How to measure content performance using Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and Rockee

How to measure content performance using Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and Rockee

Rest in peace Universal Analytics

Keep an important date in your diary. As of July 1st, 2023, the Google Analytics you’ve grown accustomed to over the last ten years will be no more. I know – on its tenth anniversary as well! That’s the official date that Universal Analytics properties will stop processing data. This data signals the start of a new era under Google Analytics 4 (GA4).

You’ll still be able to see old Analytics reports for at least six months afterwards, but only new data will flow into GA4 properties from that date on.

What do you need to know about GA4? 

The biggest changes to take note of are the layouts of dashboards and changes in metrics and terminology. This is ultimately driven by a change in analytics methodology, which is a shift from session-based hit types like page hits, events hits etc to ‘event-based’.

Simply put, all hits like ‘page-view’ are now events. If you want to get into the technical details, Google’s official documentation is here.

Where have all my metrics gone! What does this mean for content marketers?

One of the big things for content marketers, who love analysing content performance to get used to is the metrics. Nearly all the metrics we’ve been using for the last 10 years are going or have been replaced.

Try not to scream. It’s going to be just fine.

It’s a good thing. Really.

Here’s why – most of the metrics we used were flawed in one way or another. That’s because Google Analytics was never built to measure content. Look at it like this:

  • Time on page – this was always subject to users who multi-tab, leaving tabs open for a full maximum session duration. A good guide on engagement but not accurate.
  • Bounce rate – This was always misleading. For example, high can be good! Someone who visits once, reads a whole article and solves a problem might leave once they’re done. And they’ve only visited one page. This contributes to a high bounce rate as that person didn’t trigger a secondary action on your website. In short, a bad metric for content.
  • Unique page views – A massive skew on what matters, which is engagement. This is not, and never has been, a good indicator on how many people start to read your content. People browse, click, and go all over the place.

Historically, this has been a big problem for content marketers. This data, while an interesting proxy to content performance, isn’t fit to help you measure or improve content.

There are no clear answers from the data. I mean, who’s making better content based on a dwell time or a bounce rate? You’d just be guessing. And that doesn’t feel like a solid foundation for creating great content.

GA was never built to measure content. It’s time to embrace change. So long, old friend.

Out with the old – in with the new. How to measure content using GA4.

The metrics that matter

Users – This is a key metric to establish ‘unique readers’ of your content. Universal Analytics used to focus on ‘total users’, whereas GA4 is focused on ‘active users’ – users who are currently engaged.

You will see a margin of error when comparing reports, mainly as GA4 at this point does not support filters. You can find more in this Google guide.

Average engagement time – Out with dwell time, in with user engagement. This, in essence, measures how long you’re ‘active’. That means all the time you are scrolling, moving your mouse etc.  

Even if these are lower than your existing ‘session duration’ times, don’t fret. Most people are multi-tabbing. Switching in and out of your content among other things. Bear that in mind.

Engagement rate – This is the one that’s closest to replacing ‘bounce rate’. Engagement rate is the number of engaged sessions divided by the total number of sessions.

An engaged session could be it one that lasts longer than 10 seconds, had a conversion event, or had two pageviews. The lower the engagement rate, the less your audience is enjoying that content.

Unique user scrolls – If ever I was to have a favourite metric (I know – I’m great at parties), this would be it. For years, content marketers set up custom-scrolling scripts in Universal Analytics. You don’t need to do that anymore!

In GA4, scroll depth is automatically calculated at 90% depth (you will need to turn on enhanced measurement in GA4: Admin> Data Streams> Select website/stream> Turn on enhanced measurement)

In essence, this means someone has scrolled to the bottom of your content. They are most likely to have read the full article. This is a key metric when you compare it with users to determine how many people started and finished your content.

Conversions – Formerly known as ‘goals’, conversions work much the same. This is where you can start attributing content to business outcomes. In GA4, you’ll need to set these up yourself, as the pre-defined metrics are very app centric.

We’d recommend you set up goals that relate to events that really matter. We’re talking form-fills, chatbot engagement or key CTAs to your platform sign-up page (if you’re SaaS of course). Linking content to impact has never been easier.

 

Combining GA4 and Rockee Insight data

Here’s the fun bit (ok, we’re biased). Now it’s time to understand the ‘why’ behind the analytics, when measuring content performance. Once you’ve set Rockee up on your website (read our how-to guides here), you’ll see people leaving ratings and feedback in your Rockee dashboard.

The unique logic-based questions Rockee uses will quickly allow you to understand user sentiment towards your content. Have you helped solve a problem, was something missing, what could you do better? In short, it’ll help you make sense of the numbers with feedback from the people who matter most – your audience.

Improved content optimisation

With GA4 and Rockee, you’ve now got all the tools and insights you need to improve your content.

Where to start?

High-volume content

Which assets get the biggest audience? Your big SEO winners are your priorities. Getting under the skin of how that content performs can unlock bigger lead driving opportunities. Combine the high volume unique user page visits from GA4 and Rockee feedback scores to understand how you can improve the content on these pages. Pro tip: Use the Rockee audience identifier questions to measure whether high performing keywords are bringing in relevant target audience traffic.

Low-performing content

Which content gets the lowest rating and what does the feedback say? This is where users aren’t getting what they need from your content. Too much detail? Not enough detail? Hard to understand? Too simplistic? These are the kind of things your audience can tell you. All you need to do is listen, learn and iterate to improve your content quickly. As we say, the only bad feedback is no feedback.

