how to measure content engagement | two people calculating metrics

How to Measure Content Engagement (And Not Just on Social Media)

The Internet is littered with articles about measuring social media success. What about all the other channels we (businesses of all shapes and sizes) use? If you want to know how your efforts are working, you need to measure content engagement everywhere – on your website, blog, email, social and print.


So let’s talk about that today.


How to measure content engagement


As you’ll see below, the content you create is very much intermingled among different channels. It’s important to measure every channel to get a full picture, not just the one or two that you like or think work best.




Most small businesses do not bother looking at Google Analytics for their website, which is a shame. If you spend 10 or 15 minutes with it even once a month, Google Analytics will tell you how many people are visiting your website, where they’re coming from and what they’re doing once they get there.


(Ask your web developer if Google Analytics is installed on your site. If it’s not, ask him or her to install it – and then ask them to send you the link. Bookmark it.)


When it comes to measuring content engagement, these are the four metrics to watch:


Audience > Overview > Bounce rate


The bounce rate measures the number of one-page visits on your website. This is good to track, because you want people to get pulled into your website and visit multiple pages. The more pages a person visits, the more engaged they are with your content.


A bounce rate between 40% and 70% is considered average. If your bounce rate is higher than 70%, your website content and/or search engine optimization need help.


Audience > Overview > Active Users


Active users tell you if your marketing efforts are pushing people to your website. If you see an increase in active users on days you send out your email newsletter or run a social media campaign, bravo! You’re doing a great job.


If not, your email and social media marketing need some TLC.


Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium


I love this metric because it tells you how visitors are reaching your website. Are they coming from organic search, referral partners, social media, email? This in turn tells you what marketing channels are working.


Look at bounce rate and session duration. We just talked about bounce rate (see above), so look for session durations of at least a minute. If session durations are less than a minute, your content is the culprit.


Behavior > Site Content > All Pages


“All Pages” is the most important metric to follow for content engagement. What pages are people visiting on your website? What pages are people spending the most time on? The least time on?


If you have a blog, be especially mindful of what blog posts people are reading. This will clue you in to what topics are the most engaging for your audience. More on this next!




Understanding blog engagement is not very straightforward, because you must look at metrics from many sources.


As I just wrote, look at “All Pages” in Google Analytics. If you have comments turned on, is anyone bothering to leave a comment?


I get occasional comments on my blog posts, which I always get excited about. It’s a really big deal, because it means someone was so fired up by, connected to or inspired by my post that they just HAD to take a few minutes to respond.


Next, log into your email marketing platform. If you are sharing your blog posts in regular emails (which I urge you to do), look at the click-through rates for your posts. What topics are people eager to read? I write more about this below.


Finally, look at your social media engagement. Again, I’m going to write more about this below.




The two main engagement metrics to track for email are open and click-through rates. These rates vary by industry, but a good open rate is around 25-30% and a good click-through rate is around 2-3%.


The email marketing platform you use automatically provides these metrics. Keep your eye on them!


Your open rate is only as good as your subject line, so let’s talk about what makes a great subject line for a minute:


  • They give you an idea of what’s in the email
  • They are so compelling that you can’t wait to learn more. This means they speak to a challenge you’re having, are funny and/or clever or pose a question that you just HAVE to know the answer to.


Read through the email you are about to send to your list. How does the info in your email solve a challenge that your clients are having? Can you include a statistic? Pose a question? Use a play on words to inject some humor?


A/B test your subject line, which can greatly improve your open rate. (You can learn more about A/B testing in this blog post.)


OK, now let’s talk about your click-through rate. Are people clicking on those “read more” or “buy now” buttons? What type of content do they prefer? Who clicks the most? (Your email marketing platform tracks this, so look it up!)


If you want to dive into this topic deeper: I wrote a blog post a few months ago about tracking email marketing success beyond open and click-through rates. It covers every element of your emails that can make or break success. You can find that here.


Social Media


The number of likes is a useless metric. It means people saw your post or tweet in their feed. It doesn’t mean they read it or clicked on it.


Instead, look at the number of comments and shares – especially shares! If people are taking the time to read your post or tweet, click through to read the blog post (if applicable), respond in comments and/or share it with their audience, well, you are doing a mighty fine job and deserve gold stars for days.


You get upgraded from gold stars to a crown if comments morph into conversations. This is rare, so if it happens to you, I’d like to shake your hand.




Because I’ve been writing a fair amount of copy for print pieces lately, I figured I’d throw print into the mix.


Print pieces can be harder to track unless you are offering a coupon code for people to redeem in person or online. What about brochures, booklets, postcards, posters and one-pagers?


One of my favorite print pieces was published years ago by the men’s apparel line Roark. I picked it up in their Encinitas, CA store and loved it so much that I carried it home with me on a cross-country flight. This softcover book combines photos from a real motorcycle trip taken in Vietnam with a fictional story. Charming. Keepable. Talk-about-it-able.


How do you measure the impact of something like that? Social listening. If Roark has turned on Google Alerts for mention of their name, they’ll see this blog post.


You can also add a QR code to printed pieces, which (I’m sure you know) are back. (Thanks pandemic!) The QR code can send people to a landing page on your website where they can learn more about whatever your print piece discusses.


Then there’s the old-fashioned way: Ask. When a potential client first reaches out, ask where they heard about you.


It’s all about content


At the end of the day, content engagement rests on the shoulders of your content. If that’s your missing link when it comes to engagement, contact us. We are kick-ass copywriters, after all!


Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

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