Using Google Analytics to determine if your content is generating leads

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As a content marketer I’m regularly looking at my stats to work out what content is doing well. In this article I’ll go through 2 useful reports for determining how useful your content is at driving leads.

Note: For a basic overview of analytics check out our guide to actionable analytics in Google

3 measures of content effectiveness

In reality there are hundreds of benefits of producing content but I like to think about it in terms of 3 main categories of metrics.

content_analytics

  • Engagement is fairly easy to measure with Google Analytics with things like page views, time on site, bounce rate etc.  But just because someone is reading an article it doesn’t mean you are attracting a new audience and new customers. 
  • Sharing is important because it means you are getting in front of new people and therefore potentially driving new customers to your business. Google Analytics gives you a little bit of information here such as landing page totals from social referrers etc but generally you’d use other services to determine specific social metrics.
  • Lead gen tells you how effective your content is at either driving or influencing leads or purchasing decisions. Again Google Analytics is a bit limited in this regard but there are 2 useful reports for this which I’ll go through below.

Configuring goals

There’s not a lot of point in monitoring analytics if you don’t have goals configured. If that’s the case you are really only looking at basic on page metrics and you can’t really tell whether your visitors are potential customers. Sure they might like your content if they are spending a few minutes on site but show me the money baby!

There are 2 types of goals that content marketers will often configure:

1.  Email opt in

Most people who visit your site and leave won’t ever come back so the goal should be to get them to opt in and often an email opt in box is the way it’s done. If you are taking people’s email addresses then you can configure analytics to track this as a goal (specific steps here).

Assuming you are having people opt in directly on the page where the content is (using the event method) then these URLs will show up in the goal URL report Conversions / Goals / Goal URLs (direct link). This gives you an idea of what content is driving opt ins.

goal_completions

2.  Enquiry or sale

Obviously getting an email address is great but getting a customer is better. Depending on your business your next goal might be filling in an online enquiry form or ideally if your business is online then having people sign up for an account or complete a transaction.

Note these goals won’t convert while people are viewing your content so the report above won’t be that useful. That’s where goal values and page value comes in.

2. Calculate goal values

Any type of conversion in analytics is worth something to you. In fact any interaction from a user on your website is worth something to you. The tricky part is working out how much.

To do this you can work back from your estimate of Customer lifetime value (LTV).

Note: If you want to learn more about how to calculate LTV check out my free actionable analytics email course where I go into this and more.  

For this exercise we’ll assume that a customer of the Informly agency reports app is worth $864 over their lifetime.

Informly trial started

My main goal is to get people to sign up for a free trial. I know that say 3% of these trial users will convert to paid users. I multiply this by my LTV to work out how much a trial is worth to me.

LTV * Conversion = Lead value

$864 * .03 = $25.92.

In Google Analytics admin where the goals are configured this is the value you enter for the ‘goal value’.

goalvalue

Email opt in

Email opt in goals are a little harder to calculate. But let’s make some assumptions (which you can continue to test over time).

Let’s say 5% of people who opt into my emails end up starting a trial (note Google Analytics isn’t particularly helpful in working out this percentage because you can’t get real people data out of analytics). You can multiply your trial value by your conversion rate to come up with the opt in value:

Trial value * Conversion = Opt in value

$25.92 * .05 = $1.30

What I also like to do here is use some common sense. An email subscriber, even one who doesn’t sign up for a trial is still worth something to me. They might share my emails, they might become a fan and promote my software, I might be able to market other products to them in the future. So for this reason I bump this figure up to $2. It’s by no means an exact science but it is good enough to provide you with some useful data.

