Is your content marketing paying off?
Sure, content doesn’t cost you like Facebook Ads or Google Adwords. But it’s not free, right?
You need to hire employees, agencies or freelancers to create and promote your content.
And let’s not forget the money you must invest in marketing software such as SEO and marketing automation tools.
So how do you measure the ROI of your content marketing?
Content Marketing Metrics
One of the best things about content marketing is the ability to accurately track and measure your success – across all stages of your marketing funnel.
There are dozens of metrics that you can track. But this can get rather overwhelming.
So what are the most important metrics you should pay attention to?
To answer this question, we reached out to 56 companies who have tremendous success with content marketing. Check out the full list of companies and contributors.
We asked them:
“What key metrics do you use to measure your content marketing success?”
All of these companies rely substantially on content for lead generation and growth. And they have all been doing it for years.
Which means that they certainly know a thing or two about metrics!
This article is divided into two parts. You can use the links below to navigate to either:
This section has insights from all the companies who contributed. I recommend you start here.
We have analyzed and summarized the key points from the roundup in this section. The metrics we have covered are:
- Website Metrics
- Visitors (Website, Blog)
- Unique Visitors
- Returning Visitors
- Engagement on Site
- Bounce rate
- Time On Page
- Pages/ Session
- Session duration
- Visitor Journey
- Content Consumption
- Blog Comments
- Number of Comments
- What Are People Saying? (Qualitative)
- Social Engagement Metrics
- Other Engagement Metrics
- Tracking Cross-platform Engagement
- Newsletter Engagement
- Reach and SEO Metrics
- Click-through rates (CTR)
- Conversion Metrics
- Newsletters, Ebooks, Webinar Signups
- Leads and Free Trials
- Percentage of Leads in Target Market
- Views Leading to Conversions
- Product Activations and Product Engagement
- Usage Metrics
- Articles & Pages Viewed by Users
- Activation levels – Product & Feature Usage Metrics
Content Marketing Metrics of 56 Companies
Insights From Our Contributors
“In content marketing there are the usual success metrics like number of content downloads, blog and site traffic, growth to the email list, and of course conversion rates. We look at all of that, with a heavy focus on qualifying leads and getting them to sales.
But an often overlooked success metric for content marketing is not really quantitative: Are you talking about something that no one is talking about or are you speaking to the hot topics for your audience in a unique way that resonates emotionally for the reader?
This is especially crucial at the outset when you are trying to rise above the din. There are hundreds of millions of blogs out there and the vast majority aren’t really saying anything. They are just rehashing once-relevant statistics.
You will certainly have to focus on the tactical aspect like SEO, to identify, use, and measure your keywords, but quality is paramount. We consistently rank in the top 3 on Google for some core key words to our product, and we did that with hardly any SEO tactics. We just wrote great content. (For other keywords, we have employed a detailed SEO strategy, but we balance that in every article so that it still makes a great read.)
One way to track quality is to see how people are talking about you.
- What are the conversations happening in the comment section on your blog
- On social media
- In responses to your content emails
- How often are the comments being made?
- What is the volume of comments?
To tie this back to ROI, look to who is saying what. Are they in your ICP, someone who will buy your product?
If people are talking about your content and engaging with it, that means you’re doing it right. You can always employ some SEO strategy or other marketing tactic which is easier to measure than, “Do people like us?”
Always start by creating something beautiful and then optimize it. You can’t optimize crap.”
“For our main blog, we shifted away from pageviews as the primary KPI.
We discovered several years ago that the posts with the highest amount of pageviews weren’t necessarily converting into free trials or subscriptions.
These days, the latter metrics — free trials and subscriptions — in addition to the *percentage* of views that turn into free trials and subscriptions are what we now look at to track success.”
“At Animoto, our mission is to help anyone create powerful, professional videos. In addition to providing a easy-to-use video creation tool, we support this mission with our content marketing.
We aim to publish educational content for consumers interested in video at all stages of the funnel. I think it’s important to approach each piece of content with an audience and goal in mind, so KPIs may vary depending on the project.
Starting from the top, we aim to drive awareness with content that answers the questions our potential customers are asking during (and even before) their search for a solution. Our goal here is brand awareness, but it’s always an added benefit when a visitor takes the plunge and registers with us after finding that our product is the answer to their question.
The KPIs we’re looking at here include organic traffic and registrations.
But content marketing isn’t just an acquisition tool for us. It’s also a means of providing added value for our current customers.
To determine whether our customers are getting value out of our content, there are a few KPIs we look at that tell us how engaged they are.
- Average time spent on page
- Bounce rate
And, of course, the ultimate reward comes when we see our content resulting in customers getting into the product and creating more effective videos.”
“Since the very beginning of appear.in we have used content marketing and strong community building to establish our brand. You might even say it was critical to our early growth.
In those early days we used content marketing to communicate product updates but really it was our primary arena for showcasing our user stories.
We’re lucky to have millions of users who use our product in a wide variety of ways. This created many opportunities to highlight our users and inspire others around our mission of making it easy to collaborate from anywhere.
As our service has grown and matured our content marketing efforts have now become more sophisticated as well.
We continue to tell our user stories but now have a larger focus on using content to make our users successful. So the metrics we measure are geared more around user activation and customer success.
We personalize the content based on each user’s level of engagement. Measuring if they discover and locate key product features and surfacing the features they might have missed.
We use Intercom mainly to achieve this by tracking how many of our customers are ‘fully activated’ and how many are only ‘partially activated’. Intercom allows us to measure activation goals on an overall campaign basis and even a more granular per message basis.
For example, we know that users who use screen sharing tend to find more value in the product and churn less. So if we notice a user have never screen shared we send them info on how to do so.
Tracking levels of activation has helped us to reduce churn dramatically in the past year (down from 12% to 5% net revenue churn).”
“There are several key metrics we are looking for:
- Web traffic
- Social media shares
But that really depends on what do we want from that specific content. Because every content is build with a different type of purpose.
There are pieces of content that are build just to create engagement and others just for the purpose of web traffic. Other kind of content is to build our brand awareness around the internet.
So I would recommend everybody to think about their purpose and target of their content marketing. What do you want to achieve and what resources do you have. Starting from these points you will know where you will get.”
“The metrics we use depend on where in the funnel our content sits. At the top of the conversion funnel, we look at three content consumption metrics – Reach, Content Depth, and Frequency.
Reach is easy to measure on social and on our site. We accept a level of analytic blindness when we publish to third-party sites. Coincidentally, we find that engagement metrics on social media (often seen as vanity metrics) correlate highly with our Reach metrics.
Content Depth relates to content size and consumption. For example, if someone watches the full length of a 30-minute piece of our Live content, we infer that they’re highly engaged.
Frequency is all about how often someone interacts with us. People often bounce from our Facebook page to our blog to our newsletter and FAQ prior to purchasing. Higher frequency signals higher engagement.
Lower down — in the middle of our funnel — we focus on content that creates leads. We call this Performance Content. The most significant metric here is free account sign-ups. To drive sign-ups, we use content focussed on addressing objections, promoting features, and selling the Biteable dream.
At the bottom of our funnel, our key metric is sales, as you’d expect.
We produce tons of beautiful, useful video templates which double as a form of content. Giving these templates to our audience is our biggest driver of sales.
