Operating in the space of brand strategy, we often receive some version of the same question from our clients: “What are the most useful Google Analytics metrics, and where do I go to find these metrics?” In very relatable marketing terms, where can I go to see the return on my investment, and how can I use this information to drive future strategy and achieve greater impact?

Measuring Content Effectiveness

First Things First: Know Thy Customer

Back in November, a few of us here at R+M attended Internet Summit. Dave Fryer of Domo summed up the moral of this story nicely: you have to be able to loosely map your audience’s path to conversion on a napkin before you bring tools (like Google Analytics) into the mix. In other words, before you dive into Google Analytics, understand the general process your audience goes through in moving from the awareness phase of their journey all the way to following through on their purchasing decision.

Remember: this isn’t a one (wo)man show – use the people who know your customers best to your advantage. Meet with your sales team, customer support specialists, or other individuals who regularly interact with your customers and prospects. Better yet, go straight to the source to validate your understanding of the customer’s buy cycle. Interview or survey your customers to find out where they’re getting stuck and which questions they have on their educational path to purchase.

Next, Know Thyself

Measuring Content Effectiveness

Once you’ve mapped out these high-level conversion paths, you can compare the flow of this path to the substance and organization of your content assets and communications strategy. At this point, we recommend honing in on your highest-value customers and influencers. When we say highest value, we mean you should focus on the people who will most likely help you reach your goals. For instance, if we have a primary goal of attracting 500 new customers to one of our 10 offerings, let’s prioritize our time to focus on this audience. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Have we been creating helpful content that informs various members of this audience at each phase in the buy cycle?
  • Are we organizing the delivery of our content so it’s being found at the right time by the right people in the right place?


Now that you’ve asked yourself a few questions like these, you might realize you need a little more structure to better understand exactly what content you already have. Your present self is likely wishing your past self-established some sort of document to outline things like:

  • What the goal of each piece of content was in the first place (Organic search visibility for a specific audience? Awareness through social promotion? To answer a certain question in the interest phase of the buy cycle?)
  • Where and when the content was promoted and how the content is being tracked through these promotions.


If you have this type of information in one place already, GREAT! You’re one step ahead of most by documenting your content and promotions strategy. If not, a simple content audit to assess your existing content library will take care of most of your questions.

Now that you’ve: gotten to know your customers and their purchasing journey, prioritized your goals, and gotten a firm understanding of what content you currently have to help you reach those goals, it’s time to dive in.


Let’s start with that first big question – Have we been creating helpful content that informs various members of our audience at each phase in their buy cycle?


Here’s how we find out using Google Analytics:

1. Examine your content at a high level through the lens of behavior metrics:

Action: Drill down to “All Pages” from “Behavior” > “Site Content”
This will show you: The top visited pages on your site and the behavior metrics of
those pages, including:

  • How long people are spending reading your content
  • How many people visit this page without ever visiting another page
  • How many visitors exit after viewing this content


Note: Remember that from any place in your Google Analytics instance, you can apply dimensions or segments to better reflect the audience you’re most interested in learning about. For example, you might set a secondary dimension to device category to compare desktop pageviews to mobile. Or if you just want to focus on mobile visitors throughout your Google Analytics dive, consider setting up a segment to only view this traffic. This option is accessible at the top of your screen:


This will inform future strategy by helping you:

  • Find any disconnect between the content you’ve deemed as “important” and the content your users are actually reading. Example: What if we find that a page we have categorized as “very important” to our corporate goals isn’t being viewed at all. Are your customers’ interests not aligned with the content? Or are they simply not able to find it?
  • Spot any issues with responsiveness or learn about the difference between mobile and desktop research. Example: What if we find that visitors are reading our prioritized blog content on desktop but they quickly bounce from our site on mobile? This could lead us to test mobile design, survey our audience via promotion, test variations of the copy for mobile readers (e.g., summary or bulleted format, different take on the topic for a different stage in buy cycle, etc.)
  • Identify user confusion or unanswered questions. Example: what if we see that the pages with the greatest time spent on a page all originates from our FAQ section? Our intention with this content is typically to quickly and easily answer our prospects’ questions.


2. Take a deeper look at content through the behavior flow chart:

Action: Navigate to “Behavior Flow” from “Behavior”
This will show you: User pathways
Note: The Google Analytics behavior flow chart can be ugly (even overwhelming), but it’s important in helping you validate and refine the way your content is organized. In other words, your team might have one idea of how things should be presented, but your audience is navigating in a completely different manner. This, or funnels which may be set up through goals or segments, is a great way to spot trends in traffic patterns.
This will inform future strategy by helping you:

  • Identify content gaps based on landing page (where the visitor landed on your site)
  • Find pages of content you’ve mentally disregarded, marked as “low importance,” haven’t provided a strong enough call to action to move the reader along, or even removed from the site entirely (visitors are going to these pages along their path to conversion but dropping off)


Now for the second question: Are we organizing the delivery of our content so it’s being found at the right time by the right people in the right place


1. Find out where your visitors are landing from organic search:

Action: Navigate to “Source/Medium” from “Acquisition” > “All Traffic.” Select “Medium” as your
primary dimension and click “Organic.” Set your secondary dimension to “Landing Page”
This will show you: The pages on your site that are most likely ranking on the first few pages of organic search results for certain keywords.
This will inform future strategy by helping you:

  • Identify content that’s not aligned with the visitor’s search query (look for high bounce rates)
  • Notice niche conversations you can continue working toward owning to attract more qualified prospects (pages that are receiving high engagement but moderate/low traffic)
  • See where to focus your SEO strategy (look for your highest quality content that perfectly aligns with queries identified as having high relevancy to your brand and high search volume/moderate competition. If people aren’t landing on this page, your brand likely isn’t visible in organic search results)


2. Discover which campaigns are the top performers:

Measuring Content Effectiveness

Action: If you’ve set up custom tracking URLs for your campaigns, you can quickly and easily see performance metrics by navigating to “All Campaigns” from “Acquisition” > “Campaigns.”
This will show you: Campaign, source and medium performance. If you’re comparing the performance of the same piece of content across multiple promotional platforms/sources (i.e. Wall Street Journal, Wired, etc.), simply click the campaign from your list of options. If you are more interested in comparing the success of multiple promotional platforms over time, click “Source.” You can do the same thing for medium (i.e. Email, Banner, Social, etc.)
This will inform future strategy by helping you:

  • Compare how content performs when promoted via email vs. banner ad.
  • Identify which promotional platforms lead to the highest conversions


Upon completion of your initial Google Analytics dive, remember to take the data with a grain of salt. It may be your instinct to want to allocate more budget to a promotional platform that showed success for your latest campaign – or to call in the designers to start redesigning a content type for the optimal mobile experience. But before you throw all your time, talent and treasure into one basket, take a step back. Ask yourself and your team questions like: will the same platform be appropriate for this next campaign that has a different audience? Was that 25-page white paper targeted for mobile readers in the first place?

Prioritize. Create a strategy that promotes the iterative process.

Looking for more information about how to use your data to help drive strategy? Have any thoughts you’d like to share regarding this article? E-mail UVP@rmagency.com.