Content marketing is an essential cog in the modern digital marketing machine. High-quality, multi-channel content helps businesses reach and engage their target audiences. But to understand the success of your strategy—and whether you need to adopt an entirely new one—you have to measure the right metrics.
Ascertaining the return on investment (ROI) of content marketing strategies can be a challenging tapestry to weave. For example, consider KPIs designed to measure business impact (i.e., leads, churn rate, etc.) versus those that measure content quality (i.e., traffic, return visits, user engagement, etc.). There isn’t a perfect metric that tells the complete story, so whether you’re a decision-maker or content creator, it’s important to tie your KPIs to business objectives.
Measuring ROI generally requires a combination of immediate results and long-term projections. And measuring performance isn’t just about collecting data; it’s about extracting insights that drive strategic decisions.
Here are 19 metrics to start with, but keep in mind this isn’t comprehensive and the right mix will depend on your role and overall business objectives. Or, if you already know what you’re looking for, click the metric you’re interested in below to jump to that section.
- Customer relationship metrics
- Conversion/sales metrics
- Brand visibility metrics
- User behavior metrics
- Social media metrics
Customer relationship metrics
Gauge the strength of your connection with customers. Strong customer relationships cultivated through effective content may increase customer retention and conversion.
Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures customer experience and predicts business growth. An increased NPS means greater customer satisfaction and, potentially, referral and repeat business. Content marketing can contribute to NPS by nurturing and rewarding loyal customers.
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) projects the total revenue a business can reasonably expect from a single customer account. Content that helps increase CLV effectively nurtures audiences and retains customers, directly impacting ROI.
Conversion and sales metrics quantify the impact of your content marketing on business outcomes. High-quality content can enhance these metrics and markedly boost ROI.
Conversion rate can mean the percentage of content viewers who complete a desired action, such as filling out a form, subscribing to a newsletter or making a purchase. Or it could mean leads who turn into sales opportunities. Both definitions can indicate content effectiveness.
Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) calculates the total cost to acquire a new customer, including all marketing and sales expenses. Using content to reduce CAC demonstrates a positive ROI.
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) can be important to track with gated content programs, such as webinars, to ensure eyes on your content. However, it’s also important to look at lead-to-opportunity conversion rate to understand if you’re reaching the right people and your content is helping to nurture them into sales opportunities.
Brand visibility metrics
Brand visibility metrics assess your brand’s (and content’s) market presence and awareness among buyers. Enhanced brand visibility leads to higher customer trust, greater market share and increased sales.
Share of Voice (SOV) measures the number or percentage of conversations about your brand compared to your competitors within your industry. A higher SOV can indicate brand strength and enhanced brand recognition.
Content coverage involves measuring or tracking the number of times your product, service, or perspective is featured in third-party publications or other media outlets over time. Greater content coverage strongly indicates that you’re producing valuable content that solves problems for audiences outside your own.
Sentiment refers to the emotion or attitude conveyed in brand mentions across channels. It’s important to filter SOV and coverage by sentiment to understand how your target audience feels about your brand and content.
User behavior metrics
These metrics track how users engage with your website and owned content. They are a good indicator of content effectiveness. Positive user behavior can lead to increased engagement, improved brand loyalty, and higher chances of conversion.
Website traffic is one of the most fundamental metrics to track. A consistent increase in web traffic could mean your content successfully attracts more visitors. Tools like Google Analytics can help you understand your traffic sources—i.e., organic, social media, referral, direct, etc.—and better determine content performance.
Subscriber growth rate directly correlates to content marketing effectiveness for businesses that use email marketing or have a blog. An increase in subscribers indicates compelling content that attracts and retains followers, fostering loyalty.
Time on page shows which content users find the most valuable. It is also a useful metric to understand audience expectations. Spending a long time on a single page or group of pages strongly signals that the content is valuable to its readers.
Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing a single page. A high bounce rate can signify that your content isn’t resonating with users or meeting their expectations based on how they found your site.
Return visits are essential for understanding how often users return to your website after their first visit. A high return visitor rate can indicate that your content is engaging enough to bring users back, reflecting positively on your content strategy.
Page views per visit demonstrate how many pages a user visits during a single session on your website. A high number of page views per visit suggests that your internal linking strategy is effective, and as they bounce from page to page, your content keeps visitors engaged.
Assisted conversions is a metric specific to Google Analytics and, if appropriately configured, can illustrate the different touchpoints a user traversed in their journey to conversion. Ideally, this metric helps identify which pieces of content contributed to the conversion.
Social media metrics
Social media metrics measure your social content’s engagement, reach and impact. A broader social reach introduces your brand to new audiences, potentially increasing leads and driving sales.
Click Through Rate (CTR) is the percentage of people who clicked through the link shared in your social post relative to the number of people who saw it. This is an indication of the effectiveness of the social content itself and topic relevancy among your target audience.
Engagement rate, or likes, shares, comments and followers, are all metrics that can provide insights into how your content resonates with your audience. High engagement indicates that your content is informative or entertaining, which can encourage action.
Impressions & reach measure the total number of times your content was displayed on your chosen social media platform (impressions) and the number of individuals who saw it (reach). Together, these metrics can provide insights into your brand awareness and your content’s influence.
A final word
Content marketing is not simply about creating and sharing content; it’s about understanding and harnessing the power of data to measure its effectiveness. This requires a careful analysis of different metrics, from user behavior and conversion/sales to social media, brand visibility, and customer relationship metrics.
Remember, not all metrics will have the same importance for every business or individual. It’s crucial to select the metrics that align best with your business goals and provide the most insightful information about your specific audience and industry.
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