What Are the Most Important KPIs for Content Marketing?

By Jayson DeMers,
business.com writer
|
Jun 04, 2020
Image Credit: Weedezign / Getty Images

Here's how to use KPIs to measure the success of your content marketing campaign and improve on it.

The big four online data storage and service businesses hold over 1,200 petabytes of data between them. This massive amount of data held by Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon excludes other large amounts of online data held by providers such as Dropbox and Academia.

Data, they say, is the new oil, so this is an exciting age for content marketers.

Marketers can access data points, and utilize them to enhance their brand awareness, connect with prospects and make more money. Through analytics, content marketers can guide leads through points of purchase and initiate better post-purchase engagement practices.

While accessibility to customer data has revolutionized content marketing, it has also given rise to analysis paralysis. Decision-making amongst marketers can become a challenge when apps give them too much analytics information.

Data analytics platforms can open up black holes that suck up your time and energy such that after hours of poring through numbers, you are left more confused than ever. Barry Schwartz, a psychologist, refers to this problem as a "Paradox of Choice."

A variety of choices can achieve better results, but it can also increase indecision and dissatisfaction. You can combat analysis paralysis when analyzing content marketing data by separating the chaff from the grain.

Which content marketing data metrics should you track?

The art of content marketing encompasses a large swath of digital marketing disciplines. Specialties such as search engine optimization, social media marketing, pay per click advertising, public relations and inbound marketing strategies are all highly reliant on content marketing.

Your inbound content marketing strategy should tell the right story, connect with the audience at the most opportune place and time, and nurture them from unawareness to awareness. An optimized strategy will build trust so that it can foster awareness.

There is an ongoing race for Google's Featured Answer slot or "position zero," the exclusive answer delivered after a voice search. A content marketing strategy that identifies questions that potential customers have and publishes keyword and media-rich content to answer them can land your website on this authoritative spot.

Through content marketing, relevant, valuable, and consistent information is created and distributed whose end goal is to attract and retain a brand's audience. It builds customer trust, meaning that potential leads will need to engage with different pieces of content across all your channels before they can convert. 

For this reason, there are tons of metrics on analytics programs. Experts argue that some of the most visible metrics are often the least important when analyzing the success of your strategies. As an illustration, social media likes, shares, and followers are easily viewed and understood. They are however not beneficial KPIs for content marketing.

The most important content marketing metrics, such as qualified leads or traffic per campaign, are not easy to access. Nevertheless, to avoid analysis paralysis, you need to track crucial KPIs only, since they have an impact on revenue.

Below are the most important KPIs for B2B, B2C and media publishing content marketers.

Content engagement

The goal of every content marketer is to have more conversions on their site. Engagement is, therefore, a very crucial KPI of any content and it analyzes user interaction with content or pages. The online visitor has such a low level of attention, that they only spend an average of 15 seconds on a website.

Your content should, consequently, generate interest within those 15 seconds so the potential lead stays longer. A high engagement metric implies that your content strategy is well aligned with the interests of the user. High engagement data also means increased profitability, since engaged users will buy more, share your content with other people and become your repeat customers.

There are various types of engagement metrics, and you should decide on the specific engagement metrics that are most useful to your business.

Landing page engagement

Have you published a new post? How many users have accessed your landing page? Landing page engagement tracks the amount of time that users spend on a landing page. The engagement data will also highlight the number of clicks generated by a form field.

Study your landing page data to understand your conversion rates. Check on your signup, download or purchase goals set for your landing page.

Website engagement

Track your website's overall traffic to understand the number of visitors and the type of content that attracts them. How many page views do you have? Do you have a new video out? Access YouTube analytics and check on your views and subscriber rates. Views, users and sessions are the most important traffic metrics on websites.

A cumulative high number of page views can indicate interest or good SEO, because search engines drive traffic to great content. A high number of page views can, however, be an indicator of a lack of interest in content as well. You, therefore, have to contrast your page views to bounce rates and other related metrics, such as time spent on the page or session duration.

