As a small business, you have to stretch your marketing dollars and make sure every channel is earning its keep. The benefits of content marketing for small business can be huge, but how can you tell it’s really working for you? Which content marketing metrics deserve your time and money? With so many possible metrics to measure, it can be a little overwhelming.

Grab a PDF version of the Content Marketing Metrics Guide for Small Business.

Before You Measure

A small business has the advantage of defining content a little more liberally than larger companies. A newsletter, infographic, social media post, email marketing campaign, or blog post all count. Some will have the resources to produce or sponsor eBooks or whitepapers, but most small businesses will invest in shorter form content.

The first step in choosing the right metric is defining the purpose of your content. If the intent behind creating an infographic or social media post is to grow your social channels and increase engagement, it seems obvious that you’d look at followers, comments, and shares, right?

But what about when it’s not so cut and dried?

Check out the infographic below from our friends at Curata, which goes over 7 different types of content marketing success metrics, including:

  • Consumption
  • Retention
  • Engagement
  • Sharing
  • Lead
  • Sales
  • Production cost

At the bottom of each metric, you can see to which content type it would be applied – for example, session duration is measured for your blog/website, while form completions are valuable for downloadable assets.

29 essential content marketing metrics

The Top 5 Content Marketing Metrics: Where to Find Them and How to Use Them

1. Pageviews

If you’re using your website to convert visitors to leads (and we’re assuming that you are), then tracking the growth of your traffic makes sense.

key metrics for content marketing - page sessions

Where to find it:

Log into Google Analytics, then select Audience → Overview. If your pageviews are higher than your sessions, this means that visitors visited more than one page during their session.

How to use it:

The most beneficial use case is tracking traffic over time, which is helpful if you’re working on an SEO campaign. You’ll also be able to see if other campaigns you launch end up driving spikes in traffic. For example, if you send a newsletter with links to your blog posts, you should see a spike in traffic to your blog.

You can also use pageviews to determine top landing pages by using the Behavior → Site Content → All Pages. For example, if you built an email campaign and split tested two different landing pages, you could find out both which page received more traffic (pageviews), and which page resulted in more conversions.

(Want a pre-made analytics dashboard? Check out this pre-made content marketing metrics dashboard for Google Analytics)

2. Average Time on Page

This metric is particularly important to track after you make big changes to your website. For example, if you changed your home page to include a lot more information, it would make sense for more people to spend more time there, and potentially to visit less pages overall. However, if you removed a significant amount of content, and people start spending more time on your home page, they may have trouble finding what they’re looking for.

It’s also a great comparison tool – if particular Web pages, blog posts, or infographics have a longer time on page than others, they may be more engaging or relevant for your audience.

Where to find it:

In Google Analytics, under Audience → Overview, you’ll find your average session duration. For a more detailed (and useful) report, navigate to Behavior → Site Content → All Pages.

This will break down pageviews, average time on page, and bounce rate for every page on your site.

content marketing success - average time on site

How to use it:

We noticed that people were spending a tremendous amount of time on our pricing page, then bouncing off. The page was designed with a slider to help people find the right plan for them. We realized that the slider was confusing, and so while people were spending time fiddling with it, they never got to an answer. How frustrating! We greatly simplified the page, and now have a lower time on page, but also a lower bounce rate.

We also use time on page to gauge interest in our blog posts. For example, our visitors spent an average of four minutes reading our 438 Spam Trigger Words to Avoid And Why Context Matters More and Are You Ready for a Small Business CRM posts. When we started our blog, our average time spent on a blog post was only one minute. This means that our visitors find our blog posts interesting enough to spend FOUR times as long reading them as they used to.

You can conduct similar analyses on your site. For infographics, blog posts, and product pages on your site, more time on site is generally better. As mentioned above, notice any changes in time on page after you make changes to your website. Just like in our pricing example, decreases in time on page aren’t necessarily bad if you can provide a context.

3. Email Opens and Clicks

Tracking email opens over time allows you to see what kinds of subject lines are most likely to encourage a subscriber to open the email. Tracking clicks will also help you determine which types of emails are most likely to drive traffic to your site. (Yes, we realize we’re cheating by bundling opens and clicks, but since most email marketing or marketing automation tools will show both content marketing metrics in the same report, there’s not any additional work involved.)

Where to find it:

Within your small business email marketing tool, there should be an area that houses previously sent emails. In Automational, you can find this under Messaging → Email Broadcasts. When you select an email that you’ve sent recently, you’ll be able to see the open and click rates, as well as the absolute numbers.

email performance metrics - clicks and opens

How to use it:

Once you know what your base rate is, you can start running A/B tests to increase your open and click-through rates. Some common tests are changing the time of day or the day of the week you send an email, switching up the subject line, or segmenting the lists differently. See the 12 tests we recommend here.

Take it further:

Look at your unsubscribe/opt-out numbers, which should be displayed in the same report.

Email Unsubscribe Example

How to use it:

Unsubscribes could mean a number of things:

  • Your recipient is receiving too many emails from you
  • Your emails aren’t targeted enough for their interests
  • The recipient doesn’t remember subscribing to your emails

Once you know what your baseline for opt-outs is, you can see which of your tests successfully drives it down.

4. New Leads

This one’s pretty obvious: the volume and quality of new leads will have a direct impact on the pipeline of your business.

Where to find it:

You can find your leads within your small business email marketing tool.

If you have goals and conversions set up within Google Analytics and Google Adwords, you’ll also be able to track these through Google Analytics. You have the options of seeing all conversions under Acquisition → Channels or by landing page, which you can find under Behavior → Site Content → Landing Pages.

Landing Pages Example

How to use it:

If you’ve put a new form (for example, a newsletter subscription, content download, or contact us form) on your site that isn’t providing an uptick in leads despite an increase in traffic, you’ll have the opportunity to experiment with different headlines, form fields, and button colors. Then, once you’ve increased the conversion of the form, you can apply what you’ve learned to the rest of your site.

Alternately, it’s possible that certain channels will convert better than others. For example, imagine you have one landing page that you only promote on social for several weeks, and determine it converts twice as well as your other pages. You can now feel confident promoting that page through other channels, such as for email offers.

5. Social Media Follower Growth

Depending on your industry, social media can be a great awareness and lead generation tool for your business. Nearly every small business has a presence on at least one social channel. So what content marketing metrics should you be tracking for social?

Where to find it:

To see the impact of social on your Web traffic, you can use the Channels report in Google Analytics. You can find this report under Acquisition → All Traffic → Channels. You can click into any channel to see more details. This is particularly helpful for both the Social and Referral channels.

Google Analytics - Channels

You can track your follower growth and engagement on each platform individually, or by using a social media management tool such as Buffer.

How to use it:

Using the Channels report you can see which channel currently drives the most traffic to your website. If there’s a channel that’s driving both traffic and conversions, you may consider investing more resources here. Alternately, you may see a channel that you haven’t spent time on that just happens to be growing organically, in which case you may choose to divert resources there to see what the impact might be.

Pro tip: If your primary form of content is in the form of email, make sure you’re using UTM parameters to track which emails drive the most traffic to your site.

We hope this has been helpful for you! What content marketing metrics are you measuring currently? Is there anything you’d add? Let us know in the comments!

Grab a PDF version of the Content Marketing Metrics Guide for Small Business.