6 actionable metrics for content marketers & bloggers (that you won’t get from Google Analytics)

I have posted in the past about how to use Google Analytics to track your content marketing efforts. However as a content marketer Google Analytics can’t give you all the information you need – in fact a lot of the most important data for you to track is nowhere to be seen.


Informly is re-launching soon as a tool to enable content marketers to track people and content metrics (more here)

If you are only using Google Analytics to track your efforts, you might be missing out. Here are some of the key bits of information you can track to help engage your audience and grow your business.

1.  People

audienceAn often forgotten fact about analytics is that data is about people. We’ve moved on from tracking ‘hits’ on a website.

Content marketing is about engaging with people and ultimately getting them further down the purchasing funnel. Since that’s the case it’s important to know who your people are. Specifically:

  • New audience members (who they are, how they have interacted with you, where they hang out online etc)
  • Most active audience members (who they are, how often they have interacted with you etc)
  • Most influential audience members (if an influential person in my industry likes my stuff I want to know about it!)

A lot of content marketers just track ‘page views’ and rely on social media interaction to work out who their audience members are. But active social media ‘sharers’ are a fraction of your audience.

2.  Direct and indirect conversions

A lot of content marketers track goals in Analytics but most don’t link those back to the content they are producing. In terms of content marketing, conversions can be either direct or indirect. Direct conversions happen right there on the blog post – you can assume that blog post has caused them to convert right there.

Indirect conversions happen after someone reads your blog post, checks out other parts of your site and at some stage in the future returns to convert. You can assume here that the content had some role to play in them ultimately converting. More often than not people will read a few posts before wanting to give away their email address, submit a lead form or make a purchase.

Tracking direct conversions from your content can tell you what content is doing a good job at immediately driving conversions. Not all content will be designed to do this though so it’s also good to track indirect conversions. It’s important to know what role content is playing in your overall sales funnel. Some content (say podcasts) might be effective at building your authority and engaging your audience but maybe not so effective at driving conversions directly.

As with any conversion tracking it’s useful to track total conversions as well as conversion rate. Often the posts with the most traction will have the most conversions but there might be hidden gems in posts that didn’t get as much traction but have a high conversion rate. Doing more to promote posts like this will give you a better return since they are highly converting posts.


The upcoming release of Informly shows you ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ conversion totals for each of your posts

Conversion tip – Tailor your opt ins to your content

One simple but very effective way to boost your conversions from your content is to offer different ‘opt in bribes’ for different pieces of content. For example the post you are reading right now relates to the re-launch of Informly so the opt in I’m using asks people to sign up to be notified (this is different to opt ins on other posts). The more relevant the offer, the higher the conversions (see more in The ultimate guide to creating content that converts).

To achieve this I do the following:

  1. I use a plugin called WP Post Snippets to store snippets of code that I use for my opt ins – that way I am not duplicating code all over the place.
  2. I have a generic opt in that goes at the bottom of every post on my site. I am using Using WP Post signature for that opt in.
  3. Then when I want to use a different opt in within a post I make a code change (unfortunately there’s no setting) in WP Post Signature to exclude the default opt in and inside the post I’ll paste in the shortcode for my new opt in snippet from point 1 above. You can do the same thing with the sidebar opt ins by just turning the default widget off on the post and creating another one just for the post. I also customise the scroll opt in on the right using a similar method.

Note thankyou to Lisa who commented below about the plugin Magic Action Box which achieves the same thing without the coding. 

This has a big impact on conversions since you are offering people something that is specifically related to the thing you know they are interested in. Ideally you want to create an awesome post and then offer an even more awesome opt in that is an extension of the post (like a PDF version or a download that relates to the post or something like that).

Tracking conversions per post is a good way to get a feel for what is working here and refining this strategy.

 3.  Sharing ratio

While content marketing can perform many functions, the most popular way to use it is to attract new people into your business. If this is your goal then looking at page views is a bit meaningless because you don’t know if they are new people or existing audience members. So instead we can look at the sharability of the posts.

Most content marketers glance at the total shares on their blog posts but this in isolation really is a vanity metric because there’s not much you can do with the information (high number of tweets could just mean lots of people viewed the post, it could mean it went randomly viral on a news site etc).

What we want is actionable data and to get that we can look at the sharing ratio – what percentage of people who viewed your posts, shared it on social media.

When I look at my own posts my sharing ratio ranges from 3% all the way up to 18%. So I look at the highly sharable content and create more content like it and I also allocate more resources to promoting it. Doing so results in more sharing which results in more new audience members.

4.  Content impact

Content impact is a measure I use to quickly and visually identify how posts are performing in relation to each other. Again if you are just looking at page views you may not be getting the whole story so I find it useful to look at an overall measure that considers page views, likes, tweets +1’s, comments, conversions etc to calculate the overall ‘impact’ of the post.

The way it works is we add up each of the individual metrics and plot our posts from lowest in each area to highest. We then choose the post with the highest numbers overall and this is given an impact score of 100 and is the benchmark for all other posts (don’t worry if you use our software it does it all for you). Other posts are given scores relative to the highest impact post.


