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How can you tell if your brand’s content marketing is hitting the mark? Do you just click “publish” and wait for the hordes of people to come to your website or streaming in through the doors of your brick-and-mortar stores? What are content marketing metrics?

While an instant uptick in sales and customers could be one way to see that content marketing is working, that uptick could be due to a huge range of factors, from weather conditions to a random celebrity promoting your product (without you paying him or her to do so).

To get a sense of whether content marketing is working or not, you need to pay attention to content marketing metrics. Luckily, these metrics are easy to keep track of. Once you know where you stand with certain measurements, you can decide how best to improve any that might not be up to snuff.

What Are Content Marketing Metrics?

In the simplest of terms, content marketing metrics measure how (or if) people are engaging with your content. They let you know whether or not people are actually coming over to read a blog post or watch a video — and once they are there, how long people are staying.

Some types of metrics are more popular or used more often by content marketers than others. According to the Content Marketing Institute’s B2C Content Marketing 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends report, these five metrics were the most likely to be used by B2C marketers:

  • Website traffic
  • Social media shares
  • Time spent on website
  • Sales
  • Conversion rates

How Can You Track or Measure Content Marketing Metrics?

Several tools exist that allow you to easily track your content marketing’s metrics. For example, you can monitor website traffic using Google Analytics. With the tool, you can see how many hits your website gets, how many unique visitors come by, how long they stay on the site, and how many people “bounce,” or leave immediately. Google Analytics can also provide you with demographic information about your audience, as well as location details and what devices they use.

There are also tools that let you track and measure social media shares, which wouldn’t necessarily show up on Google Analytics. SharedCount lets you type in a URL and see how often and where the link has been shared.

A tool such as SimilarWeb provides analytics that are similar to Google, such as website visitors, referrals, including social referrals, and audience information.

You can also track metrics in a more manual fashion. For example, if you’re hoping to measure sales or the effect your content has on sales, you can offer a discount code in certain blog posts. Seeing how often the code gets used can give you an idea of the reach of the content, or its effectiveness.

Another way to track your content marketing metrics is to use a platform or program designed specifically for content marketing. Such a platform would pull website traffic data from Google Analytics, but also provide you with metrics such as number of conversions and social engagements.

What Can You Learn From Content Marketing Metrics?

There’s a lot to learn from measuring the impact your content marketing is having. For example, if you pay attention to website traffic, you can see when a particular piece of content — or having a particular piece of content linked to by another publication or social media user — leads to a spike in traffic.

That can send signal that it is the type of content people want to see. If your attention had previously been focused elsewhere, you might decide to pivot after looking at the stats.

Just as the metrics can tell you what’s working, they can also tell you what’s not working. Perhaps you decided to create a guest post on someone’s blog. At the end of the blog post, you included a discount code for 25 percent off. A week later, just one person had redeemed the code.

Ouch! But also a good opportunity for learning. Was the blogger not a good fit for your typical audience or niche? Maybe his or her usual audience has no real interest in what your brand is offering. It could also be that the blogger didn’t really promote. The blogger could simply publish it without any additional mention.

When Will Content Marketing Metrics Let You Know You’ve “Made It?”

The great thing about content marketing metrics is that you can use them to track your goals. Every brand has different definitions of success. The metrics you decide to track can help you see when you’ve reached your goals.

For example, say your brand’s blog doesn’t get much traffic. It has maybe 100 visitors per month. So you decide to focus on creating posts on a consistent basis, such as daily rather than once a week. Each post also gets promoted by your brand’s social pages. And a team of influencers create social posts with links to your blog.

Your goal is to double your traffic in one month, from 100 to 200 visitors. At the end of the month, you can look at your website’s traffic. That way you can say for sure whether you “made it” or not.