SilverDisc Blog

30th November 2022

The "So What?" of Content: How to Report the Effect of Your Content Marketing Efforts

Website content, such as your blog, is essential to your digital marketing system. It provides an opportunity for you to inform, educate or entertain users and lead them further down the sales funnel towards making a purchase. It’s a chance to position yourself as an expert within your industry. Content is what your marketing is based on – what can you share on social media, put in your email newsletters, or use to target new SEO keywords if you’re not creating regular content?


Why is it difficult to report on content marketing results?

The problem is that while your content may be making a sizeable contribution to your online success, the exact size of that contribution can be difficult to pin down. Take product description pages on ecommerce websites for example. If you have ecommerce tracking set up in Google Analytics, you’ll be able to see exactly what users are purchasing and because each product has its own page, you can see which pages contributed to your success and the exact numbers related to that success in terms of transactions and revenue. You can see whether a user landed on that product page or how they otherwise navigated to it, and because they bought the product, you know that page had an impact. But where does content such as your blog fit into this attribution? Particularly for lead gen sites where transactions don’t take place online and you can’t track revenue from the website so easily, it can be hard to see – and report to stakeholders – how your content has contributed to a sale. This could result in stakeholders not understanding the importance of content and becoming reluctant to spend time and resources on creating it. So to avoid this, how do we attribute value to content in real terms?

Here are five tips for reporting on the success of your website content.


1. Define success

Working towards success always starts with defining what success will look like. Hopefully, you will have business goals and goals for your digital marketing, and everything you do online will help you work towards meeting those goals. For example, an ecommerce business may have a goal of £1m in revenue in the calendar year, with all of this coming from online sales. A brick-and-mortar store with an online presence might have the same goal but with 60% of that revenue coming from online sales and 40% coming from the high street. A lead gen website may have the same goal but it may be harder to determine how much revenue has been driven by the website. Offline conversions are a whole other issue, but this highlights the problem many lead-gen sites have with figuring out what content is working and what isn’t.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to find out what role your content is playing, and you can still define success for your blog posts. The important thing is to not try to make it something it’s not, as we explain below.


2. Don’t try to make your content something it’s not

What we mean by this is that content such as blog posts, testimonials, case studies and so on, has a very different function on your website compared to other pages such as product or service pages. As explained above, it is much easier to attribute revenue to product pages than it is to attribute it to blog posts. It’s true that in Google Analytics you may be able to see that a blog post acted as a landing page and then a customer went on to make a purchase. This is one way you could say your content has led to a conversion with a certain value. But there’s a problem with that, too, and the problem is that it’s not very often that a blog post will directly result in a conversion such as an online sale, enquiry or phone call. So to measure the success of your blog posts against this would be doing them a disservice. If a customer does land on a blog post and then immediately sends you a contact form, that’s brilliant – but those instances are few and far between.

It’s also important to recognise that your content isn’t designed to only serve a purpose at the buying stage, and to understand what you should be focusing on in terms of useful, relevant metrics. We’ll discuss what those metrics should be later.


3. Consider the entire customer journey

We’ve identified that blog posts and similar content don’t serve a function at the buying stage, or at least not primarily. To explain this further, let’s consider the entire customer journey using the example of a musical instrument shop and a customer looking to buy a keyboard. This is a large, expensive purchase and can be daunting for a first-time buyer who isn’t sure what they are looking for. Their buying journey from beginning to end may look something like this:

  • Awareness
    • The customer realises they have a need: they want to take up a hobby they once had as a child, which was playing the keyboard.
    • They may have some general information that helps them realise they would like a keyboard rather than a piano or a digital piano.
    • At this point, they don’t know what is on the market or which websites are available for them to purchase from.
  • Consideration
    • The customer researches what keyboards are available, the price ranges, and the brands, but they are unsure exactly what they need.
    • Through further research, they get a better picture of the differences between the types of keyboards they could buy and the pros and cons for each to evaluate which product might be suitable.
  • Decision
    • The customer is nearly ready to buy, having done the majority of their research.
    • They may be choosing between two or three different stores, brands or models that could meet their needs.
    • They make a final decision and a purchase, which may be based on product facts and benefits, the brand or store, the price, an existing relationship with the businesses involved, and even a gut feeling.

At the beginning of this buying journey, not only did the customer not know where they wanted to buy from, but they didn’t even know which companies were offering the item. This is why brand awareness is so important, and why your blog should cater for every step of the buying journey so the buyer gets to know you early. Let’s revisit the journey above and this time consider the types of content you could use to target the customer at each step:

  • Awareness
    • The customer realises they have a need.
    • They may have some general information that helps them realise they would like a keyboard rather than a piano or a digital piano. If not, you can provide this to them through a blog post such as “Keyboard or Digital Piano: What’s the Difference?”
    • At this point, they don’t know what is on the market or which websites are available for them to purchase from, but they may find you during their initial research thanks to your above blog post.
  • Consideration
    • The customer researches what keyboards are available, the price ranges, and the brands. As they are still unsure what they need, you can help them by writing buying guides for various brands: “Yamaha vs. Casio: Which brand is right for you?”
  • Decision
    • They may be choosing between two or three different stores, brands or models that could meet their needs. You could help them along with an article: “The Ultimate Guide to Yamaha Keyboards”.
    • They make a final decision and a purchase. In this case, they buy from you because you’ve been with them every step of their buying journey. You’ve provided lots of content they found very easily and positioned yourself as an expert. They are ready to buy, and their gut feeling says that because you’ve been so helpful before they’ve even made contact, they should buy from you.

As you can see, by considering every stage of the customer journey you’re increasing your visibility and the likelihood of someone buying from you. You’re also giving yourself plenty of content as well as new opportunities to target different keywords.


4. Choose relevant metrics

As we explained in the second section, it’s unlikely that people will be making a purchase just from reading a blog post, so we shouldn’t measure blog posts based on conversion rates. So what can we use to measure content success instead? Well, you can have a look in Google Analytics and see how many visits the page gets when it’s used as a landing page, and where that traffic is coming from. For example, if it gets a lot of organic traffic, it may be that it uses a certain keyword that your other pages aren’t optimised for. Therefore, any traffic it’s delivering is traffic you may well otherwise not have received if it weren’t for that content. Low bounce rates are also good to look for because it means your content encouraged people to explore your website further. If you’d like to see how else the page fits into user journeys, you can look at Behaviour Flow in Google Analytics to see which pages users went to before and after the content in question. Time spent on page and average session duration are also good indicators that you’ve hooked a reader.

Whichever metrics you decide to use, it’s important to give your content time and attention so it can flourish. Depending on your brand, it’s probably not realistic to expect a blog post to begin gathering hundreds or thousands of organic visits in the space of a week, especially as SEO simply doesn’t work that way. When you’re looking at other traffic sources such as social media, you’ll need to give it a few pushes to get it in front of people, rather than writing it, sharing it once and then forgetting about it forever. Have a little patience and market your content to give it the best possible chance of success. And if you haven’t been able to do that yet, make that known in your reporting to set realistic expectations.


5. Take a holistic view of content within your business

Finally, don’t just look at your page or blog post as a standalone piece of content. Consider its place within your entire digital marketing strategy or even your whole business. What purpose does it serve? Consider the importance of brand awareness as well as those final steps towards converting. How can your content add value to your social media and email marketing? Which activities would you be unable to complete without content? Understanding your content, its place within your digital marketing system and how to report on all your hard work will help you to reap the rewards of increased conversions and revenue.

If you would like any help with your content marketing, get in touch with SilverDisc.

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