The number of times your content is viewed is certainly one obvious indicator of whether the content you’re publishing is having any impact. The number of social sharing is another—if the ideas are really resonating with your readers, they’ll want to spread the message. But data-driven insight is more complicated than those two measurements alone–there are other metrics that should be considered carefully, in order to gauge the strengths of your content and illuminate opportunities for improvement. Here are three big ones:
Bounce rate, read time, and returning visitors are solid metrics that show content effectiveness.
When a user lands on a page and immediately navigates away, it’s called a bounce. Bounces happen because users scan content and find it to be mismatched for their needs, or click on the link accidentally. This metric is especially important to companies using email marketing—because so many people check their email on mobile devices, where messages open automatically, high open rates can be misleading. If the bounce rate is also high, beware—people aren’t really reading your content.
The average read time can tell you several things about how your content is performing. First, it lets you know if your style, tone, and message are engaging and appealing. Are people drawn in to what you have to say? Do they like the way you’re saying it? If they are, and if you do, your read times will be long. Short read times indicate that you might need to rethink your voice. The average read time can also let you know if people are reading all the way to the end (the average person reads about 300 words/ minute). If they aren’t, and that’s where your call to action is, you should consider restructuring your content, embedding purchase opportunities contact forms, etc., higher on the page.
Lots of unique visitors are great—that means your content is reaching a wide audience. They’re also important to advertisers, if you have those relationships. But repeat visitors mean that your content is sticking. When people are searching for information to help them make a purchase they visit many different sites to gather information—38 sites on average if they’re deciding on a vacation. If they’ve come back to yours, you’ve offered something of value that they’re coming back to reference again— your connection is stronger, and so is their consideration of your brand.
So, now that you know how important these metrics are, how do you get them to register at the levels you want?
Effective content marketing relies as much on strategy as it does on creativity. When you drive visitors to your site, they are looking for something specific. Whatever it is–information on a product, a donation button–make sure that they find it right away. But also make sure that your content is deep enough for you to be able to offer further information to win them over to your side.
Last, but not least, make sure that your design and usability are strong and clean enough to give them a flawless content experience where they’ll enjoy lingering.