Using Google Analytics To Track The Impact Of Your Content Marketing Efforts

A recent survey by eMarketer found that 87 percent of B2B marketers used content marketing this year, making it the most used marketing tactic in 2012. But 43percent of the respondents said they didn’t even attempt to measure their program’s success. Now I think it’s fair to share that most of us that work in marketing understand the value and lasting impact of a content marketing campaign — brand awareness, industry authority, search presence, lead generation and more. But many members of the C-Suite, the ones who sign off on our content marketing budget, want to see tangible evidence that our content marketing campaigns are directly impacting the website and ultimately the bottom line. While it’s still hard to prove one-to-one causation between this specific piece of content and that particular closed sale (there is so much more involved in the buying process) it is possible to use Google Analytics to show the impact of your content marketing efforts. Here’s how.

The first thing you want to do once you’re logged into your Google Analytics account is sort out any content from your company blog. It’s easy enough to search for “/blog” (provided your company blog is on the same domain) in the All Pages tab in your Google Analytics account and that will show you which blog posts have gotten the most traffic. Once you’ve picked a particular blog post to analyze (might as well start with the most trafficked blog post!) you can set the date range to the day before the post went live to the day you’re pulling the report. Chances are you’ll notice a flurry of activity the day the post went live but great content will continue to attract visitors long after the initial spike.

The next thing is to see which keywords have sent visitors to this blog post from the search engines. You can do that by clicking on “Secondary Dimension” then “Traffic Sources” and finally “Keyword.”

Secondary Dimension Area

This will give you a good idea of how your visitors are searching. If you notice one search phrase in particular that is driving a lot of traffic it’s worth noting and incorporating into future content marketing efforts and your SEO campaign at large.

You also want to look at where the visitors to this blog post came from. Hopefully you are investing in social media promotion — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn Groups and so forth — which one of these is sending traffic to your blog? Is the majority of your traffic coming from organic search or a referral site? Also look at the average time spent on-site. If visitors from LinkedIn are spending over six minutes and organic visitors are only spending two minutes (which is still a good number) you know that your content is resonating with your LinkedIn connections. If the numbers were reversed you might want to reconsider which LinkedIn Groups you are submitting your content to and look for better options.

It’s also possible to take a step back and get a broader picture of how your content marketing efforts are impacting your site as a whole. Narrow the date range to a day or two before a blog post went live and a day or two after it was published. Chances are the date your blog post went live was also the most trafficked day that week. That’s because content stimulates activity. Fresh content gives the search engines a reason to come back and re-crawl your website and the quicker your content is indexed the sooner you’ll be getting organic visitors. Fresh content also fuels your social media marketing efforts, hence the traffic spike from social sites.

Outside of Google Analytics you can also track social media signals like re-tweets, shares, Likes, +1s and more to see how well your content is resonating with your audience. Popular and shared content tends to rank better in the search engines that content that doesn’t have a lot of social media activity surrounding it because every time a piece of content is shared it creates a social signal, alerting the search engines this content is valuable.

About the Author

Nick Stamoulis is president and founder of Boston-based SEO and social media marketing firm Brick Marketing. With over 12 years of industry experience, Stamoulis shares his knowledge by posting daily SEO articles to his blog the Search Engine Optimization Journal and publishes the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, which is read by over 150,000 subscribers. Read Nick Stamoulis’ full PubCon speaker biography here.

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