Content analytics. It’s a phrase many marketers dread. After all, content is an art, and analytics is a science… so is the phrase itself an oxymoron?

It doesn’t have to be. That said, measuring the results of your content marketing is difficult, as you likely know. Some companies don’t do it at all, while others try to assign importance to all the content performance metrics they can get their hands on. 

So how do you use content analytics as a trustworthy guide that illustrates the impact of your content rather than a bunch of numbers without any actionable insight? 

You need to: 

  • Understand the context of different types of content
  • Think critically about what you’re measuring and why
  • Recognize situations where your data may actually be leading you astray. 

In this post, I’m going to share three hard truths about content analytics that will help you be more efficient with your analytics platform.

Why Are Content Analytics Important?

First, a quick word on the importance of measuring your content performance.

As Peter Drucker states: “You can’t improve what you don’t measure.” 

If you’re simply tracking metrics for the sake of handing in an impressive-looking report at months’ end, you’re likely wasting time.

The best use of content analytics is to help your business track the performance of content so you know what’s workingi.e., what your audience is hungry to read or viewand double down on that. The better your blog posts do, the more traffic to your site you’ll get, and the higher the conversions. Likewise, you’ll see what’s not working and either discard those topics or formats, or improve them. 

If you aren’t measuring performance, you won’t know where to focus content efforts.

Related Content: Why B2B Content Distribution Tops Promotion Every Time

Here are three hard truths about content analytics every business should embrace for a stronger content marketing strategy. 

Truth #1: Content Analytics Are Often Misinterpreted 

Measuring content performance requires context. 

If your main goal is to grow website traffic through an SEO-driven content strategy, an 80% average bounce rate across all of your blogs might be something to celebrate. Why? Most folks are leaving your website after the question they Googled has been answered, but one in five is sticking around to learn more about what your brand has to offer. That’s pretty good, especially if the content they landed on is designed for single-session consumption.

On the other hand, a paid LinkedIn campaign driving traffic to a webinar registration landing page with the same bounce rate could suggest room for improvement: Why did four out of five people who were prompted to click the ad not want to sign up? 

A classic example of content analytics being interpreted incorrectly is the business leader who is eager to draw a direct correlation between page views and sales:

This fundamental content metric (page views) shows that you are getting eyeballs on the page. It can be used to measure brand awareness, and is typically the core KPI that organizations use to measure traffic growth — but it’s not tied directly to revenue. Rare is the buyer who converts on the first page view (or the tenth) — especially in the world of B2B tech marketing.

Moreover, because the modern B2B buyer’s journey isn’t linear, you have to be selective — and even creative — about the metrics you use to measure content success. Content analytics is often more art than science. 

[Source: ActiveCampaign]

Many businesses use their website analytics tool of choice (usually Google Analytics) right out of the box with little to no customization. This can mean you’re just looking at the numbers they show you, and making assumptions about these being the most relevant numbers to your business. They probably aren’t.

So, what to do? 

Consider collaborating with your marketing, sales and product colleagues to determine which metrics are most relevant. Ask them what signals they see that your content is helping to move the needle business-wise. 

Yes, this may require a fair amount of work upfront. It’s not something that can be done in a day. However, the process of continually refining your approach to content analytics (and asking yourself and your team hard questions about what really matters) will help your overall content marketing strategy become better over time. 

Some of our favorite unconventional content metrics (that may or may not be relevant to your business!) include: 

  • Unsolicited response rate: a thoughtful metric from Jay Acunzo that tracks when people go out of their way to respond positively to content — such as an email, social share, blog comment, etc. 
  • Retained entrances: a next-level SEO metric from our friends at ércule that helps you understand engagement at the page level and identify areas for improvement 
  • Engaged time: a time on page substitute from Simo Ahava that paints a better picture of the active time a user spends on a piece of content  
  • Reader satisfaction: a user feedback metric captured by a pop-up or form at the end of an article that simply asks the reader if they thought the content was helpful:

You might also talk to your sales and product teams (and even customer success) about which types of content come up most frequently in conversations with customers, partners, and key stakeholders. How does sales use your content to close deals? (If they aren’t, you have a problem on your hands.) How does product use your content to explain functionality to sales?

Ideally, most of your content performance metrics can be tracked digitally and reliably, but there may be some key insights you can glean from anecdotal evidence or cross-departmental analytics comparisons.

Truth #2: Content Marketing Attribution Requires Patience and Creativity  

You are almost certainly familiar with the term “attribution” which, in a marketing context, refers to user behavior that leads to a desired outcome, typically called a conversion: a newsletter signup, initiation of a product trial, a demo request… you get the idea. 

I won’t go into the details of how you go about setting up or fine-tuning goals to track conversions on the back end (there are plenty of good resources for that). What I will say is that content attribution — measuring how content contributes to conversions — is yet another piece of the content analytics puzzle that requires patience, creativity, and good ol’ fashioned trial and error to figure out what works best for your business. 