The average blog content reader, for instance, reads 200 to 250 words each minute. If you have long-form articles on your site of about 2,100 words and the average visitor spends 10 seconds on it, then your engagement rates are too low to make a positive impact on your bottom line.

Bounce rates track the number of users that exit your pages after a page view. A high bounce rate is an indicator that content needs optimization. This phenomenon could also mean that your pages have technical problems such as slow loading times.

It is, however, important to separate organic traffic from other sources of users such as social media promotions or paid advertisements if you want a clear view of website engagement.

Email engagement

Email traffic can also offer a rich source of engagement data. For example, if you use Gmail or G Suite, you can access analytics for Gmail that provide insights on your email content engagement.

Social media shares

Many content marketers take likes and shares as a "vanity metric," because its return on investment (ROI) is not measurable. Some marketing experts say that besides social media-based businesses, social media shares and likes will not positively affect your bottom line, but landing pages or website engagement will.

Nevertheless, positive social engagement metrics such as social shares can expose your content and link you with new prospects. This form of content engagement is, consequently, a valuable modern age word-of-mouth marketing. A high amount of social shares can imply that your content is engaging enough to break through the noise of endless posts and scrolls.

This engagement metric can, therefore, offer guidance on favorable topics for future use. Comments are however different in that they require an effort and commitment from the reader to make. Comments are, therefore, a good sign of engagement. 

Crafting compelling and conversion aligned content will attract high engagement from users and result in positive action and loyal customers. Data, though, shows that while 79% of marketers understand the need for engaging content, less than 6% know how to use it to increase conversion rates.

When your content focuses on reinforcing your brand and attending to customer needs and questions, you will have high conversion rates. A high conversion rate implies that your customer is taking the action expected of them after engaging with your content. As an illustration, your potential customers should download your lead magnet as a response to a CTA on your landing pages.

If you are tracking the conversion rates on social media platforms, you should analyze the number of social shares across networks. On email marketing, you should ensure that your click-through and open rates are high. Websites or blog posts, on the other hand, should portray high internal link click-through rates (CTR).

Your readers should open your links to purchases or other products. Analyze the content that has high CTR and use its formula to optimize your other content. To increase your conversion rates, study your scroll depth rates to ascertain the level that users are willing to go when reading your content.

Content outcomes

If your content has attractive conversion metrics, then you should have positive outcomes. There are varieties of outcomes that business track depending on their setup, but some of the most common results measured include:

  • The top 10 organic visibility of your content's keywords
  • The number of new prospects led to your sales funnel by the content created
  • The number of new email subscribers added to a database via a lead page or content
  • The revenue generated by targeted customers
  • Your customer lifetime value metric that shows how well leads are nurtured for sustainable growth
  • Customer retention metrics, which track data such as blog pots comments or guest contributions

You can track your outcomes data via sales funnel analytics tools, a marketing automation platform or your CRM. Ensure that your tracking platform of choice links your engagement rates to individual customers.

Content costs

You need to track your content marketing costs such as direct expenses paid to creators or content management tools subscription fees. Your customer acquisition costs will directly affect your bottom-line, meaning that it is a crucial KPI.

Ensure that your content is generating enough leads to cover these costs and make a return on investment. Your content marketing strategy should generate more cash than that spent on its overhead costs.

Growth data

One of the KPIs that you should include is to measure the growth of your brand. It can be in terms of ROI, subscribers, white paper downloads, video views, or anything that provides value to your readers, subscribers, or customers.

Conclusion

It's impossible to add every KPI in the list. You won't find a one-size-fits-all approach when tracking content marketing success, but you can utilize the KPIs above to cut through the clutter and minimize analysis paralysis. Use these metrics instead of vanity metrics that don't actually support your content marketing strategy.

Which metrics help you measure your content marketing results? Let us know.

I'm a former long-time columnist for Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc, and various other major media publications, where I authored over 1,000 articles over the course of 5 years, covering marketing & entrepreneurship. In 2010, I founded a marketing agency that made the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and am now the founder & CEO of EmailAnalytics.
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