Marketing

12 Tips for Creating a Content Marketing Dashboard in Google Analytics

Keeping track of metircs and goals in spreadsheets is exhausting. Here’s how to create a meaningful content marketing dashboard using only Google Analytics.

Jessica Malnik Jessica Malnik on March 10, 2020 (last modified on March 19, 2020) • 13 minute read

How do you monitor the progress that you are making with your content marketing efforts? 

In a previous post, we shared the top 15 goals that content marketers are tracking. 

If you are simply using spreadsheets to track all of those in addition to the metrics that track to them, well, that’s a lot to keep track of. 

A content marketing dashboard can be an effective way to organize all of your metrics in one place. Once set up, you and any stakeholders can see where you stand in a matter of minutes. 

In this post, we asked 29 content marketers to share their top tips for creating content marketing dashboards in Google Analytics, including: 

  1. Define your content marketing goals first
  2. Incorporate stakeholder requirements
  3. Ask questions before you start building your dashboard
  4. Keep it simple
  5. Save time by starting with a template
  6. Choose the right metrics
  7. Create custom segments
  8. Create filters
  9. Set up tags
  10. Compare engagement metrics
  11. Add key traffic metrics
  12. Use widgets to pull in additional information

1. Define your content marketing goals first 

“First, determine what your end goal is with content marketing and get crystal clear about it,” says Toni JV of JVT Media. “Then, put all your most important data related to your content marketing goals in your dashboard, and preferably with timelines so you can see the improvement from last month to the current month and track progress.” 

Yaniv Goldenberg of cnvrg says, “Content marketing serves many different needs along the customer journey, and there are endless ways we can measure its impact. Choosing the right KPIs is usually where most companies fail since they don’t know what to measure or how. I believe the most important KPI for most B2B marketers should be measured down the road, the number of SQL that was influenced by content.”

Alex Membrillo of Cardinal SEO Company adds, “When you’re developing a content marketing dashboard, it’s important to first determine Key Metrics, you should be tracking based on the goals of your content. For example, is your content designed to generate leads, reduce customer support questions, drive attendance to events, or increase site traffic?

In order to measure return on investment, you need to know how well your content is performing based on what it’s designed to do. This way, you won’t get lost in a sea of useless metrics.”

2. Incorporate stakeholder requirements

”Gather requirements from all stakeholders using the dashboard and then build each graph in order of business importance,” says William Chin-Fook of Bumblebeelinens.com. “What I mean by this is, you want to create a tool that will essentially provide business intelligence to multiple users and stakeholders. One of the main reasons they want this dashboard is to save time and not have to add filters, segments, or create their own views. Therefore, the graphs should be short, simple, and provide business value.

From my experience (especially working with editors), an audience demographic graph mixed in with best-performing pages by traffic (Behavior > Site Content > Overview), is one of the most important dashboards for writers.”

3. Ask questions before you start building your dashboard 

“An effective content marketing dashboard should always answer key questions that can help you in the optimization of your digital marketing campaign,” says Joe Bailey of My Trading Skills. “These questions include the likes of: 

  • What content is bringing in the most traffic?
  • Which keywords should I focus on?
  • How can we improve our CTR?
  • How can we improve our search ranking?
  • Which pieces improve conversions

Hence, the tip here is to customize your dashboard using content marketing metrics that answer the questions integral to your marketing campaign.” 

Arvind Patil of SRV Media says, “You need to think about what would be the answers I need from the dashboard. The dashboard should give you all the answers from entering to exiting your site that includes bounce rate, average spend time, average pages per visit, pages people exit your site from most, pages visitors enter your site from most, etc.” 

Megan Upperman of Augurian adds, “Start with the questions that need to be answered before you decide which metrics to track. We created a list of about 20 questions to measure the success of any content. So, each time we create a report for a specific content marketing program, we select all of the questions that are relevant to that program, put them in an order that would fit naturally into a conversation, and then figure out which metrics best address them. Often, a good question needs several metrics to answer it.” 

For example, William Taylor of MintResume says, “which content generates the most traffic can be easily shown by tracking page views. Use a bar to show this and even include a second metric, CTR, to measure conversion side by side.” 

