How to Measure the Success of Your Online Content

Written on 18 April, 2018 by Julia Hammond
Categories Search Engine Optimisation

One of the best things about digital marketing is the data we are able to mine, especially in regard to engagement and efficacy of campaigns in relation to a specific target audience. However, when it comes to creative content, results can be difficult to measure and (more importantly) understand.

Content is at the core of every single digital advertising service, so knowing what is good content is vital. So, how can we tell when a piece of content is or is not working? To answer this question, first we need to fully understand the purpose of ‘content marketing’ as an advertising stream.

What is content marketing?

Content may be the crux of different advertising services but ‘content marketing’ is its own kettle of fish:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” – Content Marketing Institute

Content Consultation

Why is it important to measure your content?

Just like any other facet of your digital marketing strategy, content measurement is key to improvement. However, it also allows you to recognise the value provided by those who create it and can help you justify the cost. Businesses thrive on ensuring ROI, which means that the ability to prove the effectiveness of something as subjective and creative as content is invaluable. Content marketing metrics and measurement deliver tangible proof that investment in quality content does provide a return and demonstrates that your marketing efforts are paying off.

On the flip side, measuring the success of your content can provide insight into what’s not working for your brand. In many ways, this is even more valuable than understanding what is working. Recognising flaws in your content allows you to exercise the power of elimination, bringing you closer and closer to the holy grail each try.

However, measuring the effectiveness of your content is not all rainbows and smiles. As content is such a subjective thing and works in conjunction with so many other facets of marketing, the results aren’t always conclusive. It’s difficult to know which component of advertising can be attributed to the results. Was it the ad placement or the content that was most effective? Was it the content or the UX that led to the purchase? To get a better reading, first you need to establish you Content Marketing goals.

Set Realistic Goals and Establish the Content Metrics that Align with Your Business Goals

Content for content’s sake is never going to be effective. Purpose is the number one priority when it comes to content creation, and content without purpose is merely time wasted. The purpose of the content will also determine how you measure its success.

There are four essentials to know before creating a piece content:

  • Why are you creating it?
  • Who are you creating it for?
  • How do you want your audience to react?
  • What do you want your audience to do with the content?

Why are you creating it?

The “why” is the core of your content and forms the basis of each of your answers to the questions that follow. Are you creating content to build brand awareness? Is it to convert your leads to customers? Is it to improve your brand authority? Whatever you choose, there will be a different metric with which to measure your success. At this stage you should establish the metrics you will use to measure how well your content is performing.

Who are you creating it for?

Your audience is your next area of focus. You should be generating content that speaks to segmented groups within your target audience. Identify which segment you want to capture with each particular content piece. This will ensure that the right people will be attracted to your content and their attention will be held once they’re there.

How do you want your audience to react?

Once your audience has engaged with your content, what do you hope to achieve? What action do you want your audience to take after reading your blog post, watching your video or seeing your social post? Do you want them to read another article? Do you want them to download a brochure? Do you want them to make a purchase? Knowing the next action you want your audience to take will help you point them in the right direction naturally when creating your content.

What do you want your audience to do with the content?

Finally, think about what you want your audience to do with the content. Do you want them to share it on social media? Do you want them to forward it in an email? Do you want them to text it to a friend? Identifying what you want your audience to do with the content will allow you to make it clear and easy for them to do so once you create and share the content.

Once you understand purpose, it’s time to check out the statistics surrounding your content’s performance.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is your friend! Using a tracking code duplicated across all pages of your website, Google can monitor and record data pertaining to entry, exit and touch points on your site. This means you can map out popular customer journeys, understand which content pieces are drawing visitors into your website and, most importantly, pinpoint where your content is letting your down.

If you don’t have Google Analytics set up on your website, it’s worth having a developer install it for you. Alternatively, if you feel confident, you can do it yourself using the unique tracking code that Google provides when you set up an analytics account. There are also a number of plugins you can install on your site to do it for you, like MonsterInsights.

