Marketing Insider Group
For your content marketing efforts to be successful, you must have clear goals and effective strategies. Once your plan is in place, you need to document it and measure your results to know if your efforts are working.
Audience research, content scheduling, and content repurposing are all building blocks that need to stack up correctly. Once you manage to get everything aligned, the results will begin to show. But where will they show? And how will you track them?
In the end, content marketing contributes significantly to the final step (a new sale or lead). But there are other equally important, more revealing, and useful metrics to help you measure your CM efforts to determine how exactly it’s helping your business.
Using the right metrics will help you identify poor-performing content that can be improved. It will also empower you to pinpoint your best-performing content. Data analytics can help you to find the perfect “recipe” for content creation and marketing. Then just rinse and repeat the process to achieve content marketing success.
What are Your Objectives and KPIs for Content Marketing?
This is different from the overarching “how do you measure content marketing ROI?” question (which we answer near the end of this article). Identifying your primary objectives and KPIs is an essential step in determining which metrics to use to track your content marketing efforts.
This question comes after you’ve built the business case, convinced your business or client of the potential ROI, and gained the approval and funds to start building your content marketing program. You might need to start at a more basic level of explaining what content marketing really is.
Know Your Brand’s Higher Purpose
So your business needs first to understand why you do what you do – your higher purpose – before you can define your objectives and key performance indicators. There is a top-level objective that you need to determine based on your business purpose and your marketing goals overall.
Increase Your “Share of Conversation”
I have spoken about share of conversation (or share of voice) a little bit before. The concept starts with a fundamental belief that marketing is a conversation. It includes any form of measurable brand awareness, including online mentions, website traffic, and PPC.
You can measure this by defining “share of conversation” as the percentage of brand mentions around the topic you want your brand associated with. Begin by measuring what share of that conversation (social + online) your business commands. Then seek to grow that share.
3 components of the measurement equation
Deciding what to track
Though you can measure just about anything these days, that doesn’t mean you should. Metrics can quickly become all-consuming and confusing – especially if you gauge performance against too many goals. To optimize the time you spend on metrics, start with a few measurement fundamentals, such as:
Inventory and audit your existing assets
If you’ve begun to publish valuable content, the first steps to a formal measurement plan are to identify, qualify, and categorize your existing assets. After all, you can’t measure or set performance benchmarks if you don’t know what content you have.
First, create a content inventory – a quantitative list of the assets published across content types, channels, and distribution formats. From there, you may want to conduct a basic content audit – a qualitative evaluation of your inventoried content – to assess your existing content against your customer needs and your strategic objectives.
Not only can these processes help you understand your content’s strengths, weaknesses, and overall strategic alignment, they can reveal any gaps that might exist in your coverage as well as areas where your content needs an update – all of which could stop visitors from converting.
Measure for priority goals
Knowing where your company’s priorities lie is essential to determine which goals to measure for. You also need to know which metrics to track as evidence of your content’s impact. To give you a sense of the valuable metrics to gauge performance against the most common content marketing goals, CMI’s Vice President of Marketing Cathy McPhillips created this helpful chart:
Another way to approach performance data tracking is to consider the most common key performance indicators (KPIs) for each type of content (e.g., email newsletters, blog/website articles, social media posts, videos). This list outlines some of the most informative data points for analyzing the performance of different types of content:
Listen and learn
While it’s important to gather quantitative data to validate your content’s value, you can also gauge your content’s impact by listening to the conversations around your brand – including social media conversations. This direct, unsolicited feedback can be invaluable to understanding whether your content is reaching the right audiences, how well it’s being received, and what you can do to increase the value of your publishing efforts.
Keep tabs on your competition
Your content doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Every new asset should draw away attention from something else your audience pays attention to. A competitive content marketing analysis of your industry peers can give you a fuller picture of where your audience’s needs are being met and where opportunities exist to steal mindshare from those competing sources.
SEO Outcome Metrics
Measuring: Compare your Bounce Rate and Average Time on Page. For example, if you have a low Bounce Rate and a high Time on Page, the users stay on the page and click further, suggesting that you have a high Dwell Time. However, even when the Bounce Rate is high, a decent Time on Page may still indicate that the page is useful for the reader, positively affecting the Dwell Time metric.
Impact: Backlinks are one of the most important Google ranking factors, and therefore one of the key SEO, PR and content marketing metrics. Pay special attention to the number of links (do not forget to exclude spammy ones), the number of unique domains, and the quality of the referring domains.
Selecting the right content KPIs
In addition to the above, key performance indicators—mentioned earlier—are another critical component of performance content success. You can’t accurately measure content performance without having set the proper KPIs. So it’s important to know which performance indicators correspond to which content types.
For example, for blog posts and articles, you might measure website traffic, new vs. returning visitors, bounce rate, time on page, unique page views and page views per visit, referral sources, and geographic trends.
Think about what type of content your organisation produces to more easily decide on the right metrics to track. It can also be helpful to work backward from the goals you set, identifying each step in the customer journey toward that objective. You’ll then notice that each step corresponds with a metric such as website traffic, engagement or sales.