16 Content Marketing Metrics & Analytics to Track
Content marketing analytics can be a formidable tool in your brand-building arsenal. As content marketing takes its place among other data-dependent and metrics-driven disciplines, it’s more important than ever to understand how to capture, track, and leverage key performance indicators (KPIs)—both quantitative and qualitative—that can make or break the success of your brand.
- What is content marketing?
- Common analytic questions
- Common content analytic tools
- The 16 content marketing KPIs that should be tracked
- Quantitative content marketing analytics & KPI
- Qualitative content metrics
- Conclusion and next steps
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is all about creating and distributing useful and/or entertaining information to spark people’s interest in a product or service. Two key components of a sound content marketing strategy are its value to the recipient and its shareability.
The term “content marketing” can be applied to any medium: written, video, or audio. As long as your content helps attract and retain your target market—and, ultimately, drives the customer to do something, like buy your product or retain your services—it can be considered content marketing.
Common analytic questions
All useful content marketing analytics begin with some basic questions around site traffic and user behavior. To gauge the effectiveness of your content in steering users to convert, you should ask (and answer) both basic and advanced questions.
Basic content questions:
Regardless of the size of your enterprise, the number of pages on your site, or how you plan to approach content marketing metrics, here are some metrics to be aware of:
- How many visitors does my site receive?
- What is the best source of traffic to my site?
- What pages are users visiting?
- What are users doing on the page?
- How long are users spending on the page?
- How many users are converting?
- What are our goals for achieving content marketing ROI?
Advanced content questions
Once you wrap your analysis around the basics, you can prepare to take a deeper dive into what makes your site—and your users—tick.
- What content types are converting users the best?
- How many content touch points are required before the user converts?
- How does paid traffic differ from organic traffic, social traffic, and direct traffic?
- How do we continue to optimize our content through A/B testing?
- What is the value of this content?
- What content-related trends should we be aware of?
- Are we missing content marketing opportunities and, if so, what are they?
Common content analytic tools
Gathering and sorting information is crucial to developing meaningful content marketing metrics. You need a way to track traffic accurately and monitor user behavior. Fortunately, there are various content analytic tools on the market to help you define, collect, decipher, report, and act on relevant content marketing metrics.
Google Analytics is the premier analytics tool marketers use to track page and site performance. Once Google Analytics is added to your website, each page receives a code that puts a cookie in the browser of every visitor to the site. Each time a visitor accesses the page, Google Analytics captures information about the interaction and populates a report.
With Google Analytics, you can easily determine:
- How many page views you receive
- Which pages—including landing pages—receive hits
- What browser visitors are using
- What type of device visitors use to reach your site
- What specific activities a user engages in on any specific page (e.g., Did they fill out a form? Follow a link?)
- What purchasing behavior users engage in (e.g., What products did they buy? How much money did they spend? How many shopping carts are abandoned?)
Google Tag Manager
With GTM, you can easily create tags and embed them on your site. GTM makes it simple to drill down your analytics to retrieve useful metrics about user behavior.
Examples of the kind of user behavior you can track with GTM include:
- Discerning the number of visitors who accessed a particular page, the type of content they accessed, and whether they interacted with all or just part of the page
- Determining whether a user clicked on or hovered on any particular HTML elements, such as buttons or division tags connected to, for example, an image or a certain cluster of text
- Monitoring which users have registered on your site and for what
- Tracking buyer behavior related to shopping cart actions and purchase confirmation
Do you need help making the most out of GTM? Upwork can connect you to the best independent web analytics specialists to help with tagging.
Adobe Analytics is another top marketing attribution software that tracks customer interaction and helps determine content performance. Its primary purpose is to enhance marketing metrics analysis by collecting and measuring user behavior, particularly how certain content or marketing touch points impact page performance. For example, through Adobe Analytics, you can:
- Track unique site and page visitors
- Engage in customization of measurement parameters, such as page depth, session length, bounce rate, cart behavior, and time spent per visit
- Increase accuracy in measurement with a built-in deduplication function
- Filter and weigh the metrics you’re tracking to determine relevance and inform content and other digital marketing decisions
Amplitude is a self-described self-serve analytics platform that lets users dig deep into their data to gain insight into customer behavior. Geared toward app developers, the software lets users:
- Customize dashboards and charts
- Set product strategy
- Improve user engagement
- Optimize conversion rates
- Drive retention
Heap focuses more on analysis than merely gathering raw data. Its software aims to provide a complete view of user engagement, going beyond the “what” of user behavior—page views and time spent on the site— to the “why” engagement metrics that take the analysis to a more granular level. It does this by:
- Automatically capturing clicks and field changes
- Capturing form submissions
- Tracking users across devices, platforms, and channels
- Providing insight into how customers actually use the site
- Analyzing retention drivers
Mixpanel’s analytics allows users to focus on why certain content is trending by furnishing real-time data on how people use a product. It offers:
- In-app A/B testing
- In-app user survey forms
- User engagement and retention measurement
- Creation and tracking of key events, such as account and profile creation and messages sent
- Designation and tracking of vital KPIs
Crazy Egg brings Google Analytics up close and personal by offering a tool to define parameters and solve problems. For instance, you can monitor user behavior through a heat mapping tool that helps you drill down into Google Analytics data.