While your mileage may vary on attribution models and each can be tweaked ad infinitum depending on your content goals, here are the three most popular approaches to attribution in content analytics. 

Direct Attribution 

Also known as last-touch attribution, direct attribution only accounts for users who converted directly from a given piece of content. It essentially answers the question, “How much money (or how many leads) did this content generate for us?” 

While direct attribution can be useful in certain situations (such as evaluating the efficacy of bottom-of-funnel content), it is generally not a great way to measure content marketing overall, because it significantly underestimates the value of previously consumed content. The typical buyer’s journey in B2B tech is long, circuitous, and complex — most folks aren’t going to read a single blog and then immediately convert. 

First-touch Attribution 

In this model, conversion credit is given to the first interaction a user has with your website. Many B2B tech companies use an awareness-driven content strategy with the bulk of content being created for the top or middle of the funnel (TOFU/MOFU). 

With first-click attribution, someone might read a blog their friend shared on social media, return weeks later after being retargeted with an SEM ad, and ultimately sign up for a free account. Later, they might convert to a paid customer after receiving a series of “tips and tricks” emails to help them get the most out of the software. First-touch attribution gives more weight to the beginning of a buyer’s content journey, but it still doesn’t tell the whole story of the role content plays in conversion. 

Multi-touch Attribution 

Rather than attribute a given conversion to the first or last touch a user makes before converting, multi-touch attribution involves accounting for every single touchpoint they make along the way. 

There are several subtypes of multi-touch attribution (linear, time decay, U-shaped, W-shaped) that assign different weights to various interactions based on perceived importance. *Cue a big argument among the marketing team.*


While you can spend countless hours trying to create a multi-touch attribution report that gives content its fair due, there are also simpler ways to at least get started with multi-touch attribution models. 

For example, Google Analytics has an underrated stock metric called “assisted conversions” (found under Conversions>Multi-Channel Funnels>Assisted Conversions) that indicates which posts or pages are frequently found somewhere along the conversion pathway. You can use this report to pinpoint which blogs play Scottie Pippin to your product demo page’s Michael Jordan. Alley-oop! 

Truth #3: It’s Possible to Let Content Analytics Ruin Your Marketing 

Let’s say your business has an e-book landing page that is generating a lot of leads and is celebrated as a content marketing win, but you know the content in the e-book is outdated, poorly designed, and has at least ten typos. Should you kill the page for a month so the content can be updated and replaced?

Of course you should. But if you start to focus too much on content performance versus creating quality, valuable content, you might be tempted to let that lead-gen magnet ride, because the numbers make the marketing team look good. The problem is you’re likely to see short-term gains (readers liked the title of the e-book enough to complete a form-fill) and long-term losses (but the content let them down so they won’t be back for more…) 

Putting in the effort to get content analytics to work for your business is important, but don’t let short-term metrics keep you from focusing on the long-term goal of quality content that brings readers (eventually customers) back again and again. Trust can be lost very quickly in today’s content-saturated world.  

Put another way, Goodhart’s Law, an adage coined by British economist Charles Goodhart, says that “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” 

For example, if your content strategy focuses ardently on lead generation, it will likely incentivize the creation of a library that is heavily lopsided toward content that asks for a form-fill. Do you think your employees are more likely to share a gated buyer’s guide on LinkedIn or a thought leadership article where your colleague shares her unique take about why MQLs have become old hat? Both are valuable, but they serve different purposes, and you likely need a strong mix to see content success. 

Drift famously killed all of their gated content a few years ago. They decided to emphasize compelling stories that resonate with their audience vs. quantitative metrics. To measure success, they started documenting positive feedback from customers and influencers in their space (see: “unsolicited response rate” above). Whether this is the best strategy or not is still hotly debated.

I’m not saying you should ungate everything and never pay attention to leadmetrics, but I am saying: 

You should be very hesitant to use only one or two metrics
to try to convey the total value of your content. 

Go Forth and Conquer with Well-Measured B2B Content! 

You did it! You learned the hard truths of content analytics and now you have a leg up on the competition when it comes to measuring content. That wasn’t so bad, was it? 

When it comes to content marketing, our view at Megawatt is that you should always focus on quality. Be helpful and interesting to your target buyers, and the odds are good that — whatever analytics strategy you pursue — you’ll see amazing results.

That said, the data does matter. For one, your boss isn’t going to cough up more money for content if you can’t point to some sort of ROI. More importantly, a thoughtful content analytics strategy will help you understand where content is providing real value to your audiences and ultimately contributing to the bottom line. That way, instead of just more content, you can do more of what you know works.

We hope you learned a few tips about how to better leverage content analytics! 

But if you just want a B2B tech content expert to do
your content marketing (and measurement) for you, shoot us a note!

content analytics

Adam Patton
Adam Patton

Adam is a Content Strategist at Megawatt. Trained as a journalist, Adam cut his teeth in the world of digital publishing before discovering his passion for B2B content marketing.

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