It’s worth noting that SEO isn’t a key metric for us. We see SEO gains as a happy side-effect of producing quality content. We’re more interested in the links and citations we receive, as these symbolize our position in the wider market.”
“Traffic is a big one. But we’re not interested in traffic for traffic’s sake.
We’re careful not to be seduced by vanity metrics, and we don’t use dodgy methods to drive traffic to our content marketing efforts; instead, we’re focused on increasing domain authority and brand recognition.
We’re more interested in unique visitors than page views – our main goal is getting people to use Canva, rather than just spending time on the blog.
We also track conversions. How many new users have signed up after visiting our blog? Are our existing users more likely to use Canva after they’ve seen a blog post? We’re constantly experimenting to find methods that work.”
“We try to focus less on “vanity metrics” like total number of page views, and more on the metrics that are directly tied to revenue.
For example, we look at what percentage of our visitors are buying our products, and/or joining our email newsletter. This tells us if we’re attracting the right people through our content marketing efforts.
And we’re looking at the path that they took to become a customer. This helps us understand how readers are consuming and engaging with our content.
We also look at some basic metrics in Google analytics, like session duration and bounce rate. These are a great indication of whether the info we’re publishing is a match for what our audience is looking for.”
“When we started with content marketing, we focused a lot on getting as many visits to our website as possible. Then, we continued to build out resources to provide to our visitors to convert them to leads.
The number of leads and the conversion rate (visitor to contact/lead) have been two important metrics for us.
As our number of visits and leads continues to increase, we are focusing more on capturing leads within our target market. We’re creating more resources to attract high quality leads and we measure the percentage of new leads we receive that are in our target market.”
“In addition to looking at page-views & time on page, the most important metric for us is the number of marketing leads generated.
The goal of our content is to move people to the next stage in a relationship: from an occasional visitor, to someone who gives us permission to email them.
Ultimately, our company exists to help sales people close more deals. In the early stages of our relationship, we do this with our content, by teaching them how they can sell better.
In the later stages, we do this with our inside sales CRM, which enables people to spend less time on manual data entry and tedious administrative tasks, and more time communicating with prospects.”
“First and foremost, we ask ourselves:
- Have we been able to deliver real value to the customer?
- Have we been able to lead the reader to better thinking?
If the answer is yes, then we’ve achieved our overarching goal for our content marketing efforts.
The way we measure that is by engagement metrics such as article completions (people finishing reading the article, not just opening the page), responses, and qualitative feedback, as well as sharing metrics.
Another great indicator is that people from the community want to write in our blog. This means that our audience becomes the creator, which tells us we have a great match between the content, the readership and the positioning.
Your goals should always be inspected and matched with your strategic priorities at a given point in time.
For example, recently we’ve launched a new product for brands, called Communit360. Content marketing for Communit360 has a different target audience (brands) and a different goal (lead generation), and as such it needs a different strategy, which is more around thought leadership and educating the market, since we’re solving a problem (online threats to brand reputation) that many organizations don’t yet have set systems to handle and we need to educate our readers about it.”
“All our content including blog posts, landing pages and diagrams are tracked weekly for their performance.Below are the key metrics we used to measure our content marketing success.
- Registrations (Product signups) – This is main thing we are targeting with all of our content.
- Purchases – This is a secondary metric and if purchase conversion for some page is above average we mark it for further promotion.
- Organic visitors – Tracked via Google Analytics and usually a good indication for ranking in search engines.
- Links acquired – We send out outreach emails for most of the content we create and the number of links acquired through them are measured and consider for our next content marketing topics.”
“The heart of our content marketing strategy lies at the intersection of great storytelling and business impact. The majority of our content is based on proprietary data our internal research team gathers by diving into consumer credit and analyzing factors such as customer behavior, trends over time, sentiment and more.
We leverage this content through a wide range of channels, each based on business objectives that range from general consumer awareness to industry leadership and customer acquisition. We publish content on our own blog and social channels, and major media publications such as FOX Business and HuffPost often pick it up. The metrics we use to track success depend on the objective and can include: reach and impressions; social shares; and customer conversion rates.”
“At Culture Amp, we try really hard to tie all of our marketing efforts back to revenue.
So the most important thing we look at is the impact on revenue of our various pieces and forms of content.
- We analyze which of our content was most viewed by Closed Won Opportunities.
- Then we look at where in the buyers journey, or sales funnel, those pieces of content most often show up.
Together this gives us a pretty clear picture of how our content is driving the revenue outcomes we desire and which types of content (topics, forms) we should increase our investment in.
In addition, we definitely want to understand reach and engagement. We track the common traffic metrics like visits and views and look at how people are engaging with that content through metrics like social shares, comments, and time on site.”
“When assessing content marketing success, we look at web analytics like Page views, Average Time spent on Page, Bounce Rate but also behavior flow of the readers by following the landing page entrance pages and their exit points.
Further, depending on the type of the content and the way we promote our content (ranging from email, organic social, paid social, PPC, etc.), we also look at metrics such as conversion rate, impressions, post likes, and shares.
Since buyer journey is not linear, we always try to create diverse pieces of content that would attract prospects at different stages of their journey.
For example, we create lighter type content like infographic and short reports for people who are new to what we offer.
However, we also have more in-depth thought leadership whitepapers available so that readers can learn more about our unique POVs coming from our SMEs. In order to effectively measure such complex journey, we use multi-touch attribution tool to get a closer look into how our content have assisted in final, macro conversion.”
Senior Content Marketing Specialist
Digital Marketing Institute
“The Digital Marketing Institute has experienced huge growth over the past two years and content marketing has played a key role in that. As we develop a huge amount of content, it’s important for us to know what works, where and why.
While there are many metrics that can be used to measure content’s efficacy, it’s key to concentrate on the ones that matter to your business and can demonstrate real impact.
As a traffic driver and lead generator, our blog is core to our content strategy and we measure it on a daily basis to gauge the performance of both new and old content.
The key metrics we use are views/visitors and conversions, while duration spent, scroll depth and traffic sources are good indicators of consumer behaviour.
Our social activity is also important in measuring content outputs in terms of impressions, CTRs and shares as it helps us determine what topics and themes resonate on different platforms.
Additionally, SEO and content now go hand in hand, and it’s crucial that SEO is closely monitored because our organic traffic depends on it. The metrics to be aware of in this case are backlinks and rankings. If we notice something slipping down the ranks, then we do our best to rectify it by reviewing or rewriting content to boost its searchability.”
“For us at Fleep, the key metrics stem from the goals of content marketing.
So, for example, one of the key goals of content marketing is generating qualified leads. And we measure the success of this by signups, retention and conversion to our paid subscription.
Another primary goal for us is brand awareness, and this is measured in website traffic, pageviews and social shares.
The third goal I’d highlight is customer loyalty. In the context of content marketing, we measure this by how much our existing users consume our content marketing (including, but not limited to, product marketing).”
“The metrics that we use to measure the success of our content marketing are:
- Engagement (Depending on the content i.e. blog we look at time on site, shares, comments, if social content we look at likes and comments and our average depending on the platform)
- Revenue generated (if can be tracked)”
“We have over 100 metrics for content because there are those metrics that can be read fast and enable quick optimizations and there are those metrics that are slower to come to fruition (like sales) but are also very important.
Here are a few of the metrics:
We believe content marketing must measure the “content” and the “marketing”. It has to be good so we use engagement rate as a quality metric. What we define as an engagement changes depending on the purpose of the content and the usage within the customer journey.