You can also observe users through recorded sessions that let you observe actual interactions with your site, so you identify what users are doing and gain insight into how they’re interacting with each element of your content.
Crazy Egg allows you to:
- Identify navigation issues and glitches.
- See how people interact at checkout.
- Break your audience into segments—e.g., new user, mobile user, email ad campaign visitors—for deeper insights.
- Track CTA responses.
- Sort content by customer interest.
- Engage in A/B testing.
Decibel focuses on the analytics relevant to gauging content marketing success, offering replays of recorded sessions and heat maps to help visualize user behavior. Its Digital Experience Score analyzes every visitor’s online experience, identifying issues impacting engagement and conversion rates.
Decibel allows users to:
- Focus on relevant data through segmentation.
- Gain insights into how both new visitors and returning users interact with forms, including when and why forms are abandoned.
- Identify and address issues that impact site performance and UX.
Hotjar’s web analytics are geared toward marketers, product managers, and UX designers looking to go beyond data gathering and analysis to real-time visitor feedback. Along with offering users the opportunity to review recordings of visitor clicks, taps, and mouse movements, Hotjar makes it easy for website visitors to self-report on their experiences through:
- Customizable behavior triggers to target questions to visitors using flexible question logic
- Easy-to-access survey delivery systems
- Ways for visitors to provide instant visual feedback
Browse Project Catalog for more content marketing services.
The 16 content marketing KPIs that you should track
With content marketing KPIs, you can create trackable parameters for gauging content marketing success and value. Quantifiable KPIs serve as a complement to more qualitative content marketing KPIs, such as answers to open-ended questions.
Both quantitative and qualitative content marketing analytics help determine how well your content marketing campaign is working. Below are 12 quantitative content marketing KPIs and four ways to approach KPIs from a qualitative perspective.
Quantitative content marketing analytics and KPIs
Because they are measurable aspects of marketing efforts, KPIs are invaluable in gauging overall website and content marketing campaign performances.
Website analytics programs track where your traffic is coming from so that you can see if your visitors found you through organic search—using a search engine query—or from a referral source, such as another website, paid digital advertising, an affiliate marketing link, or through social media. Data collected by traffic type helps you determine how your marketing outreach channels are performing. These include:
For example, if you’re getting more hits from your optimized blog posts and your Google Ads are performing poorly, you may want to reduce your ad spend in favor of engaging more freelance SEO writers.
Each time your ad or content reaches the screen of a user, it’s called an impression. A KPI for impressions is the number of times your ad or content appears on someone’s computer or app screen.
Don’t confuse impressions with clicks, though. In the world of paid digital advertising, the price per impression (PPI) costs less than the price per click (PPC). Clicks require an affirmative act on the part of a user, while impressions don’t.
Impressions are useful to raise brand awareness. However, a large number of impressions that result in a low number of clicks indicates that your ad or digital marketing content needs tweaking.
Each time a user visits a website, they initiate a session. Usually, a session will time out after a certain amount of inactivity on the part of a user. This is helpful because a user might engage in several sessions, and for this particular KPI, you want to see the overall performance of your site.
By tracking sessions, you can determine whether your traffic is increasing or decreasing as a whole, an important threshold metric to observe current trends and predict future ones.
Unique visitors are defined by how many individuals view your website in a given period. Breaking down sessions into unique visitors can be a helpful content analytic method to determine how aware people are of your website, as well as audience reach and growth.
It’s particularly important in determining whether you are positioned to meet certain conversion goals. For example, suppose you know that 1 in 100 visitors purchases your subscription-based product, and you have a sales goal of selling 100 subscriptions per day. In that case, you’ll need to raise content performance to a level that attracts a minimum of 10,000 unique visitors a day to your site.
Time on page
Time on page shows the average stay of your visitors on a particular site page or URL. This information is useful in determining both the quality of a particular page and whether the content you’re providing is meeting the needs of your users.
For example, if people are lingering on your page but not converting, this could indicate that while your content is useful, you need a stronger or more frequent call to action (CTA) to raise that conversion rate.
Time on site
The average time on site metric is calculated by subtracting the time the visit began from the time of the last page viewed. Depending on the type of site you’re analyzing, different KPIs can be drawn from this metric based on how you further define or segment it.
