What data do content marketers actually need?
June 4, 2020
Google Analytics – and most other analytics tools – give you so! much! data! Almost anything you want to measure, you probably can. A quick look at the Dimensions and Metrics Explorer for GA, for example, will show you literally hundreds of:
- Metrics, which are specific measures of actions taken on your site, like pageviews or sessions
- Dimensions, which are specific ways of breaking down these measures, like geography, language, device, and so on.
Not to mention segments, filters, date ranges, etc.
But most people – and most content marketers – just don’t need this much data. In fact, looking at too much data can be distracting from your real goals, in addition to being time-consuming to set up and hard to understand and explain.
A few basic measures for content marketing
We think you can do really well with just a few things.
Pageviews, users and sessions. These are slightly different measures of engagement with your site.
Pageviews tell you how many times people looked at your pages, which can be useful for measuring the depth of engagement of a particular visitor, and the popularity of your content overall.
Users tell you how many people engaged with your site, which ultimately ties to lead generation and purchase goals.
And sessions are an important measure that’s kind of in the middle – how many engaged visits are you getting to the site? Of course, you want these numbers to increase.
Entrances. How many times did people enter your site for a certain piece of content? This is important to track so that you understand how much work your content is doing in attracting people to your site in the first place.
Bounce rate and retained sessions.
Bounce rate tells you how often someone came to your site, viewed just one page, then left. Sometimes this means that a visitor found what they were looking for, which is great – but ideally, you’re able to present other content to them, so they’ll stay.
And if a page generates lots of entrances, that’s good, but if they don’t stay, that’s much less helpful. So we calculate retained sessions by taking the number of sessions, and subtracting the percentage of sessions that bounced.
You’ll want to segment all of these measures, of course, by where visitors came from, with organic search being a key dimension to pay attention to.
Beyond the basics
We usually recommend a pretty focused set of measurements, but there are a few more things you can add if you’re doing a deep dive on your content or traffic strategy.
Heatmapping can be helpful as an infrequent exercise to see where visitors are engaging with your menu bar or other key pages on your site (e.g. the homepage). Most people shouldn’t run heatmapping tools all the time, since they slow down your site. When you’ve finished gathering data, turn the heatmapping tool off.
It can also be helpful to track a measure we call conversion contribution. For any conversion, what page on your site did that visitor first visit? If you’re knowledgeable about Google Analytics, you can track this by using the existing Converters segment, but you’ll need to make sure that conversions on your site are tracked. (We’re happy to chat about this, hit the chat button below if you want advice on your specific situation.)
Getting account-based marketing metrics from your content
If you’re using account-based marketing, there are a lot of tools you can also use to tag your visitors in Google Analytics as being part of your target accounts, then segment to see the behavior of just those visitors.
All of these engagement metrics, and particularly metrics from specific companies, should be folded into reports that your reps can use when they’re calling in.
Google Analytics (and other analytics tools) give you a lot of data. But usually, you can focus on just a few numbers to build content that performs really well – use the basics, like users, sessions, and pageviews, and of course you’ll want to measure entrances, bounce rates, and retained sessions.