Let’s face it. As bloggers and content publishers, there is more pressure than ever to put out impactful content.

And this applies even to Adsense publishers. Sure you don’t sell your own products, but you still need great content to please both Google and your readers.

Which leads us to this question.

How is your content performing?

Content performance can be cryptic. After all, we can’t read the minds and emotions of our readers. We can’t tell if they have been moved by our emotional content or have learned from an advice we gave.

But that shouldn’t stop you from analyzing how your content is faring. You may not be able to read your visitors’ minds to find out how your posts are affecting them, but measuring their engagement is the next best thing.

And the good news is, there are a few tools that can help you do that.

Engagement is the best metric to measure content marketing.
– Ninan Chacko, CEO, PR Newswire

Before we talk about measuring the performance of your content, let’s be clear about the conditions with which this makes sense.

Because of the rather involved process, measuring content performance is only reasonable if you are thinking in long term. That means your goal is not to gain first time-visitors but repeat visitors who engage with your content on a regular basis.

This is characterized by consistently publishing great content, heavily promoting them and building an email list.

If you’re already doing these things, then read on.

Now let’s talk about the things you should look at to interpret how your content are engaging your readers.

Instead of measuring page views…

Measure Engaged Time

In A Crisis of Confidence: The State of Content Marketing Measurement by Contently, the report tells us how content publishers are using the wrong metrics.

It argues that page views, the traditional metric marketers use, is a flawed metric that gives inadequate insight to the visitors’ behavior. Because of this, many businesses are not clear on how much brand awareness their content is driving.

In fact, Contently reports that 90% of marketers are unsure that their key content metrics are effectively measuring business results.

Measuring page-views instead of engaged time is like counting how many people passed by your shop , but not how many went in to check out your merchandise. And we know that between the two, the latter is the one that’s closer to the end goal which is buying from you, signing up or registering.

Measuring engaged time gives you a better insight of how well your content is influencing your readers. As a result, you’ll be able to better adjust your content accordingly.

In a world of incessant distractions and short attention spans, it’s all the more important to understand this gap. According to Statistics brain, once a visitor enters your site, it takes 8 second to capture his or her attention. If you fail to do that within those few seconds, the visitor will never return. On the other hand, if your content piques their interest and they stay longer, then that’s a positive sign.

Page views won’t help you determine that. Engaged time will. If you learned that your readers stay longer than the 8-10 second threshold, then you’re likely on the right track. Otherwise, conider improving your content or design.

In a study conducted by Chartbeat, experts found that higher engaged time leads to better brand perception and recall.

brand-recall

 

Instead of measuring number of visitors…

Measure Return Visitors

Next to page views, number of visitors is another traditional metric that gives insufficient insights.

Instead of just looking at the number of visitors, consider delving deeper. How many of your visitors come back? How does their behavior differ from those who visited only once?

Measuring return visitors gives you a better insight of whether your site is actually engaging and retaining the incoming traffic or if you need to optimize something in your site.

silly-customer-service-comic

When it comes to return readers, think along the lines of owning a boutique. As the owner, you offer beautiful merchandise, discounts and stellar customer assistance to capture the interest of first-time visitors who are merely looking around. You offer these things hoping they’ll come back later and buy your merchandise. In the same token, maybe you need to improve your design or put up shareable content to have visitors coming back for more.

Instead of measuring the open and click-through rates of your emails…

Measure Email Engagement

Email is so convenient, anyone can send a mass of these in a jiffy. So it’s no surprise that people have become painfully selective on which emails they actually pay attention to.

If you’re building lists, it’s not enough to just look at whether your subscribers have actually opened your emails. You should see if your emails are actually being read and if your subscribers are taking action by  sharing your newsletter, clicking on the link or emailing back depending on your goal.

Doing this will tell you whether or not you need to work on the copy and design of your emails.

Instead of measuring social media shares…

Measure Readers’ Loyalty

There’s nothing like getting hundreds or thousands of shares for a blog post you’ve published. But beware: this is only on a surface-level metric.

