How to Actually Measure Your Content Marketing
By now you’ve witnessed the rise of content marketing.
Ninety-one percent of B2B marketers use content marketing and 78% of CMOs think custom content is the future of marketing. Meanwhile, in the present day, marketers are struggling to measure how their content is moving the needle.
In fact, 73% of marketers say they aren’t effectively tracking metrics. There’s a good chance you’re in that number.
It’s not that there aren’t metrics to track, it’s that we don’t know which metrics are worth tracking. We’ve seen this kind of analysis paralysis before. Hell, we’ve experienced it firsthand.
But through many trials internally, and through our work with hundreds of customers, we’ve come up with a guide to content marketing analytics. Our goal was to distill the metrics that can be measured into four critical areas of a healthy, functioning content marketing operation.
Here’s the short and sweet version of our guide.
This might seem simple, but it’s easily overlooked. If you want to thrive in content marketing, you need to keep track of how much content your team is producing so you can address bottlenecks and gaps.
First, look for patterns in the number of content assets you produce, the time it takes to produce those assets, and how often you’re hitting—or missing—deadlines. Get granular. Break out these numbers by content type and contributor so you know which assets are taking the longest to produce and which members of your team hold up progress.
Next, track how those individual content pieces align with your buyer personas as they move through the sales funnel. Content at the top of the funnel should be more buyer-centric, focused on their interests and challenges. As they’re ushered down the funnel and near a purchase decision, content should become more aligned with your product. If you’re not tracking how much of your content addresses specific personas, you won’t be able to identify—and fill—the gaps.
We use a simple but broad definition here. Engagement is when buyers take measurable actions that signal they value your content. In other words, it’s the signs of your content sparking activity among your buyers and your market.
To get an overall engagement number, you’ll want to track the following things:
Social shares: These signal that those potential buyers see enough value in your content to pass it onto their network.
Inbound links: These drive not only longtail traffic and increased authority to your content, but show that the market you serve is engaging with it.
Repeat visitors: These are important signs that your content is seen as a real resource that supports the needs of your audience.
Performance metrics track at a high level how your content is stacking up against your larger marketing goals. Really, they measure the pool of potential buyers drawn into the top of your funnel and how they flow into your pipeline.
To get at an overall measurement of performance, we recommend tracking the following metrics:
Unique visitors: This metric tells you whether your content is building a growing audience. That might sound trite, but this pool of people will become your active pipeline.
Page views: This is valuable to track because it’s a measure of how much of your content is being digested. You can start to find patterns as you see which content is getting the most views, and apply that knowledge to your content creation.
Organic search, direct traffic, and referral traffic: These are the pathways to your content, the organic channels that will—except in rare instances—deliver the most qualified audience to your content.
Keep in mind that whenever possible you’ll want to apply conversions against these metrics. That allows you to see how better performance ultimately leads to a healthier pipeline.
4. Content Scoring
The final, and perhaps biggest, piece of the content analytics puzzle is content scoring. This is a deeper dive into your funnel that measures how content influences a buyer’s journey from stage to stage, then assigns content assets and campaigns a score based on that influence. The result is an actual, verifiable score that proves the business impact of content marketing.
Content scoring works by combining the behavioral data within your marketing automation system with the stage progression data captured inside your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.
In its simplest form, content scoring looks at every content asset that a buyer interacts with as they move from one stage of your pipeline to another—say from a prospect to a Marketing Qualified Lead. You then divide that one MQL by the number of content assets that buyer touched, which provides even content scores across each influential asset. A more detailed process might include an attribution formula for particular assets. For instance, you might give the first and last touches greater weight for the MQL generated.
Content scoring is most valuable when applied across all the buyers and stages of your pipeline. The score you calculate directly corresponds to number of conversions generated, right down to closed deals. (Note: This becomes highly manual and difficult without content marketing software to automate the process.) This enables marketing teams to assign actual value to the content produced.
Put these four areas of measurement together and you’ll have a dashboard to monitor—and help you improve upon—the health of your content marketing operation. Grab your copy of the content analytics guide to dive into more detail, including which tools you need to collect and analyze all these metrics.
About Jesse Noyes
Jesse is the Senior Director of Content Marketing for Kapost. In this role, he’s charged with producing overseeing the company’s content marketing strategy and delivering high-value educational experiences for the industry. He is aware of how meta churning out content marketing for a business that sells to content marketers sounds. Jesse is the former Managing Editor at Eloqua (now owned by Oracle), where he ran the company’s award-winning blog and produced plenty of other stuff. You can follow him on Twitter at @noyesjesse if you’re interested in content marketing and dogs.