Every nine to 24 months, the volume of content on the Internet doubles. This means the 7 billion pairs of eyeballs on our planet have more and more content competing for their attention. However, just because a big company papers the Web with content doesn’t mean that its content marketing strategy is working. Likewise, for small businesses, the message in a bottle tactic — floating some content on the Internet ocean and hoping that someone finds it — isn’t going to work, either.
The key to having a smart content strategy is to measure whether your efforts are effective. These valuable performance metrics will tell you a lot about whether you have a content marketing strategy that converts customers. Don’t be discouraged if your efforts aren’t working right now. Instead, let the lessons that you learn from this data transform the way you create and share your content.
Measure the time that people spend on your page before clicking away. Sometimes, people click away because you put a link to a better piece of content at the top of your piece, and the link steals your reader. At other times, other elements, including design, headline, or image, cause your reader to make a negative judgment about your website and quickly leave.
Image Source: Pixabay
Engaged time goes deeper than just seeing how long people stay on your page. When you measure engaged time, you see factors like whether your content is viewed in an active browser tab, whether readers are scrolling and clicking on the information, and whether they are clicking around to find other pieces of your content. According to Chartbeat, visitors that read an article for three minutes are twice as likely to return to your site as people who read an article for one minute.
Average Finish Rate
How many of the people who start reading your content actually finish the piece, particularly the users that you want to engage? If the percentage is low, research suggests that you should take a look at what readers are seeing during the first 10 seconds that they visit your page. You can improve the first 10 seconds by:
- Making the content easier to scan. Thick blocks of test can be murder on your average finish. Break your content into short paragraphs, with subheadings, and offer bulleted lists.
- Trying different fonts and page structures. You’ll be amazed at the difference that changing a font or moving a widget can make.
- Being smart about ads. If your reader clicks your link on Google and navigates to a slow-loading page full of ads, they’re not going to stick with what you’ve written.
You already know that average finish rate drives returning readership. Returning readership matters because it increases the chance that your reader will respond by downloading your e-book, signing up for your email newsletter, or purchasing your product. If you have a good percentage of returning readers and a low number of days since their last visit, then you’re building brand awareness and a potential sales pipeline.
According to bit.ly, the average half-life of a shared social media link is three hours. Content stolen from news headlines can give you a quick uptick in new page views, but evergreen content — the kind that has long-term value — will demonstrate a steady, or even increasing, number of page views.
Once your content lives on the Web, you need to amplify it. Reach measures how many people share your content on social media, whether your words are getting re-blogged, or how many organic inbound links you generate. In addition to looking at the number of people that you reach, make sure that you’re reaching your target audience.
Knowing how readers are referred to your content will help you to learn where your audience hangs out. See whether they’re referred from search engines or from specific social networks, and then promote your content where you audience lives.
Putting It Together
You can dig into a lot of these metrics by using Google Analytics. However, if creating content and tracking it feels like too much work, go ahead and outsource to a digital marketing company. The ROI — in terms of both time and revenue — could be the catalyst that takes your company to the next level.