One of the greatest benefits of marketing in the digital age is that you have a wealth of data at your fingertips to help you make smarter marketing decisions that bring in more leads and grow your business. Unfortunately, many marketers aren’t using this valuable data to improve their campaigns.

A survey on content marketing trends in North America found that only about 30% of content marketers find their current marketing efforts to be effective. Clearly, there’s a lot of room for improvement. With all the evidence showing how effective content marketing can be, what are these marketers doing wrong? Where’s the disconnect between the results you should be seeing and those you actually are?

The answer is simple: data.

To achieve your business marketing goals, it’s essential that you monitor content marketing metrics and make changes based on your findings. Data can be daunting with the number of metrics available, but it’s not impossible. Let’s chat about the top content marketing metrics you should monitor and how to make content decisions based on them.

1. Time Spent on Page

One of the best ways to determine if your visitors are spending time actually reading your content is to look at their browsing time. Rather than analyzing their total average site time, consider how much time visitors spend on individual content pages. This will give you a better idea of which content pieces or topics are most effective.

For example, if you estimate that the average read time for the majority of your content is three to five minutes, but visitors aren’t spending that much time on each page, you should revisit these individual pages to discover problem areas.

You may find that visitors spend more time with specific content pieces. If this is the case, revisit this content to figure out why it’s so effective and how you can replicate its success. You should also take a look at poor-performing content and look for areas that need to be improved.

Go beyond just examining the topics – consider titles, calls-to-action, visual content, and backing research or links. If you see a trend across all of your content that shows readers aren’t engaging as long as they should be, this could be a sign that the tone or style of your content doesn’t resonate well with your target audience.

When evaluating the tone and style of your content, you’ll need to be a bit harsh with yourself. This means that, sometimes, you’re going to have to kill your darlings. Take a step back and consider whether or not you’re producing content that appeals to your demographic. For instance, just because witty listicles work for Buzzfeed, that doesn't mean you should use them to promote an accounting firm.

Start by evaluating content that performed well. Does your audience respond best to short videos? Long-form blog content? Images? Use your findings to plan your future content. Furthermore, if you can’t repurpose your low-performing content, get rid of it. Hanging onto fruitless content does nothing for you — in fact, it can actually harm your search value.

2. Percentage of Returning Visitors

The purpose of marketing content is to provide value to readers and establish and nurture customer relationships. If you achieve this purpose, people will return to your site. That’s why it’s helpful to monitor what percentage of your visitors are return visitors. The more value that your content provides, the more likely it is that they’ll return. If you notice a drop in return visitors, you should review your content to find out why they aren’t coming back.

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If your content isn’t engaging, visitors will be less likely to return to your website. There are a number of factors that can contribute to this. One common issue is that the content doesn’t provide anything unique or interesting to the reader. Another problem could be that the types of content or topics just don’t resonate with your target audience.

To address this, you need to first make sure that you understand the wants and needs of your target audience. One way to do this is to create buyer personas from the real audience data you collect.

Examine the specific industries, locations, and interests of your followers. Take a look at the other brands and content they enjoy. Keep in mind that bigger audiences aren’t always better — if your spectrum is too wide, you’ll end up wasting time and resources on people who aren’t interested in your services. Reevaluate your target audience and make sure you’ve narrowed it down to fit only those who match your buyer personas.

3. Lead Generation

The majority of the content you produce is meant for people who are interacting with your brand for the first time. It’s designed to capture the attention of your target audience and drive them further down the sales funnel to more in-depth content. To improve your content marketing strategy, you need to monitor how effectively traffic converts into leads, and leads into customers.

Not all content will perform the same. Find out what’s performing well, and review it to see what works best. You can use your findings to produce more successful content in the future. If an article has very high conversion rates, find a way to repurpose it. As for content that doesn’t perform well, find ways to optimize it and improve conversion rates.

Here are a few tips for content that converts and nurtures leads:

Use emotion and instill urgency.

You want to make sure that your content sounds appealing. This is especially important when it comes to crafting titles. Instead of just writing a generic title like Marketing Tips for Facebook, use language that will inspire people to click your post. Try using emotive and magnetic words. Including numbers can also help because it conveys that your content is quick and easily digestible.

For example, let’s change that last title to 7 Can’t Miss Tips for Revolutionizing Your Facebook Posts. With this kind of title, people will be afraid not to click on your article for fear that they’ll miss out on some awesome information.

Be genuine.

People respond well to brands they can trust. If you only produce content that comes across as a blatant sales pitch, people will see through you. Make sure to provide something of value to your audience. That doesn’t mean it won’t still sell your product or service in the end.

For example, say you sell workout clothes. If you primarily write blog posts that brag about how great your yoga pants are, you’ll lack credibility, and people will be unlikely to convert. A better tactic would be to provide articles on related topics that your audience will find interesting, such as Top 10 Exercises For Killer Calves. Since it’s less biased, this sort of article is much more likely to be shared and bring new visitors and leads to your site.

Keep them interested.

Even after you’ve converted a visitor into a customer (yay!), you should take steps to make sure they come back. Develop a workflow to ensure that your brand stays top of mind.

Send new blog posts and e-books you’ve published to visitors who have opted-in, use remarketing ads to bring visitors back to your site for a related piece of content, try offering unique content just for those who subscribe to your newsletter.

4. Social Media Metrics

Promoting content is an important part of your content marketing strategy, and social media is one of the best ways to do it. By looking at certain social media metrics, you can gauge which topics are most interesting to your readers.

Here are some of the best social media metrics that can help you make more data-driven content marketing decisions:

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Not only do these social media metrics give you insight into which types of content your audience responds to, they can also help you better understand which social media platforms are best for sharing different types of content and which platforms you should be focusing your time on.

Get Measuring

Now that you know which metrics to pay attention to, you can review your data to see which areas of your content marketing have the potential for improvement. Reviewing metrics and adjusting your strategy is an ongoing process to continuously improve your content marketing, meet your goals, and grow your business.

Remember, it’s not enough to just look at the metrics and find out what works. You need to use this information to make data-backed decisions about your strategy.

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