Do you know how well you’re performing in content marketing terms? If you think you’re performing/not performing well, why do you think so? What is the ROI of your content marketing strategy? What are your content marketing goals?
If you want your content marketing efforts to have a chance of success, you need to have clear answers to all of the above. You must have a set of measurable goals and a well-laid-out plan for achieving them. Once the project is firmly in place, you’ll need to measure your progress and document your results to know if you’re on the right track.
According to a Semrush study, only 11% of businesses think their content marketing strategy is excellent.
Taken at face value, this stat tells us that your content marketing strategy could perform in the 90th percentile with the right plan and benchmarks in place.
- Tracking Results — Key Component of a Successful Strategy
Content scheduling, repurposing, and audience research are all crucial building blocks of a successful content marketing plan. Once you’ve got all these blocks and a few more aligned, you should begin to see some results. But what are those results, and where can you find them?
Although content marketing is hardly new, many businesses, from the best accounting companies to the smallest mom-and-pop stores, fail to understand that a successful marketing plan doesn’t directly correlate to more conversions week to week or month.
Eventually, content marketing does contribute to generating leads and sales, and significantly so. However, there are some more helpful and more revealing metrics and benchmarks to help you keep track of your content marketing strategy and see how it is helping you grow your business.
With the right content marketing benchmarks, you’ll be able to pinpoint your worst- and best-performing content and act accordingly. With high-quality data analysis, you’ll be empowered to find the perfect “blend of herbs and spices” for your content and overall marketing efforts.
- 5 Categories of Content Marketing Benchmarks and Metrics to Track
Now that we’ve got the “why” out of the way, we can talk about the “how.” Metrics such as media coverage, social media mentions, and links to your content are all indicators of a growing brand presence and authority.
These scores are all quite handy when it comes to keeping track of the success of your content marketing plan, but there are other, more campaign-specific ways of measuring your success in the real world.
Let’s dive into the most revealing metrics that should be closely monitored by content marketing teams that want to outperform the very best. Knowing the following benchmark categories will allow you to use them as key performance indicators (KPIs) and enact a more effective marketing plan overall.
You want your website visitors and social media followers to engage with your content. High engagement metrics signify an interested audience wanting to be informed about your offer. Here’s what you should pay the most attention to:
- Session duration — “Session” may be a confusing term here, but all it stands for is one visit to your site, from when visitors enter the website to when they leave. Session duration, therefore, shows how much time users spend on your site, irrespective of the number of pages they visit. According to Klipfolio, the average session duration ranges between two and four minutes.
- Inbound links — The more pages on the internet have referral links to your site, the higher your domain authority (DA) will be. This is one of the critical purposes of link building, although not the only one. Tools like Moz, Ahrefs, and Semrush enable you to assess the number and the quality of the links referring to your site. Find out which of your pages are linked to the most and focus on creating similar content in the future, improving your search visibility and rankings. Regarding this metric, there’s no benchmark to speak of, as your success hinges more on quality than quantity.
- Click-through rate (CTR) — Every link and button on your site has a click-through rate. This represents the percentage of users who decided to click on this link or button upon seeing it. A higher CTR denotes a higher level of engagement. Across all industries, the average Google Ad CTR is 0.46% for display ads and 3.17% for search ads.
If you want to know how many people are consuming and viewing your content and how much time they spend on each piece, you’ll need to look at consumption metrics. Here are the key few:
- Unique visitor count — This allows you to see the overall size of your audience. This fundamental metric is vital in understanding your content’s reach and your audience’s growth over time. A “good” unique visitor count is precise for each website, as you want to compare yourself against your closest rivals.
- Pageviews — The total number of views per page shows you which pieces of content draw the most attention. Naturally, this is the content you should focus on in the future. As this is an “internal” metric, your best-performing pages are your benchmarks.
- Behavior flow — This Google Analytics metric helps you understand how users navigate your site. It depicts the user’s journey through the website, showing which page they land on, how they make their way through the site, and where they exit. Behavior flow is beneficial for pinpointing and optimizing user retention drop-off points. This is an entirely qualitative metric to give you a closer look at your user’s behavior.
