How to Measure Content Marketing Efforts
When it comes to content, most of us creative types take special pride in coming up with campaigns that satisfy our artistic leanings. And while we might judge our work with the eye of an artist, we all know that creative or memorable content doesn’t always equal successful content.
Ultimately, good content is determined by how well it performs, whether that means conversions on landing pages, engagement on social media or clicks on native ads. If you rely more on intuition than data to make marketing decisions, this article is for you. Read on to learn how to correctly measure all of your content marketing campaigns.
Three Components Of The Measurement Equation
The first thing to know is that there are three main components that you’ll use to measure, evaluate and optimize the performance of your content marketing campaigns:
- Deciding what to track
- Tracking, measuring and managing the data
- Turning information into actionable insights
Part One: Deciding What to Track
These days, we content marketers have literally millions of data points available to us. We can use all those numbers to measure just about everything. But even though you could calculate anything, should you? After all, you only have so much time and energy. And unless you’re a full time data scientist, you probably want to stick to the most impactful measurements, which you can use to benchmark your content marketing goals. But before we get to metrics, it’s important to get an idea about some basic things you probably want to accomplish with your measurements. Here are a few of the most important:
- Outlining your organization’s idea of content marketing success so your team can understand what your efforts are aiming to achieve
- Identifying top measurement priorities and the metric data to use to achieve them
- Establishing performance benchmarks to make analysis easier
- Calculating the costs involved in executing your content plan to effectively gauge ROI
Understanding all these should give you a handle on measuring success. And once you’ve mastered them, you’ll be able to extend the scope of your measurements to make further insights.
Measuring for Priority Goals
First things, first. Do you have an idea of what success looks like for your marketing campaigns? Chances are, you do, and it’s one of these:
- Expanded brand awareness
- A larger share of voice among your competitors
- Increased website traffic
- More qualified leads entering your sales pipeline
Common Content Marketing Goals and Associated Metrics Goals
When you know where your priorities lie, it’s easy to choose goals to focus your measurements on. But to do this, you also need to know the most important key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the impact of your content. Depending on whether what you’re tracking, these are the KPIs you’ll want to use.
- Brand awareness KPIs: website traffic, page views, video views, document views, downloads, social chatter, referral links
- Engagement KPIs: blog comments, likes, share, tweets, +1s, pins, forwards, inbound links
- Lead generation KPIs: form completions and downloads, email subscriptions, blog subscriptions, conversion rate
- Sales KPIs: online sales, offline sales, manual reporting and anecdotes
- Customer retention/loyalty KPIs: percentage of content consumed by existing customers, retention/renewal rates
- Up-selling/cross-selling KPIs: sales for new products/services
KPIs by Category
Alternatively, you might find it more useful to measure KPIs based on the kind of content that you’re creating.
- Marketing KPIs: cost per acquisition, market share, brand equity, cost per lead, conversion rate, click-through rate, page views, bounce rate, share of voice SOV), online share of voice (OSOV)
- Email KPIs: open rate, conversion rate, opt-out rate, subscribers, churn rate, click-through rate, delivery rate
- SEO KPIs: sales, leads, conversion rate, visits, time on site, time on page, landing pages, keyword rankings, page views, bounce rates, indexed pages, increase in non-branded search traffic, increase in branded search traffic, referring websites (backlinks), domain authority, page authority
- Pay-per-click KPIs: cost per click, click-through rate, ad position, conversions, conversion rate, cost per conversion, cost per sale (CPS, return on ad spend (ROAS), wasted spend, impressions, quality score, total spend
- Social media KPIs: amplification rate, applause rate, followers and fans, conversion rate, landing page conversion rate, return on engagement (ROE) post reach, clout score
- Website KPIs: website traffic, unique visitors, new vs. returning visitors, time on site, average time on page, bounce rate, exit rate, page views, page views per visit, traffic sources, geographic trends, mobile visitors, desktop visitors, visits per channel
Regardless of whether you choose to measure KPIs by goals or category, your decision will determine the data that you’ll want to gather, organize and analyze.
Part Two: Tracking, Measuring and Managing the Data
Measuring the performance of content marketing isn’t something you just do once; it’s an on-going process. And as with most processes, you need the right tools, techniques and templates to organize your data, identify potential opportunities, make improvements to your campaigns and report your results.
Setting a Manageable Measurement Schedule
As you’re setting up your reporting program, you’ll want to decide how often your’d like to collect data. Unless you have specific reasons to the contrary, gathering data on a monthly basis is probably a good idea, at least at first. A month is long enough for you to notice meaningful patterns, but short enough time to make adjustments to your campaigns before it’s too late. Then once you’ve been around the block a couple of times, you can start collecting as often as you think it merits doing.
Building a Metrics Dashboard
After choosing impactful KPIs and gathering them, it’s time to create a spreadsheet and organize it in a way that you gives you a broad overview of how your content is performing against common benchmarks over time.
Letting Your Tech Do the Tracking
If creating massive spreadsheets doesn’t sound like the way you’d like to spend your time, there are a lot of great analytic tools out there that can help. Solutions like Google Analytics, Facebook Page Insights, Hootsuite and Hubspot can automate recurring measurement tasks, which will make ongoing analysis much easier.
Organizing Your Information for Easy Reporting
With your performance data in hand, you’ll now be able to keep all of your stakeholders up to date on your content marketing efforts. And from there you’ll be able to share key analytics at important intervals throughout the year.
Part Three: Turning Information Into Actionable Insights
Of course, the only reason to measure and report on your content marketing campaigns is so that you can make informed decisions and take skillful actions.
Creating a Scoring System
As you continue to measure your content, you’re bound to refine your methods and change the way you calculate success. In addition, you’ll probably refine your definition of success at some point and you’ll probably have different ideas of success depending on the project, purpose and goals of your contents, too.
Since determining success can be difficult, it’s helpful to keep your methodology and content scoring system consistent. That way, you’ll be able to measure apples to apples instead of apples to oranges.
One way to do this is to assign a numerical value to each of your KPIs. This will give you a quick overview of the strength of each piece of content and what it brings to your business.
One tool that you should definitely spend time getting to know is Google Analytics. Beyond measuring basics like page views, site visitor metrics and bounce rates, the tool can also be used to help you gain actionable insights and get answers to the questions that you’re having about the effectiveness of your content.
While Google Analytics is great for presenting a broad view of how your content is performing, marketing automation tools and CRM analytics toolkits are better for figuring out why certain pieces of content are outperforming the rest or for measuring the impact of content on an individual basis.
This is useful because you can use it to understand how specific users engage with your content and see what they do after viewing it. Combine this data with buyer personas and you get an idea of which content will likely meet which users’ needs and what it takes to move those customers to the next stage of the marketing funnel.
Translating Knowledge Gained Into ROI Achieved
Ultimately, you’ll probably want to know the value of content marketing in your organization, and this means measuring its ROI. To calculate it, you’ll start by adding up the costs of creating, distributing and promoting content. This includes copywriting, design, subscriptions for tools and technology systems, and the cost of paying the content team, as well as the estimated costs associated with content utilization and performance.
Or you could also measure the return on marketing investment (ROMI) of, say, a particular campaign, like, say, an email campaign. Here you would calculate the marketing dollars in and marketing revenue out rather than factoring in your organization’s overall cost of goods. Just take the amount of revenue an average campaign generates, subtract your expenses for creating and delivering that campaign and then divide the result by your expenses.
Where to go from there? Once you’ve been through the complete journey once, it’s important to take another look back at the whole process. With the knowledge you gained the first time around, you’ll be able to fine-tune each step of the way.