We also want to make sure our best stuff is seen because it is a war for attention.
So, we measure views of our best assets. Lastly, we tie our content to sales through things like lead nurturing and attribution modeling to make longer-term decisions.
Also, do we (The Originals) use any Watson applications in how we measure content success i.e. Pearl.
Yes, we use AI to help content creators make better decisions and content. We are in the early stages of this as our content discipline is only two years old and we wanted to focus great storytelling skills first.
That said, we are beginning to use AI to help us auto-tag content, deliver insights to creators that might spark new briefs, identify content for reuse and be our partner through the end-to-end content marketing process.”
“As a marketing team our focus is on driving people through the funnel from top to bottom, and content supports that effort.
That means that at the top of the funnel we’re measuring things like:
- number of visits to the blog
- how long they spend
- the bounce rate
Next we focus on marketing leads (MLs) and after that marketing qualified leads (MQLs).
Another thing we measure is the amount of traffic the blog is driving to the website, because that’s where they will find more detailed information about the product and have the ability to request a demo. The focus is mainly on top and middle of the funnel for the time being, as it requires a lot of bandwidth to cover the funnel from beginning to end and that’s our current priority.
“One of the main metrics we track is how many visitors start on one of our blog posts and end up on the signup page for inFlow Cloud.
This helps us see how many trials are started from a particular post — and viewing this metric across multiple posts also shows which kinds of topics are most engaging to our potential customers.
We also monitor the kinds of comments we get. There are a lot of insightful or poignant questions from readers that make us reflect further on what we’ve written. We’ll reply and make changes to content based on those comments, then add notes in Google Analytics to see if we can attribute any visit upticks to those changes.”
“Here at Influitive, our content marketing team uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative data to measure success.
For quantitative data, we examine a series of key performance indicators, including time on page, click-through rates, social shares, number of downloads, and the number of MQLs generated.
We also leverage our SalesForce data to identify content that has been consumed during a prospect’s journey to determine the influence our content has had.
Our qualitative data is a bit of a special case, as we often tap into our community of customer advocates to provide feedback on whether our content or message resonates with them.
We’ve built a strong relationship with our customer advocates, and they help us keep a pulse on which content is hitting the mark. We also make a point of connecting with our sales and customer success teams to reveal which content has proven to be most helpful in facilitating conversations with prospects or customers.”
“At Later, we’re obsessed with sharing best practices, tips, and strategies for how to succeed with Instagram marketing.
Since awareness and word-of-mouth metrics are very hard to measure directly, we look at proxy-metrics such as shares and engagement on social as well as links to the article or landing page.
To measure our content marketing success we look at new visitors, new leads and new signups on each campaign and blog post. We also review how many new customers have been driven from those signups and leads but it tends to be a lagging indicator, so we generally stick to and optimize for new visits and new signups.”
“The metrics we use to measure our content marketing is pretty straight forward.
We track our rankings through tools like SEMrush to ensure we’re capturing new keywords and improving rankings.
Then, we’re looking at our analytics, but more so from a bottom of funnel standpoint. Obviously we want to see traffic growth, but we want that traffic to lead to Trials. So we’re tracking unique blog post visits to Trial.
After a post has been live for 6 months, we’re then looking to either update the post, or merge it into other pieces of content that’s better performing (while 301’ing the original).”
“In the long run, we look at content’s rankings in search engines.
For short term results we focus on social media shares, average time spent reading the content and opt-ins for our newsletters.”
“Our leading content marketing tactic for the LiveChat blog is just to create lots of valuable, useful content.
We’re doing our best to help our customers with all of the problems that they face on a daily basis. In the blog articles we give actionable tips, provide support and educate.
As a publisher, we also put strong emphasis on the technical optimization of our posts. It’s not surprising that the more a reader is involved in exploring an article, the closer they are to achieving their set goals.
We measure users engagement by tracking how they interact with our blog posts.
We’re doing it by looking at metrics such as scroll rate, time spent on a given page or clicking/tapping behavior. We also look at the number of unique visits to our pages and monitor the bounce rate trying to get to know why some of our readers quickly leave the website.
In the case of sales content, the most important metrics are conversion rate and the number of leads we acquire.
When promoting our content on external websites, first we analyze that domain’s or brand’s authority and then, after the publication, we monitor the readers’ engagement rate and achieved buzz impact.”
“At Mailbird, we measure the success of our content marketing efforts using two key metrics:
For us as a software company it can be challenging to create content that drives qualified traffic to our pages. Even more difficult it can be to convert them to download the product.
Hence, those mentioned metrics are super indicators on whether we are doing everything right or if we need to change something ”
“Like most of the customers we serve, content really drives our business forward. We are a completely SaaS company without a sales team. Our entire buying process is automated and self-serve.
We rely heavily on website analytics like website visits and behavior metrics like time on site and bounce rates. These help us identify what content is moving our prospects through the sales/marketing funnel.
Another metric that is important to our business is the conversion rates throughout our various conversion points on our website. Conversion rates give us actionable areas of improvement to convert more leads to customers.”
“As a SaaS company with a freemium business model, content marketing is one of the major tiers of our marketing efforts besides performance marketing and classic branding. To measure our content marketing efforts, we look at a vast range of different KPIs.
Using various SEO tools, we measure:
- Search result views
- CTR for a set of predefined keywords for each of these content pieces.
For the traffic on those pages, we generally measure conversions to our website, as well as signups and payments within three months after the visit.
Last but not least, we also look at qualitative performance aspects of our content, such as bounce rate, time spent on page and the exit rate.”
“In order to be successful, you need to have KPIs in place for every step of the marketing and sales funnel.
At the top of your KPI pyramid you have your online traffic. Moving down, you’ll need to focus on nurturing interest and providing specific product information, and then further down the funnel, you need actual sales which as well know lead to revenue – the most important KPI for a business.
Ultimately, what’s left is customer loyalty. In other words, how do existing customers rate your content and does quality content contribute to happy customers. Here are some ways in which we measure these different steps…
For starters, one of the most important metrics we measure here at Mopinion is online traffic. This may not come as a surprise but traffic, and particularly an increase in traffic can be a great indicator of success over time.
On a monthly basis we review the number of sessions (or a group of hits recorded for a user in a given time period) that we’ve racked up and compare that with previous months. If we have achieved an increase in sessions, then we start narrowing down which content we posted in that month and identifying the highest performing posts (using metrics such as page views and the source of acquisition).
From there we then formulate a strategy for the next month’s content, where we add more content that ‘works’ and cut out content that didn’t do much for us. As Neil Patel says, ‘when something works, you should do more of it’ and that is something we have certainly adopted.
Additionally, conversion rates are a really important metric for us. Within our web analytics, we work a lot with defining certain ‘goals’ (our predefined conversions), such as a successful trial registration or a demo request. From there, we can look at traffic in relation to a conversion.
We do this by using Reverse Goal Paths in Google Analytics, which can give quite a bit of insight into which content performs best.
To complement this data, we also use our own software to extract insights. Again, no surprise there, but as a customer feedback analytics software, we have quite a bit of experience with marketing metrics and find that applying qualitative data to the ‘mix’ can give us a lot of insight into the content we’re putting out there.
