Back to Basics: What Content Marketers Need to Know About Google Analytics

Columnist Jonathan Blank outlines the three elements of Google Analytics that every content marketing team should understand.

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8 Steps to Creating Content Your Market Will Find & Love - Measurement

For months you’ve debated the framework for measuring the return on investment of your content programs. Based on external research and internal business objectives, you’ve set your priorities and understand at a high level how your content strategy should contribute to your brand health, marketing optimization and revenue generation goals. Now it’s time to set up your measurement tools to report against your goals.

Content marketers on your team should have a basic understanding of Google Analytics prior to implementing an overarching content strategy or discrete content programs. Even if your team uses another Web analytics platform, such as Omniture, a primer on Google Analytics will help facilitate conversations on what to track and how to report on those metrics.

If your team understands the following three elements of Google Analytics, you should have a good foundation for your content dashboard.

Establishing Visitor Goals

Let’s start with what your goals should not focus on. They should not focus on overall traffic to your content hub.

Please do monitor site traffic. However, you should recognize that only a small portion of your traffic is going to take the conversion action you want. Depending on your industry, the average Web conversion rate is somewhere between 1 percent and 3 percent, according to WordStream.

By clearly defining your conversion goals in Google Analytics, you’ll gain a better understanding of what attributes are associated with your visitors that convert.

First, outline both your macro conversions (i.e., complete a transaction, fill out a form, etc.) and micro conversions (i.e., click on a pricing page, watch a video, stay on a site for a specific period of time).

Second, go into your Google Analytics account and set up these conversions as formal Goals that will be recorded. Sign in, go to the Admin Panel, and click on Goals under the View section. Google Analytics has templates for common goals and, alternatively, allows you to set up custom goals.

Defining Quality Segments

Through the use of Advanced Segments in Google Analytics, you can break out your high-quality traffic from your low-quality traffic. You should begin by coming to an agreement within your organization on what level of goal completion would match up with one of four levels of engagement.

Here’s an example of segments that you could define in Google Analytics:

  • Unengaged – Visitor bounced from site
  • Interested – Visitor doesn’t bounce, but views few pages
  • Engaged – Completes micro conversions
  • Converted – Completes macro conversions

In addition to defining quality traffic by behavior, we can layer on demographic and device attributes. You may want to look at how engaged users are who are between the ages of 25-34, for instance. Or you may want to look at how engaged your female users are.

Apply this segmentation to your reports and you’ll start to see what content aligns with spikes in high-quality traffic and, conversely, low-quality traffic. Hopefully, at this point, you are getting excited by the potential of getting out of the trap of continually having to grow overall traffic.

Reviewing Assisted Conversions

When you review what channels, pages and content are performing best for you, you need to make an active decision about your attribution model.

You have three choices for your attribution model. Last-click attribution gives full credit to the channel or content that immediately precedes a conversion. First-click attribution gives full credit to the channel or content that a visitor interacted with before any other channels in the conversion path. Finally, multi-touch attribution gives equal credit to all channels that visitors touched in their particular conversion path.

If you decide to go with multi-touch attribution, you’ll need to get familiar with Assisted Conversions in Google Analytics. If a channel is interacted with anywhere in the conversion path, except immediately preceding the conversion, the channel is considered an Assisted Interaction.

Let’s look at how a visitor might convert through to a sale based on our content marketing program.

“Jane” is interested in sprucing up her dining room for spring. She performs a Google search for “how to brighten up a dining room.” She clicks on an article we published on our blog about using paintings to brighten up rooms. From there, she downloads a guide we developed on evaluating paintings.

After a discussion with her family, Jane starts to look for specific paintings. She sees one of our re-marketing display ads for a modern and affordable painting. She clicks on over to our ecommerce page and converts.

Based on this scenario, we’ll attribute equal credit to organic search, our blog and display for the conversion. Organic search and our blog content will show up as Assisted Conversions in our Google Analytics report.

Use the data from Assisted Conversions to better understand your funnel and to optimize the performance of your campaigns that are feeding into your content hub.

As content marketers, we aim to grow quality traffic. As such, we need to take the time to define goals, conversions and our view of the funnel. If we take the time to do that, our audiences will spend more time with us.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Jonathan Blank
Jonathan Blank is the Director of Professional Services for NewsCred, a content marketing platform that pairs cutting-edge software and world class content. Previously, he launched and led an award winning content hub for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. When he's not helping brands tell stories, he's producing a storytelling theatre show in New York.

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