Have you ever bought something from a stranger? Probably not very often. Most people want to buy from someone they know, like and trust. And that is where your content marketing plan comes in.

Most Australian businesses engaged in marketing do not have a formal content marketing plan so don’t worry if you don’t have one (yet!). Do you have a business website? Post on social media? Email your client list? Although you might not have a formal plan, you are marketing your business content online. So what is working? What isn’t working? How do you know?

Measuring the value of investing in content marketing is one of the most significant marketing challenges among business owners. In this article, I list some tools you can use to measure the benefits of your content marketing.

Benefits of content marketing

Before I get into the tools, let’s first talk about the benefits of content marketing.

Most businesses use content marketing in most, if not all, parts of the sales journey. At any given time, some people will be just discovering your business. Other people will be engaging with your business but haven’t made a purchase. And then you have your customers and returning customers.

What moves a customer from becoming aware of your business to considering to buy your product/service to converting into a customer? Targeted and valuable content marketing.

If you have a limited marketing budget, you no doubt want to allocate your marketing resources (both time and money) in the most effective way for your business. And many tools are available to help you make this decision.

Which content marketing tool should you use?

Before deciding which tool to use, first ask yourself why you created the piece of content. What was the purpose of that Facebook post? Why did you send your contact list a newsletter? Think about the intended audience for that piece of content. What part of the sales journey are they in? This will help you choose the best tool to measure the effectiveness of that specific piece of content.   

The following are some metrics you can use. You don’t need to use them all. Start by choosing one or two tools and track the effectiveness of your content marketing against your desired goal.

Useful tools to measure awareness raising content

For awareness raising content, focus on measuring your web traffic; your website search ranking; and social engagement.

Useful awareness raising metrics include:

  • Number of website visitors, particularly first-time visitors
  • Search engine ranking for the keywords used in your piece of content
  • Most popular landing pages
  • Source of website traffic
  • Dark social analytics

You can obtain these figures with a website analytics tool such as Google Analytics. Get a snapshot and measure change over time. Has the timing of your content had any impact on the numbers?

Google Analytics can also be used to measure your search engine optimisation efforts. Use it to measure the keywords driving the most traffic to your website. Are the keywords used in your content having a measurable impact on your traffic?

Another way to measure if your content has helped increase awareness is by measuring social media engagement with tools like Buzzsumo. This is a quick way to measure the number of shares for each piece of content. More shares is an indicator that people find your content valuable and this expands the reach of your content.

However, sharing content via private sharing (or “dark social” channels) is more common than sharing via social media. So don’t be too concerned about low social media engagement figures. You can measure your content shared privately using Google Analytics or with a dark social analytics tool.

Useful tools to measure consideration-related content

For content intended to support consideration, focus on measuring how people are engaging with your website content.  

Useful consideration metrics include:

  • Number of webpage views
  • Average time spent on a webpage
  • Bounce rates
  • Content downloads
  • Newsletter sign ups

These numbers can be obtained using a website analytics tool such as Google Analytics.

Remember to put the time spent on a webpage in context. Is the piece of content long or short? It is a good sign if someone spends a while on your webpage reading a longer piece of content. But not such a good sign for a shorter piece. Too much time reading a short piece of content could indicate the piece needs to be made more readable.

Useful tools to measure conversion content 

For content intended to convert a visitor into a customer, you can use Google Analytics to measure sales figures once eCommerce tracking is setup.

Useful metrics include:

  • Page Value
  • Number and value of sales
  • Time to purchase
  • Assisted conversions

This will show you the web pages people most often visit before making a purchase. Is your content converting into sales?

Conversion tracking using social media such as Facebook and Twitter can also be used to measure the effectiveness of content on sales.

There are plenty of tools to measure your investment in content marketing. And many of them are free. The right metric for you will depend on your content objectives. Always have the purpose of your content in mind. Choose one or two metrics that can evaluate the content objective and you will be able to make more informed decisions about your content management strategy.

Do you use any other metrics to measure the value of your content? Please share your experience in the comments.