We all know it – content marketing is one of the most expensive types of marketing (and also effective if done correctly). From finding topics your audience will like, meticulously researching them (since you need to provide real value to your audience not just “another post”), writing the article, optimizing it for search engines and promoting it, one word comes to mind – expensive. And we’re not talking only about money, but also about time, energy, potentially missed opportunities by not focusing on other tasks, etc.
So it’s natural that after all this hard and time consuming work, your company should have the right tracking in place to measure the results you are getting from your content marketing efforts. But all too often we see that although companies invest a lot of time, efforts and money into content marketing, measuring its results and efficacy is reduced to analyzing just a few Google Analytics metrics like pageviews or average time on page, which although important metrics, are basic in their nature and do not show the full picture of how effective (or not) the content marketing really is.
That is why in this article I will try to shed some light on how you can more effectively measure your content marketing performance with Google Analytics, and see if it is leading your business to the path of more clients and sales or the path of no (or irrelevant) results.
- Analyzing the “All Pages” and “Landing Pages” reports
By analyzing these reports, you will see which are the most popular posts and if you have eCommerce tracking enabled or assigned a value to your goals, it will also allow you to see the value this page has compared with other pages (page value metric).
If you notice that a post gets a lot of pageviews and/or has a high average time on page but in the same tame has a low value, you would want to carefully examine that page to find out why people reading it are not converting. Maybe the content of the post is not aligned with the title and readers are not getting the information they expect? Or maybe there are no links to high converting posts or call to actions on that page, thus users can’t convert?
Whatever the real reason, after careful inspection you should be able to come up with some ideas as to why that particular page is converting so low, and preferably test those ideas by running some A/B testing. As without any action, the information you get from these or any other reports will not benefit your business in any way other than providing some statistical information.
To access these reports you need to go to Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages / Landing Pages.
- Get precious insights from the “Navigation Summary” report
Another reason why users are not converting on a particular page is that they are using it as a step in a conversion funnel. To find out if this is the case, you need to analyze the “Navigation Summary” report available in the “All pages” main report.
In this report, you will be able to see how your visitors navigated to and from a particular page from your site and how many users used it to enter or exit the site. By analyzing this report, you will be able to get precious information about how well a particular page/post is performing and what role it plays in your conversion funnel.
Going back to our previous example, if you see a blog post with a lot of pageviews and exits but its page value is low, it means that despite being popular, that page is not generating any conversions and is also not contributing to the other conversions funnels you might have. Thus that page is a good candidate for some A/B tests, which will allow you to find the reasons why it’s not converting and fix it.
- Track user interactions with the posts, such as comments, share buttons, scroll tracking, etc.
Although not tracked by default, adding tracking to comments, social share buttons or scroll tracking will allow you to measure the engagement your articles get from your visitors. This, in turn, can be used as an alternative success metric beside the all to commonly used “pageview” metric.
Other than determining the good and not so good articles (in your audience’s eyes), some of these metrics, such as scroll tracking, allows you to see how much users scroll throughout the pages, thus enabling you to better position your article’s core message and/or call to actions.
For example, if you see that the majority of users from a particular page users scroll up to 50% of that page and your core message or call to actions are at the bottom, you can act on this insight by moving them to the top of the page.
Or you may identify some pages which have high engagement but few pageviews, meaning that users like what they are reading but the article is not getting traffic. When you stumble across such articles, you can always give them a push by doing some internal promotions on your blog (like adding the post in the recommended articles section or linking to it more often from other posts) or even directing some of your advertising budget towards it, in a hope to get more external traffic.
Usually, comments, share button clicks, and scroll tracking are tracked by events and later turned into goals and depending on how these elements are installed on the site, this can be a fairly simple and fast process or slow and complex. But no matter the complexity, our Google Analytics experts can always help you with it so if you need these user interactions tracked, don’t forget to contact us.
- Collect post author, category, main keywords and post format
If you (or your company) are spending time and money on content marketing, sooner or later you’ll get questions like “Who is our best author?” or “Which category our visitors like to read the most?” or “Which post format suits best for audience?” (measured, of course, by engagement metrics we discussed earlier 🙂 )
Unfortunately, with the default Google Analytics tracking, you can’t get answers to these questions but this should not act as a blocker, as with the help of custom dimensions and/or content grouping and custom installation of Google Analytics, all the answers to these questions can be found.
Later, after adding the tracking, you can view the data in a custom report in Google Analytics, or, you can take the reporting to a different level and use a reporting tool like Google Data Studio (our preferred reporting tool) and view this data in a more visually appealing way.
Using visually appealing ways to represent data is much more than just some fancy graphs and diagrams – it allows you to see and focus on the big picture without any external noise thus enabling you to draw better conclusions and make better decisions.
With this data, you will see which authors are writing the best content, which category and keywords suit best for your audience and in what post format (regular post, infographic, video, slide, etc) your readers usually like to read.
- Track video usage (if you use videos in your articles)
It’s always nice to put videos in your articles but are your visitors actually watching them? And if they do, for how long do they watch them? These and other questions can be easily answered if you add the video tracking to your videos. And if you use Youtube videos then this is even better as video tracking is available as a built-in option in Google Tag Manager, allowing you to track all Youtube videos with just a single, built-in GTM tag.
- Improve the bounce rate and time on page tracking
Bounce rate and time on page are very important metrics for content marketing as they show for how long users stay on the page and whether they leave the site from the same page they entered it, without navigating to other pages. But for single-page visits these metrics are often not accurate as for bounce rate, Google Analytics considers all one pageview sessions which are not followed by any other hits (like other pageviews or events) as bounces. And this is not very accurate as in some cases if a user read the article and found all the information he needed then exited the site without visiting other pages, should not be considered as a bounce.
As for time on page, Google Analytics calculates it as the timestamp difference between the first pageview hit of that particular page and the next pageview or event hit. And for single page visits, since usually they contain just one pageview hit, Google Analytics is not able to calculate the time on page for them, thus excluding all these sessions from the average time on page metric.
Fortunately fixing the accuracy of these 2 metrics is relatively easy – you just need to fire an event every 30 (or 45) seconds while the user is on the site. This will set the session as a non-bounce and will also improve the accuracy of the time on page metric.
- Track clicks on external links from your articles
Usually, the majority of articles contain one or two links to other sites. And unfortunately Google Analytics does not track them by default, thus leaving many authors and content managers wondering if people click on those external links and if they do, how often?
To fix this and get answers to all these questions, external link clicks tracking needs to be added on the site. By doing so, you will be able to see on which external links users clicked on, for how many times and on which page the clicks occurred. Usually external link clicks are tracked via events.
It’s your turn
With these reports and custom tracking in your analytics toolbox, you’ll end up with a better picture of how your content is performing which in turn will enable you to make better decisions in planning and executing your content marketing strategy.
And for an even clearer picture, you can leverage the dashboards and the various charts and visualizations from Google Data Studio which will cut through the noise and will let you focus just on the thing that really matters for your business – all in a user-friendly and visually appealing way.
Are there any other custom tracking or reports I’ve missed? If so, make sure to let me know in the comments below.