Updated on December 10, 2020
We all know it – content marketing is one of the most expensive and least tracked in Google Analytics types of marketing.
From finding topics your audience like, meticulously researching them, and writing the article, one word comes to mind – expensive.
And this does not even include SEO and promotion, which are all necessary for your content to rank well.
Being so important and expensive, one would assume companies and content marketers would invest heavily in tracking and performance analysis.
But all too often, we find the opposite to be true.
Most of the time, content marketing performance analysis is reduced to a few Google Analytics metrics like pageviews and time on page.
Although important, these metrics are basic and do not show the full picture of how effective content marketing is.
That is why in this article, I will try to shed some light on how you can measure your content marketing with Google Analytics more effectively.
1. Analyze the “All Pages” and “Landing Pages” reports
By analyzing these reports, you’ll be able to quickly understand which is your most popular content.
If eCommerce tracking is enabled or a value is assigned to your goals, you’ll also see the page value. This metric shows how much a particular page contributed to a goal completion or eCommerce transaction.
If a page has many pageviews, a high time on page and low bounce rate, it means visitors like it.
On the other hand, if a page with many pageviews has a high bounce rate, it could indicate a problem.
The same is true for high traffic pages with low page values.
So maybe there’s an error on the page, the content is irrelevant, or the formatting or page layout is wrong.
Whatever the real reason, after careful inspection you should be able to come up with some ideas as to why that page is converting low.
And since information without action is nothing more than statistics, you should test those ideas by running some A/B testing.
P.S. The “All Pages” and “Landing Pages” reports are available in Behavior -> Site Content section.
2. Get precious insights from the “Navigation Summary” report
Another possible reason for low conversion pages is its relative position in the conversion funnel.
If a page is located closer to the top of the funnel, then it’s expected for it to have a low conversion rate.
Similarly, pages located at the bottom of the funnel, tend to have much higher conversion rates.
To find out if this is the case for a particular page, you need to analyze the “Navigation Summary” section of the “All pages” report.
In that report, you will be able to see how users navigate to and from a particular page. Meaning you’ll see the pages users viewed prior to that page, and the pages they navigated to after it.
You’ll also be able to see how many visitors entered and exited the site via that page.
By analyzing this report, you will get precious information about a page’s performance and its role in your conversion funnel.
For example, content with a low page value, many pageviews, and a high exit rate, usually indicates a conversion problem.
So the users that view that page, instead of continuing their journey down the funnel, they exit the site. And this is shown by the low page value.
Thus, that page is another good candidate for A/B testing.
3. Track content-related user interactions
Although not installed by default, tracking social share clicks, comment submissions, or page scroll allows you to measure content engagement.
And this is very important for analyzing content marketing performance as they can be used as success metrics.
Other than determining the good and not so good articles, these metrics can also reveal much deeper insights.
For example, scroll tracking allows you to see how much users scroll throughout the page, thus enabling you to better position your article’s core message and CTAs.
So if the majority of users don’t scroll past 50% of a page, your core message and CTAs should be placed higher than that point.
Or, you could use these metrics to identify high-potential pages.
For example, if an article has a high engagement but few pageviews, it means that the content is good but it lacks traffic.
Amping up your promotional efforts to get more traffic to that page would a wise and expected move. This will further optimize your content marketing efforts and you’ll get a higher ROI.
4. Collect post author, category, main keywords and post format
If you are serious about content marketing, sooner or later you’ll start asking yourself performance related questions.
Questions like “Who is our best author?”, “Which content categories convert the most?”, or “Which format suits best our audience?”.
Unfortunately, by default, Google Analytics can’t answer these questions.
So you’ll have to customize your tracking.
Usually this is done with custom dimensions, content grouping and a custom Google Analytics installion.
Later, after adding the tracking, you’ll be able to view the data in a custom Google Analytics report.
Alternatively, you can use a tool like Google Data Studio and view this data in a more visually appealing way.
Knowing your top-performing authors, categories, or article formats is crucial for your content marketing success.
It allows you to optimize costs while getting better results at the same time. That is why you need to start collecting this content data as soon as possible.
5. Track video usage
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 video tracking to your videos.
And if you use Youtube videos it’s even better as video tracking is available as a built-in option in Google Tag Manager and GA4 properties.
6. Analyze the bounce rate and time on page
Bounce rate and time on page are very important metrics for content marketing as they show content relevancy.
If an article has a low bounce rate, it usually means that the content is highly relevant to users.
The same is true for a high time on page. A high time on page usually means that users take the time and actually read your content.
But what about the high bounce rate? Does it mean that the content is bad?
Usually, this is true, however, there are cases when a bounce is the expected user behavior.
For example, if a user views a support page about an issue he has, it is expected for him to bounce once he finds the solution.
So in this case, a high bounce rate is not something bad. It is how it’s supposed to be.
That is why when analyzing the bounce rate, it is always important to take page type and user intent into account.
To exclude this uncertainty, it is recommended to install page scroll and time on page tracking.
In this way, an event fires each time users scroll past a certain point or stays on the page for a certain amount of time.
When this happens, the session is no longer counted as a bounce and the bounce rate and time on page is adjusted.
The logic behind this is that if a user is really engaged, he will scroll till at least 75% of page. Or will stay on the page for a minimum of 1-2 minutes.
Thus, this behavior doesn’t need to be counted as a bounce.
7. Track clicks on external links from your articles
Since external links are good for SEO and user experience, most authors and content marketers use them in their content.
Unfortunately, Google Analytics does not track them by default, thus many authors are left wondering if anyone clicks them.
To fix this and get answers to your questions, external link click tracking needs to be added to the site.
By doing so, you will be able to see in Google Analytics the external links users clicked on, for how many times, and on which page the clicks occurred.
Usually, external link clicks are tracked via events.
With these reports and custom tracking in your analytics toolbox, you’ll end up with a better picture of your content marketing.
In return, this will enable you to make better decisions in planning and executing your content marketing strategy.
And for an even clearer picture, you can leverage Google Data Studio’s data visualization capabilities. With them, you’ll cut through the noise and focus just on things that really matter to your business.