Whether you’re a SaaS marketer or a blogger/publisher trying to maximize your ad revenue, inbound marketing will bring you the audience you need to meet your goals (it’s how we did it right here at AdPushup).
Since content lets you interact and stay connected to your audience at any stage of your marketing funnel (discovery, consideration, conversion, and retention), it makes perfect sense to invest in creating inbound channels to your website/blog and improving them further.
But you can’t improve what you haven’t measured.
Most newbies set up Google Analytics (or some other analytics tool) to learn more about their audience and how the content is performing. But there’s more to blogging performance than content metrics like CTR, pageviews, bounce rate, sessions, etc.
Here’s a list of some off-beat metrics that will help you create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed) content marketing goals and measure your content’s success.
1. Blog Homepage hits
You may be picking up organic traffic straight to your posts if you publish good content that consistently ranks well on SERPs. Great. Get yourself a cookie.
Now, how many of these readers actually recognize you as reputable/ thought leader/ authentic when taken out of context of their search query?
I am talking, of course, about brand recognition.
To get better insight, separate blog homepage hits further into: Direct traffic (Users who start a session by landing on your blog homepage) vs. Indirect traffic (users who visit your blog homepage after landing on a different part of your website). Both can have very distinct implications.
More direct traffic to blog homepage would indicate greater number of loyal, repeat visitors. They are there to read whatever you have published lately because they know you’re awesome.
More indirect traffic would mean high curiosity from new visitors, but could also indicate problems with secondary navigation or inability to find paths to other posts.
2. RSS subscribers
If you think RSS is dead in the age of social media ‘news feeds’, you’re wrong.
Your active RSS subscriber number indicates your most loyal readership — they recognize your authenticity and expertise enough to let your content find its way to them. But how many of those subscribers are ‘active’? Did they subscribe once and have never returned since? Or did your content manage to retain and engage them?
Feedburner analytics and Hubspot Page Performance tool can be used to get an estimate on the active RSS subscribers. Once you have a handle on the number, work on improving this count.
This is a measure of the time for which your post stays relevant and continues to receive visitors after first publish date. Track:
Posts: Typically, your best-ranking posts on Google will have the highest longevity: regardless of the subject. They will stay relevant for a long, long time. Viral content, by contrast, goes stale after a while. Track the posts that are bringing the most organic search traffic.
This is what our cofounder Ankit Oberoi wrote almost 3 years ago. It’s still one of our top ranking posts on Google and continues to bring in visitors looking for this information.
Here, have a link to Top 13 Best Paying CPC/PPC Ad Networks if you’re curious.
This will give you an accurate idea of what your niche’s audience is looking for. If you provide it, you stay relevant. Since the first idea is to give them what they want, you begin creating more of posts like these and establish leadership in your niche. What ought to follow next is a thorough keyword analysis, followed by answering the questions your prospective audience is asking — through content.
Age: Your post’s average age or longevity is the number of days / weeks / months (your job: set a baseline using one of these three) in which it receives a higher than average amount of traffic and interaction.
For a strategist, the best use case scenario would be: take a content form (say, guides), find the posts’ average age (say, 1 month), and use it in the editorial calendar as the gap between two consecutive posts of this type for a steady stream of organic traffic.
4. True Engagement
How are you measuring blog engagement? If you answered avg. session time or pageviews per session, you’re pretty close but still not hitting home. You’re missing out on how engaging your individual posts are.
We started taking it a little seriously once we received a reader’s feedback that explicitly told us that our content was super useful but “kinda boring.”
Here are some ways to measure your content’s engagement factor:
> Scroll Depth
This is a measure of how far your users are scrolling on a page. This metric is tracked and measured by publishing sites like The Next Web, NY Post, College Humor, ATTN, etc., along with others like Spotify, Samsung, Acer, Intel, and more.
Right. Now that you’re taking it seriously, you’ll need Rob Flaherty’s plugin by the same name (scroll depth) and set it up with your existing Google Analytics (or any analytics with events) configuration. The plugin will set up and begin monitoring the 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% scroll points on a page. You can also set it up to track scrolling by specific page elements.
The collected data will give you a better measure of viewability and let you place ads and CTAs in page locations where they’ll have the most impact / chance to be clicked. If you’re particular about distinguishing active reading (whether your audience is actually reading your content or simply scrolling through it), you can complement scroll depth with screen time.
Keep in mind that Screen Time works via fields (elements you specify). In GA configuration, you can only set up to 2-3 of these on a page before hitting a data collection limit. To support accurate screen time tracking with this plugin, use Mixpanel or a custom backend.
> Active time on site
Your GA ‘time on page/site’ measurement is flawed: in the sense that GA measures time spent on site by measuring time-lapse between two consecutive page views in a single session. It does not account for time your content spent languishing in a forgotten tab while the user was busy watching Joe Biden memes or hilarious cat videos (don’t judge).
Riveted is another Flaherty creation, and it helps give you a more accurate view of otherwise flawed time on site in Google Analytics. The plugin measures interactions (click, scroll, taps, or keystrokes) every 5 seconds and reports the data in GA (or any other event-supporting analytics tool). No interaction for 30+ seconds is reported idle.
The data will be available in Behavior > Events Overview.
How likely are your visitors to check out more content?
For bloggers/publishers, continuous engagement is the key to more revenue. Measuring it will help you find a way to improve it.
An easy, affordable way to do it is with Google Analytics Behavior Flow. Filter the data by Landing Page, and study how users move through your website.
Your goal is to decrease drop offs from landing page to 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and so on interaction.
This information also speaks volumes to an enterprising blogger/inbound marketer, who can then plan out a strategy to place ads on the most repeated traffic flow patterns and add internal links to funnel traffic to pages that help to convert for better UX and higher conversions.
Data has its limitations, and it’s not always correct. It’s our job to continue to find better ways to measure our performance and grow.