It's not enough to scatter your articles across the internet - you've got to measure what you're doing so you can be sure that you're getting value from your effort.
Here are some of my preliminary thoughts on what's measurable in regards to article marketing, (and what you measure should depend on your predefined article marketing goals, but you knew that already):
Number of new of links to your site
This is a big one of course, and just about the easiest to measure with a simple "link:" search in the major engines.
Since I submitted "Build Links and Your Brand: Article Marketing Delivers" to 8 directories on January 26th Google has logged 24 instances of my article (I did have a little help from search engine expert Andy Beal's mention in his blog), MSN search shows 59 instances and Yahoo has me down for 10.
Now, all those mentions aren't links... just instances of my article title.
Google currently shows no links to my main blog site. Yahoo and MSN both show 14 to http://articlemarketing.blogspot.com.
I'm also currently ranked 3rd in Yahoo for the term article marketing - woo hoo! Not bad for only 3 days. We'll see how long I stay there - things may change dramatically after an update. I'm currently nowhere to be found in MSN. Ditto for Google, except the post from Andy's blog about my article marketing blog that puts me at 4th for "article marketing."
To give some idea of scale, here are the number of millions of results for article marketing per engine: 12 million in Yahoo; 17 million in MSN; 27 million in Google. I don't think Article Marketing is a phrase that currently generates much competition.
Article submission sites like EzineArticles get the freshbot treatment because of their regularly updated content and I think that speeds indexing.
Article submitted 1-26-05, searches conducted 1-29-05.
Number of readers/impressions
To borrow a bit from the world of online advertising you can measure impressions, that is, the estimated number of readers/site visitors who had the opportunity to at least read your article title and, let's hope, associate it with your business name.
To get an idea of how many impressions your article may have gotten talk with those who republish your article. If you submit to EzineArticles you can see how many writers and editors have viewed your article's page.
It's great to have your impressions high, but it's better to have them targeted to your audience (and by audience I mean customers... here are my thoughts on client as audience). The more care you give your content creation process the more your content will appeal to your target audience.
Which brings us to...
Placement in previously identified key industry media
If at the beginning of your article marketing campaign you identify key industry publications you'd like to be published in... and you get published or don't get published, that's something you can measure.
This is more of a branding initiative than a linking initiative, though it can certainly generate at least one solid link. And once your article's been published and your editor says "go" you can submit it to your article submission directories of choice. And then measure links.
Lead generation through reader inquiries
This is a fun one. There are specific industries and products that are likely to sell well through article marketing... namely information products. If your primary goal for article marketing is sales though you should construct your article campaign in a particular way. Many of the same rules still apply, but the strategy needs to be a little different. Let me know if you have questions about creating sales generating articles. And you still have to follow responsible article writing guidelines.
Email addresses gathered for newsletter signup/downloads/free service
Yeah you're being published in someone else's email newsletter but that doesn't mean you can't try to drive signups to your own newsletter! We had this happen when I worked at WebProNews, where we published all free content. One author's article marketing strategy focused on driving subscribers to her newsletter. I think, but I'm not sure, that it was Dianna Huff, who specializes in B2B article marketing. As an aside, be sure to check out her site.
Pageviews to info pages on your site
If you link out of your article to more info pages on your site you can measure for an increase in traffic on those pages. Have some kind of call to action on these pages though. Don't just boost page views for the sake of having higher page views. Get them to do something on that page, such as give you an email address or visit your products or services page.
Requests from editors for articles
If it's your goal to have more involvement with your target market then be sure to accept all requests from editors for new articles. In fact, cultivate any relationship with an editor you can. This is one fantastic way of staying in front of your target audience and getting new ideas for articles.
How can you increase this likelihood? Contact editors from publications within your target market. In addition, include a mention in your author bio that you'd like to work with editors to help them have happier, more engaged readers.
This is another fun one, and something I tried to promote during my time at WPN. The level of reader feedback I received led to my creation of the "Ask the Expert" section of WPN (now untended) as well as my proposal for the WebProWorld forums, now with over 50,000 members. (To be fair iEntry had rolled out forums before - they were just scattered across all our publications rather than targetted on the flagship. WebProWorld was definitely a home run.)
So if you'd like to establish more of a relationship with the online audience in your publications contact their editor and see if you can field audience questions.
What else is measurable?
Those are a few of my thoughts for article marketing measurables. Did I miss any? Let me know your measurable ideas and if I use them in an upcoming article I'll throw you a link with your link text of choice.
Want to build links to your site and enhance your brand? Send article marketing questions to GFrench@gmail.com for free article marketing brainstorm, including article topic suggestions and key industry media identification. Garrett French is a search engine marketing copy writer for Websourced and conducts branding and link building research on his article marketing blog. If you wish to publish this article, please retain all links.