Mind Your Metrics: Measuring Content Marketing Success

Posted on by Sandra Gudat

ruler-metric-measurement-measureYou’re probably sold on the idea that the right content strategy can be a boon to your business. But unless you bring some numbers to the table, certain powers within your organization might not be so convinced — unless you can defend your 2015 budget.

That, of course, is where metrics come in. But which metrics are the right ones to measure your content marketing success?

What Do You Want to Accomplish?
The first step is to look at your objectives. Goals for content initiatives aren’t so different from — and should align with — your company’s global marketing goals.

Of course, increasing sales is the bottom line, but there can be other stops along the way, such as expanding the customer/prospect base, or increasing brand/product awareness. Building and maintaining customer relationships has never been more important, not only for sales but to turn today’s empowered customers into advocates.

The clearer the established goal, the more precisely you can put metrics to work for you.

The Big Two
From a big-picture perspective, there are really just two types of metrics you should care about: consumption and behavior. Each of those categories, however, holds a plethora of individual yardsticks. In fact, the possibilities can feel nearly limitless — and overwhelming. Choosing the ones critical to your organization means reviewing your overall content marketing objectives — and then working backwards to identify associated metrics.

Consumption Metrics
These measurements are all about the number of people consuming your content. For instance, you can track:

  • Email open and clickthrough rates
  • How many times a piece of content was viewed or downloaded
  • The number of unique and returning visitors to a piece of content
  • How much time an individual spent viewing a piece of content
  • What portion was read/viewed (e.g., which articles and links received the most clicks)
  • The number of friends/followers/subscribers to your social sites, e-newsletters, RSS feeds, etc.

Behavior Metrics

Think of these as action metrics. In other words, how many people took an action related to your content? You can track the number of:

  • People who follow-through on your call to action (e.g., clicking a specific link or calling a trackable phone number)
  • Likes and shares tied to specific social media posts
  • Photographs, videos and comments contributed by your fans, followers, etc.
  • People commenting on or rating your e-newsletter articles
  • Registrations and downloads (e.g., signing up for special events and seminars, or downloading informational material)

What about Revenue?
Identifying revenue from content can be tricky. Much content is designed to raise awareness and deliver education/information early in the sales cycle, or to maintain ongoing relationships with existing customers. But with a little effort, it is possible to connect your content to sales.

For instance, in your customer/prospect database, you can note what content has been consumed by specific individuals. Likewise, you can track who fills out lead forms tied to a piece of content (or set up browser cookies). Then, when someone converts, even months down the road, you’ll be able to look back and see what content had a hand in the sale.

Metrics Don’t Stand Alone
Regardless of which metrics you decide to track, remember that they aren’t necessarily meaningful on their own. To say your brochure was downloaded 50 times this month might sound good — unless you know it was downloaded 75 times last month. So always measure against established benchmarks or in comparison to a quantifiable goal. That’s how you’ll get your answer to that critical question from the powers that be: “How well is your content marketing working?”

Sandra Gudat is president and CEO of Customer Communications Group

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