It may be unclear if social shares have a direct impact on Google search rankings, but the indirect benefits of aligning both channels are indisputable.
Content Marketing | Apr 9
Elise Dopson on March 9, 2021 (last modified on April 1, 2021) • 18 minute read
You’ve put together a content marketing reporting dashboard. But, besides top-of-funnel insights, it doesn’t tell you a whole lot.
A content marketing reporting dashboard should go beyond the number of posts you published or the number of website sessions driven.
The goal is to look at your dashboard and actually understand how well your content is performing and contributing to downstream metrics like conversions, opportunities, and sales. Those two metrics alone won’t tell you that.
So, we asked 50+ content experts to share the things they include that you might be missing. Here’s what they said:
Mashvisor‘s Daniela Andreevska says that “for your content marketing strategy to be a success, it is important not only to drive traffic to your website but to also be able to retain users on your platform for long enough to realize its true value.”
“That’s why you should continuously track the session duration to know which type of content keeps your users engaged for the longest. The longer they stay on your website, the more likely they are to come back and actually become customers.”
According to Gina Kelly of ClearEdge Marketing, “backlinks (when authentic and organically grown) speak volumes about the quality of your content, how well it resonates with the right people, its contribution to a greater body of knowledge, its ripples in the community and potential for virality.”
“Building authentic backlinks over time is greater community proof that you’re a thought leader than likes on social.”
Forward Level’s Chelsea Baldson adds: “You know you’ve hit SEO treasure when reputable brands start to talk about you and reference your ideas. No, you haven’t unlocked level 10 Supreme cult-like status, but every backlink counts (unless it’s overly spammy). Widen your audience and establish deeper credibility In your field of interest.”
“Submit to a few new sites each month, and then make a real effort to maintain contributor accounts, so that you always have a great home for a new post that won’t be appearing on your own blog. Plus, those backlinks in the author’s bios are just a cherry on top of your SEO sundae.”
“If you don’t track how many visitors leave your page without engaging with it, then you won’t know how it’s truly performing,” says Zakiyah Toor of Awesome Motive.
“It’s essential to monitor this number because it tells you whether or not your content interests your customers and solves their pain points.”
Caroline Scholten of Chocolate Films agrees: “Keeping track of your content’s bounce rate is very helpful to see what content needs to be optimized because it doesn’t work as well as others.”
“The key isn’t to get potential customers to become customers as fast as possible but to get them to explore as much of your content as possible and therefore for your bounce rate to be as low as possible.”
“A high or an increasing bounce rate is a clear sign that your content doesn’t interest your target audience and that you need to make changes to it,” Scholten adds.
*Editor’s note: Do you know the bounce rate of your content? Our Google Analytics Website Engagement dashboard template shows this alongside other important metrics–including the average time on page and number of returning visitors.
“Depending on the nature of your business, that might be sales or leads or signups that can be attributed to your content,” Kathleen Smith explains.
“Sometimes you have to get creative with your marketing automation setup to be able to create a throughput metric but it might look something like this: visit to blog post → pixel → retarget on FB → ad → sale/lead/inquiry (whatever a conversion looks like for your business!)”
“So throughput in this scenario would be a ratio of content (blog) traffic to conversion (sales/lead/inquiry).”
Smith adds: “Throughput helps keep everyone thinking about ‘true north’ which is usually revenue because it’s so easy to get caught up in brand building efforts or vanity metrics like clicks, shares, likes.”
Josue Ledesma of The Privacy Co shares: “Vanity metrics are fine (page views, length of time on page, bounce rate, etc), but ultimately, content marketing still needs to prove itself from an ROI perspective. So you should always look towards maturing your CM strategy to the point where it’s contributing to your overall business goals.”
“CTAs are usually the simplest (and shortest route) of doing that and that metric, ultimately, shows how effective your content marketing is.”
“The number one thing you want to know about the content you post is how much traffic the content is bringing to the site,” PharMed‘s Konstantinos Tsilkos writes.
“The best metric to determine this is Click-Through-Rate (CTR). The CTR not only gives you an idea of how many people saw the content and clicked on the link to your site but also tells you how many people saw the content and did not. This is a great metric to determine the effectiveness of your content.”
So, how does your organic click-through rate compare to the average? A percentage of 3-5% means you’ve on-par:
“As a marketer, I’d love to see which blog posts of mine are responsible for the most purchases and dollars spent, at a glance,” James Parsons of Content Powered says.
“This would help validate which blog topics are responsible for the most revenue, so I can focus more on topics that are not just delivering traffic, but also resulting in engagement and sales.”
Brian Casey of IMPACT Branding & Design agrees: “It’s common for content marketers to quickly be able to pull metrics such as organic traffic, keyword growth and even generated leads.”
“All of these are worthy metrics to track and measure on a consistent basis. But truly content marketing is about generating revenue. If you cannot tie back your efforts to closed-won revenue, the other metrics are nice to have but don’t hold much weight.”
“Creating a campaign for your content marketing efforts to be able to track their relationship with new revenue is a vital component of any content marketing dashboard,” Casey continues.