How do I measure content on social media?

Each social media platform has their own analytics function, but all return similar types of data. To get the most detailed data, you’ll need to install a code similar to Google’s tracking code on your website. Facebook calls it a pixel.

A pixel is a slab of code (Javascript) that you can plant on your website to link it to your Facebook page. This allows Facebook to track the traffic traversing between the two online mediums. You can create a pixel by signing up to Facebook Business Manager and heading to the Pixels tab in the Events Manager. Once you have your unique pixel code you can add that to the header on all pages of your website. Alternatively, you can install a plugin, like Insert Headers and Footers for WordPress, to make it easier to ensure the pixel is applied across every page of your site.

In the Business Manager platform, you’ll find more in-depth analyses of your social content. You’ll have access to data like year-on-year, month-on-month or post-on-post engagement, share statistics and interaction information.

But how do I interpret the data?

Making an accurate assessment of your content’s success is dependent on the goal and purpose of each piece. After identifying your goals, and the metrics by which you wish to measure them, the results will be implicit. The following is a breakdown of just a few ways you can identify value in your content marketing efforts.

Measuring Brand Awareness

Social media is one of the best marketing streams available to boost brand awareness. It is the ideal place for your business to test and display brand voice and can be a highly valuable tool for building trust and credibility.

If you are sharing content across social streams (which you should be), you can measure impact in a number of different ways; however, the most telling data reflects content engagement, shares and the traffic reaching your website from social media sources. You will find your traffic data in Google Analytics; however, you will need to look at each social platform individually to get an overview of audience engagement with your content. Alternatively, there are many online reporting platforms available, like Sprout Social, that enable you to view the data across multiple social platforms all in one place.

Website Traffic from Social Media

To quickly and simply measure the percentage of traffic that lands on your site via social media, you can create a segment in Google Analytics that will include referral data from all social platforms. This report will also allow you to follow the customer journey from social media interaction through to purchase, providing insight into the behaviour of your social traffic after landing on your site. Understanding how the referral traffic from social media performs against the company’s overall traffic will give you a good indication of the effectiveness of your social content in driving traffic to your website.

Measuring Brand Authority


If you’re writing blogs frequently, it would be wise to keep track of how well they perform on Google. Blogs can rank on Google search results just the same as your web pages. Google gives priority to relevant, useful and engaging content, so a blog ranking on page #1 of SERPs for relevant search terms, is definitely ‘good content’.


Backlinks are a great way to measure authority. A backlink is a hyperlink on another website that refers to your content and leads back to your site. The more backlinks you receive to your website, the greater the authority you build amongst your online competitors.

For example, you may write a knowledge-rich article on how to build a roomy dog kennel. If this article is useful and accurate, you may start to see other relevant sites refer to it in their own content. This demonstrates that your content holds authority and proves its success.

You can also measure the authority of your links to give you a greater sense of how well your content is performing. The more authority your referee holds, the better the link and the more successful your content.

For example, a link from a major corporation with a large audience will be worth far more than a link from an autonomously run blog with a smaller audience. These are small considerations but something definitely useful to measure.

Measuring Conversions

Lead Magnets

Planting tasteful, natural lead magnets within blogs and other written digital content can be a great way to track the effectiveness of your online content. A lead magnet is an incentive or offer that entices your audience to give up their personal information (usually their email address) in exchange for a tangible benefit. This could be in the form of an eBook or whitepaper or even a free consultation. Whatever your gimmick, it must be free and valuable to your audience. If your content is engaging and useful to your target audience and your lead magnet offer is relevant and targeted, it will convert. If your lead magnets are converting, you can rest assured that it is good content.


These are only some of the ways you can measure the efficacy of your content marketing efforts. A deeper analysis becomes more complex and requires a more thorough knowledge of the Google Analytics Facebook data platforms.

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