Making decisions based on data is something that all businesses should adhere to, and yet measuring content marketing metrics is an area where many companies fall short due to poor data setup, messy integrations, and unclear lack of ownership over who leads what metric.
Companies and agencies need to ensure there’s a streamlined and effective strategy to produce content and measure its effectiveness in growing a business.
Olivia Lucero, Content Marketing Manager at TINT, says that content marketing metrics are essential to business strategy and growth because “we have to learn from previous trends and make projections of what the numbers will look like in the future. Then we learn how campaigns go so that we can set better goals for ourselves and more realistically predict how the business is going to run.”
To make content marketing metrics easy, we’ve compiled a quick and straightforward guide to understanding the content marketing metrics that truly matter, and how to measure them.
Funnel stage: Top of the Funnel (ToFu)
Owned by: Marketing
Consumption metrics allow content marketers to measure primary goals that include:
- Is your content bringing people to your website?
- How many people are consuming your content?
- What channels they’re using to find your content
- How often and for how long do they engage with your content?
Obviously, you’re going to need to write interesting content topics to keep readers on page as well. Depending on goals, businesses will measure content marketing metrics differently at the top of the funnel, but here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Traffic is the number of people who visit your website from any channel, for example, organic search, paid ads, social media, email, referrals (i.e., links), and affiliate marketing.
By measuring the volume of traffic a blog post or other asset acquires, you can get a big picture view of your main traffic source and the different types of content that get the most clicks from all channels.
Measurement: Google Analytics > Behaviour > Overview
It’s easy to get carried away measuring traffic. You’ll see high numbers and think, “awesome, this is great, so much traffic!” but what’s important is the volume of qualified traffic your channels bring in.
Qualified traffic is visits to your website from people who are most likely to be interested in your product or service and become a customer. This type of traffic is more likely to convert than unqualified traffic, which might give you clicks, visits, and impressions but visitors aren’t the right fit for your business.
Measurement: Visitor to lead conversion rate (VTL) and lead to customer conversion rate (LTC).
Unique pageviews measure the total number of times a page on your site has been viewed by each visitor. Unique pageviews are more accurate than measuring page views because the unique element tells you how many times each visitor has viewed a page, excluding repetition. For example, a visitor lands on:
This would equal three unique pageviews because page X has been viewed twice.
Measuring unique page views tells you what pages drive the most traffic and what content people are most interested in.
Measurement: Google Analytics > Behaviour > Overview > Unique Page Views
Time on page
Time on page shows you exactly how long visitors spend consuming your content and accurately represents how engaged with your work they are.
For example, if you’ve written a 2,500-word blog post but your average time on page is only 20 seconds, this shows that visitors aren’t reading through the whole of your content, and you need to rethink your strategy.
Measurement: Google Analytics > Behaviour > Overview > Avg. Time on Page
Backlinks are important because they have a massive impact on your organic search rankings, and at the top of the funnel, this is where you want to excel to get maximum eyes on your content and improve brand awareness.
Measuring the amount of earned backlinks that point to your content shows the strength and stature of your assets. Conversely, if your content is low on backlinks, this could indicate that people aren’t finding value in what you’ve published.
Measurement: Google Search Console, SEMRush, or Ahrefs
Channel-specific engagement metrics
Funnel stage: Middle of the Funnel (MoFu)
Owned by: Marketing
Measure engagement to keep track of understanding how your content resonates on social media.
Does your audience value your content enough to share it on their feeds?
Does your content spark conversation with your audience?
Does your audience find the content relevant and valuable?
Does your content help to grow your audience?
At this stage, the MoFu stage of the buyer’s journey, Olivia Lucero also recommends measuring clicks because “you actually want to drive people to your website and make sure they click through on the post.”
Other worthwhile social engagement metrics to keep an eye on include sentiment (social listening tools can help with this) and community engagement (look at Reddit and Quora) to understand how your assets and brand resonate with audiences.
Measuring email engagement is an insightful strategy that allows you to understand how your audience is engaging with your content at the middle of the funnel.
Open rates tell you how many people are opening your emails. According to Mailchimp, the average open rate across all industries is 21.33%. If your open rate falls anywhere lower than 15%, A/B test your subject lines to better understand what language makes your audience click to open your email campaigns.
If your audience is opening your emails, great! If they’re clicking through to your website or blog post, even better! Click-through rates show you how engaged your MoFu audience is with your campaigns and what types of content they’re eager to read.
Measuring subscriber count growth is a neat little MoFu metric that tells you whether the people visiting your blog content are interested in your content enough to want to receive more of it. Tie this in with A/B testing CTAs to drive subscriber growth, and you’ve created an effective funnel to acquire MoFu audiences on their journey.
Funnel stage: MoFu and Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu)
MQL (marketing qualified lead) is an essential metric that shows whether your campaigns convert your audience into leads and drive potential revenue for a business.
Marketing qualified leads can come from various sources, including gated content, demos from blog as the first page seen, webinar registrations, acquiring a phone number from a form fill, adding items to a shopping cart, and click-throughs from ad campaigns.
It’s a matter of figuring out which channels you care about most and setting up measurements accordingly.
An SQL (sales qualified lead) is a potential customer who’s ready to talk to the sales team. Typically, the MQL is qualified through lead scoring with the marketing team and handed over to sales to continue the customer journey as an SQL.
SQLs are important to measure because it’s the prime point where you can tangibly relate revenue to content marketing. In simple terms, if you notice that a high volume of SQLs originally started their buyer’s journey from a blog post, you can attribute content as a driver of revenue.
Owned by: Marketing, sales, and CS
Measuring content as part of customer retention will help show how good quality content can help retain your current customers. Here are a few areas to focus on:
Create product-centric content
Work with your customer experience and product marketing teams to create how-to guides and other product-focused assets to improve customer retention. For example, you can measure the effectiveness with time on page and analyze churn rates.
Improve your onboarding experience
Leverage high-performing and best-in-class content as part of your onboarding experience to help customers fill in gaps in their knowledge as they familiarize themselves with your product or service. Measure the experience through NPS scores.
Email campaigns aren’t just got the middle of the funnel. Engage your current customers by distributing content that helps them use your product or service. Measure the effectiveness of this campaign with open rates and click-throughs.
One final thing to remember is to always match the right metric with the right campaign and content. For example, if you’ve created a top-of-funnel strategy to increase brand awareness with search-optimized blog content but your marketing manager asks you to track sign-ups as a success metric, feel free to argue that this metric doesn’t match the goal of the campaign. Instead, time on page, bounce rate, or email subscribers is a much more accurate metric to measure.
Over to you
Making data-driven decisions requires both measuring the right things and putting in the work to analyze and act on that data. Once you’ve got these metrics available and visible, it’s time to build content that send your graphs up and to the right.