We live in the digital age where the success of most brands is determined by their online performance. Because of this, content writing is just the beginning of a long journey. And while writing a quality piece of content can rise or kill off your startup, marketing combines a myriad of other tricks and efforts you must know, use, and track.
Proper content marketing efforts can do a lot for a business, regardless of its size or nature. It’s the key to driving more conversions, building relationships, and loyalty, as well as boosting brand awareness. Still, in order to optimize your content marketing campaign, you must know where to begin and what exactly to do. The only way to do this effectively is by tracking the key performance indicators.
What are the Most Important Marketing KPIs?
In this article, you’ll learn about the most important key performance indicators. KPIs will help you create better content and improve your marketing strategy.
1. Time on Page
Do you know how long visitors spend on your pages? If you know an average number, you can know what page attracts the most audience and what needs immediate improvement. Thankfully, you can now use Google Analytics to find these indicators and use them to your benefit.
If people have visited your website and viewed your content, but instantly closed it for some reason, you should know about it. This doesn’t turn visitors into conversions, but only gives you false thinking that your website is more successful than it is.
Of course, people don’t all spend the same amount of time reading the same page. Some read faster than others. The average reading rate is approximately 200 words in a minute. Based on this, you can learn how many of the users have stayed on a page long enough to read your content.
Some websites have used this to their advantage and provide an average time a visitor will spend on a page based on the length of the content. People seem to like knowing this information because, most of the time, they give up on reading something till its end because they don’t have enough time for it.
This tells you that, if a visitor leaves your page, it isn’t necessarily because your content is bad or your site loads slowly. It might be because they were looking to read something quick in between tasks or during their work break. Therefore, it might not be bad for you to calculate how long it would take a visitor to read each of the content you publish, as well as provide this information to your readers.
There are plenty of websites that do this, such as Medium.
Knowing how long people remain on your website will tell you a lot about its success and quality. If they stay longer, they are happy with the content you provided. If they stay just for a short while, it means that they are attracted by your choice of a headline, but might not have the time to carefully read the remaining of the content. Finally, if they meet your read time estimate, you’ve created a great page that they read until the very end.
Google Analytics defines the time spent on a page as ‘session duration’. You can check this KPI by finding the visitor’s URL and using it to calculate the estimated read time. Then, compare the average session duration to the actual read time. If these two line up, people are actually reading your content.
Of course, you can’t expect it to be perfect. Not everyone will read the entire page. Many will click and read a bit, then leave the website. This is okay – everyone does it. Most importantly, not everyone you reach will be your target audience. However, the more the people stay on it, the more successful it is.
2. Bounce Rates
A bounce rate of a website is the percentage of visitors that bounce off the website after looking at a single page. The less engaging your content is, the higher are your bounce rates.
However, there are other things that can cause visitors to leave a website. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the quality of a blog post. Whatever it is, it is a clear sign that your website isn’t meeting their expectation, or that you haven’t done your best in attracting the right audience.
If you track the bounce rates, you can determine the issues based on page views and time spent on the website.
- ContentWhen the issue is in your content, you must find better, funny topics that will genuinely attract the audience.
- SpeedA site that loads slowly will push most visitors away before they get to your content and white papers, no matter how great these are.
- Wrong audienceIf your visitors bounce because the website isn’t what they were looking for, there’s an issue with your keywords or the methods you use to distribute the content.
As a KPI, the bounce rate is very helpful, but very unclear. Once you get the results, you still have to perform research to see why visitors bounce from your website. They found it in search engines or clicked on a link to get there, which is a great thing and makes this a qualified visit. But, unless you learn how to keep them on the pages, it doesn’t really make a difference.
So, your first step is definitely to get people to your pages. But, once you get there, you must keep them there. The bounce rate is highly dependent on the user experience, which gives you even more reasons why people might be bouncing off your website:
- They can’t find the information/ product/ service they are looking for
- You haven’t provided a clear structure/ format/ content
- They can’t search for the things they are looking for
With all of this in mind, you must definitely find what it is that causes the bounce rates to grow higher. A high bounce rate does not necessarily make your website poorly designed or your content badly written, but it definitely points out to a flaw. Unfortunately, this KPI can’t tell you specifically what that flaw is.
