7 Ways to Follow and Measure Your Content Engagement

You live and die by engagement. As scary as it may seem, analyzing that data is key to your success.

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By Cynthia Johnson

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Unfortunately for anyone who thought they could get out of analyzing numbers by getting into marketing, so much of Internet marketing is analyzing pages and pages of data, calculating rates, testing new features and then collecting more data to be analyzed.

Fortunately, it's not quite strict algebra, and there are tons of tools to help even the clumsiest of mathematicians. Well, maybe not the clumsiest, but analyzing is a system of mathematics you can learn. Just like finding x, you're taking the resulting numbers and working backwards to really close in on the values you want. Once you know what you're looking for and have a method to finding it, the rest should be easy as π.

Set engagement goals

When you're first tracking your data analytics, it can be difficult to make sense of all the numbers in front of you when you don't know exactly what you're looking for. While some goals are given, like a low bounce rate, certain engagement goals will affect how you want to view your numbers. Do you want to boost engagement with your current audience, or increase your audience? Do you want to turn readers into email subscribers? Or do you want to increase content engagement on Facebook? These answers will shape what you want to see on your analytics platform - and once you set your goals on Google Analytics, they're much easier to monitor.

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Picking the right metrics to follow

Concentrating on the right metrics depends on the engagement goals you set out for yourself. Depending on those goals, you'll want to monitor statistics like:

  • Average pages per visit (perhaps you want your audience to look around your website or blog. You can increase this amount for posting simple calls to action to an important page, or providing related internal links.)
  • Frequency and Recency (to see how many times readers come back to your page on their own)
  • Bounce rate, keywords, and other metrics. Follow the metrics that are less about Search Engine Optimization, and more about Search Experience Optimization. If you're looking to boost social engagement, you might also want to monitor your Facebook insights and Twitter Analytics closely; like Likes, Shares, inbound links, geographic heat maps, etc.

Keep your old records!

Some analytics platforms, like Google's Search Console, will let you download their reports into an Excel spreadsheet - and this is extremely important. Whether you're plugging in your valued data into a spreadsheet on your own or downloading it right from the platform, doing so is worth the effort. As Google only keeps records for 90 days, you could easily lose valuable data or have a hard time tracking your long-term goals.

Duration of time spent on a page

As Tony Haile, CEO of Chartbeat, wrote in Time Magazine, about 55% of web browsers spend fewer than 15 seconds on a page. While site visitors and click-through rates are still an important metric to monitor, they don't necessarily reflect the quality of either the content on a site nor the people reading them. In fact, when studying the best and worst performing topics, Haile's team were able to find that while the traffic levels didn't deviate much across the board. The best performing topics captured about five times the attention of the worst performing topics. This proves that quality and value of a page and a site's success, in the long run, can no longer be quantified in number of clicks, but rather, time spent on a site and repeat visitors.

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Conversion Rate Optimization

The difference between collecting visitors to your site and generating customers and leads is conversion rate. Conversion happens when a new visitor visits your site and subscribes to your newsletter, registers an account, places an order, or any other expressed goal. You can optimize your conversion by testing different forms of copy, A/B testing different features, optimizing your landing page to include more calls to action and other features, and other methods. If you keep testing and monitoring your conversion rate (find your conversion rate by dividing the number of conversions you have by the number of visitors who find your site), then you may soon see profits rising and more engagement.

Social engagement

Your social media entities are crucial extensions of your brand, and the best way to measure your relationship with your consumers and target market is by analyzing your social engagement. Whether it's in true engagement (in the form of clicks, replies, comments, likes, favorites, or +1s) or amplification (retweets, shares, repins, reblogs, revines), these social media cues are extremely useful in telling you which of your posts performs well, which articles are more compelling socially, and how successful product launches and marketing campaigns are.

Use a service like Chartbeat or TrenDemon to get a better sense of data-driven readership

After you've been tracking your website data and audience engagement for a while and have a better sense of the kind of readership you'd like, and the information that you may not be getting from Google Analytics or the Facebook and Twitter insights platforms, you may want to expand your horizons to include Chartbeat or TrenDemon. Chartbeat offers a comprehensive dashboard which offers real-time analytics on new, returning or loyal visitors, engagement time, top performing pages, and offers insights like which referrers have the best return rates. TrenDemon provides a tag to put on your site, and, by following a customer's journey and collecting insights on top-converting pages, and acquisition channels, it supplies information and advice on how to direct your content for more conversions.

Related: How to Weather the Storms of a Startup

Cynthia Johnson

Co-founder and CEO of Bell + Ivy, marketer, speaker and author

Cynthia Johnson is co-founder and CEO of Bell + Ivy. She is a marketer, speaker and author.

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