How to Track and Improve Your Content Marketing KPIs
Content Marketing KPI (Key Performance Indicator): a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving a key content marketing goal or how well a piece of content is performing. Companies use content marketing KPIs to make small-scale and large-scale evaluations of content engagement and ROI.
I have a simple saying that applies to content marketing as much as it does to business and to human performance…
“What gets measured, gets better.”
If you want to know whether your content marketing strategy is working, you need to measure the performance of EVERY piece of content you publish. By tracking your content marketing KPIs, you’ll quickly discover what’s working, and what isn’t. You’ll have the data to do more of what’s working, and less of what’s not. You’ll have the clarity to strengthen your weak points and become faster and more efficient at hitting your content marketing goals. This is how you maximize every marketing dollar by increasing your profits and decreasing your cost per customer acquisition.
Since this takes considerable diligence, let me show you why this is essential. According to the Content Marketing Institute, the measurement of key content marketing KPIs is the single most crucial factor to the success of your content marketing strategy…
Top 3 Success Factors in B2B Content Marketing
Top 3 Success Factors in B2C Content Marketing
The Six Content Marketing KPI Groups
We’ll now look at the most important content marketing KPIs you should be tracking. I’ll define each one and explain how to track them and why they’re important for optimizing your content marketing strategy. I arrange content marketing KPIs into six groups, each group containing their own set of specific KPIs.
Content Marketing KPI Group #1: Visibility
- What to Measure: the number of people who see your content.
- Why to Measure It: to gather data for calculating your other KPIs (below).
- How to Measure It: most digital content distribution platforms will show you the total “impressions” for your content. You can estimate this number for offline content channels using distribution rate formulas. For example, a magazine with a circulation of 100,000 might give your content at least 20,000 views/impressions.
A good example of a Visibility KPI is using Google Search Console to measure how many times a page or article on your website showed up in the search results. Paid advertising platforms (social media, pay per click, etc.) also provide analytic tools for measuring ad impressions. If a content distribution platform doesn’t allow you to track measure content views (impressions), you can still estimate the channel’s performance using the other content marketing KPIs below.
Combining Visibility KPIs With Other KPIs:
If your Visibility KPIs are high, but your other KPIs aren’t, you’re either targeting the wrong buyer persona or using a content distribution channel that’s not relevant to your buyer persona.
Content Marketing KPI Group #2: Engagement
- What to Measure: the number of people who interact with your content.
- Why to Measure It: to find out how engaging your content is to your audience.
- How to Measure It: some digital content distribution platforms show you how people interact with your content. However, the best way to measure engagement is on your owned content distribution channels (website, email list, etc.).
A good example of an Engagement KPI is using an analytics tool to measure how long a visitor stays on your website page, how far down the page they scroll, and other on-page behaviors like link clicks and file downloads. Some video hosting platforms offer analytics that show you the average length of your video views and how many people like or upvote your video.
Types of Engagement KPIs:
- Time on Page: how much time they spend on your web page.
- Page Scroll Depth: how far down your web page they scroll.
- Reactions: how many people react (like, emoticon) to your content.
- Duration: how much of your video/audio they watch or listen to.
Combining Engagement KPIs With Other KPIs:
If all your content marketing KPIs are underperforming, and you’re confident that you’re targeting the right buyer’s persona(s) and using the right content distribution channels, Engagement KPIs are the first thing you should try to improve. Many times, you can improve all your content marketing KPIs, just by getting more people to engage with your content.
Content Marketing KPI Group #3: Lead Capture
- What to Measure: the number of people who submit contact info in response to your content.
- Why to Measure It: to find out how effective your content is in helping you collect leads.
- How to Measure It: customize your lead capture links and/or offers so that you know where the lead came from. You can do this using the standard marketing UTMs in your inbound links.
A good example of a Lead Capture KPI is adding interest tags to your lead capture offers to track which piece of content generated the lead. For example, have your webmaster build a hidden field into your lead capture form. This field will use data from your marketing UTMs and/or from your web page content to add tags to your prospect’s profile. This is why it’s a good idea to capture as many leads as possible from your website or another owned content distribution channel.
Types of Lead Capture KPIs:
- Lead Capture Rate: percentage of content views (impressions) that turn into leads.
- Cost Per Lead: content production cost (see below) divided by the number of captured leads.
- Lead Capture Cycle: the total time between the first content view (impression) and lead capture time.
Combining Lead Capture KPIs With Other KPIs:
If your Lead Capture KPIs are high, but your other KPIs aren’t, you might be targeting people who are interested in your content, but not your products and services. You can fix this by looking for other topics your buyer’s persona is interested in and testing the KPIs for content based on those topics.
You can find untapped opportunities by looking for relationships between your Engagement KPIs and your Lead Capture KPIs. For example, you might notice that as people spend more time on your web pages, your lead capture rate improves. As this improves, your total cost per lead will improve. This tells you that you can improve your Lead Capture KPIs by improving your Engagement KPIs.
Likewise, if you improve your Engagement KPIs, but your Lead Capture KPIs don’t improve, you know to focus on better lead capture offers. This is how you zero in on the weak links in your Content Marketing Strategy AND your Sales Funnel to reach your goals more efficiently.
Content Marketing KPI Group #4: Conversion
- What to Measure: the number of people who become customers because of your content.
- Why to Measure It: to find out how effective your content is in generating new customers.
