One of the keys to developing an effective content marketing strategy is to ensure that everything you do is measurable. Not only does this help determine ROI for your content efforts, but it also enables you to learn what’s working and (more importantly) what’s not.
While website data and traffic are hardly the only things that matter when it comes to evaluating your strategy, they are still very important, especially when it comes to monitoring your company’s blog. With that in mind, I’ve found that some metrics are more valuable than others for B2B marketers.
Fortunately, the majority of this data can be tracked via the extremely powerful (and conveniently free) Google Analytics tool. In fact, many of the pricier web analytics options out there grab their data straight from Google Analytics and simply filter it out for you. The good news is that with a little practice, you can mine a lot of this information yourself without having to pay for any fancy tools or utilities.
With that in mind, here are four things I think every B2B marketers should track in Google Analytics.
#1. Organic vs. paid search traffic.
The traffic you get from search engines is a key indicator of how well your site is resonating. After all, the whole idea behind inbound marketing is for new customers to find you, so as you create new content, you’d naturally like to see those numbers go up.
Not all search traffic is created equal, however, so it’s important to filter between the free organic visits your content is generating and the paid hits you gain from AdWords or other pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns.
To see the visits you are getting from each, simply open the Advanced Segments menu and check the Paid and Non-paid Search Traffic options.
Personally, I’m always more interested in my site’s non-paid organic growth, as it’s a much better indicator of how our influence is growing online. You can also view this segment from the Traffic Sources tab on the left (Sources > All Traffic) to see which search engines are driving the majority of your visits. While Google will most often lead the way in this category, you might be surprised by how many people are using Bing these days.
#2. Social media referrals.
It’s also important to know how well your social media strategy is performing. A lot of B2Bs these days focus on things like number of followers/connections, retweets/shares, or the all-encompassing “interactions” metric when measuring social media. For my money, however, the most important thing is whether or not your social channels are driving people back to your website.
There are a few ways to do this. The most straightforward option is to select the Social > Overview option under the Traffic Sources tab to see a high-level rundown of your visits from various social channels.
I like to dig a little deeper though, so I tend to choose Site Content > All Pages under the Content tab. From here, I can open the Secondary Dimension menu, and choose Traffic Sources > Sources. Then I can run an Advanced search on each social channel as a traffic source, which will not only tell me how many views each is driving, but the individual pages on my site that people are going to as well.
#3. Landing pages.
It’s also a good idea to monitor how people are entering your site. These are the pages that people most often come to first, and they act as a gateway to the rest of your website (and thus, your business). By identifying the most popular landing pages for visitors, you may be able to improve the optimization for those pages or compose stronger calls to action to encourage an even higher rate of audience engagement.
Once again, there is more than one way to track this, but I find it easiest to simply select Site Content > Landing Pages from the Content tab. From here you can then filter the results further using the Advanced Segments menu to find the top landing pages via search, referrals, and more.
#4. Site traffic from a blog under the same domain.
This one is pretty neat. Basically, it allows you to monitor how effective your blog is at directing people to different parts of your website (product pages, “About Us”, etc.). For companies that have a blog that lives on a separate domain, this is easy – you simply track the referral traffic to your website. But what if your blog lives as a sub-folder under the sale domain (i.e. sitename.com/blogname)?
All you have to do is go back into the Content tab and choose Site Content > All Pages. Then you need to create a Secondary Dimension for Traffic Sources > Landing Page. From there, it’s just a matter of doing an Advanced search for all landing pages containing your blog URL syntax (“/blogname” in the example above). Run an additional filter excluding Pages that exclude the same blog syntax, and you’ll see how much traffic is being driven by your blog to other parts of your website, and the individual pages that are most popular.
Those are just four of the metrics I always track in Google Analytics, but obviously there is a lot more you can look for. Do you have a cool Google Analytics trick of your own? Sound off in the comments and let us know!
About the Author
Brendan Cournoyer is a content manager at Brainshark, a sales enablement platform provider that helps companies more effectively prepare employees, engage with key audiences, and advance business opportunities. For more musings on the world of content marketing, SEO, and more, follow Brendan on Twitter @brencournoyer.