Instead of getting excited on social media shares, find out how often your readers have revisited your site in the past week, month or any given period.

Similar to return readers, Google Analytics, refers to this metric as “frequency”. This goes hand in hand with “recency” or the number of days it takes before a visitor returns to your site.

If your site is high on this metric, it’s like owning a restaurant and having regular customers who happily eat their meals there everyday.

Instead of measuring the number of subscribers…

Look at the Quality of Subscribers

If you’re building a list, it’s easy to get all ecstatic about huge numbers. And why not? A large list means more conversions right?

Well, not exactly. While it’s true that you can benefit from a large list, it’s also crucial that you determine the quality of leads that subscribe to you. Targeted subscribers are the ones  more likely to engage with your brand on a consistent basis.

It’s also great to know who your quality leads are so in the future you can segment them and offer tailored offers to these red-hot subscribers such as a paid product or service.

6 Tools to Measure Your Content’s Performance

Now that we’ve talked about the other metrics you should look at besides views, visits and shares, here are some tools that can help you actually uncover that data.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the go-to analytics tool of bloggers and content publishers. It comes with the reputable Google brand name, is packed with features and totally free.

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Besides the basic metrics like page views and visits, Google Analytics shows you how long visitors stayed at your site, the frequency of their visit, which pages they visited, what actions they took and many more.

The only drawback I see, and I know many users agree to this, is that the interface can be too complex. It definitely takes a learning curve but if you’re serious about analyzing the impact of your content, then it’s definitely worth it.

Clicky

Clicky is quickly becoming a popular option among content publishers including those who use Google Analytics because of its simpler interface.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXUsJF5-t-c] 

Clicky tells you where your visitors are located, when they visited, the referrers that lead them to your site, how long they stayed on a page and what actions they took.

Perhaps one of its strongest selling point is the feature that allows you to view heat-maps of individual users in real time.

PIWIK

PIWIK is another feature-rich tool that is much cleaner than Google Analytics. Similar with the previous two, PWIK shows you where your customers come from, their referrers, frequency of visit and pages visited among many others.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yA2NUur0770] 

You can also create goals or actions you want your visitors to do when they visit your site. This metric is great because it gives you insights on how to improve your conversion whether it’s email sign ups or new user registrations.

PWIK also offers a mobile app and unlimited data storage for free.

Heap

For those who dislike codes, Heap Analytics is one of the best content analytics tool out there. Through its point and click interface, users can see the events that took place in their website such as email signups, form registrations and how many of these happened in a given time.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbCTM1PXhHI] 

When it comes to customizing, you can tag individual users with an email address, age, or any other detail you need to define whatever it is that you’re measuring.

Litmus

For list-building, Litmus is a great tool for measuring the performance of your newsletters and email updates. Besides telling you if your emails were actually opened, it also shows whether recipients glanced, skimmed or read its contents.

Litmus

It also tells you the location of your recipients as well as what actions they took after opening your email. Did they delete it, forward it or click the share button?

Many Contacts

Many Contacts is a simple WP plugin that sits at the top of your site. It’s designed to capture visitors’ email address regardless of what page they are in on your site.

While it’s mostly a list-building tool, it’s also a great analytics tool. I particularly like the feature that rates the quality of a lead. Even more, it  allows you to view your subscriber’s social profiles, location and other details to help you further determine the quality of that subscriber.

06-contactopen

Relationship Metrics is the Future of Content Analytics

Many bloggers and content publishers are in the dark when it comes to analyzing their content’s performance. After all, readers’ behavior is a complex thing.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Knowing the right metrics is the first step in finding out whether your efforts are paying off. As for how to go about mining the data, there are several nifty tools you can use to interpret these.

Remember, getting your visitors to visit once is not enough. The long-term approach is to keep them coming back and turn those one-time visitors into regular users.

How are you measuring your content’s performance? Let us know in the comments below. And if you liked this article, please share it with your friends and spread the knowledge!

Images: Damarque.comBruceAllen.comWalker Sands, Chartbeat, Litmus, Many Contacts