4. Keep it simple

“Dashboards are a simple way to get a quick overview of key performance metrics,” says Gabe Solberg of EasyAutoTagging. “For this reason, I would keep the dashboard simple and focused on 1 – 2 key performance metrics that have been established as driving the highest value. For example, I would determine this via setting up tangible goals such as the number of pages viewed, scroll depth, engaged users, next page path, or lead captures. (key metrics can be identified and refined via funnels) I will use custom dashboards to get quick daily insights (also scheduled and emailed), so I can see ongoing progress without surprises.”

Stefan Schwarzer of Roche Diagnostics says, “Less is more. Your content marketing dashboard should show your North Star as well as all its supporting KPIs. We often tend to look at too many data points when it comes to reporting on our content marketing strategy. Don’t confuse your reporting dashboard with the place where you review and optimize your activities.” 

Michael Larson of nuphorIQ adds, “We keep content marketing dashboards simple. One KPI for organic traffic (landing page sessions) and one KPI for engagement (time on page). We may also use a custom dimension in Google Analytics for word count to gain perspective on time on page i.e. a 900-word piece will have less time on page than a 1500 word piece.

We automate marketing dashboards as much as possible and have one person responsible for managing all dashboards. Our dashboard manager gains deep insight by comparing dashboards across websites and clients, and can then report back to creators.”

In fact, nearly 60% of the marketers we surveyed said that an analytics or marketing manager was responsible for updating the content marketing dashboard. 

5. Save time by starting with a template 

“There are so many ways to create a content marketing dashboard,” says Celeste Huffman of Proline Range Hood. “One way is to find an already created template dashboard, that at least sets you up with most of your needs before creating custom work.” 

Editor’s Note: Get insights about your users, sessions, and referrals in this Google Analytics Website Traffic dashboard.

6. Choose the right metrics 

“My key tip for creating a content marketing dashboard is identifying the metrics your team needs to see in order to evaluate the success of their content,” says “Dinah Adams of Futurety. “I recommend prioritizing acquisition source, exit rate, and average time on page. This gives you insight not only into how users are finding your content, but also their quality of engagement.

Acquisition source gives you insight into how users are finding your content. This might be through organic search engines, internal website navigation, or referrals from social media posts.

Exit rate reveals the percentage of pageviews for a particular page that was the last in the session. In other words, it’s the number of times a piece of content was the last thing a person viewed before they navigated off the site.

Average time on page is the average amount of time (in seconds) that users spend on a single page. Content-heavy pages typically have a longer average time on page.” 

For example, Tarun Gurang of iFour Technolab Pvt. Ltd. says, “For content marketing, there are some metrics that I think are really helpful.”   

  • Bounce rates
  • Pages with the highest bounce rate,
  • Average pages per visit
  • What pages people exit your site from most,
  • What pages visitors enter your site from most 

7. Create custom segments 

“Focus not just on what content brings traffic and inspires action, but which traffic is relevant for the business,” says Stefania Borchia. “In this way, the marketing team will identify those content pieces that generate business rather than marketing results. To do this, create a custom segment in Google Analytics that includes only traffic that the business defines as relevant. What’s the point of including countries where the business doesn’t operate or individuals whose age or gender are excluded by definition?”

In addition, Avinash Chandra of BrandLoom says, “You can segment the parts of your website, e.g, for content marketing, companies are writing articles and blogs, case studies, white papers, testimonials. Now, what we can do is that we can bifurcate the content under all these heads properly and can track whether the blog is performing better, case studies, or any other section. We would get a clearer idea regarding how much traffic is being generated from each section.” 

Anthony Bostic of We Buy Houses in Augusta says, “Be sure to add the paid and organic traffic segments to your dashboard, so you can see if your money is working for you. No business owner wants to lose money.” 

8. Create filters

“Filter out bounces and prospects who land on your page and don’t hang around in order to get the real figures for your conversion data under the Acquisition Source/Media Report,” says Polly Kay of English Blinds. “This allows you to get rid of the white noise that can send you down the wrong path, chasing after prospects that aren’t really prospects, and would never be incentivized to buy – or even accept what you offer if you were giving it away.” 