Even so, it’s definitely the one you must track.
3. Pages per Session
With this metric, you can learn the number of pages that average user visits on the website. You won’t really know the details, but the pages per session metric tell you if your content, calls to action, and navigation are properly distributed across the website.
How will you know this? Well, the ideal situation is – a visitor finds your website and checks a couple of pages before he leaves it. He stays on those pages for a certain period of time, sufficient to let you know that they’ve read your content. The longer they stay, the more interested and satisfied they are with the content quality. But, if this metric starts decreasing, it is a clear sign of either poor content quality or poor navigation.
When it comes to this KPI, your main focus is not only menu organization, but also internal linking. This is an enormous part of creating a successful website. Your pages must support the content on the rest of the pages, creating a virtuous and big circle where people simply hop from one piece of content to another.
That’s why it is recommended that you choose one niche or idea when you create a website. This way, once you attract the right audience for one page, you can redirect them to the rest and provide value.
If this metric shows bad results, you should pay closer attention to internal linking. Make it easy for people to find more of your content while reading it. If they have to go back to your menu or homepage to see what else you have, you’ll most likely lose them as readers.
Of course, this also depends greatly on your article’s value. If one value is amazing, visitors are more likely to click to a link that takes them to a different article. With consistent quality, you can once again provide them with value when they proceed to look at your pages.
4. Scroll Depth
Have you heard of scroll depth? This is currently one of the best KPIs in terms of content success. How far a visitor goes on a website by using the scroll will tell you how content he is with what you’ve written. It’s an excellent way to measure your content success and see if the readers find it to be interesting.
‘’The safest way to see if your content works is to use two KPIs – scroll depth and time on page.’ -explains Alex Simmons, an expert at the quality paper writing service. ‘The first will tell you if readers are willing to go to the end of your content and the latter will tell you how much they’ve read. The lower the results, the bigger should your content writing efforts be.’’
When you check the time on page, you’ll know if a person spent enough time there to read the content. But, when you proceed by checking the scroll depth, you’ll know where exactly you lost them. If you tackle this carefully and in the right way, you can find just the right place where your content fails your audience’s expectations.
5. Conversion Rates
Conversion rates tell website owners how many people turned into customers after seeing their website or reading their content. This is your big goal – to make more and more conversions as you progress. The best way to do this is by tracking both primary and secondary conversions.
Primary conversions are the leads and sales. Secondary conversions are downloads and email subscriptions. In the world of websites and blogs, everything is about traffic. This is the key metric because it determines your odds of success. You can’t have a low or high bounce rate unless you have traffic. You can’t have scroll depth or people reading different pages unless they can find you on the web.
However, traffic is just the start. This is the goal – conversions. Your goal is to reach high levels of traffic and turn visitors into leads. In other words, the traffic numbers don’t matter as much as the number of conversions. This KPI measures your success as a result of the action you’ve taken to convince people to do something on your website.
If you’re doing everything right from creating SEO content to quality internal and external linking, you can expect an increase in traffic and leads over time. This is the clearest indicator of good performance. With the help of Google Analytics, you can check for users and sessions. Users are the people who visit the website, including unique or first-time visitors and repeat visitors. Sessions are the count of how many times a visitor has come to your website.
6. The SERP Ranking
The term SERP comes from ‘search engine results page’. This is a crucial KPI to track for your website because it tells you about your ranking on search engines. Naturally, the higher you are, the better your odds at succeeding.
The goal of every blogger and marketer is to rank higher in search engines. It might not be as easy to calculate as the rest of the items on this list, but it is by far the best and most accurate indicator of how well your website and content is performing in search engines.
If Google places your website or page high in search engines, you’re doing a great job. Your goal is to get at the top of it and once you do, stay there.
To check your SERP ranking, choose the main keywords you used on your website and test different combinations to see if you show up and where. With time, you should move higher in the search engines and ideally reach the top.
Start with the main topic of your blog. For example, if you’re working with online marketing, use ‘online marketing’ as your keyword. Then, if you work with SEO, look up keywords like ‘SEO advice’ or ‘SEO guide’, etc.
