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Content Marketing Metrics for e-commerce

Hayden Sutherland was involved in the early days of web development and has been pivotal in the implementation of some of the largest and most highly regarded sites on the internet.

His expertise covers online projects for organisations such as Nestlé, RBS, The Metropolitan Police and Philips and he has previously held senior roles such as Head of e-Business for P&O Ferries, Head of Project Management for a Top 10 Global Digital Agency and Technical Director at several online businesses. He has also won several awards including the British Interactive Media Association award for best financial services website.

For the last five years he has run Ideal Interface, an eCommerce and Digital Marketing consultancy based in Scotland. Although predominantly consulting in the retail sector (River Island, AllSaints Clothing, Sainsbury’s, etc.) the company has now built up a number of clients in the financial services, travel & tourism and other vertical markets.

He can usually be found Tweeting about anything from Social Media, eCommerce and multi-channel attribution through to reality TV contestants and the weather in Glasgow @haydens30

For the last year or so there has been an increasing amount of conversation (and hype) around the subject of content marketing for e-commerce sites. However I see very few people in the digital industry actually using specific key performance indicators that help understand what content marketing efforts are actually working or not. So thought I'd post my thoughts on which metrics could be used and why:

Returning visitors

The number of visitors that come back (directly) to the site in a given time period

Why is this a KPI for content marketing?

Returning visitors are an indication of how useful someone found your site previously. Checking which of these visitors came back directly (e.g. not via a marketing source) will give you a further idea of the content marketing stickiness of your site.

Conversions from links

The number of goals achieved via links within site content.

Why is this a KPI for content marketing?

Tracking when content is converting prospects to customers will help you understand just effective your content is. (e.g. By building links into the body of popular blog content that can take a reader off to a specific product detail page and then by measuring which type of links work best in delivering sales)

Sharing content

The amount of pages that get shared (e.g. via social media channels)

Why is this a KPI for content marketing?

Understanding which pages are shared and via which social media platform can give you an indication of how interested visitors are with the content. It can also shape your social media strategy by seeing which social networks are most popular with your target audience.

(Note: It can be a bit technical for some sites to integrate digital analytics with social sharing functionality, but most of the popular applications e.g. do have basic built-in analytics capabilities)

Measuring user generated comments

Sometimes referred to as 'comments per post' this measures the number of times visitors post responses, feedback or further perspective on your site (e.g. via blog comments)

Why is this a KPI for content marketing?

Assuming you allow some form of visitor comments on your site, this can provide some insight into those topics and subject areas that visitors want to engage with.

Bounce rate

The number of visitors (usually expressed as a percentage) who come to a site and only view that page before going off elsewhere.

Why is this a KPI for content marketing?

The lower the bounce rate the better, as this indicates that visitors are engaging with content rather than looking and disappearing off to another site

Pages per visit

The average number of pages each visitor looks at during their browsing session.

Why is this a KPI for content marketing?

The higher the better here, as this figure provides some indication of site engagement (e.g. if each visitor starts to read more pages on your site, then it hints that they are finding the content more useful / relevant).

So, have I missed any?

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