For example, we can learn a lot from our ‘lowest rated blog posts’ and the open comments attached to this data as it often includes suggestions (from existing customers) for improvement, e.g. ‘a link in this blog post is broken’. This data is really important to our success and helps us grow tremendously!”
Muscle For Life
Bestselling author of Bigger Leaner Stronger
“I pay attention to the big ones most:
- Sessions (we watch the 30-day rolling average in particular)
- # of words posted weekly (as opposed to articles as we only post a few articles per week per site but they’re usually long-form pieces. )
- Social engagement (Facebook shares in particular)
And then, of course, email subscribers and revenue from the blogs (subscribers and purchases coming from people who viewed an article).”
“Our approach to content marketing for Notejoy optimizes against two goals.
The first goal is a focus on raising awareness and acquiring new users for Notejoy. The primary metric that we measure for this category is acquiring engaged, active users that are creating notes and collaborating with others using Notejoy.
It’s important to focus on engaged users because some efforts can lead to lots of signups but with relatively low activity rates.
The other goal that we focus on with Notejoy is driving engagement with our existing users, and the metric we examine is engagement with that content measured in social media reactions and views.
Many of our users share our passion for productivity and we want to make sure that we’re delivering interesting and relevant content to them that resonates.”
“I keep track of more than two dozen content-related metrics every month—mostly out of habit at this point—but only three of them actually matter to me:
1. Organic search visits to our blog. Anyone can pay for traffic to their website, through AdWords and other digital advertising channels. But how many people can you get through the door every month for free?
Increasing the number of people who find your site through non-paid search visits gives you more opportunities to convert strangers into customers, and helps keep your cost-per-acquisition nice and low.
As long as you’re steadily publishing blog posts on topics that are relevant to your buyers’ interests and periodically updating popular articles from your archives to keep them ranking well on Google, this metric will grow significantly every quarter.
2. Email addresses acquired through content downloads. By offering website visitors something of value in exchange for their email addresses, you can gain a valuable foothold in their inboxes and start marketing to them on an ongoing basis.
Driving up this number means creating downloadable resources that are genuinely helpful to your customers, and making sure those resources are discoverable from your most popular blog pages.
3. Trial signups originating in blog visits. In other words, how many people find our site every month through blog content (see point #1) then start a free trial of Nutshell within the same visit.
Generally speaking, these are visitors who are already looking for a solution to their problem and want to learn how our product addresses it.
If your company offers a free trial, you can boost this metric by publishing high-quality content around the pain points that your product or service directly addresses, as well as content about specific product features that your potential customers might be looking for.
Having sharp mid-funnel content is what turns content marketing into a true revenue driver.”
“At OnSIP, we view content as a valuable educational resource for people both inside and outside our customer base.
For those who already use our service, we use content to keep them up-to-date on the latest feature additions, tips and tricks to get the most out of their OnSIP account, as well as our unbiased reviews of 3rd party hardware.
We typically notify our users of new content via a monthly newsletter, gather click statistics to see which content garners the most interest, and use that insight to guide future content creation.
For our non-customers, we empathize with those who are completely new to our industry and are trying to learn.
For example, a new small business owner will need a cloud phone system, but may not understand the jargon used by most providers.
We use SEO tools, along with intuition, to find the questions these people are asking and do our best to provide them with the answers they need via an article. We measure our success with metrics such as:
- Average rank for those search terms,
- Incoming traffic entrances to the page
- How many of those entrances go on to become qualified leads or customers.”
“At PeopleKeep, we measure marketing performance in terms of CAC. If marketing is doing its job, CAC stays at an acceptable level.
For content marketing in particular, we look at our metrics from two angles: SEO and onsite conversion.
For SEO, we watch average keyword rankings and click-through rates for a strategic set of terms. For onsite conversion, we look at session-to-MQL rate—how well we’re taking incoming traffic and turning it into marketing-qualified leads.”
“We try to keep things as simple as possible. We have two core metrics we look at for our marketing team which are Awareness (measured in sessions) and Acquisition (measured in the number of free signups).
Depending on the nature of each piece, we would assign either one of the two metrics to be the one determining its success.
For example if it’s an inspirational gallery which people are more likely to share and it isn’t as related to our product, we would look at sessions.
If it’s a how-to article featuring our templates, we would be guided by signups it brings to the product. We also look at the quality of these new signups in terms of revenue they bring. From there, we can determine our most successful content that actually impacts our bottom line.
For both metrics, we also look at traffic and signup sources (organic, social, email, paid, outreach) to determine which channels worked for us in a distribution of a particular piece.
In case it’s gated content focused on lead generation, we will measure its success by the amount of qualified leads it gathers and eventually revenue.”
“At Plann we measure the success of specific content marketing efforts (such as our blog) by how many app downloads we achieve through each individual blog post.
This helps us to continue writing high-performing content that is not only interesting for the reader, but also helps us to move our business forward.”
“The key metrics we track are:
– Blog posts published
– Guest posts published
– Posts promoted (via our promotion process)
– Free Trial Signups for the app (Stripe)
– Blog subscribers (Intercom)
– Website traffic (GA)
We are also constantly monitoring the position our posts are ranking on Google, via Ahrefs.”
“The number 1 metric for measuring content marketing success is the problem we solve for our audience.
It combines several numbers such time spent on the article, interaction with the content and finally conversion rate (including subscriptions, sales, email newsletters signups, ebook downloads and more).
Having a specific goal within a blog article or another type of content is one of the most important things for having success in content marketing.”
“There are countless metrics we could use to measure content marketing, but we hone in on metrics that are specifically linked to the specific goals we have for our content in each channel. That way we stay focused on making sure our content is helping us achieve our marketing goals instead of getting distracted by “vanity metrics”.
The Repsly blog is responsible for most of our top-of-the-funnel traffic, but while we track our visitor number over time it’s not the most important (or helpful) metric we look at when measuring the success of that channel.
Our ultimate goal for the blog is to create engagement with our gated lead-gen content, but the content of any given blog post can only influence our Visitor-to-Lead conversion rate so much (CTA design and placement more directly influence that metric).
So, we use Time On Page and Pages / Session to measure the quality of our content and the engagement it creates. We apply this purpose-driven approach to metrics at every stage of our marketing funnel to make sure we have the data we need to fine-tune our strategy and focus our attention where we’ll have the biggest impact.
For example, we use more targeted, low-in-the-funnel content to qualify leads as being in-market for the type of solution we offer. Because we target existing leads with this content (via email & on-site CTAs), we measure Leads Qualified, not necessarily Leads Generated.
Across a different channel, however, we might use that same piece of content to generate new leads and therefore use a different metric to measure success.
For us, understanding why we measure is essential to understanding what we measure.”
“At Sales Hacker, we use the Four Disciplines of Execution for setting goals and metrics. It helps us avoid measuring “vanity” metrics, keeps us hyper-focused on the things we know matter, and keeps us accountable.
What I like about it most is that it makes it easier to ignore the noise we might hear from other “experts”, regardless of what new flavor of the month is passing through the content marketing world.
The 4DX model, if you’re not familiar, asks you to do four things (and only those things):
1. Focus on the wildly important
2. Act on lead measures
3. Keep score
4. Create a cadence of accountability
Our wildly important goal, or north star, is monthly returning users.
