At Wizard on Demand, our specialization is technical content marketing services, and when a client purchases a content marketing initiative from us, we define clearly at that point what outcomes the client can expect. For many of our prospects, revenue growth, user growth, or other metrics need to be attributable to our marketing initiatives.
In December 2022, I spoke with five director-, VP-, and CMO-level marketers at companies that market to developers. I asked them whether they consider traffic a useful measurement for their content marketing efforts, and all five of them — 100% — said they look at traffic stats regularly.
Many firms in the content marketing industry focus exclusively on driving traffic to their clients’ sites. And while I agree that traffic is important (and the CMOs I spoke with agree too), I think there is some nuance that’s being missed.
So I decided to write this post to clarify how we measure the success of the technical content marketing initiatives that our technical writing firm delivers.
While traffic matters, it’s not the only goal
Don’t get me wrong — more organic traffic is frequently good! Higher organic traffic usually means your website has some valuable content that search engines are placing at the top of search results. It usually also means that other sites are linking to your site, further demonstrating its value to readers
But what I found surprising when I started Wizard on Demand is that many agencies, freelancers, and in-house teams who do content marketing fail to make a connection between traffic and business value.
The problem is still common today. I frequently speak with prospects whose websites get lots of organic traffic for relevant terms, but that traffic doesn’t achieve results by getting them new business.
I don’t know for sure why so many startups and more established companies don’t measure website conversions and don’t try to attribute conversions to specific pieces of content on their site. My theory is that some organizations create incentives for their marketing teams to not measure conversions. But that would be a separate deep-dive.
So, as you can see, only measuring traffic isn’t sufficient to understand how well a content marketing initiative performs. Let me walk you through the measurements that we use in addition to traffic when we work with clients.
What we measure in addition to traffic
The key type of measurement that we use in addition to traffic is conversions. Depending on the business you are in, you might define conversions as:
- Free-user sign-ups
- Free trials
- Leads that want to talk to the sales team
- Discovery call bookings
- Waiting list sign-ups
- Something else specific to your business
If our clients don’t yet have a set of events that they consider conversions, we usually help them define and implement conversion tracking on their website so that we can reliably measure them later.
Other types of events that might be valuable are:
- Page scrolls — to detect when the reader has actually read an article on your site to the 50%, 75%, or 100% mark
- Content upgrades — ebooks, reports, and other “gated” content that your readers express interest in getting. While some companies count these as conversions, it depends on what kind of content is being gated and how directly it connects with your paid offerings.
- Email list sign-ups — these aren’t direct in-the-moment conversion events, but by signing up for your email list, a reader indicates that they want to hear from you in the future, which is a good sign.
We often recommend implementing the applicable events in the client’s analytics suite, such as Google Analytics 4. Once the events are implemented, we help them create dashboards and reports to monitor the performance of their website content.
Not every page needs to drive conversions
When I mention the list above, prospects sometimes think every page we produce must drive conversions. That’s not the case. Pages that generate conversions are only one part of a high-performance marketing strategy.
There must also be a way to get visitors to those conversion-focused pages. And that’s where high-traffic pages can do an excellent job. So in most of our strategies we include traffic-oriented pages as well as conversion-oriented pages.
Beyond conversions: “soft” measurements
There’s also another layer of success that’s important to us: helping our client do better work. We don’t work in a vacuum; our work is always supported by the CMO, the VP of Marketing, a marketing director, or a manager. For them, the success criteria might not be as objectively measurable as conversions.
For example, some marketing leaders in our space care a lot about content depth and technical detail. With others, it is particularly significant to promote the ideas of their founders or leading engineers, as they are a big asset to the company. There are many other examples of individual goals and preferences.
Success for us, therefore, is not only generating a high number of conversions, supported by traffic. It’s also meeting the “soft” measurements that are indispensable for a productive collaboration with our clients.