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Top 3 Metrics for SMB Content Marketing

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Likes, retweets, shares, page views, average finish, comments, social actions, average attention time… if you’re new to content marketing, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the endless sea of data available for analyzing content performance. To simplify the process a bit, let’s start by splitting metrics up into two categories: the relationship metrics that need daily or weekly monitoring and the ROI metrics that need monthly or quarterly monitoring.

Relationship vs. ROI Metrics: Which Matter Most?

Relationship metrics focus on day-to-day, piece-to-piece content engagement. As the name implies, these metrics measure how well your content is building a relationship with readers. ROI metrics are different: these are bigger-picture metrics like brand affinity, lead generation, and lead nurturing that can help you ultimately tie the success of your content marketing program to sales and revenue. While both relationship and ROI metrics are important, I advise clients to focus on relationship metrics first. A strong relationship lays the groundwork for long-term ROI success, and relationship metrics are key to monitoring the daily health of your content marketing efforts.

Start by focusing your efforts on these three relationship metrics:

1. Engagement Rate. Engagement rate measures the percentage of readers that stay on your page for at least 15 seconds.

Why it matters: For many article writers and content marketers, this is the “Holy Grail” of content marketing analysis: if your bounce rate is high and folks aren’t staying on your page, your content is clearly missing the mark.

How to improve: Be sure your content is meeting the needs of your target audience. Ask yourself these questions: is my content fresh, timely and relevant? Am I speaking to a common client problem or adding my own unique commentary to an industry trend? Most importantly, is the content easy to digest? Use subheads, bullets and bolded text to break down the key points.

2. Average finish. Average finish measures how far the average reader goes in a specific content piece.

Why it matters: If the majority of readers drop off after completing only one-quarter of a blog post, that’s a bad sign. Conversely, if the average reader completes at least two-thirds of the piece, this is a sign that your content is compelling and connecting with readers in a meaningful way.

How to improve: Just like with engagement rate, you’ll want to evaluate both your content’s substance and its format. For example, if you lost your audience after the opening paragraph, the material may have been too difficult to quickly digest or lacking relevance. Be sure every piece can be quickly scanned and includes actionable tips.

3. Total attention time. This is the total time your reader spends on a specific story. Total attention time will vary depending on the length of the piece; for example, a 500-word blog post might average 3-5 minutes, while an infographic may only be viewed for less than 60 seconds.

Why it matters: According to Chartbeat, readers who spend at least three minutes on a piece of content return twice as frequently to read additional content compared with readers who only spend one minute. As Charbeat cautions, we can’t confuse correlation with causation. However, total attention time remains an important metric for assessing relationship health.

How to improve: Total attention time is all about quality: if you don’t give your readers anything of substance to digest, they’ll scan the content quickly and leave. In order to build a loyal readership, be sure every piece delivers concrete, actionable information.

erin mErin M writes extensively on behalf of B2B companies to support their content marketing and thought leadership campaigns, and her clients range from major Fortune 500 companies to small business startups. When not crafting custom content solutions for her clients, you can find her adding stamps to her passport, scuba diving, or perfecting her secret cheesecake recipe.


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Freelancer Erin M

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