We used to optimize for email subscribers, but we realized that number is just too easy to game in ways that hurt our quality and loyalty in the long run. For instance, we could slap gates on a whole lot of our content tomorrow, and increase subscribers massively in the short term.
In the long term, though, we’d damage our ability to help our audience achieve the things they care about most.
Goaling ourselves on monthly returning users forces us to use some higher-level thinking, and think about the lifetime interests of our audience – not just how to get them to sign up in the first place.
But monthly returning users is difficult to directly impact. So, we did some analysis of those channels, metrics, and actions that most drive monthly returning users most.
This wouldn’t apply to everybody, but in our case those metrics are:
- organic traffic growth
- email subscriber growth
- email traffic
Makes sense! The organic traffic growth holds us accountable for providing content that people actually want and are searching for.
Email subscriber growth forces us to ensure that we’re attracting traffic that might have a lifetime interest in what we provide the community. Email traffic makes us focus on continuing to give those people value in the long term – enough so that they want to click our newsletters and webinars each week.”
“Measuring your content marketing’s impact on your organization can be a tough challenge. Things like brand awareness, net promoter score, and engagement are not easy to measure and can be challenging to tie directly to increased revenue.
At Sandler, we look at four different categories of metrics to determine the success of our content marketing plan.
Vanity metrics like virality and reach are an easy place to start and will give you some idea about the success of the content.
It feels good to see these metrics increase: number of views, downloads, ad impressions, likes, and shares. These top-level metrics help us answer questions like, “Are we getting the reach we need and are we creating and promoting high-quality content?”
But those metrics are meaningless if we don’t get lead conversions. One of the primary goals of content marketing is to collect more names and emails of potential targets, so we must measure gated content like whitepapers, webinars and other offers that require you to register.
Two metrics are crucial, net new emails added to our email marketing drips and conversion percentage on those gated landing pages. We want to know if we are making the right offers and getting enough new suspects to opt-in to our marketing funnel.
The next level is sales conversions from those targeted suspects. Getting people to open their wallet or enter a credit card for any amount is crucial. We measure:
- conversions on sales pages
- average sale price
- cart abandonment
- retargeting metrics
We want to know and be able to prove to leadership that we can generate a return on investment, not just impressive follower counts.
Finally, we look at:
- repeat purchases
- renewal percentages
- and most importantly, the lifetime value of each customer
We measure things like:
- time spent learning
- expired accounts
- logins per month
- active monthly users
We ask ourselves, “Are we keeping the customers that we spent so much to acquire, and are we nurturing first-time buyers into raving fans?”
Content marketing should never be an overhead expense. It should generate a clear and positive return on investment for your organization, but to prove that, you need to measure what matters.”
“We use a variety of metrics to measure our content marketing success, as it is not always one size fits all.
The most important metrics for us typically are:
- social engagement
- organic traffic
- earned links
- mentions on other websites.
We are always focused on the objective of each specific piece of content or asset, and if something catches traction for the target audience, we push harder to leverage it as much as possible.
Measuring social engagement is important to us because it drives a significant amount of traffic. For example, we did have some content that ironically wasn’t even generated by us originally….that we jumped on pretty quickly to drive engagement.
We were fortunate to get the benefit of someone taking one of our Instagram ads and essentially turning it into a slightly more conversational, and slightly hilarious, new take. And the ‘internet’ thoroughly enjoyed it. So our team listened, kept the conversation going, and officially hired him to help us out. Recap is here.”
“At ShopKeep content is an essential part of our overall marketing strategy. We understand that quality content impacts all parts of the marketing funnel, and because of this our goal is to create content that is valuable, relevant, and creates an emotional connection with our prospects and customers.
Whether we are working on a long form guide, blog posts for our small business hub, or content in support of our social media initiatives, our goal is to provide our target audiences with useful content that solves their day-to-day challenges as they pertain to running a better business.
Since content marketing at ShopKeep is considered a part of our overall marketing process and not something separate, how we measure success depends on the objective of the content and what part of our funnel it is intended to fuel.
When we create specific content for customers in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey, we tend to focus on engagement metrics or higher-level KPI’S like:
- time spent on page
As prospects start to engage with content further down the funnel, core KPI’s include:
- total leads
- number of qualified leads
Ultimately the measurement criteria for each piece of content needs to align with the purpose or goal of that particular execution.”
“Content marketing is all about qualified marketing leads for Skubana. Anyone can drive traffic, but if it is not relevant traffic that leads to a potential opportunity, it’s a waste.
To get there, you need to create highly relevant, monster value posts and make sure you have high authority with google.
Based on that content approach, we are tracking:
- pre-marketing qualified leads
- email signups.”
“Publishing high-quality posts to our blog is our main content marketing activity at Smart Blogger.
The majority of our traffic comes from Google and so we spend a good amount of time and money creating and optimizing blog posts. In terms of measuring the results we look at a number of different metrics including:
- open and click rates for our blog post teaser emails
- number of blog comments
- social shares
- organic search traffic
Our ultimate goal is to be able to measure the revenue generated by subscribers who joined our email list as a result of landing on specific posts.”
“With our content marketing strategy, we try to write articles that are highly relevant to our actual product.
For example, we wrote a blog post about the ideal Facebook cover photo size and best practices. Within that post, we mention that Snappa includes the proper Facebook cover dimensions and include a call-to-action for readers to signup and try the tool.
Therefore, one of the key metrics that we track to evaluate the success of our content marketing is the number of product signups we generate from the blog.
Beyond signups, we also look at number of backlinks and total traffic.”
“When we look at content marketing success here at Spark Hire, there are generally two sides to the ROI equation. First, we need to know how the content is resonating with our target audience and, second, we need to determine the overall impact on sales and our bottom line.
- search engine rankings
- email marketing engagement
- time on site
- content consumed
- bounce rate
…will be a good indicator of how well our content marketing efforts are resonating with our target audience.
The second set of metrics we track are those that show how content marketing is impacting sales and our bottom line. These metrics would include (but not limited to):
- CTA CTR
- Visitor to lead conversion rate
- Shortened sales cycle
- Increase in lead quality and quantity
Most importantly, as marketers, (whether you are owning up to this or not yet) it’s crucial to be on the same page as the sales team. Marketing and sales leaders should be talking every day about lead quality and what is or isn’t working.”
“At SuperOffice, we measure content marketing success with two key metrics – organic search traffic and business leads.
Organic search traffic
We want our content to increase both awareness and visibility in the market. A good indicator that we are succeeding is traffic from Google and other search engines.
Of course, this doesn’t happen overnight. For the first 6-12 months, the needle barely moved as we struggled to gain traction. It would have been easy to give up at this point and admit that “content marketing doesn’t work”, like many companies do. But, we were committed and believed in the content we were producing.
When we started our content strategy in 2012, we we’re generating 30,000 visits per year from search engines.
Today, it’s well over 2 million visits per year.
Now, traffic is one thing, but we want our content to add real business value.
Once we saw organic search visits increase, our next step was to turn traffic into leads.
To convert more visitors, we included CTA’s within the content to push visitors to navigate towards a product demo or free trial, but we quickly realized that very few people were ready to invest in CRM software after reading a “What is CRM” article…
These leads simply weren’t ready to buy.
So, our strategy changed and we began creating white papers, guides and lead magnets – content that is more targeted towards middle of the funnel buyers. By gating the content and capturing their information, we understood more about them. If they downloaded a white paper on customer loyalty, we knew they’re still not quite ready and added them into our lead nurturing program.