- How to Measure It: customize your sales page, webinar, or order form links and/or offers so that you know where the sale came from. You can do this using the standard marketing UTMs in your inbound links.
A good example of a Conversion KPI is adding interest tags to your order forms based on which piece of content generated the sale. For example, have your webmaster build a hidden field into your product order forms or contact forms. This field will use data from your marketing UTMs and/or from your page to add tags to the prospect’s lead profile and their customer profile.
Types of Conversion KPIs:
- Conversion Rate: the percentage of captured leads who become customers.
- Conversion Cost: content production cost (see below) divided by number of sales.
- Sales Cycle: total time between lead capture time and time of first purchase.
Combining Conversion KPIs With Other KPIs:
You can find untapped opportunities by looking for relationships between your Engagement KPIs, your Lead Capture KPIs, and your Conversion KPIs. For example, you might notice that as people spend more time on your web pages, your lead capture rate improves AND your conversion rate. As this improves, your total cost per lead will improve, as will your conversion costs. This tells you that you can improve your Lead Capture KPIs AND your Conversion KPIs by improving your Engagement KPIs. Likewise, if you improve your Engagement KPIs AND your Lead Capture KPIs, but your Conversion KPIs don’t improve, you know that you need to create better conversion offers.
Content Marketing KPI Group #5: Promotional
- What to Measure: the number of people who share or promote your content or offers.
- Why to Measure It: to see how useful your content is for word of mouth (viral) marketing.
- How to Measure It: some digital content distribution platforms show you when people share your content. However, it’s also important to use custom offers or UTMs on your promotional offers (or referral incentives) to track when your current customers bring you referrals in the form of leads of customers.
A good example of a Promotional KPI is creating a referral or affiliate program so that your customers can earn rewards or commissions for bringing you new leads or customers. For example, have your webmaster build a hidden field into your product order forms or contact forms. This field will use data from your marketing UTMs to tag new leads or customers with the affiliate or referral code for the customer that referred them.
Types of Promotional KPIs:
- Shares: total impressions generated by a customer (affiliate) referral link.
- Referral Leads: total leads generated by a customer (affiliate) referral link.
- Referral Conversions: total sales generated by a customer (affiliate) referral link.
- Referral Income: total income resulting from referral conversions (above).
Content Marketing KPI Group #6: Production Cost
- What to Measure: the total cost (in time and money) to produce a piece of content.
- Why to Measure It: to better calculate the total ROI of your content marketing pieces.
- How to Measure It: add up the total product cost (in money, time, and payroll cost) to create each piece of content, including the cost to publish it.
This KPI might not tell you how your content is performing. It will, however, help you better calculate how profitable each piece of content is, by combining it with the other content marketing KPIs mentioned above. For example, let’s assume an SEO article on your website takes a total of 100 hours for your content marketing team to produce. On average, you pay your team members $30 an hour, making your total product cost $3,000.00.
If this article has generated a total of 100 leads (to date), your total cost per lead is $30.00. If ten of those leads become customers, your total cost per customer acquisition is $300.00. If the total cash value of those customers’ purchases is $5,000.00, your total ROI (to date) for that article is $2,000.00. This is just a glimpse of the clarity you can get by adding Product Costs to your KPI tracking strategy.
Your Content Marketing KPI Review Schedule
The best way to track and improve your content marketing KPIs is to make them a part of your documented content marketing strategy. Here’s an example of what your KPI Review Schedule might look like…
How to Supercharge Your Content Marketing KPIs
The most powerful way to use content marketing KPIs is to inform your split testing experiments. Since this is a complex topic and beyond the scope of this article, we’ll cover the basics and leave the details for another article. Split testing is when you take one key feature (your headline, call to action button, etc.) of your content, create two versions of it, and track the KPIs to see which version is more effective. For example, let’s assume you’re split-testing these two headlines for one of your SEO articles…
There are multiple ways you can test these two headlines. Some advertising platforms allow you to set up split tests that rotate headlines and other ad features out and show you which version has the higher click rate. You can also have your webmaster create a code that rotates the two headline versions. This way, 50% of your visitors will see one headline, and the other 50% will see the other. We’ll leave it to you to work out the technical details.
Getting back to our example, let’s assume that while reviewing your Visibility and Engagement KPIs, you realize that Version A is getting more clicks and that people who see that headline are scrolling farther down into the article OR spending more time on the page. After running this test with a sufficient number of visitors, you’ve determined that version A is your most effective headline. This is a simple example of using split testing to improve your content marketing KPIs.
You can also use split testing to learn more about your buyer’s persona AND which of the five content marketing stages your visitors are likely to be in. For example, let’s assume that you create an ad with two headlines—one headline targeting Stage #2 Prospects and another targeting Stage #3 Prospects. After split testing these headlines, you learn that the Stage #2 headline is getting better engagement. This tells you that the people seeing that ad are more likely to be in Stage #2. This gives you the insight to tweak your landing page, lead capture offers, your message, and other features of your content to target Stage #2 Prospects.
This is when split testing becomes a powerful tool for directing your content marketing efforts and accelerating your results. By combining content marketing KPIs and split testing with the other insights we’ve covered in this article, you can create a content marketing strategy that rewards you with a steady flow of inbound leads. More importantly, it arms you with invaluable data for executing the final piece in your content marketing strategy puzzle…