Content marketing

7 Ways to Know if Your Content Marketing is Actually Working

I’ve talked a lot about content marketing and how to do it effectively. How do you actually know if all the time and money that you’re investing in content is actually paying off? The obvious measure that most people use is traffic: website visits, sessions and pageviews.

However, traffic on its own really doesn’t tell you the whole story. Driving traffic to your website may make the graph move up and to the right, but unless it’s targeted, relevant and engaged traffic, it ultimately won’t help you grow your business.

To get an idea of whether or not your content marketing is working (and how well) you’ll want to key in on specific indicators that show the effectiveness of that content in accomplishing your specific goals for the business.

Today, we’re going to look at seven metrics that will tell you if your content marketing is actually generating the results you want and expect from your content marketing.

Metric #1: Traffic from social

One of the most obvious reasons to invest in content marketing is to provide a way to engage and grow your audience. This often happens by gaining followers and fans on social media.

So, it follows that from those efforts you would expect the amount of traffic you’re able to drive from social media to increase over time.

Metric #2: Traffic from organic search

The other strategic advantage to investing in content marketing is growing the amount of traffic your website received from organic search on Google, Bing, etc.

This is hugely valuable because in most industries, you would otherwise have to buy AdWords ads in order to bring in the same targeted search traffic. This can be expensive and prohibitive for many businesses.

If you’re executing on content marketing well, your organic search traffic should be climbing, meaning you have more free, targeted traffic coming to your site every day.

Related: 5 Ways to Integrate Content Into Your Existing Marketing Strategy

Metric #3: Traffic from referrals

Related to the other two sources of traffic, you should also be watching to see how much referral traffic you can generate, or traffic from people clicking links from other websites that lead to your site.

This is key because having relevant links from other websites means that your content is reaching people who share it with their relevant readers and then send traffic back to your website.

Metric # 4: Engagement and time on site

Content is only valuable for your business if it’s valuable to your audience.

One way to measure how valuable your content is to the people who are consuming it is to check the engagement metrics like time on site, time on page or bounce rate.

If your content marketing is working to effectively attract and engage the audience that you want, then these numbers should improve over time (more time on site, lower bounce rate, etc).

Metric #5: Conversion (opt-in, etc.) from social and organic traffic

Hopefully, you’re already measuring some form of conversion like this all across your website, and looking at the top-line conversion metrics is useful. But, let’s take that a step further.

If your content is attracting people through social media and organic search, then in order to get a measure of the effectiveness of your content marketing, you should measure the volume and frequency of conversions that are directly attributed to your content marketing efforts.

Metric #6: Backlinks and referring domains

Backlinks on their own don’t mean much. But through the lens of content marketing and SEO efforts, they are a critical indicator of success.

By creating engaging content, you are able to attract more links to your website, which will both drive referral traffic and also increase your domain’s authority, which helps you bring in more organic search traffic, as well.

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Metric #7: Ad spend and customer acquisition cost (CAC)

Content marketing isn’t free, but if it done in a scalable way, it should eventually significantly reduce the cost of custom acquisition.

This is the bottom line for your content marketing efforts. Is it helping you acquire more customers at a lower cost than other channels? Then it’s working.

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