Joel Guthrie of Blackbaud adds: “I think as marketers we get caught up in vanity metrics, open rates, reach and follow counts but if we can’t drive more sales we aren’t doing our jobs. I know this ruffles some feathers but driving more qualified leads is crucial with our content.”
“Put the story and conversation in the prospect’s mind before they get on the phone with a sales rep. If you know what content they interacted with most recently before they purchase you will be able to see a trend in what type of content leads to more sales.”
“It’s critical to understand who your audience is and how your content is serving them,” says Speakerazzi‘s Whitney Barkley.
“Accessing customer demographic and behavioral data allows you to know who is accessing your content or what content creation opportunities you have to based on the characteristics and behaviors of your audience. The more you know about your audience, the better you can serve them with content that meets them where they are in their journey.”
Barkley continues: “How your audience responds to your content can let you know if you need to change up your content marketing strategy or stay on the path you are currently taking to meet your content and business goals.”
Brendan Hufford of SEO for the Rest of Us summarizes the importance of content conversion rate: “Too often, content marketing is focused on vanity metrics like pageviews, or worse, keywords. The number one goal of content marketing HAS to be business results, hence conversions as the core metric.”
“According to a few experts, this metric has the power to suggest Google if the page ranking in the SERPs is relevant to the searched query. By having a higher dwell time, you can convince Google that your page is relevant to the query.”
Khan adds: “Dwell time can be tracked by using Google Analytics and a few triggers from Google Tag Manager.”
According to Mailbird‘s Andrea Loubier, “if you’re trying to set yourself up as an expert in your field, then it’s important to not only be sure that your content is seen but that your site visitors are actively engaging. See if you’re getting comments on your post, or if it’s being shared.”
“Do the same with the post when you include it on your social media platforms. For better engagement, you’ll want to start the conversation by asking a question in your post.”
Michael Hall of MediumFour adds: “It’s not just if they watch the content, but how do they engage. Was it shared, liked, commented, how long did they watch? A lot of things have views from the base of disgust, things people don’t like are shared as much as things people like, oddly enough the days of FOMO. (Fear of Missing Out).
“I just think that research on engagement shows you what kind of content to keep creating, just because something is viral doesn’t mean its beneficial to your brand.”
Following on from that, Toni JV of JVT Media thinks you “know where your traffic and engagement comes from, meaning which platforms and which posts got the most engagement and traffic helps you understand what your target audience wants and cares about, so you can then double down on that and give your audience what adds the most value to them as opposed to just shooting from the hip.”
“There needs to be a measurable outcome to your content be it engagement, time on page, shares, lead magnet and newsletter sign-ups, and so on,” says Alistair Dodds of Ever Increasing Circles.
“Having a KPI goal set helps you to measure how effective your content is. This then feeds back into your content marketing strategy and plan and helps you to find optimization opportunities for the future.”
Dodds explains: “For example, you may note that one piece of content is getting far higher engagement and leading to more sign-ups than other comparable pieces. This, in turn, helps to inform your decision-making as to follow up and expansive pieces on the same topic.”
Editor’s note: Would you like to view your most important metrics at-a-glance, anywhere you go? Track your current performance with the Databox mobile app and access any dashboard you’ve built from your mobile device too!
“Set up your dashboard to track keyword position changes for your target keywords. You should also be able to see which keywords you’ve already optimized for, and which ones you still need to create content for.”
WILD‘s Romain Chiaramonte agrees: “Because content marketing is about increasing organic traffic. So you need to rank on as many (relevant) keywords as possible. In the end, you’ll see your conversion rate and your average session duration increase. It’s like a funnel actually!”
Summarizing, CloudApp‘s Maile Waite says: “Organic search visibility can vary day to day, but tracking keyword ranking trends over a certain period of time is a great way to make sure your content strategy is on the right path.”
“What is perhaps the most important metric is the lead scores,” says Samantha Russell of Twenty Over Ten.
“These scores help businesses better understand what types of content are resonating best with their audiences so that they can continue to nurture those leads with the content they crave.”
Again, you can compare this to the average lead score of 41-60:
“When utilizing content marketing, one of the main things at the top of your list may be to build links,” says Beekeeper‘s Alexandra Zamolo. “Therefore, it’s vital to ensure that your links are being used appropriately, sparingly and that they’re actually making the cut when it comes to publication.”
“If you’re including links in guest posts, always check the contributor guidelines, and only use links that will add to the authority of the content.”
Zamolo continues: “In other words, if you’re writing about fishing, don’t link to a product sales page for SEO, but link to an article that talks about relaxation, with fishing one of the points on the list.”
“The most important metric for every content marketing reporting dashboard is organic landing page sessions,” says Pelicoin‘s Sam Olmsted.
“Inside your Google Analytics, filter your data to see all of the landing pages that visitors got to from organic search. By examining this data, you can see whether or not the content you created actually attracted visitors.”
Olmsted adds: “In that same chart on Google Analytics, you’ll be able to compare your landing pages to see which ones achieved more goal competitions, thus garnering you more views, dollars, or whatever else you previously set up to see.”
