Measuring Content Marketing Success in Google Analytics


This post is in the conjunction with the post: How to measure the ROI of Content Marketing where I have outlined the definition of great contents and how this greatness can be measured in monetary terms.

I would strongly suggest you to read this post (if you have not already) to get the most out of my present post. Today I will take you one step further in your analysis of content marketing. Say hello to: ‘Profit Index’.


What is Profit Index?


Profit index is an index (i.e. database) of web pages on your site which were most frequently viewed prior to goal conversions and/or e-commerce transactions.

In other words it is database of all the profitable pages on your website.

Profit index can also be the inventory of best selling product items on your website. The idea behind creating a profit index is to sell what is selling and sell even more.

A profitable content is a piece of content which adds value to the business bottomline by providing smart and simple solutions to improve customers’ lives and at the same time influencing buying behavior.

If a piece of content is profitable for your business then it will have the capacity to trigger conversions and/or transactions. It will be most frequently viewed content prior to conversions and/or transactions. So it is a no brainer that

in order to improve the conversion rate of your website you need large volume of profitable contents on your site.


Why you need Profit Index?

Since profit index contains only those web pages which have the capacity to trigger conversions and/or transactions, you can dramatically improve your conversion volumes if you can isolate them from rest of the pages on your website and solely focus on optimizing them.

This can help you greatly if you manage a website with tens of thousands of web pages and you are not sure where to start and what to optimize.

Profit index is based on the famous Pareto Principle (80/20 rule):

80% of your output comes from 20% of the input

80% of your sales come from 20% of the products

80% of your conversions come from 20% of the content pages

So what you need to do is to find that 20% and focus on it to increase your sales and conversions.

Without profit index you will remain busy in optimizing 100% of the contents on your website which may or may not produce optimum results in a timely manner.


Measuring profitability of a piece of content

Google Analytics use a metric called page value (formerly known as $index value) to measure the profitability of a piece of content. It is calculated as:

Page Value =  (Total E-Commerce Revenue which the page helped in generating +
Total Value of the Goal Conversions which the page completed) /
Number of unique page views of the page prior to conversions and/or transactions.

Page value can also be calculated for group of pages.

You can find this metric in the ‘All Pages’ report (under Behavior > Site Content in Google Analytics).

Following are some facts about page value metric which you must know:

1. Google Analytics calculate page value only when conversion tracking and/or e-commerce tracking is enabled. Otherwise you will see a page value of $0 for every piece of content.

2. Page value is not useful as a standalone metric. It is useful only as a point of comparison. So page value of $7 doesn’t mean anything on its own.

3. Pages that were most frequently viewed prior to high value conversions and/or transactions get the highest page value.

4. Pages that were least frequently viewed prior to conversions and/or transactions get the lowest page value.

5. Pages that were not viewed prior to conversions and/or transactions get the zero page value. We call such pages as unprofitable pages. Every website has got such pages and it is perfectly normal to have such pages provided they constitute only a small fraction of the total pages on your website.


Creating Profit Index in Universal Analytics

Follow the steps below to create profit index in your GA account:

Step-1: Set up all relevant goals, goals value and enable e-commerce tracking in your Universal Analytics account. Otherwise you will see a page value of $0 for every piece of content and you won’t be able to create any profit index.

Step-2: Make sure you don’t have any data collection issues and you have not set up irrelevant goals or goals with random values. Such data can easily skew the page value metric.

Step-3: Now create a new custom report in Universal Analytics, name it ‘Profit Index’ and create it with following specifications:

profit index report settings

Primary Dimension: Page Path Level 1

Dimensions Drilldown: Page Path Level 2, Page Path Level 3, Page Path Level 4 and Page.

Metrics: Page Value, Pageviews,  Unique Pageviews, Avg. Time on Page, Bounce Rate, Goals Completion, Goal Value, Transactions and Revenue.

Filter out all those web pages from your custom report which are not really content pages by using advanced filters on the reporting interface:

advanced filter

advanced filters profit index

For example you can filter out following pages from the profit index report:

  1. Checkout pages – These pages are always viewed prior to transactions, so they bound to have high page value.
  2. Add to cart Pages
  3. Cart Preview Pages
  4. Purchase History Pages
  5. Pages with URLs that contain session ids, visitor IDs and other query parameters which don’t change the content of the web pages.

Step-5: Also filter out all those web pages (using advanced filters on the reporting interface) from your custom report whose page value is $0 and pageviews is less than 30 in the last one month.

Note: Any web page which has a ‘page value’ of $0 is not adding any economic value to your business bottomline and as such can’t be a part of your Profit index.

If a web page is getting less than 30 pageviews a month then it is not worth focusing on at this point. May be later we can target such web pages.


Step-6: In order to save all the advanced filters you have applied to your report, you need to save the custom report as ‘Shortcut Report’. In this way you don’t need to set up the advanced filters every time you look at your custom report.

Click on the ‘Shortcut’ link:

shortcut link

add shortcut

Name your shortcut report ‘Profit Index’ and then click on the ‘ok’ button. You will then see the new report under the ‘Shortcuts’ menu:

shortcut menu profit index

Step-7: Click the ‘Profit Index’ report to open it and then note down the number of pages in the profit index. These are the most profitable pages of your website at the moment. The number also represents the size of the profit index:

profit index report

Profit Index Report

So here we have got 2,938 web pages which are in the Profit index. These are the pages on your website which are really adding value to the business bottomline and you need to focus on optimizing these pages first.

Now read the next article in this series where you can learn to optimize the pages in the profit index report: Optimizing Contents for Sales and Conversions through Profit Index

Other Posts you may find useful:

  1. Building Super Advanced Keyword Performance Dashboard in Google Analytics & Excel
  2. Measuring Content Marketing Efforts – Understanding Great Contents
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