But, if they accessed a buyers guide to CRM, then we knew they were in the market for our product and thus, are more sales-ready.
This strategy has proven to be successful as we went from 4,500 leads in 2012 to 25,000 leads in 2018 – helping us generate more 100,000 leads in total!”
“The KPIs we use to measure content effectiveness are dependent upon the objective we set for that particular piece of content – and those objectives are aligned with where that content sits in our ecosystem.
We’re not expecting upper funnel content to drive leads, for example. Social interactions, views and click-throughs to the content we’re sharing are the sorts of KPIs we measure the content we design for the upper funnel. At that stage, the overall objective is building qualified audience.
As we work through the buyers’ journey, the content is designed to generate leads and aid in the purchase decision. The KPIs we set for those pieces of content are different.
We don’t look at the content in isolation, either. The pieces have to work together.”
“We measure organic traffic growth month over month to see if our content marketing efforts are paying off. Then, we correlate those results with conversions by looking at how many people signed up to Time Doctor from our blog posts and pages.
We also measure team performance by the quality of backlinks they are generating with a metric called Cumulative Domain Authority. This is calculated by adding all of the domain authority of the backlinks we acquired.
www.link1.com (DA 40)
www.link2.com (DA 30)
Cumulative DA is 70.
The content marketing team (as a team and individually) is measured by this number — which is then used to compare, evaluate and improve.”
“Our content marketing serves people at every stage of the discovery funnel, so our metrics vary depending on the purpose of the content.
A typeform is a web form—but it’s next generation. We create highly unique content to spread our message that forms are evolving into an exciting space. You can see our experiments such as our interactive video and conversational article.
Here we’re looking at reach and engagement. So we track not only visits and shares, but also time on page and number of content interactions.
For our customer stories, we care about inspiring people to make better form interactions with Typeform.
So we use Amplitude and compare cohorts of users who have seen that content vs those who haven’t.
If the cohort that have seen the content get more value from our product (higher activation and retention), then we’re happy.”
“We attribute our content success to the engagement it receives.
This can be footprint on Social such as comments, or the amount of time viewers spend on the article. Long term we also gauge the amount of mentions and backlinks article receives on external sites.”
“At Venngage, we believe that high engagement is key to the success of our content marketing strategy. As a result, the main engagement metrics we track are:
- the time on page
- pages per session
- bounce rate
- exit percentage
There are a few others that we track at Venngage that are specific to our product. As an infographic/poster maker, we also measure the rate at which people create a visual from a template, as well as the rate of completion.
On top of that, we look at various conversion metrics like registrations & upgrades to various plan types. These are of course specific to our product, so it’s important to identify the actions that correlate to activation of your users.
Google loves great user experiences and so, we’ve found that tracking engagement metrics made the most sense to us because if we’re creating a better experience, then that’ll eventually result in better ranking and better conversions overall.”
“At Yesware, content drives a huge volume of organic (inbound) traffic, primarily through blog posts that cast a wide net and rank highly in Google search results.
Traffic is great, but the key is to identify and measure the intent of that traffic. Marketers are often mesmerized by volume, – or vanity – metrics and don’t spend enough time thinking about quality measures.
For Yesware, it’s important to understand:
- how much of our traffic matches our ICP (ideal customer profile)
- how much of that traffic has commercial intent
- what our conversion rates to lead or trial look like
- over time, how much of our traffic results in pipeline, closed-won deals (paid subscriptions), and long-term value for the business (i.e. can we keep our users engaged with our content to help drive retention).
We use a variety of tools to measure the quality and profile of our inbound traffic and evaluate our content strategy regularly to ensure we are using content to reach and engage with the right audience(s).
A lot of traffic doesn’t convert, or isn’t intended to convert. That’s OK if it’s created to support a thought leadership position that reinforces the brand, propels it forward, or influences the reader in a new way.
The question we then ask, which moves away from measurement, is “did we leave a positive brand impression on our audience?”.
It’s not all quantifiable. Content should always aim to influence and sometimes that influence results in measurable revenue and lifetime value. Sometimes it doesn’t, and it’s that gray area that keeps things interesting.”
“When conducting business in the e-commerce industry, it is worth analyzing data from your own web page.
We use Google Analytics to collect key data and metrics from our web page activity. It allows us to run several types of reports and so, we can track:
- website traffic
- user engagement
- page views
- unique visitors
- time on page
- bounce rate
Another very interesting metric we use is CQI (a correlation metric). Income on a certain URL/ content piece divided by sessions.
If the value is larger than 1, then we observe the correlation between sessions and conversion. The higher the value, the higher the URLs conversion potential.”
Analysis and Summary of the Roundup
Now that you have gone through what our 56 contributor companies do to measure their content marketing success, let’s put it all together.
What to do Before You Start Tracking Metrics
There are dozens of metrics that you could track.
What metrics matter most for your company?
The first step is to define your goals.
Step 1: Set Your Goals
Your content marketing metrics will depend on your goals – what you want to achieve with content. Answering these questions will help you set your goals.
1. Where are you in your content marketing journey?
- Are you just starting out with content marketing and want to test how it works?
- Are you already driving traffic to your website and blog and want to start focusing on leads?
- Are you already doing well with content and want more qualified leads?
“Your goals should always be inspected and matched with your strategic priorities at a given point in time.” – Netanel Baruch, Online Marketing Manager – Communit.
2. What do you want to achieve with a specific piece of content?
Every piece of content would have a different objective corresponding with the buyer’s journey – awareness, signups, sales, customer retention and so on.
“For example, if it’s an inspirational gallery which people are more likely to share and it isn’t as related to our product, we would look at sessions. If it’s a how-to article featuring our templates, we would be guided by signups it brings to the product.” – Marta Olszewska, Head of Marketing – Piktochart.
3. Whom are you targeting?
You might even have different goals for the same piece of content. You can actually target people in various stages of the buyer’s journey with the same asset across different channels.
Matthew Brogie, CEO – Repsly, explains:
“We use more targeted, low-in-the-funnel content to qualify leads as being in-market for the type of solution we offer. Because we target existing leads with this content (via email & on-site CTAs), we measure Leads Qualified, not necessarily Leads Generated.
Across a different channel, however, we might use that same piece of content to generate new leads and therefore use a different metric to measure success. For us, understanding why we measure is essential to understanding what we measure.”
However, keep in mind that whatever your goals might be, “Content should always aim to influence,” says Doug Ellinger, CMO – Yesware.
Step 2: Choose your Metrics
Once you have set your goals, decide which metrics you want to track.
Some content marketers just choose the most basic metrics across different stages of the funnel such as traffic, shares, signups and sales.
However, advanced content marketers go much further and choose more complex metrics like time on page, content consumption trends, blog comments, leads to sales ratios and even post sign up metrics such as feature usage and churn.
With the preliminaries behind us, let’s dive into the key metrics our contributors discussed.
Metrics – Analysis and Summary
We have classified these metrics into buckets for simplicity.
1. Website Metrics
These metrics measure engagement on your website and blog. You can measure most of these metrics for your entire site, as well as for individual pages and articles.
Many advanced content marketers consider traffic to be a vanity metric.
So is it important at all? And if yes, when?