It’s a metric also added to Kiwi Creative‘s content marketing dashboard, according to Erin Barr: “Knowing what page your users first land on when accessing your website is integral. Not only does it provide information on what pages are drawing users but it also helps to form your user funnel, meaning what page(s) your users start and end on.”
“We track the number of sessions per landing page to see the growth of specific pages in terms of traffic and how we can continue to optimize and promote those pages, along with adding more conversion opportunities to provide users with all the assets they need to reach out to us.”
James Green of Build a Head thinks that “looking at page 2 search impressions provides a clear understanding of your next round of content opportunities that can create a near-immediate impact on your business.”
*Editor’s note: Keep track of how your search impressions change over time with our Google Search Console Basics dashboard. It pulls data from your own account and makes those important metrics easier to understand:
“ROI is one of the most important metrics to follow because it gives you the whole picture,” writes Melanie Musson of QuickQuote.com.
“It’s important to track more specific metrics to see exactly what is effective in your content marketing, but the ROI metric shows the whole picture and how all the details work together.”
(There’s a reason why 72% of successful companies measure their content marketing ROI.)
“If you are a content marketer then the hope is that you offer valuable content to your audiences to establish relationships, one in which they would return for more value, perhaps to buy a service or product,” says Melissa Hughes of Foundation Marketing.
“Having return visitors on your dashboard is a great start to this but this one metric should be the starting point to understand what people do when they return over and over again to the site, can you get create meaning pathways to other content on the site?”
“Similarly, what are people doing during the one visit they have (when they don’t return) where do the exit? Is there a gap in your UX you can fix easily?”
Meg Coffey says the team at SMPerth “want to know what people are reading beyond the click. We want to know if we are getting them to finish the articles or if they are simply glossing over.”
“We want them to get to the end – to consume the full piece, not just the headlines. Too much of today’s consumption is the headlines.”
“Anyone who creates content knows that it’s worth investing in, but you need to prove that to the entire rest of the team,” says Rachel Andrea Go. “Being able to say “this blog post led directly to X signups based on last-touch attribution” will help you get everyone on board.”
“This includes the board/c-suite who approve content marketing budgets, to the sales & customer teams who you’ll need to nurture content feedback loops with if you want to be successful.”
“What do I mean by that? Content marketers shouldn’t just rely on SEO to figure out what they should be writing about. You should be in touch with the team members who interface with your customers (and potential customers) every day. These are the teams with a front-row seat to your customers’ pain points, concerns, questions, big wins, success stories, etc.
“But, like you, sales and customer teams are very busy. In order to open a conversation and prove their time is worth investing in suggesting content ideas to your team, you need that proof that will show how content can help the bottom line and move the needle — for all of you.”
Go continues: “Being able to attribute first and last touch, and everything in between, also gives you a birds-eye view of which pieces are doing the best for business value (which is related to but not the same as content that performs well in terms of SEO). Everything content marketing does needs to drive business value – and that metric is how you prove it.”
Pupfection‘s Alex Goldberg thinks you should include “time on page by content piece. How many minutes do visitors spend, on average, reading/interacting with each piece of content?”
“This metric is important because it helps you understand which pieces of content are engaging your audience. The best way to know what new content to create is to know which topics are already working!”
“They don’t call newspapers the daily miracle for nothing,” says Ruth Callaghan of Cannings Purple.
“The time between deciding on a story, finding the sources, writing it up, getting it edited, choosing the images, setting the design, printing, distributing a digital copy to inboxes, posting online in Facebook and sending a hardcopy across states — all this takes place in under 24 hours.”
“When you switch that thinking to content hubs, though, you see how the ideation-creation-editing-publishing cycle can lag. The longer it takes, the more the cost. Having a total time to completion metric keeps your content team on track and focused.”
We’ve listed a ton of metrics your content marketing reporting dashboard can include.
However, says MyRoofingPal‘s Courtney Keene thinks: “To answer this question, content managers need to look at what’s most important to their clients. Or rather: What’s the overall goal of content marketing for this client or business?”
It might be worth taking a look at who has access to your content marketing reporting dashboard for this. The most common are marketing teams, VPs or managers:
Keene continues: “If it’s to attract leads, then you’ll want to track how many people took action (signed up for a list, for example) after interacting with a piece of content. Maybe your client’s goal is to improve the site’s ranking in Google by covering the best possible keywords for their niche.”
“In that case, you’ll want to track the keywords that are bringing people to the content, and similar keywords that could form the basis of new content marketing measures.”
“In our case, we’re mostly concerned with leads. The metric most useful for us is: Which content converts the best? Specifically, which content leads to the most email signups? We’re able to use our dashboard to see the number of pageviews per post as well as the subscriptions that resulted.”
“The dashboard then calculates a conversion rate, so it’s very easy for us to see which content is converting, a metric we can use to inform the creation of future content,” Keene summarizes.
As you can see, a comprehensive content marketing reporting dashboard goes beyond standard metrics like organic traffic. Include these 20+ metrics in yours to get a full picture of how your content is performing.
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