As a marketer, I am sometimes surprised how much time I spend on Web analytics. I often find myself taken aback that for many marketing verticals, multiple channels provide assists during a customer’s journey and all of the said channels contribute in varying degrees to the conversion actions that result. It is especially interesting how often inbound marketing assists, such as those that result from SEO and content marketing efforts, are obfuscated by other channels and by direct traffic.
A lack of understanding of how SEO and content marketing contribute to the overall customer journey sometimes results in wrongly attributing conversion actions to the wrong channel and underinvesting in these high-yield marketing practices. Additionally, as brands invest an increasing amount of their marketing budget into creating content assets and working with vendors that provide content marketing services, measuring the value of these efforts becomes more important for developing a well-tuned marketing strategy.
Unique Digital Measurement Challenges For Content Marketing
Content marketing is unique from a digital measurement perspective for a variety of reasons.
Content Marketing Is Inherently Cross-Channel
Traffic acquired using content marketing tactics can enter through a number of traffic sources, including search, referral, social, and paid advertising; as such, many of the ready-made marketing-channel-specific reports in Web analytics software are not suitable for providing at-a-glance insights into outcomes of content marketing efforts.
In fact, the concept of content marketing deconstructs the traditional concept of siloing by channel, which is so common in digital marketing. Analyzing content marketing outcomes is further complicated by Google Analytics’ new channel-grouping-based layout for basic reports. Content marketing may generate traffic and visitor engagement, support SEO, and sometimes assist in conversions. It is important to evaluate all of these data to properly measure content marketing efforts. With some customization, Google Analytics can be refined to provide these insights.
Fragmentation Of Social Media Clickstream Data
Another challenge that measuring content marketing presents is that relative to digital measurement of some marketing channels, such as organic search, proper tagging has an increased importance for content marketing because the referrers from social media tend to not fit neatly within the social channel grouping. In this way, digital measuring for content marketing is similar to measurement for paid media channels. For example, Buffer or HootSuite are commonly used applications for social sharing. One of the drawbacks of using these applications is that traffic from them will not appear when you try to isolate social data using some of the basic reports and when applying simple segments . Reports become incomplete when analysis is done for social media. For example, an analyst may want to view only traffic from LinkedIn; however, if HootSuite is being used, some of the traffic may appear as HootSuite referral traffic and would therefore be missing from the advanced segment created to view LinkedIn platform traffic. In this case, inbound traffic from referrers such as HootSuite and Buffer must be specially tagged in order to improve the completeness of data during analysis and segmentation.
Key Data Points For Content Marketing Go Beyond Clickstream Data
The challenges do not end there; measuring engagement metrics for content marketing is also difficult because relevant engagement data may reside outside of clickstream data, which are click data to specific pages. Relevant engagement metrics to a content marketing asset may include social votes, such as Facebook likes or Pinterest pins, or social shares, such as Twitter tweets or Facebook shares. Google has recently made exciting improvements with integrating with third-party data sources.
Steps For Measuring Content Marketing
With the unique measurement considerations for content marketing in mind, it is still possible to measure and report the ROI of content marketing efforts with relative ease. In the subsequent section, a four-step methodology using Google Analytics is laid out for measuring content marketing better than ever before.
Please join us next week for part 2 of 3 of this article, including the steps.