7 Content Marketing KPIs to Track

A key performance indicator (KPI) is any measurable value that helps you determine whether you are on course to achieve your objectives. Like any other business strategy, a content marketing strategy needs to have clearly defined goals or objectives. Some examples of typical content marketing objectives are:

  • Improve the reach of your brand so that more people in your target audience know about your company and become interested in the products or services you provide. This is also known as lead generation.
  • Drive engagement with your content so that people pay attention to the messages you convey in the form of emails, social media posts, and on-page content.
  • Improved conversion, such as increased signups to newsletters or more sales.

Such content marketing objectives are obviously beneficial for you to achieve. But you have no way of knowing anything about the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts without tracking the right KPIs. A good KPI is one that gives you a direct and measurable value of your content marketing progress.

Read on to find out about seven content marketing KPIs that you need to start tracking today. You’ll also learn how to track these metrics and how to improve them to boost your content marketing efforts.

Unique Website Visitors

It might seem like an obvious place to start, but websites place so much emphasis on visitor numbers for a good reason — it’s a good KPI for measuring lead generation. After all, if nobody sees your content, then it doesn’t matter how good that content is. Lead generation involves attracting new people in your target audience. Therefore, you need to focus on unique website visitors.

It’s important to remember that not all unique visits are equally representative of effective lead generation. This is why it’s imperative that you break down unique visits into content type. For example, a unique viewer of your white paper is probably more useful for lead generation purposes than a unique visitor to an “about” page. Most common web analytics tools, including Google Analytics, can track unique visits.

A caveat to this KPI is that it is very difficult to get 100 percent accurate data for unique visitors. For example, the same person might visit a blog post using two different devices. Most analytics tools regard this as two unique visits, which isn’t exactly accurate. It’s difficult to gauge the potential for inaccuracy in determining unique visitors, but you should realize that such a potential exists. However, as a basic measure of how well you generate leads with your content, unique visits is an important KPI.

Social Media Engagement KPIs

Social media engagement is an important part of any modern website’s content marketing strategy. The particular social media metrics that give an indicator of how much people engage with your posts are likes, shares, clicks, and comments. You can track such metrics both for website content and for social media posts themselves.

Low social media engagement means that not very many people pay attention to your messages, which says a lot about your content marketing strategy. You need to compel people to become interested in what you have to say, encouraging them to engage with what you say by liking, sharing, or commenting on both website content and social media posts.

Social media engagement KPIs vary depending on the platform you use, but they are all straightforward to measure. For example, you can add a social sharing widget to your website content that tracks the number of social shares for each post on your website. You can combine different measures of engagement to get a broad overview of how engaged people are with your content.

There are many ways to improve your social media engagement KPIs, including scheduling social media posts or simply placing attractive social share buttons on your website’s pages.

Finally, don’t lend too much credibility to sources that disregard certain KPIs, such as social shares, by dismissing them as vanity metrics. The truth is that social shares make a direct contribution to a website’s reach and brand awareness by indicating high engagement.

Device Visits

Demographic measurements such as website visits broken down by device are very useful in ensuring that content is optimized for the devices most frequently used to view it. A poor user experience can completely ruin your content marketing efforts, negating any chances of achieving the objectives set out in your content marketing strategy.

For example, perhaps your email signup form looks terrible on mobile devices. If the majority of your website visitors use mobiles and they can’t sign up to your emails, then you won’t get any conversions from your content.

Google Analytics, or any other web analytics tool, can break down the visitors to your site according to the device they use. You can search for disparities in conversion rates across devices. A simulated mobile device tool can help you check what your site looks like on different devices to get to the underlying causes of issues that affect your content marketing efforts.

Time on Page

Tracking the average amount of time users spend on different pages of your site is another useful way to measure content engagement. Unique visits alone don’t tell you enough information about the content, particularly its perceived quality among visitors.

A detailed 20-page white paper you write might get 30,000 unique visits, but if people only spend an average of 15 seconds browsing that white paper, then it’s not an effective piece of content. The truth is that highly engaged people take the time to read through content because they are interested in what you have to say.

Tracking time spent per page can provide the information to improve your content. In this hypothetical example, you could shorten the white paper so that people are more inclined to read it in full, which could improve this KPI for your white paper page. An alternative corrective action might be to write a better introduction to the white paper that draws more people in. Whatever the case, tracking this KPI is important in understanding the level of engagement people show with the content you produce.

Total Traffic by Channel

Image via Flickr by DigitalRalph

This is a useful KPI to track because it helps to identify those areas where your content performs best. You can then devote more of your content marketing efforts to these areas to see even better conversions. For example, if you spend a significant portion of your content marketing budget on paid advertising, yet most of your visits come from organic searches, you can update your strategy to reflect the results of this KPI.

Alternatively, if you are insistent that certain channels will work best for your content, but you aren’t happy with the current results, you can improve this KPI for a given channel by turning to experts in that channel for help. For example, improve your traffic from advertising by investing in a service that uses the most effective ad types, such as native advertising.

Keyword Rankings

When you write content, you normally do so with certain keywords in mind. Choosing keywords is an important aspect of optimizing your website for search engines. Sometimes, the content you write will rank well in search engines for your chosen keywords, and sometimes it might not rank so well. Furthermore, your content might rank for phrases that are different from those you intended it to rank for.

It’s a good idea, therefore, to track the keywords that drive the most engagement to your website’s pages. Write a list of phrases for each content piece, and watch for ranking improvements in each piece using a keyword tool such as ahrefs or Moz.

The overarching aim of tracking keyword rankings is to improve engagement by centering future content around the main phrases in your existing content that rank well.

Email Click-Through Rate

Email marketing is an important part of any company’s content marketing strategy. The click-through rate is an effective KPI because it allows you to check whether people engage with your emails by clicking on the links contained in them.

Whereas open rates only tell you if people open your emails, the click-through rate gives more accurate information on engagement. After all, people who click links in emails tend to do so because the email has engaged them enough to take further action. There are many email marketing services available online, and most of them provide a measurement of click-through rates.

There are a slew of ways to improve this KPI. You can write better subject lines, shorten the email copy, personalize emails, or send targeted offers to prospects that they are more likely to click. The important point to note is that the click-through rate is an essential KPI for measuring the effectiveness of your email marketing.

Closing Thoughts

If you want to implement an effective content marketing strategy, you need to find good ways of measuring your progress in achieving the goals you set out to achieve. Most content marketing efforts have similar aims — lead generation, improved engagement, and more conversions.

Key performance indicators provide direct feedback on your content marketing efforts. Not all KPIs are created equally, though. It’s important for you to identify the measurements worth tracking and focus on them, disregarding measurements that don’t tell you what you need to know.

About the author

Ronan Mahony

Ronan Mahony is a freelance writer who likes to write about internet marketing and technology topics. When he's not writing, he likes to play guitar and travel the world. He loves the small pleasures in life such as the first cup of morning coffee and the cold side of the pillow.