you focus on increasing your metrics, chances are that’s all you’re going to do—get good metrics, while whatever you were measuring won’t be guaranteed to yield better results. Moreover, even the results you used to get before would likely diminish due to a lack of fluidity and innovation.
Then how do you utilize the perks of analytics insights without the risk of compromising your business goals by failing to see the bigger picture?
Find the Measurement Model That Fits Your Business Model
The trick is to figure out what’s working for you, then fine-tune your business goals to allow yourself to elaborate on it in the long run. Once you have your goals and strategy in place, you can move on to identifying the metrics that will help you keep track of your progress towards that goal.
Ask yourself: Which metrics are giving me actionable insights that I can incorporate into my projections for the future and rely on in the long run?
You want to figure out what metrics are right for your business, because different businesses have different goals and different models.
Otherwise you’ll only wind up freaking out over a metric that doesn’t mean nada for your business model.
Humans’ reactions to data are so consistently predictable with their tendency to compulsively pump its meaning that you can easily meme about it:
Once you see a metric, you can’t unsee it.
This means you need to focus only on the set of metrics that let you track the performance of your content based on its role in fulfilling your business goals.
However, this certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have marketing automation systems set in place that let you access even those dormant metrics, just in case you need to pull them up later on for any reason.
Because your business breathes and evolves, goals change, too. And sometimes, for example, in order to lay ground for innovation or conduct A/B tests to improve on your existing assets, you’ll want to pull up some of the metrics you don’t use on the daily.
Book a free consultation with our specialist to identify the key metrics for your business, and set up marketing automation systems with advanced analytics that never let valuable data slip by uncapitalized on.
Specific metrics should, therefore, be used to achieve specific goals. It’s about measuring what matters, not measuring as much as possible.
You’ll want to focus on what you want to accomplish and figure out what metrics can get you there.
7 Universal Content Marketing Metrics
By now, you know that metrics that don’t reflect your business goals are most often nothing but distracting.
But there are several metrics that you can always rely on to get a good overall perspective of your content’s performance.
Naturally, traffic is at the top of this list because it precedes engagement and conversion. There are two categories of traffic, Users and Sessions. Users are unique visitors, and they only count once during a timeframe. Sessions, on the other hand, count each time someone visits your website, whether they’re there for the first time or not.
Traffic over time is what you’re most interested in here. By measuring traffic over time, you’ll get a good perspective of your content’s month-to-month performance. It’s simple – figure out which months you did better and do more of that type of content.
- SERP Ranking
While your SERP ranking – Search Engine Results Page ranking – is certainly not a metric that you can calculate, it’s a great indicator of your content’s performance.
It shows where you appear in the search results when someone does a search on something relevant to you, and if it works for Google’s algorithm, it works for you, too.
By keeping track of where your blog posts’ SERP, you can see how their positioning changes and use that information to find out what’s working.
- Time Spent on Site
Called Session Duration in Google Analytics, time spent on site is a very straightforward metric: the longer people stay on your website, the more content they are consuming.
You can use the URL of any blog post to figure out how long people are engaging with it specifically, too.
Consider that the average reading speed of an adult is 275 words per minute, and you’ll get a general idea about how far they read through the article.
- Pages per Visit
Obviously, the more pages your viewers visit per session, the more content they will absorb.
One strategy to increase this metric is internal linking. Reference your viewers to your content, from your content, and you’ll keep them on your website longer while pushing them more content.
To make it irresistible, when you are linking internally, try to tickle their fear of missing out. The more clicks you get, the more your content will work.
- Returning Visitors
This one’s simple as well—if your visitors are returning to your website to read your content, it means the content’s doing well.
One of the more interesting variations on this topic is the ratio of total visitors to returning visitors.
Especially when observed over time, this ratio will help you answer the golden question: Is my content good enough for people to keep coming back for more?
- Social Sharing
Sharing is caring.
Now that we got that out of the way, when people share something, they mean to say “Hey I just found something valuable, you should take a look”.
If you’re getting shares, in a way it indicates that people are reacting emotionally to your content—they assign some idea of importance to it.
The sum of shares and comments as metrics ideas is probably a predecessor to Jay Acunzo’s URR, or Unsolicited Response Rate, which pertains to the number of people that go out of their way to say they liked your content.
- Clicks from Social Platforms
If you’re sharing your content on social platforms, it’s very important that you stand out.
By measuring Link Clicks and CPC on Facebook, for example, you can get a very good insight on the way you are representing your content.
One of the deal-breakers here is the headline, because the headline is what’s supposed to make your content stand out from a bunch of photos of babies, cats and friend’s status updates.
Definitely something to look into and draw insights from.
Some Vanity Metrics That Can Distract You
- Bounce Rates
Meaning the percentage of people who leave your website after only visiting one page.
Think about it. Maybe someone read your full article after clicking on a Facebook post, then just decided to go back and continue their browsing. That doesn’t mean your content is bad.
Or perhaps they couldn’t find what they were looking for, which could mean you have to rethink the UX of your website, but not necessarily that there’s something wrong with your content.
- Facebook Likes
Seeing that your content is liked on Facebook feels good.
But in reality, Facebook’s organic reach has dropped from 16% a couple years back to a mere 2% where it stands firmly at the moment.
And people have different reasons for liking your stuff, they may have not even read the content.
A click is a visit, while likes are not that reliable of an indicator.
The Bottom Line
Even though there are many things to track, not everything should be tracked.
Here’s a list of relevant metrics you’ll want to consider, but keep in mind that there will hardly ever be a situation where you’ll want to track all of them in order to accomplish one goal:
- Traffic by source
- Total leads generated
- Number of qualified leads
- Leads (First touch attribution)
- Leads (last touch attribution)
- Leads (multi-touch attribution)
- Return on investment
- Unique pageviews
- Unique Visitors
- Average time on site
- Average session duration
- Number of comments
- Bounce rate
- Form completions
- Click-through rate
- Open rate
- Conversion rate
- Percentage of returning vs. new visitors
- Number of visits
- Days since last visit
- Pages per session
- Page depth
- Scroll depth
- Dwell time
- Unsubscribe rate
- Keyword rankings
- Number of keywords ranking on
- Branded search volume
- Backlinks or natural inbound links
- Paid search equivalent
- Domain Authority / Domain Rating / Domain Score
The metrics you base your decisions on should be in tune with what you want to accomplish.
Bluntly, do it right, and you can catch very important things, do it wrong and you’ll wind up wasting a ton of time and money.