As the need to create content drives all of us into a writing frenzy, it is important to make sure that your content is achieving its primary purposes. That is: to satisfy and engage your audience, realize your desired business goals, and thirdly, appeal to the search engines' algorithms. But how do you know it is working?
The reality is that you cannot access every bit of data regarding the reach of your content or the effect it has on every reader. What you can study, however, is which piece of content has triggered a general climb up the search engines for your business. You can discover ample information to make informed decisions about the content (that you need) to produce and how to market it.
It is, no doubt, very much still an imprecise science. And yet, if your content marketing strategy is working sufficiently well (even if you are unsure precisely why), then keep doing what you are doing!
Here Is Some Advice On How To Tell What’s Working With Your Content Marketing Activities
The most obvious place to look... your bottom line. Is that the most logical place though? Not really. If your objective is to increase sales, you want to know if your content as a whole is working to achieve that end. The problem is, you can’t tell by looking at your bank account. You can’t even tell by the number of likes and followers on social media. The only way to tell is by analyzing the level of engagement you are able to achieve. We are not saying that numbers don’t matter. Of course they do. If you want to drive more people to your website and raise the profile of your brand, then you can tell from your traffic stats, as well as by the number of positive mentions of your brand across the Internet. Unfortunately, these numbers won’t directly translate into sales and revenue. For that, you have to nurture relationships and reward loyalty.
With targeted marketing and content releases, you can make some judgement whether a specific content item has triggered an uplift in sales. However, it may be that your content has been linked somewhere other than your original piece, and that has caused an uplift at a later date or independently of the content on your own online real estate.
Watch that Traffic and Understand the Analytics
By keeping a watchful eye on the traffic stats for the homes of your content that are under your control – be this your website, a blog, a Facebook or Google+ page, Pinterest and Flickr for images, YouTube and Vimeo for video, and so on – you can begin to grasp how popular, or unpopular, your content is proving to be.
Number of views, however, is not sufficient data to understand whether people have read or consumed your content. You need to know if they have gone away feeling dissatisfied, or whether they proceeded to share, review or discuss it. Unless your content is genuinely interesting and shareable, it may simply exist but have no life!
Does Your Content Simply ‘Reach’ Your Audience Or Does It ‘Touch’ Them?
There are many tools to guestimate the reach of a specific item of content, but these tools cannot assess the effect of mentions by others, offline chatter, or non-indexed, untrackable references to your content. Remember that even Google indexes less than 1% of the Web. There is so much going on that is extremely difficult to track, particularly within non-public forums, academia, behind firewalls, and so on.
This should not stop you from seeking out as much information as possible about the reach of your content. Your never-ending task is to increase audience engagement, so you need to understand the paths to your current audience before you can replicate that success and find new routes to more eyes and ears.
Comments, Reviews & Mentions—What Are They Saying?
Always monitor the Internet for mentions, links to your site, referrals, reviews (both positive and negative) and comments about your content. This could be with Google Alerts, referrals within your site analytics (more difficult now than it was but the information is still there in most analytics tools), or tools such as SocialMention, Technorati, Mention, or good old fashioned search strings in the search box.
In Part 2, we will look at how best to use this information and tweak your content to (a) suit your audience, (b) expand your audience and (c) better achieve your business goals.