Does Your Content Have Legs Under It? How To Measure Your Reach

There are a whole lot of tools and statistics involved in content marketing. From social statistics to content marketing analytics, you’ve got plenty of stuff to measure and gauge your performance. Parsing out what really matters from what isn’t worth keeping up with can be tough, and many small business owners either get too deep into their data to really see any trends, or they just ignore their data altogether.

Today I’d like to clear up some of that confusion and look at something that is absolutely essential to content marketing: content reach. “Reach” is exactly what it sounds like: how far your content “reaches” out to readers. Measuring your reach is part analytics and part common sense. Let’s take a look at how you can use both to improve your lead nurturing strategies and increase your conversions naturally and effectively.

Using Analytics To Calculate Your Reach

You don’t have to dig too far to get the data you need to figure out reach: you can start by simply going to the first default dashboard, the Overview page, in Google Analytics. Your Google Analytics Overview page gives you some key pieces of information: a graph showing per-day traffic activity, the percentage of new and returning visitors, and your unique visitors.

Your unique visitor count is the number of people seeing your site during your sampled time period: how many people are seeing your content directly, or are exploring the rest of your website. The percentage of new visitors to returning visitors shows you how many of those unique hits are from new potential leads, and how many are from returning customers or previous visitors. The graph is one of the most useful tools for calculating reach: it shows you exactly how many visitors arrived after you posted your content.

To make your life easier in Google Analytics, the Timeline graph now has a built-in Annotation function. Just double-click any point on the graph and you can enter a text annotation to that data point. For that traffic spike I saw thanks to a single blog post, I annotated that day with the title and link of my blog post, so I would remember in the future just how I earned that spike.

Using Common Sense and Observation To “Get A Feel” For Your Reach

If you aren’t a big analytics person, you can usually tell whether or not your marketing is working based on overall activity at your business. If you’re getting more calls about a specific product, your content marketing for that product must be reaching more interested people than you usually hit. If you share your content on social networks, you can usually see in your notifications when and where your content is shared—the more shares you get, the wider your content marketing reach becomes.

Sometimes writers and business bloggers can just “feel” when a post is good, not necessarily because they wrote it and liked it, but because of the response it gets once it’s posted. If you make a blog post and you get a lot of activity in the comments, you’re not only reaching those commenters, but you’re making such an impact that they feel compelled to respond. This feedback comes back to you and informs you of what kinds of content works better than others for your business. Marketing feedback loops between consumers and businesses are a common, and super-valuable concept worth pursuing as a content marketer.

Let Me Show You How Blending Big Data and Common Sense Observation Works

Following your data and going on your intuition are okay by themselves, but you’re better off combining both for a proof-backed observational measurement of your own. Here’s a real-life example of how I use data and common sense to measure my personal blog’s reach.

This data is from my personal blog’s analytics data over a three-day period. I posted a topical response to something happening that day, and ended up attracting some 1000+ views on that post alone during that afternoon. You can see the initial spike when I first posted it to my blog, and then as it slowly drops off over the next 6 hours, there’s another huge spike in the middle. That’s from when I posted a link to my article to Twitter and asked my followers to read and share it.

All the new and return visitors in the pie chart are within the span of 24 hours before and after that post. You can’t see it here, but my conversions improved after this post too: I picked up a handful of new subscribers on my blog, and have noticed a slight uptick in new subscribers even weeks after this initial post.

Looking at this visualization of a single post’s traffic performance throughout the day gives me a much better idea of just how wide my reach is. I didn’t even need to dig too far into my data for this, either: all I had to do was look at my overall traffic stats, my social shares, and the number of interactions I received directly on my blog post. Once you plot your actions out on a timeline and measure that up against your hourly analytics data, you can see exactly how far your content goes each and every time you post it.

All It Takes Is A Little Effort and Basic Analytics Work

If you’re the type that likes to use tools and measurement equipment to keep more detailed data, there are plenty of tools for you. Bit.ly’s link shortening services also feature a full range of tracking services to keep tabs on how many clicks your links get. Facebook Insights does the same trick, but for Facebook interactions; and Crowdbooster keeps an eye on your Twitter performance.

If you don’t feel like signing up for new services and just want to use what you’ve got already, that’s fine too. All you need to keep tabs on your content performance is a log of your content activity—in your brain, on paper, in a spreadsheet, wherever you need to put it—and a way to stack it up against timestamps on your analytics data.

With that information, you can see how your traffic ebbs and flows with each new piece of content you post, and based on the performance of each new piece, you can get a better understanding of what attracts more leads and better business to your website. This is valuable information you can use to write better content in the future, or pass along to content marketing services so they have a better understanding of what they can do to help you succeed. Give it a shot for yourself, and let us know what works best for you!

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Andrew Glasscock is currently based in Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated with a BA in English, specialized in Creative Writing, with a minor in Marketing this past May. Along with copywriting, he loves being an improv comedian, playing frisbee, and dogs.

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