6 KPIs to Use to Measure Content Marketing

Jonathan Lister


October 20, 2015 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

KPIs to measure success

These six KPIs for measuring your content marketing do more than assign a dollar value to words. These metrics can help empower your reporting to team members, giving useful takeaways that lead to better projects. Dig in.

Organic Visitors by Landing Page

Traffic from organic search, particularly unique visitors, remains one of the most important metrics for gauging the success of content marketing efforts. Why organic search? Because it can show your decision makers that search engines and real humans like your content from both ranking and CTR perspectives. You want to use unique visitors because it gives you and your team the most accurate picture of users clicking through to your content from search results pages. This KPI eliminates repeat visitors for a predefined period, about one month, giving you an ideal window to see clear growth.

To get user metrics, you’ll need Google Analytics, Omniture, or some other web analytics package. If you’re using Google Analytics, you may need to upgrade to the premium package to avoid data sampling.

Referral Traffic to the Website

Linkbuilding is not a worthy goal of content marketing in 2015. Links are an output of great content, not an outcome. Measuring the impact of earned links from a healthy amplification campaign, however, is important to gauge success of the overall project. Measuring referral traffic from websites that share your link to your content helps to show both the reach of the campaign in terms of brand awareness and the number of new opportunities for conversions. You’re not looking to measure revenue or conversion rate with referral traffic, only the increased exposure for your brand and the chance to get new business.

Convince Your Boss: Assigning a dollar value to each referral based on the strength of the referring domain can help a C-level or other suit-clad decision maker understand its importance. For example, referring traffic from a link on Buzz Feed, a website that gets 12.8 million organic sessions per month, could be worth far more than traffic from econom.co, a known spam referral bot.

Time on Site and Dwell Time

The time searchers spend on your site consuming content is a useful metric to measure their engagement and satisfaction. The premise is simple: the longer people stay on your site, the more they like what you’re serving. Before you take the bare metric from Google Analytics and slap a gold star on it, you need to set expectations for success. Searchers unknowingly manipulate time on site all the time by leaving webpages open in background browser windows for hours. Better to focus on dwell time as your yardstick for success.

Dwell time is the real measure of time a given user spends on your website. The measurement takes into account your site’s average session duration, from Google Analytics or other site monitoring tools, with user behavior metrics, bounce rate, and CTR from SERP (search engine results pages). To get your site’s dwell time, take average session duration and bounce rate from Google Analytics. Grab the website’s average click-through rate from SERP from the ‘Search Queries’ section in Search Console (Webmaster Tools). Is the average session duration at or above two minutes? Are CTR and bounce rates competitive for your industry? Then, you’ve got good dwell time.

Measure Twice, Don’t Cut: Chart how CTR, session duration, and bounce rate change from the start of your campaign to its ending. Rising CTR and session duration, coupled with a steady or lowering bounce rate is an indicator of strong dwell time.

Measuring Behavior Flow

Content should do more than get people to a landing page; it should encourage exploration through a site and, hopefully, goal completions. Behavior Flow, found via Google Analytics, works as a KPI by giving you insight into how content spurs interaction by tracking a searcher’s path from entry to exit. How many people click from the content that brought them to the site to an ‘About Us’ section or services pages? This number can show earned opportunities for conversions. What percentage of users drop-off the site without interacting with any other pages? This figure can be an indicator of poor performing content.

Comments and Social Sharing

Social networks are now more paid channels than organic, thanks to constant restriction of post reach and feed personalization. Even if you need to spend a little money to boost a post on Facebook or promote a tweet on Twitter, the chance to garner new shares and added eyes on your campaign are well worth the spend. Measure total shares across social channels as a KPI for content marketing, paying close attention to visitor comments on your company’s social profiles and content landing pages.

Increasing comments means the content is generating an internal emotional response that triggers an outward action, which can lead to more shares, better brand recall, and new followers. Interaction on social channels can also mean your future posts won’t get filtered as harshly, meaning you won’t need to spend as much on promotion next time.

Goal Completions

The old standby for success, goal completions give the higher-ups a 1:1 KPI that they can digest quickly without much explanation. What makes up a goal completion depends greatly on the type of content marketing you’re creating and its desired function. Content for email content marketing may have goals related to email sign-ups. A practice area page on a law firm’s site, by contrast, may focus on form fills. Writing that’s geared to inform searchers rather than sell them could have a blog follow/sign-up goal. Set clear requirements for goal completions at the beginning of your campaign. The last thing you want is someone changing their mind from one metric to another midway through a project because no one set clear expectations.

Measuring the value of your content marketing is a constant battle between the importance of brand reach and the immediate needs of earning revenue. By presenting these KPIs to your CMO, you’ll be in a much better position to show success and get your next proposal approved.

Author Image - Jonathan Lister
Jonathan Lister

CopyPress writer

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