I am admittedly a HUGE Janet Jackson fan. When interviewing for my first job, the potential employer asked, “What job would you have if you could have any job?” I answered, “Back up dancer for Janet Jackson.” I think they hired me with the hope that I would endlessly entertain them with random fits of dancing. Their hopes were satisfied.
While I’m not sure how much Ms. Jackson cares about content marketing; she does inspire the question, “what have you done for me lately?” This is a question you should constantly demand of your content marketing efforts. Answering that question requires setting expectations, monitoring performance, and refining efforts to get closer to achieving goals. Like many marketers, I monitor performance by referring to the areas I think are most important and looking at the key performance indicators (KPIs) within those areas to find out what is working and what could use more attention.
I monitor six different areas of performance:
- Site Engagement
- Traffic Sources
Within each of these areas, there are a series of metrics associated with goals that I use to gauge the effectiveness of my content, the performance of my website, and the success of the channels I use.
To track these metrics, I use Google Analytics. Using a custom dashboard, I monitor performance every day.
To get a status check on performance, I refer to the following metrics:
# of Visits – This is a general metric, but when used to compare to different periods of performance, it can provide insight into trends in site visits.
# of Unique Visitors – This is also a general metric, similar to # of Visits. However, it provides more specific data on the number of people that have visited my site, instead of the sum of visits.
% of New Visits – This is a great indication of the share of new people interested in your brand. If this increases, it is usually attributed to a campaign or increased exposure of your business. If it decreases, there’s trouble, and some investigation should be done.
# of Direct Visits – Direct visits are visits by users who type your URL directly into their browser or navigate there via a bookmark. The number of direct visits metric illustrates retention performance.
Social Referrers – These are referrals from social channels. Metrics related to this source provide insight into the amount of traffic from social media, the performance of that traffic, and the shareability of your content.
Source Performance – For most websites, the main traffic sources will be Organic and Direct, unless you are running a paid ad campaign, in which case, this could be a primary source as well. This is one of my favorite reports. Exploring sources gives insight into where your traffic is coming from, what campaigns perform the best if other websites are linking to your site, and which sources drive the most conversions.
Page Performance – Exploring page performance exposes the most popular content. When looking at this report, you can also determine which pages drive or assist conversions. You can also find out which pages don’t assist conversions and may need to be optimized.
Pages/Visit – Content marketers want visitors to spend time on their website. In most cases, the more pages visited, the more interested your visitors are. Monitoring this metric provides insight into the patterns of your visitors.
Average Time on Site and/or Time on Page – It is important to measure this metric to address content performance. It indicates how long visitors spend reading/watching/listening to the content you create. Similar to pages/visit, this metric provides insight into your visitors’ level of engagement. If your content is relevant, compelling, interesting, and/or helpful, your engagement will likely be high.
# of Conversions – A conversion can represent a number of different actions such as a report download, sharing of an infographic, a purchase made, a signup or subscribe opt-in, the completion of an inquiry form, etc. The point is, you have defined goals for these things, e.g., “We want 500 report downloads” and can measure them by monitoring the conversion metric.
Conversion Rate – This is the number of conversions per unique visitors. It is best used to understand the rate of conversion on specific pages or from certain sources. Compare conversion rates for different topics, sources, keywords, and campaigns to determine the highest performers.
Cost Per Conversion – If your conversion involves a transaction or a cost can be associated with a conversion, this is a powerful metric used to monitor the most cost effective campaigns.
By monitoring these high-level performance metrics on a daily basis, you can keep on eye on performance, track the behaviors of visitors, and quickly address issues or boost activity on well-performing campaigns.
While this report is helpful, there is more analysis that should be performed to take meaningful action and improve performance. Over the next month, I will dig into each of the Six Areas of Performance to provide goal-setting guidance. I also plan to discuss the KPIs to monitor in each of the areas and provide examples of ways to use the results and maximize your content marketing efforts.
In the meantime, if you are looking for a basic understanding of web analytics metrics, I highly recommend reading Avinash Kaushik’s Web Analytics 101 post.