How I used content impact to create an epic post

Shortly after I started tracking this metric I released my post 50 Traffic Tips for Content Marketers. Up until last week this post had by far more impact than any other post (100% vs the next best post at 29%). Seeing it in such a visual way prompted me to look at why that post had done so well and then to replicate it’s success. So I did the following:

  • I set out to create a large post that took days to create rather than hours
  • I did a lot of research for the post looking at 20+ other posts to gradually build up a great resource
  • I contacted industry experts to be included in the post like I did with the traffic tips post (I then told them about it after I published it)
  • I spent extra time creating high quality graphics so the post had a big graphic focus

Based on that I put together my post Why content marketing doesn’t work and what you can do about it (The ultimate guide to creating content that converts). This post has replicated the success of the first post almost to perfection. In 13 days since launch it’s built up the following stats:

  • Overall impact score of 78% (double my next best and on the way to match the traffic tips post which has a 2 months head start)
  • 159 tweets
  • 52 +1’s
  • 48 mentions on linked in
  • 52 backlinks from 12 domains
  • 19 direct conversions and 9 indirect conversions

This is a pretty good return for one blog post and one I wouldn’t have dreamt about only a few months ago.

5.  Backlinking domains

Backlinks are beneficial obviously from an SEO point of view but assuming they are quality links from quality sites they are also a great way to get new people to your content. I don’t obsess over backlinks like I used to but I still like to look at the types of posts that are high in the backlink count and I also like to know who is linking to me.

Back link count

Looking at which pieces of content have a high back link count can reveal a lot about your audience. Is it the podcasts that get them linking to you. Is it highly graphical content liks videos or infographics? Whatever it is, do more of it and see your backlinks increase. Here’s a screenshot of my total backlinks since starting Informly towards the end of last year (no deliberate SEO or back linking just lots of highly sharable / actionable content that people like to link to).


Who is linking to you

I also like to look at specifically who is linking to me and I will generally go off to their site and thank them, post a comment or something like that. This can lead to great long term partnerships and it helps you discover people who are already engaging your audience.

6.  Title open rates and click rates

As I’ve mentioned in my post The ultimate guide for creating content that converts), the title of a post can make or break it. One strategy you can use here is to split test the titles in your email software and look for the title that gets the highest open and click rates. This stat is highly actionable because you can use the results to change the title of your post before you promote your post further (social media, forums etc).

I use MailChimp to do this and I generally run the test over my entire list. Whichever one wins ends up being the name that I give the post before I share it on social media.

Here’s an example of a recent split test between the titles ‘1 simple secret to skyrocket the quality of everything you create’ and ‘How I ‘hack’ excellence with 1 simple strategy’.


One simple change resulted in a 12% increase in click throughs.

As you can see the second title got significantly more opens and clicks (12% boost in click rate) so this is the one I ran with before I started promoting the post outside my list. The resulting post How I ‘hack’ excellence with 1 simple trick (which took me 2-3 hours to write) is now my 4th best piece of content ever after just a few days of being live.

I hope you have found this useful, if you want to be notified when we launch the new version of Informly please enter your email below. If you want to join the discussion let me know what you think below and if you have other actionable data you like to look at then I’d love to hear it.

*Note the Informly Content Analytics app mentioned in this post is no longer available.


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

10 responses to “6 actionable metrics for content marketers & bloggers (that you won’t get from Google Analytics)”

  1. Dude I love the pivot to make Inform.ly the premier tool for tracking Content Marketing ROI. Cheers!

  2. Dan Norris says:

    Thanks Owen we’ll see how it goes, I’ll be launching the next version very soon hopefully next week.

  3. petrnew says:

    Like your “no-fluff” style Dan and keep my fingers crossed for your new actionable and beautiful analytics to come on stage soon!

  4. Dan Norris says:

    Thanks man me too!

  5. Interesting re-launch!

  6. Dan Norris says:

    Thanks Goran, the existing features will all still be there but there will be some extra features for content marketers. People will still be able to get a dashboard of stats from a bunch of other places. Looking forward to seeing how it goes.

  7. Melanie Richards says:

    I’m loving this! Real practical knowledge, it’s the way to go. Also very interested by your pivot. I can now see how inform.ly will be a must have tool for me and to offer my clients.

  8. lisa league says:

    Dan, for tailoring your opt in to your content there is a terrific WordPress plugin, magicactionbox, that lets you create multiple opt ins and easily choose on a per page or per post basis, no messing with code needed, although you can put the code it makes directly into your template files.

    I use the pro version, which also lets me easily change out all the opt ins on my site in one shot without having go back into each page or post, and great for switching out a site wide promotion. You could easily make the 2 boxes above, email or button boxes with it.

  9. Dan Norris says:

    Thanks Melanie great to hear

  10. Dan Norris says:

    Hey Lisa great tip thankyou! I’ve updated the post above to include your suggestions. Changing all the opt ins at once can still be done with WP Post Snippets but you do need to understand code so this will be a great option for those who don’t!

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