For instance, if your goal is to get your user to place items in a shopping cart and complete a purchase, your time-on-site KPI will be the time it takes to complete the sale or for the user to bounce. Taking this information in context, you might conclude that a user who converts spends an average of five minutes on your site, while a bounce happens in a matter of seconds. You can then create content that raises this engagement metric, thereby increasing the likelihood of conversion.
Pages per sessions
When tracking pages per session, your analytics program will divide the total number of page views by the total number of sessions. The more page views your site receives, the more your users are engaging with your content. This is an important content marketing KPI because the more a customer interacts with your content, the more valuable your website becomes.
The bounce rate measures the percentage of sessions in which a visitor lands on a website page and then leaves the site—or bounces—without engaging in the interaction you were hoping for. If a high percentage of visitors bounce, that is a clear indication that the content of the page is not meeting customer or visitor expectations.
Low bounce rates indicate more robust interactions with your site—either a higher number of page views or a longer time on the site as a whole.
Scroll depth is a content marketing KPI measurement of how far down a particular page your visitors scroll. The higher a percentage of the page a visitor has seen, the higher the scroll depth percentage.
For example, if your average scroll depth is 25%, that means your visitors only engage with a fourth of your page before navigating away. If your scroll rate is low, that means you may want to move your most important information—including your call to action—to the top of the page.
It could also mean that your pages are too long or your information is too dense or cumbersome, necessitating a reworking of the content. Scroll depth lets you know where to best place your marketing efforts on a page.
Social sharing occurs when social media users and influencers broadcast content to the members of their networks. The KPI for social shares is usually the number of times your content is shared on social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
Google Analytics measures this by tracking the number of times a user clicks on a social sharing button on your site. Social sharing enhances brand awareness and is one of the most effective ways to grow an audience for your content.
A conversion occurs when a visitor engages in an action that you desire, such as signing up for your newsletter, joining your email marketing list, creating a site account or profile, signing up for a product trial period, or paying for a subscription.
Programs like Google Analytics allow you to set up as many as 20 conversion rate goals at one time. This allows you to gather data regarding different types of performance and actually apply cost information to show ROI.
Return on investment (ROI)
The ROI of your site’s content marketing endeavors will be unique to your site and goals. An e-commerce site might measure the number of sales generated over the course of a marketing campaign compared to the previous year’s sales or the number of qualified leads generated.
A blog might measure the number of new email subscribers or the increase in daily hits the site receives. This measurement will take into account the cost of running the campaign compared to the results realized.
Qualitative content metrics
The final four of our 16 KPIs are qualitative content marketing metrics. To gain greater insight into how your content marketing decisions impact user behavior, it’s a good idea to add some qualitative content marketing metrics to your KPI mix. These look to reports of subjective experiences, often relying on the user’s stated perceptions.
The goal is to measure content marketing by finding meaningful insights into user opinions, perceptions, and traits.
How did the content impact the user’s perception of the brand?
Brand perception is a measure of how a particular audience feels about your company. Well-crafted content has the power to shift negative brand perception to your favor, enhance a target customer’s affinity for your brand, and turn a passive customer into an active brand advocate. Surveys—easily crafted and distributed digitally through tools like SurveyMonkey—are a great way to solicit user input.
Surveys can be designed with questions that produce a Net Promoter Score, a customer experience metric that places customers into one of three categories: promoters, passives, and detractors. The higher your score, the higher the overall brand perception.
Did the quality of the content match the user’s expectations?
Another important qualitative KPI is the very personal question of whether and to what extent you are meeting, exceeding, or falling short of user expectations. Again, the most efficient and easiest way to answer this question is to ask the user to self-report.
Because inquiry into expectations can be a yes-or-no scenario, a “how are we doing?” pop-up questionnaire is one way to quickly get user feedback without too much disruption. Providing the option to expand on the question is also a good idea and can be accomplished by providing a link to a more detailed questionnaire or text box.
Did the user come away knowing more about the product or service?
A primary purpose of content marketing is to educate your target market about your products and services. If your content creation team is hitting the mark here, you should see an uptick in metrics associated with site use and lower bounce rates. However, the best way to determine whether your content marketing program is raising brand awareness is to ask the user.
How much more likely is the user to convert after seeing this piece of content?
The best time to determine the likelihood of conversion is to survey customers and prospective customers about the effectiveness of a particular piece of content before launching your marketing campaign. It’s useful to create an incentive —such as offering a gift card or other reward—to induce users to participate. Online surveys and in-person focus groups both work well when exploring this qualitative KPI.
Conclusion and next steps
Peter Drucker, considered the father of modern business management, famously stated, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” When it comes to content marketing, the best way to manage campaigns is to determine what your KPIs are going to be before you pull the trigger.
If your analytics are in place, you can gauge efficacy during your rollout and throughout your campaign, pivoting into new strategies whenever necessary. If you’re ready to get started applying content marketing analytics to your efforts, Upwork offers a global talent pool of independent web analytics experts who can help.
Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this section. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.