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Is your content marketing working? What KPIs are reasonable and helpful?

Olivia Craig

May 8th, 2018

How do you measure success in your businesses’ content marketing efforts? Are you clear on the KPIs that matter? Maybe you aren’t sure. Or maybe you’re of the mindset that content marketing isn’t measurable.

You aren’t alone in that thought. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 50% of marketers are unclear on the effectiveness of their content marketing, a pretty staggering statistic how necessary quality content has become. It’s time to get clear on the key performance indicators of your content marketing.

Before we talk specifics, let’s talk importance. Simply put: content marketing, though still relatively new in the realm of digital marketing, matters to your bottom line. Will you make multiple sales off one blog post? Well chances are, no. Content is a long game: it builds your brand, shares your message, sets your tone, reaches your audience, informs prospects, fosters engagement, drives traffic and ultimately, leads to conversions. How? Consider that 70% of users want to learn about products through content versus traditional advertisements and 84% of users expect brands to provide entertaining, informative, storytelling, solution providing content: most businesses cannot afford to miss out on such opportunity. Quality, custom content efforts can go beyond increasing your brand’s visibility: consumers take action when brands they trust – your content marketing efforts are your best strategy in building that loyalty, trust, awareness and action.

Chances are you have invested a significant amount of time, effort and resources into content marketing for your business: aimed at attracting, engaging and converting customers. While we’ve discussed that content creation is no doubt crucial, without the strategy to measure the effectiveness and performance of work published, you’re not tapping into its full potential. Not to mention, without clear key performance indicators (KPIs) you may be sabotaging your content and even SEO efforts, basing shifts in strategy off of the wrong things. Don’t panic. If you’ve been churning out crazy quality content for quite some time, it isn’t too late to set measuring techniques in place to better help you identify what’s working, what’s not, and where to steer efforts for maximum impact.

These days, it feels like you can measure just about anything and many marketers feel the overwhelming pressure to do just that. We don’t recommend it, especially when it comes to honing in on the KPI’s, or key performance indicators, of your content marketing. It can be nearly impossible to get a clear read of performance when you’re taking one too many goals or worse yet, incorrect KPIs that don’t matter, into consideration – when it comes to content, get specific. We’re talking…

KPI # 1: Traffic
KPI # 2: Audience Engagement
KPI # 3: Content Conversion

KPI # 1: Traffic & User Behavior

Where does your website traffic come from? Understanding that first and foremost will help you track your content’s reach and effectiveness. Considering that your content was designed with key channels and goals in mind, understanding where your website’s traffic comes from as a result will help you gauge reach and better determine your content’s relevancy. Gaining a better understanding of just how many people accessed your content and how is the name of the game, here. These basic but crucial metrics can be measured in Google Analytics. Consider these key traffic channels and their example sources below:

  • Direct – Directly typed URLs
  • Organic Search – Google, Yahoo, Bing
  • Social – Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
  • Referral – External sites
  • Email – Email marketing campaigns
  • Paid Search – Google Adwords

Depending on which channel you’ve shaped your content marketing strategy around, you will be able to gain insights into its effectiveness thanks to Google Analytics. Consider tracking this specific metric month over month, giving your team enough insight and data to assess and shift if necessary, keeping an eye out for any sudden declines that could be a result of duplicate title tags, broken tags, or even algorithm changes.

Once you’ve considered how your audience is interacting with your content efforts specific to each channel, it’s time to drill down to specifics on how that specific audience is interacting with your site. Exploring these metrics will allow your content marketing team to better identify the quality of traffic coming to your site. Some key metrics to consider when measuring are:

  • Users – total number of unique visitors to a particular page on site
  • Pageviews – total number of times a particular page is viewed
  • Unique Pageviews – the number of pageviews by the same user during the same session
  • Average Time on Page – provides insight into audience engagement with a specific page
  • Bounce Rate – the percentage of visitors who left your site after viewing one page

While these metrics can seem like basic KPIs, they can give you and your content marketing team great insights into how your content is performing on key landing pages and whether or not it is fully engaging your audience, leading to decreased bounce rates, increased sessions and longer time on site. If your content is resonating and reaching your target audience, you can expect to see a steady increase in metrics that matter, because your audience is deeming your site, product or business worthy of their time!


KPI # 2: Audience Engagement

  • That takes us into the next crucial KPI: Audience Engagement. This is where you’ll be able to assess if the audience your content is bringing in is likely to convert, based on their interaction with your site.This can seem like a completely overwhelming metric to measure. Don’t panic. Again, Google Analytics makes this a bit easier, here. When measuring engagement, you can choose to break it down by channel to see how content is performing at the most basic level. Based off of sessions, new sessions, new users, bounce rate, pages per session and average session duration you will be able to decipher if your efforts have increased overall audience engagement and just how well your content keeps people on site.

Awesome content plays a huge role in audience engagement. Imagine this: the average time your users are spending on site is insignificant – maybe a few seconds, top. That’s not enough time to do much of anything, let alone take action. Your goal is obviously for your visitors to average enough time to read your content and give you or your product ample consideration. That could mean your content just isn’t resonating with the traffic you’re driving to your site – maybe it isn’t consistent, maybe it’s outdated, or maybe it’s poorly written. Consider what a user is seeing when they first land on your site. What are they reading? Is it holding their attention? Is it providing them with solutions, resources, or even entertainment? Making sure your site has well-written, on-branded content designed with your ideal audience in mind is key. Your audience may be telling you that your site simply isn’t keeping their attention, and quality content can be a strong solution.

Tip: If your page isn’t loading quickly or if your site isn’t optimized your mobile, you can see a significant decrease in metrics such as average time on site, so don’t forget to measure your page load time and ensure your site functions no matter what device used.

Another key engagement metric that you will want to track? Social media. Making your content easily shareable ensures even more eyes on. Your content could be just a few simple shares away from a new customer. By incorporating sharing widgets into your content and measuring specific social metrics (see below) you’re setting your content up for social success.

  • Shares – This includes Retweets, Repins, Reposts, or any sort of social share action. This gives you an idea if the content you’re creating is relevant, entertaining and valuable to your audience.
  • Comments – This helps show if the your audience finds your content thought-provoking, interesting, and engaging
  • Follower Growth – This helps you identify if your content is encouraging brand growth on your social media platforms

You can measure each of these metrics natively within Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc however some find it much easier to work with third party tools such as Hootsuite or Buzzsomo: both have free tools available to measure such metrics.


KPI # 3: Content Conversion

Now you know who has come to your site, how they’ve come to your site, and how they’ve engaged with the content found on your site. Now what? Goal completions, set up and measured in Google Analytics can used to measure specific actions taken on site. Given that one of the key aspect of setting KPIs for content marketing, or any digital efforts, is ability to actually measure Common goal completions that you may want to consider tracking could be:

  • Email newsletter sign ups
  • Lead generation forms
  • Completed purchases