- Average time on page — This could be listed in the last category, but it is technically a consumption metric. If your average time on the page is high, you’re doing well engagement-wise. However, if your visitors are mostly skimming through the content, you may want to consider making some changes. Based on Google Analytics data from over 20 billion sessions, 52 seconds seems to be a good Average Time on Page benchmark across all industries.
- Social Media
These metrics are crucial to understanding your engagement rates across various platforms. To find out if you’re getting more social media engagement than your competitors, you can look at the average all-industry engagement rate per post on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (0.064%, 0.67%, and 0.037%, respectively). Still, it would be best to focus on your specific industry and closest rivals. You can gain valuable insight into your audience, followers, prospects, and customers from the social media metrics listed below:
- Comments — Comments on social media posts are among the most accurate gauges of engagement. Keep a close eye on them to understand how your audience responds to your content. Looking at which posts get the most traction could also help develop ideas for future pieces.
- Likes and shares — Along with comments, social media likes and shares show how each content you post fares with your social media followers. It tells you which topics have the potential of “blowing up” and which have a tendency of “fizzling out.” You’ll need to be diligent in tracking all pins, retweets, shares, and likes for the complete picture. Use your best-performing content as a benchmark to strive for with each following post.
- Follower count — Finally, the most straightforward way to stay on top of your social media performance is to keep track of the size of your following. This metric is also crucial in evaluating your brand’s growth.
Retention metrics are the way to go when it comes to an understanding how good your website is at retaining visitors. They are:
- Bounce rate — The bounce rate of your website represents the ratio of visitors who leave without viewing a different page from the one they landed on. Although there are exceptions, the general rule is that your bounce rate should be as low as possible, as a low bounce rate indicates that visitors spend more time on the website. Identify the pages with the highest bounce rate and update or repurpose them to keep users around for longer. Unsurprisingly, bounce rate benchmarks depend on your industry and website type, with e-commerce websites averaging 20–45% and dictionaries reaching as high as 90%.
- Pages per visit — If people are not bouncing from your site after looking at just one page, you’ll probably want to know how many pages they’re looking at before leaving. Tracking this metric is to understand how valuable and engaging most of your content is. The e-commerce average is five pages per visit.
- Return rate — This allows you to see how many return visitors you have compared to newcomers. It is crucial to have a healthy mix of the two groups to build brand loyalty and reach. The average e-commerce return rate is just over 19%.
- Content Production
Content production metrics inform your future choices regarding content creation and the direction in which to take your content marketing approach. The two crucial ones are:
- Performance over time — You must track how your content does over an extended period. Did you create a piece of content for a specific time-limited event? Is it still raking in new audiences, or did the shares and other engagement metrics drop off a cliff after the first week? Keep a close eye on this combination of factors to maximize the overall value of each post.
- Time spent creating content — Tracking how much you spend on content creation will enable you to zero in on the most effective content marketing strategy. Freelance writers could help you focus on other marketing- and business-related activities, while in-house content creation will give you more day-to-day control. Either way, knowing how much time it takes to write a compelling piece of content will help you assess the efficiency of the entire process. The average time to write a blog post has hovered steadily around the 4-hour mark since 2019.
- Wrapping Up
Understanding user behavior is a long-term endeavor. There is no be-all-end-all solution, but actionable metrics and benchmarks will help you consistently move in the right direction.
If you want to survive in the world of content marketing, you’ll need to keep adopting high-quality metrics and understand why some of your posts perform better than others.
You might not get the complete picture if you only focus on a few benchmarks. You can always “buy” more reach through pay-per-click ads or add page breaks to your content to drive up page views. But just because you can “game,” these metrics doesn’t mean you should.
The trick is finding a balance between the quality of the user experience and the “score” achieved on each benchmark. This means taking a holistic view of your content marketing strategy.
Harold Ader is a digital marketing specialist and freelance blogger from Manchester. New trends in digital marketing and digital commerce are his main focus. In his spare time, he writes a lot for DigitalStrategyOne.
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