Yes, in several situations, such as…
- Traffic metrics are vital for companies who are just starting out with content. As Jenna Weaver, Marketing Manager, ClearPoint says, “When we started with content marketing, we focused a lot on getting as many visits to our website as possible.”
- Traffic metrics are a reflection of the quality of your content. There’s no point thinking about revenue-centric metrics if the content is sub-par.
- Most marketing goals are dependant upon traffic. If your traffic and your absolute number of conversions is falling, you certainly need to execute measures to boost the former.
- The goal of every piece of content doesn’t have to be conversions. If your goal is newsletter signups, increasing your DA or simply increasing brand awareness, you need to pay attention to traffic.
Here are the most common traffic-based metrics. Most of them can be tracked with Google Analytics.
1.1.1 Visitors (Website, Blog)
You might want to measure the:
- Total number of monthly (or other periodic) visitors, or
- The visitors to a particular article/ landing page
Google analytics will show you both.
1.1.2 Unique Visitors
A Unique Visitor is someone who visits your website for the first time, during a particular period (month, year, etc.)
This is an indicator of reach. How many new visitors are you attracting?
You can dig deeper into this. For example, check out demographic data and know more about where your new visitors are coming from.
1.1.3 Returning Visitors
Returning visitors are those who visit your site more than once during a specified time period.
This an indicator of how valuable your content is and whether you are being able to build a ‘community.’
Check out what Colin Campbell, Director of Marketing at Sales Hacker says about using this metric to measure engagement.
1.2 Engagement on Site
Want to inspire people with your content and build a community?
You need to track engagement metrics. These metrics are vital in B2C industries as well as for B2B companies who want to create a strong emotional connection with their audience.
For example, companies with visual products such as Typeform, Piktochart, Venngage and Visme have spoken about the importance of engagement.
1.2.1 Bounce Rate
Bounce rate shows the number of people who leave your page within just a few seconds after landing. You should track the overall bounce rate of your website as well as individual pages and posts.
A higher than average bounce rate usually indicates that the content did not meet expectations. It might also signal slow loading websites or dissatisfactory UX (user experience).
Investigating higher bounce rates will usually provide you with several opportunities to improve your content – and consequently other metrics such as time on page.
1.2.2 Time On Page
How long are users spending on your website and on each page?
The longer they spend, the higher the likelihood that they will sign up for something.
Time on page indicates which pieces of content are working. It’s a great way to determine what sort of content your users are resonating with.
Time on page is also a Google ranking factor. When people spend more time on your page, it indicates to Google that they find it valuable. Normally, this boosts your rankings.
(Note – time on page is similar to dwell time, but it’s not exactly the same thing.)
If you are updating an existing article, take steps to ensure that people spend more time on the page – with more valuable content, UX improvements and so on.
1.2.3 Pages/ Session
This is the average number of pages a user visits during a particular session on your site. A higher number indicates higher engagement and perhaps a more qualified prospect.
Many companies set up marketing automation triggers based on pages/session.
1.2.4 Session Duration
This is similar to time on page, but this measures the average time visitors spend on your entire site (across several pages.)
1.2.5 Visitor Journey
This is about the specific paths that people take as they browse through your website. These insights will help you develop a better experience for users.
Make the most of this data to provide visitors with helpful information that allows them to make decisions more easily and quickly.
You can use Google Analytics and other tools to track things like:
- Where do visitors land and where do they go from there?
- How many pages do they see?
- Where do they exit?
- What pages do they see before they sign up or buy?
At an advanced level, you can also tie this in with visits and interactions across your content assets across social media, other websites and so on.
Anna Maria Lee, Head of Acquisition Marketing – CultureIQ says, “We use multi-touch attribution tool to get a closer look into how our content has assisted in final, macro conversion.”
1.2.6 Content Consumption
How much of a piece of content are people viewing?
For example, as James MacGregor CEO and co-founder – Biteable points out, “If someone watches the full length of a 30-minute piece of our Live content, we infer that they’re highly engaged.”
This is easy to track for video, but how do you track consumption for an article?
At Startup Voyager, we encourage our clients to use heatmaps and screen recordings. You can use a tool like Hotjar or Crazy Egg to track what people are doing on the page.
1.3 Blog Comments
Tracking and studying comments can yield valuable information about your audience’s needs. They are also a source of excellent feedback about your brand and the usefulness of your content.
Several companies including Visme, Culture Amp, Foundr, 15Five, inFlow Inventory, Animoto, Mopinion and Smart Blogger said that this is an important metric for them.
1.3.1 Number of Comments
You can track the number of comments in every post, in specific posts that are heavily promoted and also the average number of comments.
If you aren’t getting enough comments, you might want to investigate why. Getting less than the average number on a particular article might signal that the content did not resonate too well.
1.3.2 What Are People Saying?
This is a qualitative metric, which is difficult to measure and interpret.
Rather than try to put a number on this, use these as a source of feedback to improve your content.
For example, Thomas Wong, Content Marketing Manager – inFlow Inventory says, “We make changes to content based on those comments, then add notes in Google Analytics to see if we can attribute any visit upticks to those changes.”
2. Social Engagement Metrics
Social engagement is also considered to be a vanity metric by many marketers. However, it’s important to track it for various reasons.
1. Proxy Metrics
Shares and social engagement can act as proxy metrics for “awareness and word-of-mouth metrics,” as pointed out by Matt Smith, Founder – Later.com
Social shares also help you keep track of how well your content is succeeding on platforms other than your own – such as in guest posts and stories and citations on top tier sites.
For example, Jay Moon from Credit Sesame points out that most of their content is proprietary data, which is often picked up by major media publications like Huffpost. Social shares and mentions are therefore a very common way of keeping track of the reach of this content.
Social metrics are a way of gauging customer engagement, as explained by Ada Chen Rekhi, Founder & COO – Notejoy.
Lastly, social engagement can be a major driver of traffic, especially for B2C brands, as explained by Brett Billick, CMO – Self Lender and Mike Matthews, Founder – Muscle For Life.
Key social metrics to track:
2.1 Shares, Likes
Tracking this across different social platforms will reveal what content works best in each channel. You can also gather data according to the time of day, demographics, and so on.
Brand mentions, in the form of tags on Twitter, for example, indicate that people want you to listen to what they have to say.
Comments on Facebook, Instagram and other platforms can be excellent sources of qualitative feedback.
3. Other Engagement Metrics
3.1 Tracking Cross-platform Engagement
Marketing automation tools allow us to track people’s interactions with us over several channels such as your website, social channels, newsletters, etc. (Setting this up is subject to GDPR rules.)
Buyer journeys are not linear. Therefore, tracking interactions across several platforms can help you create more relevant content and improve your content promotion strategies in order to increase conversions.
3.2 Newsletter Engagement
Email Marketing has higher engagement and conversion rates than any other channel. Therefore, it’s vital to track this very carefully.
Start off by tracking opens and clicks.
Rob Wolpov, Co-Founder – OnSIP says, “We typically notify our users of new content via a monthly newsletter, gather click statistics to see which content garners the most interest, and use that insight to guide future content creation.”
You can also send up more intricate marketing automation triggers based on newsletter interactions and send customized content – for both your subscribers and customers.
4. Reach and SEO Metrics
These metrics help you track how visible you are – in search engines or in other blogs.
This metric is about a particular article’s rank for a specific search query in a particular region. At Startup Voyager, we use Ahrefs and Accuranker to keep track of our clients’ SERPs.