Google Page Value

Now that you have goal values defined you can get some somewhat useful data out of Google’s page value metric. For goals like sales or enquiries or trial signups etc people will visit a lot of content on the site before signing up. Therefore the previous report showing goal completions on the page won’t help too much. What page value does it attribute a value to each page visited on the site during the course of a user converting. Then they use a calculation (explained here) to come up with an overall value for the page. It works something like this:

  • On Friday 1 person visits the Informly Agency page and signs up. The page has only had one visitor and they converted to a goal worth $25.92 so the page value is $25.92.
  • Of course this would never happen so let’s be more realistic. 100 people visit the agency page and 1 person signs up. The agency page is then given a value of $25.9c.

From a content point of view it might go like this:

In this example with the additional multiplier the page value for that article is worked out to be 2.5c.

Now as I mentioned before some content does a better job at driving leads than other content. Google’s content report with the page value column on the right can tell you which content is doing the best job at driving those leads.

page_value

Note I have had to do a fair bit of filtering with this report to take out pages that weren’t relevant and to take out sales pages. Sales pages are always going to have a page value that is far higher than any content pages. Nonetheless after all of the effort this report can tell you some pretty useful information. While some content is great at generating views, most of my top content doesn’t appear in this list because most of it isn’t very effective at driving leads. Note the types of content that is effective at driving leads:

  • Content that includes other people (social proof).
  • Content that is designed to drive leads like the recurring revenue course above is a post about my recurring revenue email course.
  • Graphical content like videos and infographics seems to do well at driving leads.

Limitations with Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a great tool but it’s not really designed for content marketers. For example:

  • Getting data on your posts vs other pages (Google doesn’t really know the difference between a page and a post).
  • Getting any specific ‘person’ data. Google knows you have a visitor but it doesn’t know who that person is. This makes it hard to get information for specific customers and hard to get lifetime value data since you are only generally looking at the first conversion.
  • Google’s default reports are set to focus on vanity metrics making it harder to delve into the really actionable stuff.
  • A lot of the data that helps you know how your audience is interacting with your content is in other places (i.e. your newsletter system knows who is clicking on links and opening your emails, social networks know who is sharing your articles etc).

Measuring the real impact of your content therefore is not easy with Google Analytics.

At Informly we are working on an analytics package specifically for content marketers to fill the gaps above. If you are interested in knowing more as we get closer to launch please enter your email address below.

Additional links

  • A better analytics dashboard for content marketers – Here, Adam provides a dashboard that you can install in Analytics to give you better info on your content. It tries to address some of the limitations above such as the inability to distinguish between posts and pages but even that’s not going to work for many people (it looks for the word ‘blog’ in the URL and with many blogs including mine the URL’s don’t include the word blog).
  • Custom Variables – It is possible to do more advanced things with custom variables such as tagging users who have read certain posts etc but it would require a pretty dedicated tech savvy person to really set all of that up. There are some things you can do with custom variables using the YOAST Analytics plugin like filtering by article author etc but the variables are pretty limited.

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About

Dan Norris is a co-founder at WP Curve and a passionate entrepreneur with an obsession for content marketing.

  • That was an interesting break-down. Thanks!

  • Thanks for this article!

    “Of course this would never happen so let’s be more realistic. 100 people
    visit the agency page and 1 person signs up. The agency page is then
    given a value of $2.59.”

    In this example, it would actually be $0.259 ($25.92 / 100), right?

    • Hey Veritas, sorry mate yes you are right 25c is correct. I’ve fixed it up. Thanks for mentioning it. I find the actual number to be not all that valuable but comparing one post to another has some value. Still I think it’s a bit of a confusing stat for people particularly when you see a value of a few dollars for a sales page and a few cents for the content that got the person to the sales page.

      Thanks for stopping by mate.

  • Krystian

    Gah… I would love to see how you manage to connect content and sales/inquiry conversions. It’s something that bothers me right now. Anyway – very insightful post. Thanks for sharing.

    • Yeah there is a bit of gap there. It’s such a long process to build trust and authority with content marketing that I’m beginning to wonder if it’s even possible.

  • Jon Hogg

    Hi Dean. GA used Last Click attribution model by default, so have you experimented with changing this so content earlier in the conversion gets credit?

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