The key Content Performance metric you’re probably ignoring
Fast-forward to the day after publishing a very popular piece of content.
Your client or manager comes in and, instead of a pat on the back, you get a question like: “Is this really impacting our bottom line?”.
Honestly, that’s one of the hardest questions any content marketer has to answer. Especially if the metrics they’re focusing on are visits, shares or even earned inbound links and mentions. That’s because that answer is a lot like reporting on rankings and organic traffic. These are surface-level SEO metrics: they’re important, but they don’t show any clear value or don’t give enough clues on whether or not the undertaken activities are actually generating more revenue.
Further on, I will go through the metrics I’m using right now, to explain the value of content marketing and why I chose them. One in particular explains the long-term value of our content marketing campaigns.
The first and most important question is “who do we want to change?”
The number of visits an article attracts is less important in comparison to the quality of that traffic.
A very wise man once said that
marketing is about change — changing people’s actions, perceptions or the conversation. Successful change is almost always specific, rather than general. You don’t have a chance to make mass change, but you can make focused change.
That’s why it’s so important to define your marketing persona and spend a fair amount of time on finding the right topic, that would answer to their very specific issues. At this stage, the easiest mistake to do is to choose a topic that’s too broad. It’s going to attract a lot of visitors, but the question you have to ask yourself is: “is that qualified traffic”?
Don’t forget that people in the awareness stage are also in “reading mode”
Have you ever wondered why people delete all of their promotional emails? Think about it: are you sure ALL of your “unwanted” emails are from malicious companies and they bring you absolutely no value? You don’t know, because you never check.
And that’s alright, because you’re in “email reading mode”. You open your inbox and you’re looking for long-awaited replies, feedbacks, new project announcements, etc. You’re not in the mood to discover new things.
That’s exactly what happens to people coming for the first time to your website to read your new and exciting blog post. Even if they’re the right audience for your product or service, they are not there looking for a better product or service. They’re there to read. So what do they do after they finish reading the article? They close the window and ignore the rest of the website. And that’s ok, because they’re in “reading mode”. Once you understand this, you’re close to finding a solution to stop them for another second.
Do what Google does: anticipate and deliver
Content Marketing is about the top of the funnel. Valuable content also needs to be accessible when people are closer to buying the product. But let’s face it: when talking about measuring content performance, we’re usually referring to that awareness-stage type of content, those educational, industry pieces that have nothing to do with your product or service.
These articles have a booming start, they attract a lot of visitors at first and then slowly lose traffic, until they settle at a steady level. In other words, you have a day or two to gather as many leads as possible and hope for a few more for the following days. Something like this:
The smartest thing you can do at this stage is to anticipate their next question (or what else they’d like to read) and serve it. Google does this brilliantly:
I found another great example on Outbrain’s blog. At the end of a very insightful article, there was a well-placed invitation to download an ebook. It doesn’t even matter if it’s on another website. Ultimately, it all depends on your goals.
I’ve been recently experimenting with a product called Marketizator. It helps you set different types of pop-ups, so you can deliver more information to users, when they’re ready to leave your website or when they’ve scrolled down to the bottom of the page.
As you can see, most relevant metrics simply show the immediate value. But that is not enough for proving the content’s long-term value and its impact in the bottom line.
The key to measuring long-term results is to look at Search Visibility changes
According to a study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, 58% of B2B marketers found content optimization a priority in 2015. Most probably, it’s still at the top of the list for a lot of marketers, meaning that search is one of the top sources of traffic.
The problem here is that it is really difficult to pinpoint whether a particular PR or outreach activity impacted the website’s visibility. It’s relatively easy to tell if the website is increasing or decreasing at an overall level, but content marketers need to be more specific than that.
That’s why (and how) our CEO came up with the idea for developing the Content Performance dashboard.
This finally allowed us to recognize and report the SEO value of inbound links. This is where we correlate all of the relevant content performance indicators with the SEO metrics they influence:
- the authority of the source
- social shares
- referral visits
- conversions and transactions
- impact in search visibility
SEOmonitor automatically detects all inbound links and the landing pages they point to. For each landing page, it sums up the total search volume of the keywords triggering it in search results. Next to the search volume, you’ll get the visibility score of the landing page. It calculates this latter global metric, based on the ranks and search volumes of the keywords relevant to each landing page. If all keywords rank in top 3, the visibility score is about 100%. If they rank somewhere past the second page, then the visibility score is 0%.
This is how you get more clues on how search engines respond to different inbound links, so you can keep building in the right direction. Not to mention, you will have a more data-driven approach when reporting to your team or clients.
Growing an audience is hard work enough. Reporting on it should not slow you down, but rather help you learn and make smart decisions. So stay away from vanity-metrics and focus more on the ones that help you achieve your goals.
Sign up now for SEOmonitor and get an extended 30-days free trial, to see how your Content Marketing campaigns are impacting your website’s visibility. We’re developing our tool at a very fast pace, so get in touch with us anytime, for feedback or if you’re looking for some customized product training.