9. Set up tags

“Tag everything,” says Harry Maugans of Clickagy. “Not just links or video plays, but tag scrolling down a page, tag thresholds of mouse movement, tag the time lingering over different pieces of content. Since we invest heavily in paid marketing, being able to run GA reports and build dashboard widgets around human behavior vs. bots/fraud is critical in ensuring our money isn’t being wasted. Most marketing dashboards only check the superficial metrics, but bots know to emulate those items. By getting creative and tagging everything, you’ll have more visibility into your audience and their behaviors.”

10. Compare engagement metrics

“You’ll want to track KPIs such as Engaged Visits (visitors that view X pages) and Resource Downloads (visitors converting into leads via downloadable offers),” says Eric Melillo of COFORGE. “It’s easy to set up and will show you a deeper level of engagement on your content and lead conversions.” 

Troy Nielsen of Lambda Solutions says, “Compare useful engagement metrics over time to gauge performance and improvement. Particularly useful being Bounce Rate, to determine if you are delivering on the click-expectations you’re setting for your audience, and Average Time on Page to determine that they’re actually consuming the content itself.” 

Charlie Worrall of Imaginaire Digital adds, “Make sure that you include the average time on page. Without this metric, you won’t know whether or not your audience is actually reading your content in its entirety.” 

11. Add key traffic metrics 

“My best tip for creating a customized content marketing dashboard in Analytics is to focus on SEO and organic traffic,” says Stein Jurgen of Smartphones Revealed. “Figure out which users click on specific landing pages and optimize your website and content marketing after their demographic and session/user behavior.” 

Shannon Maloney of SoapBox says, “To measure the effectiveness of content marketing efforts, you first and foremost have to look at the channels people are using to access your content. Break down all of your goals and events by acquisition channel using the default channel dimensions (even better, customize your default channel groupings!).” 

Ollie Smith of Card Accounts adds, “You should ask yourself: ‘what content generates the most traffic.’ There is no point in measuring lower quality content with lower traffic. Once you have this pinpointed, use the power of Analytics to track its success.” 

Editor’s Note: Gauge what referral sources bring you the most traffic and conversions with this Acquisition Snapshot dashboard.

12. Use widgets to pull in additional information 

Giselle Bardwell of Kiwi Creative says, “A content dashboard in Google Analytics is a great way to monitor high-level progress and effectiveness of your content marketing strategy. The great thing is that Google Analytics offers a lot of flexibility and data points via “widgets” that allow us to customize dashboards in a variety of ways. 

When creating GA dashboards for our clients, we typically start by adding typical metrics such as the number of visits, new users, session length, bounce rate, etc. for a specific set of content (e.g., blog or resource section of the website.) 

We also include a widget that allows us to see the top-performing content (e.g., top viewed pages for their blog or resources.) Lastly, we include the top referring sources that are funneling people to the content (e.g., social media.)

We also use a combination of dashboards specific to certain content marketing activities and segments specific to certain personas we hope to reach and engage with our content. This helps us truly understand how content is performing at a high level, and it also allows us to get more granular in terms of the audiences we are hoping to reach.

We suggest organizing information in dashboards using a combination of your customers’ buying journey behavior and your overall sales strategy. For example, organize content that is meant to be educational during the awareness stage of your buyer’s journey and create a dashboard for that. Or organize a general content dashboard in the form of a funnel starting with top-of-the-funnel or reach metrics (visits, views, sources, etc.) followed with middle-of-the-funnel or engagement metrics (time on page, bounce rate, etc.) and end it with deep-in-the-funnel or conversion/intent metrics (form fills, phone calls, subscriptions, etc.) Either of the above options will allow you to adequately evaluate, revise, and improve your content strategy accordingly.” 

In addition, Alex Miller of Uphail adds, “For me, a big part of content marketing is monitoring inbound links which help with our SEO efforts. Adding a widget that shows the Full Referrer will help provide visibility into who is linking to your content, assuming the links are sending traffic your way.” 

In sum, it can be tempting to dive right in and start building your content marketing dashboard. However, we recommend starting by thinking through your goals and identifying the questions you want answers too. Then, this informs what metrics you need to display in your dashboard. 

About the author
Jessica Malnik
Jessica Malnik Jessica Malnik is a content strategist and copywriter for SaaS and productized service businesses. Her writing has appeared on The Next Web, Social Media Examiner, SEMRush, CMX, Help Scout, Convince & Convert, and many other sites.
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