How to Make Sense of Audience Engagement Analytics

There’s nothing worse than when I’m reading a content contribution pitch email or a contributed story, and it’s clear that the author doesn’t know my audience. It’s a waste of my time and a waste of theirs. It’s also in violation of Content Marketing Fight Club rule no. 3: Know your audience. (We’ll talk about the first two rules in another blog.) If you don’t know your audience, you can’t make a connection, and that means disappointing engagement.

Don’t do this. I run a trucking website. If you send me a pitch that’s for the wrong audience, I’ll use it as an example as what not to do in a smarmy blog post.

If you’re playing the content marketing game, your goal is engagement. It’s the moment when you move your potential customers from brand recognition to brand purchase; when you stop being just a logo and become a message that your audience wants to hear. Engagement analytics will let you know you’re on the right track, but what do those numbers mean?

Settle in. You clicked on the right blog for answers.

Let’s start with pageviews

Hot take: Pageviews aren’t that important when it comes to engagement. Think of them as a litmus test for how well your message resonated with the audience overall. Was your story in the top 10 most trafficked posts the week it was posted or the month it was posted? Great! If not, that’s okay. The content marketing goal isn’t A BILLION PAGEVIEWS! The more important question is: How much time did the people who did view your page spend with your message? For that, we turn to …

Time on page

The rule of thumb here is you want to beat the overall site average if you’re working with a typical media outlet. A site that carries a lot of industry news will have more press releases and product announcement posts vs. meaty feature stories by post volume. News reads quickly 250- to 300-word hits tend to bring down overall time on page averages. If you have a 500- to 600-word sponsored content, you’re looking to beat the site average. If the site is heavier on feature-style content, then matching that average is a good benchmark. Again, I refer you to the first rule: Know your audience, or in this case your publication outlet.

What about bounce rate?

If we’re talking about your website, you want your content marketing story to have a lower bounce rate than your overall site average. If your site average is around 30% to 40%, then your site is already doing a great job of engaging visitors. If your story can match that, then all the better. If your content marketing story is posted on another website, bounce rate isn’t as useful of a metric because hopefully you’ve built in a call to action that drives them to your website (and are tracking that with proper UTM codes), and you’d be looking for a bounce rate in the high 80s with much of that traffic coming to you. [Insert maniacal marketing laugh here.]

The hottest of Hot Takes

None of this matters as much as audience intelligence. It isn’t enough for a site to tell you who their audience is in general. After you’ve written a content marketing piece that slays and had it accepted as a contributed story on your site of choice, that site should be able to tell you exactly who engaged with your content. At least in an aggregated anonymous way.

We do this on Fleet Equipment to better understand our own content engagement and share it with our communication and marketing partners. For example, here’s the makeup of trucks by Class size operated by fleets who engaged with electrification content:

And that’s just one metric. We track application, maintenance capabilities, location, title, and more. Then we can turn that lens around and report what other content those fleets engaged with. Here are the top five:

1. Telematics
2. Data
3. Unscripted Video
4. On the Road
5. Coronavirus

What does it all mean?!

Content creation never ends. When one story is posted, it’s time to do another, but the right metrics can inform what you should write about next. Take electrification, maybe the next story we tackle on Fleet Equipment focused on that topic will center around how to use telematics and data to see if your fleet is a fit for electric trucks or what data points to focus on when operating electric trucks. We write it, post it and start tracking engagement again from the top to see how engagement will impact our next story.

Jason Morgan is the editor of Fleet Equipment, a B2B publication for the heavy-duty trucking industry. In former writing lives, he’s waxed on about construction equipment, real estate, movies and craft beer. Currently, he’s having his microsurgical contraautism prostheses upgraded to feature superconducting quantum interference detectors to combat enemy cyber systems. You can reach him at [email protected].