High performing content

On the flipside, where are people getting what they need from your content – enjoying it even? You’ve got high engagement rates, lots of unique user scrolls and great Rockee ratings – there’s something going down with this content! Look at the feedback and use it to repeat what you’re doing well in other pieces.

More than helpful content

The GA4 update will take some getting used to. But crucially, we’re moving to more meaningful metrics and data to help us understand what effective content looks like. This is vital as Google is placing ever more emphasis on ‘good’ content – as well know from the Helpful Content Update.

So, before we start thinking about creating more content, let’s focus on making better content.

Be on the side of quality, not just quantity.

How to measure content ROI – what does content performance look like?

How to measure content ROI – what does content performance look like?

The B2B content performance conundrum

Measuring and understanding content performance is a challenge most B2B marketers are asking themselves this year. Let us set the scene, the content marketing machine shows no sign of slowing – growing to a $60 billion+ industry, according to Research Dive. The global pandemic sent that growth into over-drive as marketing budgets moved away from traditional tactics like offline and events – into digital and content.

Content marketers as a result of this are facing new challenges. Research shows we’re being asked to prioritise two things:

1. Get more leads

2. Improve content quality.

No pressure, yeah?

Another consideration in this mix is our audience. Now more than ever they are being totally saturated with content and some of it is great!  However, some of it is… well, less than ideal as a lot content resorts to click-bait gimmicks to drive web traffic (we’ll revisit this ‘metric’)

While we all went into a content creation frenzy for our audiences – we forgot to notice that vendor created content isn’t what it used to be. In fact, according to Trust Radius audiences rank vendor created content as one of the least trusted sources they go to for information.

This is a major problem. For all the SEO optimised copy, forms-filled or comments on social media – we’re failing to ask the people that matter, our audience what do they think about our content?

What is good content performance?

The age-old question isn’t it? Depending on where you go and who you speak to – you will find a wide range of thoughts. These tend to be influenced by the background of that creator. Whether it’s an SEO leaning, an analytics preference or how many leads we can attribute to an asset.

Arguably – the last one is a funny one, in that we measure forms-filled on a gated landing page but – we’re really just assessing how good the copy was to advertise the asset, as opposed to the asset itself. We are missing the point there, in that we can’t make better content based on numbers alone.

How do we measure content performance now?

The industry authority on content is arguably the Content Marketing Institute have produced this helpful graphic to show all the ways we can measure content:Common content marketing goals and metrics

Equally, there are several excellent articles to be read from the liked of Smart Insights and OptInMonster. These all follow a similar formula, but the core values tend to be:

  • Awareness – Web traffic, bounce rates, visit dwell time & user flows etc.
  • Engagement – Blog and social media comments, likes etc.
  • Lead generation – Forms completed, and emails sign ups.
  • Sales – Arguably Tenuous links to how many ‘sales’ can be attributed to content on the journey from attribution data.

You will spot a common theme here and that it’s nearly all quantitative data. Which leaves huge amounts of room for speculation on what ‘valuable content’ looks like. It’s incredibly unstructured and unhelpful for content creators to work with.

Metric chasing

Was it the low bounce rate? The number of subscribers acquired? Or the keyword ranking of the asset – that makes it good content? These are all valuable metrics for sure – but something crucial is missing. We are missing context.

None of these metrics tell us whether the content helped our audience, assisted in solving a problem or inspired a user to request a demo or better yet actually ring an inbound team (does this happen still?).

You know, real actual, living, breathing context behind the content. Marketing has missed a trick that software engineers have nailed for years, in that they combine quantitative metrics with the context from qualitative data to shape, mould and hone their craft.

Measuring the real value of your content

There is a solution, and it’s staring us right in the face. Ask the people that matter – your audience. Using Rockee you can collect content marketing ratings and reviews platform on all your assets. The concept is simple, once a user has read your content, they are given the option to leave a rating (1-5) and to leave a review of how they found the asset.

Whether it’s a gated hero asset or something as simple as a blog. In just seconds you can get real user feedback. This gives you clear insight if you’re hitting the mark with your target audience.

All this data sits in a dashboard which allows users to segment and measure content performance by content name, asset type, stage of the journey and campaign. Giving you real-time results as they come in.

What about the problem of waning trust in vendor content?

Here’s where fortune will favour the brave. E-commerce had this problem over a decade ago with a boom in selling online – but then it started suffering from those with less than honourable intentions, or a bad service.

So, what did the best ones do? They collected user reviews and published trust badges across their website. Bezos become a billionaire off the back of it (or is it trillionaire these days, if that’s a thing?)

B2C has done it so well, customer proof is now ingrained in every purchase decision we make. Whether we’re buying a holiday, booking a table at a restaurant or shopping for Air Jordan’s (I tried to sound cool here).

The process goes like this – we read a review. We validate the experience. We want to learn and draw comfort from the wisdom of the crowd.

Opportunity knocks

For us as B2B marketers, there is a huge opportunity for the best content creators, who put real craft and pride in their work to stand out. Rockee is not for those churning out endless white-papers or regurgitated research reports, with a click-bait hook to encourage a download. We care about true content performance and ROI.

It’s a way for the best creators to keep making the great content, iterate when it could be improved. With the added bonus of using ratings and reviews trust badges to show the world you’re the best at what you do.

This is a chance to celebrate the content makers and creators who make content that truly rocks.

It’s time for the very best in B2B to stand out.