Basically, use the main terms related to your website to see if it pops highly in the search engines. If you’ve done a good job with the content and the website, your SERP ranking should be amazing.
7. Page Speed
As we mentioned before, speed is extremely important if you want to keep people on your website. If your bounce rates remain high despite all your content efforts, check if it is the page speed that’s causing you these big losses.
Your website might be amazingly designed with content that your competition would envy, but it will all be in vain if your visitors leave the pages because they load too slowly. No matter how great the SEO strategy or the offers are on your website, they’ll leave it unless you make it load fast.
It’s a sad truth, but it is still the truth. According to KISSMetrics, 40% of visitors will abandon a website if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds. Loading time is important to those who are in a rush and, even if they aren’t, they are very unlikely to stay on a website where they have to wait for pages to load.
Lucky for you, Google Analytics shares a lot about site speed. It will provide you with metrics for all of your pages and aggregate your website’s data. By checking this important KPI, you can diagnose common problems such as a high bounce rate or low conversion rate.
8. Inbound Links
Inbound links are an excellent way to measure your content marketing strategy. When done poorly, link building can ruin your website and ranking. Therefore, you must always track the links that bring leads to your website, as well as those you use to link to other pages.
The links are part of your content distribution strategy and as such, they have to be legit and relevant. Check how many visitors come from backlinks and what sites link to you. The more quality backlinks you have, the higher are your odds of Google giving you credit and placing you higher in search results.
Generally speaking, Google considers the website with more backlinks worthy of getting a higher score. However, you can’t just create any backlinks hoping that this will get you higher. Unless the backlinks are relevant to your pages and are found on quality websites, you won’t succeed by increasing their number.
In fact, you can even ruin your Google score if Google detects false and irrelevant or broken backlinks to your pages. Therefore, your goal as a marketer is to find relevant, good websites, and get them to link to yours.
9. Social Shares, Followers, and Traffic
In the world of social media, social sharing and following is crucial for the success of your content. The primary goal of most businesses is to increase brand awareness. This is why tracking social media success is the key to creating a better marketing strategy.
Keep track of the social shares that create a buzz around your site and your content, the number of followers, likes and comments, as well as the traffic that visits your social media profiles.
According to Neil Patel, there are five ways to track this KPI:
- Volume (measure the tweets, wall posts, messages about the brand, people who speak of your brand, etc.)
- Reach (how big is the audience for each of your messages and how far your content is disseminating)
- Engagement (how people participate in conversations and spread your content or engage with your topics)
- Influence (are people talking about your website or brand? Do they have any impact?)
- Share of voice (compared to the competition, how do people converse about your brand or website?)
10. Returning Visitors
If people are impressed by what you’ve done, they’ll probably do you the honor and visit your website again. If you continue to provide them with what they need, they’ll keep doing this regularly.
This is your goal. You find traffic to turn into leads, and convince them to visit your website more than once. And of course, if you disappoint them the first time, they won’t come back for more, not even if you fix the content after they leave your pages.
This KPI will clearly and loudly answer the question about whether or not people like your content and website. The ratio of returning to total visitors will tell you how well you’re leading your website strategy.
Google Analytics has an option for measuring this KPI, too. You can find it in their dashboard and check the new sessions’ performance.
Now, this is also a tricky part. Since there’s no ideal ratio for traffic, you can segment by traffic source. For example, you can check the email to see how many people came and subscribed. You can check social statistics to see how many people started following you or came to your website by using links from other people.
Finally, the best and most accurate way to check this is to check the direct traffic that comes from people who use your URL to find your website. Direct traffic is the most accurate way to check for returning visitors.
Of course, increasing the direct traffic isn’t your primary focus since you should focus on the total session’s volume. Your goal is to attract more people on the website, keep them there, and keep them happy. To do so, you’ll need many strategies and a lot of effort, all of which can be evaluated by using the KPIs in this article.
The Bottom Line
KPIs are of crucial importance to your marketing strategy. You can be very lucky with your strategy and very successful in content writing but, without the right KPIs, you won’t be able to track your success and fix the discrepancies in it.
Nowadays, there are plenty of ways to measure a content marketing strategy. If you want to understand the success and the impact of your marketing actions and efforts, you need to use these KPIs on a regular basis.