Google Analytics: Essential Report Metrics for Content Marketing
The term content marketing is rather buzzworthy these days. Most company leaders and marketers know they need to be doing content marketing, and many have gone so far as to create and implement a strategy.
The issue facing most marketing professionals is:
How do we track and measure content marketing?
We all know that telling the C-Suite team that we should start or continue content marketing because everyone else is doing it won’t cut it. There are several essential metrics that provide insight into content marketing efforts, what is working, what isn’t working, and where there are gaps.
Regardless of whether your digital strategy includes a clear content marketing strategy, you absolutely must be tracking your firm’s website performance. The website is the core of any content marketing strategy, whether the strategy is just beginning or is mature.
Google Analytics is a simple tracking tool to set up and provides a lot of functionality and information. It’s free, easy to set up Google Analytics, and enables marketers to track content and evaluate how the content is performing.
When evaluating a content marketing strategy (or preparing to create a strategy), it’s ideal to start with the basics – general traffic to website pages. This report is under Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.
The main metric here is the sheer volume of visits to the top pages. The homepage is always the most visited, but it’s interesting to see what gets the most traffic beyond that. If you have a mature blogging strategy (5+ years), blogs will likely be the next most visited pages. This is a great spot to see how content performs over a specific time frame (weeks, months or even years).
Time on Page
The average amount of time visitors spend on a page provides insight on whether the page is engaging.
It’s important to note that the most visited pages aren’t always the most engaging pages. Sort by the Avg. Time on Page to see what pages have the highest time spent on the page. The pages with low pageviews (2, 3, 4) can be viewed more as anomalies. However, the interesting ones are the pages that have over 20+ views.
As you determine what topics to include in your content marketing editorial calendar, it’s important to look at what pages get the most volume of traffic (are popular) and what pages have higher time on pages (are engaging). Ideally, your editorial calendar should be a combination of both.
While we can get granular in tracking and measuring marketing efforts, it’s vital to remember that the strategy of a marketing strategy is to drive and convert new client leads. Conversions can be tracked using the Goals in Google Analytics under Admin > View.
Google Analytics only allows 20 goals to be tracked at a time, so use this wisely. A best practice is to track online form submissions, newsletter sign-ups, white paper downloads, and any other action that show a conversion of a website visitor into a potential client.
Goals can be viewed under Conversions > Goals > Overview in Google Analytics. This provides a general overview of how your content pieces and pages are performing for driving leads.
Traffic Source and Medium
Traffic Source and Medium are great metrics for informing on how traffic is getting to your website and content pages. These numbers are particularly important if you are running paid promotions on Sources such as Google Ads, LinkedIn, Facebook, Account-Based Marketing networks, or other ad networks. Many of these paid promotional channels provide a dashboard of metrics (and offer tracking pixels), but the best source of true information is typically in Google Analytics.
Learn where your conversions are coming from for each goal by looking at the Conversions > Goals > Goal Flow report. You can select the Goal you want to view and the Source / Medium for that goal completion (conversion). This will tell you how many of those leads came from Google Organic, Direct, CPC, LinkedIn, Bing CPC, etc.
A broader look at how various Sources are impacting your overall content marketing efforts can be found under Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium.
This report enables a marketer to see what Sources and Mediums are driving the most amount of goal conversions. Additionally, the report can be manipulated to show where the conversions are coming from for each particular goal (similar to the Goal Flow report). Be sure to check pages / session, Avg. Session Duration, and Bounce Rate for these pages as well.
If a Source / Medium has a low conversion rate, low pages / session, poor Avg. Session Duration and a high bounce rate, it’s time to evaluate whether that Source / Medium is the right investment of time and resources.
Outside of Google Analytics, there are a range of paid tools to track SEO and keyword rankings. Keyword rankings are helpful for determining which content pieces to create and what potential clients are searching for when online. Be sure to integrate your Google Search Console account with Google Analytics. Webmasters can provide some detail on what keywords are driving organic traffic to your site.
More sophisticated SEO tools include Semrush, gShift, Ahrefs, BrightEdge, Conductor, and Moz. If you’d like to boost the rankings for certain keywords (and get more traffic for those words), craft and promote content around those terms.
What reports and metrics do you use to evaluate and inform your content marketing strategy?