4.2 Click-through rates (CTR)
Michael Hollauf, Founder & CEO Meister Labs and Eric Morgan, CEO – PeopleKeep, pointed out the importance of CTRs.
CTR is the rate at which people click through to your article in Google search results. Increasing your CTR can improve your rankings and traffic.
Use can use Google Search Console to see CTRs for your articles. The simplest way to increase your CTR is to making changes to your headlines and metas to reflect search intent more closely.
Backlinks play a major role in SEO and it’s an indispensable metric for several companies in this article. You can track several aspects of backlinks such as:
- Number of links acquired (to specific posts/ the home page)
- Number of linking domains
- DA (domain authority) of linking domains
- Links that should be disavowed
Ahrefs is the most widely used tool to monitor backlinks. You can try Moz too.
Time Doctor uses a rather interesting metric to measure backlink acquisition performance – Cumulative Domain Authority. Check out what CMO Liam Martin has to say.
A citation might not always have a link to your site, especially if a top-tier site like Inc or Huffpost mentions you. And even if you do get a link, it might not be do-follow.
You should always monitor citations, because:
- It demonstrates reach.
- You can reach out to the company who mentioned you and ask for a link to the mention (if they haven’t done so already.)
- You can build a relationship with those you mention you so that they promote you in the future.
The easiest way to monitor brand name citations is with Ahrefs alerts. If you have a large budget, you could try out tools like Mention as well.
5. Conversion Metrics
Companies track several conversion metrics throughout the funnel – content downloads, leads, sales.
5.1 Newsletters, Ebooks, Webinar Sign-ups
Newsletters are a low-commitment way to get emails.
Ebooks and webinar signups indicate a higher level of engagement and are further down the funnel. Depending on a few factors, they might even be leads, which I talk about next.
5.2 Leads and Free Trials
Companies have different ways of defining leads depending on the nature of the industry.
Here are a few examples of ‘leads’:
- A visitor who downloads specific assets (like ebooks or whitepapers) that provide a strong indication that they are looking for a solution that the company offers.
- You can set up triggers in your marketing automation software to segment these people as leads.
- Someone who visits certain product or pricing pages. If you already have their email, your marketing automation software can send an email to set up a call or sign up for a free trial.
- Someone who fills up a form for a demo or a call-back.
- Someone who clicks on specific links in your email campaigns that indicate commercial intent.
- Finally, there are free trials. This might include a self-serve signup or something you manually set up after a trial request.
5.3 Percentage of Leads in Target Market
Keeping track of this metric can save you tons of time in the long run.
All leads aren’t created equal. Successful sales and marketing teams focus on specific target markets. Trying to convert leads that are not a great fit would usually be a waste of your time and these customers would probably churn anyway.
If you are getting too many irrelevant leads, you might need to re-examine your content strategy so that you attract a more focused audience.
5.4 Views Leading to Conversions
This tells you what content visitors viewed before they converted.
Companies such as Piktochart, IBM, Inflow Inventory, Impraise, LeadFuze, Plann, Nutshell and Influitive have mentioned several ways of measuring this, but the key idea is to attribute conversions to specific pieces of content.
JD Peterson, Chief Growth Officer – Culture Amp explains this very well:
“We analyze which of our content was most viewed by Closed Won Opportunities. Then we look at where in the buyers’ journey, or sales funnel, those pieces of content most often show up. Together this gives us a pretty clear picture of how our content is driving the revenue outcomes we desire and which types of content (topics, forms) we should increase our investment in.”
Erin Gilliam, Content Marketer – Mopinion, talks about using “Reverse Goal Paths in Google Analytics, which can give quite a bit of insight into which content performs best.”
Another key metric to pay attention to is the Percentage of views and visitors that turn into free trials and subscriptions.
This is a rather insightful metric because “This tells us if we’re attracting the right people through our content marketing efforts,” says Biron Clark, Founder – CareerSidekick.
Measuring these metrics accurately requires integrating your marketing automation/ web analytics tools with your CRM. Mark Organ, CEO and Founder – Influitive says, “We leverage our SalesForce data to identify content that has been consumed during a prospect’s journey.”
5.5 Product Activations and Product Engagement
People have to actually use the product after they sign up for a free trial or a forever free version. I talk about these metrics at length in the next section – on Usage Metrics.
Ultimately, this is what it’s all about.
There are plenty of things you can measure in sales such as repeat purchases, referrals, renewal percentages. Mike Montague, VP of OnLine Learning – Sandler Training talks about these at length.
But here’s the question:
Is it a content marketer’s job to track these sales metrics? Or should they leave this to the CMO, product marketing or customer success teams?
I firmly believe content folks should track sales metrics.
Staying in touch with these metrics is vital for looking at the big picture which helps you make the best strategic and tactical decisions about content.
6. Usage Metrics
Content marketing isn’t just about customer acquisition. Companies including Canva, Typeform, Yesware, Appear.in, Fleep, OnSIP and Animoto spoke about using content for customer success as well.
Rob Wolpov, Co-Founder – OnSIP says,
“We use content to keep customers up-to-date on the latest feature additions, tips and tricks to get the most out of their OnSIP account.”
Besides, just because someone has signed up, doesn’t mean that that marketing’s job is over. Successful companies take active steps to:
- Get people who have signed up to actually use the product.
- Convert forever free users to premium ones.
- Convert more users at the end of the free trial.
- Reduce churn of paid users.
For example, Sean Percival, CMO at Appear.in says,
“We know that users who use screen sharing tend to find more value in the product and churn less. So if we notice a user have never screen shared we send them info on how to do so.”
Metrics to track
6.1 Articles & Pages Viewed by Users
Tells you which articles are prompting existing users to use the product more frequently and explore more features. (Pointed out by Amelia Marshall, Content Strategist – Canva.)
6.2 Activation levels – Product & Feature Usage Metrics
How active are your users? How frequently are they using the product? Which features are they using more?
Typeform uses Amplitude and compares cohorts of users who have seen specific pieces of content vs. those who haven’t – by evaluating the impact on activation and retention levels.
These metrics help you:
- Send personalized content based on product usage
- Modify your existing content to make it more relevant and helpful to customers
- Give you better ideas for new content – for customers and prospects
You can also take a qualitative approach to measuring this. For example, the marketing folks at Influitive keep talking to “sales and customer success teams to reveal which content has proven to be most helpful in facilitating conversations with prospects or customers.”
Over to You
Which of these content marketing metrics do you track? What other metrics have we not covered in the article?
Let us know in the comments below.
6 thoughts on “[Roundup & Analysis] Content Marketing Metrics of 56 Successful Companies”
Nice Article, Keep moving.. 🙂
Thank you so much for the feature, it’s a great question that I think more brands should be asking themselves.
Hey Mackalya, thanks for your contribution! Was great featuring Plan in the post.
Wow! That’s a really comprehensive list of metrics that can help my organization! Do you have a standard entry-set of metrics that I could start with if I’m just starting out with this?
Hi Rebecca, if you are just starting out, focus on traffic metrics like monthly visitors. And if your goal is SEO, do keep a watch on search engine rankings too.
Great article Peter! Say a company is very small startup that doesn’t have the means to invest in any analytics software. How feasible is it to just use Google Analytics for your site as it’s completely free? Will it be sufficient enough?