Content is your most important asset on the web. This is a point that is often contested between industries, but that is more on the basis of what qualifies as content. Anything that you release out there, from videos to podcasts to images on social media, is a form of content. It doesn't just have to mean blog posts.
But let's be honest, we mostly mean blog posts. Writing for a blog is a primary example of how you can employ content marketing for both product/service promotion, and increasing the revenue generated through a monetized site. Not to mention, it is one of the simpler ways to engage with an audience these days, and build authority, so long as you are doing your best to stay true to your brand through writing. Or, in other words, writing relevant and valuable content while telling your brand's story through your blog posts. (and social posts, too!)
Why Marketing Content Is So Effective
Ask ten different people, and you will get ten different answers to this question. I personally feel that the true power of content marketing is in its versatility. You can inform, entertain, evoke emotion, give hard data, connect with others, and a lot more. All through a single piece of content, which can be launched across the globe and reach an endless audience.
There are a number of tools out there to use to meet your content marketing goals. None have quite managed to gain the reputation of Google Analytics. If you are wanting to really improve content marketing, that is one resource you should be exploiting.
What Is Google Analytics
It is a free service that offers you detailed data on web traffic, sales and conversions, referrals and more. By using their reports, you can start to see where your visitors are coming from, how long they are staying on each page, what they are interested in, and so how you can better target them. It is an invaluable resource for growing your website.
Unless you run a major corporation or a massive site generating huge profits and sales, the free version will work for you. If you do happen to be running a conglomerate, pricing for premium starts at $150,000 per year. I think most of us will stick with the free service.
Here are three ways you can begin incorporating Google Analytics into your strategy to improve your content marketing.
1 - Look At Your Most Popular Posts
Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages
By seeing what posts have been most popular on your site, you can begin to plan for future posts based on the same theme or subject. It may also give you an idea of what general topics gain the most attention, and so will bring in the most readers. Many popular blogs have created theme days dedicated to those topics, or even changed the whole direction based on what their readers were looking for.
What makes a post most popular is going to be based on your own criteria. Is it how many people read it? How long people stayed there? Whether they went to other posts while reading it? The comments you have gotten, or social media shares, that prove it sparked genuine engagement?
By going to the Behavior section and to All Pages, you can set up a search metric that will target these issues within your parameters.
With that data, you can also tell which of your keywords seem to be working better (now that we live in not-provided era!)
2 - Pay Attention To The Time Spent On Pages
Time spent on pages is among one of the most valuable metrics you can have. It shows that people are actually reading your content, and so they will find it worth more. If they feel that your content has worth, they will be more likely to view more of it and to share it with others. This promotes growth.
Setting up a goal in your Behavior > All Pages section again, ask it to monitor time spent on each page for more than a certain amount of time. Usually four minutes is a good median, as it gives enough time for them to do more than glance or skim. For short pieces of content, anything more than a minute is good and for especially long content, more than five.
You should be able to get regular reports this way that let you know whether your content is hitting its mark. Based on the better results, you can also see what is working while weeding out what is not.
3 - Look At Referral Traffic Reports
Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages -> Secondary Dimension ->Acquisition -> Source
If you go to Acquisition (or set up a secondary dimension filter in your current report), you will see your referral traffic. This is traffic that has come from outside sources, such as a search engine result, social media sites, or links from other blogs. Looking at this style of report will show you what marketing efforts are most successful, and what sources you may want to start pushing harder.
For example, if you see on Google Analytics that you are getting a lot of traffic from StumbleUpon, but you aren't getting much from Google itself, it may be time to better target your SEO. If you are getting a lot of click throughs on Facebook, but nothing much on Twitter, you might want to focus on Facebook as your primary social sharing tool for content promotion.
Using this tool you can see both Pageviews and Unique Pageviews, and it will be sorted by the most to least popular. It also breaks down direct sources. So if you have, say, a dozen pieces promoted through StumbleUpon, you can see which ones are generating the most traffic, and which aren't. This level of detail will allow you to strength your marketing strategy a great deal.
Google Analytics is a helpful tool, and it is also a very thorough one. Those are three simple ways you can use it, but there are many other options available. You can do in-page analytics, search the site, measure the success of downloadable content, and an endless list of other possibilities. A lot of it comes down to your own ingenuity and goals, which is what makes this such a versatile resource.
Content marketing is one of the easiest and most effective ways of growing your site and generate steady profit. Analytics can help you get there, for free. What's not to love?
By Jessy Troy
Jessy Troy is a writer and content marketer. You can follow her on Twitter as @JessyTroy
Need to know more about content marketing, it all begins with SMART Marketing Goals.
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