Driving Success by Measuring Content Marketing Metrics that Matter
Content marketing is a relatively new school of thought in the marketing world, albeit making waves. The idea appears simple—create engaging, informative content that delights your audience, and when they're ready, they'll convert to customers. Sounds great, right? But how do you know if it's working?
You're putting time and energy into your content, staying up-to-date with your social media followers, and being witty and engaging all over the place. Yet, you have no idea if this has led to a new customer. Other than straightforwardly asking new clients where they heard about you, which isn't precisely the data-driven answer your manager is drilling you for, what do you do?
You measure metrics, of course. Even in the relatively nebulous arena of content, there are concrete markers you can use to gauge the success of your campaigns. And there are ways of taking even the most ephemeral metric and making it concrete to get a measurement.
But first, know your goals.
It will be beneficial before we dive in to know what you're looking to get out of your content marketing. What are your team goals? Department goals? Company-wide goals? Each layer feeds into the next, so ideally, you also know how your team goals help the department and, eventually, the company reach the big ones.
This rubric ensures that you and your team stay on track with your goals and can judge their success as you work on them. Once you've set the goals and documented them thoroughly (in the future, this aids any new team members in getting up to speed quickly, as well as providing others outside of your team with a guide to your activities), it's time to look at those content marketing metrics.
But first, a short sidetrack. You'll be tempted to focus on vanity metrics. Don't do that. There's a time and a place for these metrics, but for our purposes today, the focus will be on solid, actionable metrics that are relatively easy to measure, as these are the ones that help move you toward your goals. For reference, vanity metrics include:
General site visitors, clicks, etc.
OK, with that out of the way, it's on to our top 5 content marketing metrics everyone should be measuring.
#1: Email List Conversions
This one may seem a bit narrow for a starting point but bear with us. Email list conversion looks specifically at visitors who convert to subscribers by signing up and agreeing to terms that may give them gated content access, or some other carrot, in exchange for their email contact information, enabling you to add them to your newsletter list.
These folks found value in your content and want more. The last piece that makes this an important metric is that they voluntarily gave you their contact info in exchange for more content.
Measurement tip: Tools like MailChimp or Constant Contact make this easy, as they give you an analytics dashboard that monitors this along with other metrics like open rate.
Some metrics can mean different things to different people in different situations. Engagement is one of those. What matters is that you set parameters and stick to them. The key is to measure actionable statistics like email open rate, social media conversions, blog post comments/responses, etc. These all have numbers associated with them, and there are clear actions that can be taken to improve them.
Measurement tip: Engagement is more nebulous than conversions but is still measurable using concrete numbers like those mentioned above. Collect these metrics from the analytics tool in your email list management console, Google Analytics, and social media dashboards.
#3: Referral Source
Tracking this metric tells you where your customers are coming from, allowing you to tailor your presence accordingly. So if you find that 75% of your new clients are coming to you from Facebooks posts, you know it may be time to ramp that platform up a notch. At the same time, if you discover that only 12% are coming from Snapchat, maybe it's time to shut that one down and refocus that effort elsewhere.
Measurement tip: Your website CMS analytics page is the best place to start, with the next level being to set up a Google Analytics and Search Console account and connect them to your domain. These tools provide a deeper dive and will give you more data than you could hope to need.
This metric is about what content people look at most and, more importantly, which content they share the most. If every one of your video posts gets 100 shares, but your infographics only get 12, you've got a direction to move. Either up your infographic game or dump that medium and focus on videos for better ROI.
Measurement tip: Most social media platforms provide an analytics dashboard that will give you a solid understanding of shares, clicks, and even time spent on a post.
#5: Lead Quality
If your posts garner 1000s clicks and views, yet your overall conversion rate is 1%, it's time to redo the math. Looking not only at where a lead comes from (see #3) but, more specifically, which leads convert to clients and at what rate for a given source, this is the deepest of our suggested metrics. Knowing this gives you a much finer-grained approach to where you should be allocating your efforts and resources.
Tips for measuring: Track downloads on your lead-generating content, monitor CTA click-through rates, and compare to your lead list. The more content a lead has read before contacting you, the more likely it will be a high-quality lead.
A last-minute suggestion:
Assign responsibility, and don't forget to analyze, analyze, and then analyze some more.
The former helps to distribute the tasks associated with collecting all this data, but it also spreads out the time and energy required to make adjustments. And the latter is simply because why would you take the time and use the resources to collect all this data only to sit on it?