The Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing Metrics

Updated: Apr 19, 2019

Full disclosure: a lot of the information below is drawn from Curata’s “Comprehensive Guide to Content Marketing Metrics and Analytics” written by Founder and CEO Pawan Deshpande.

You’ve been working hard to consistently produce high-quality content, but is it driving measurable improvements for your organization? The only way to tell is by aligning content marketing goals with specific metrics, something less than 20% of companies believe they are exceeding at.

Content should be strategically used to gauge and improve business performance. How can companies effectively do so using metrics?

The Basics

Seeing as this is a beginner’s guide, let’s first clarify some things. A metric is a quantifiable measure used to track the status of a process in line with a goal. A common content marketing metric, for example, is unique visitors. In this case, a company would use its number of unique visitors (metric) as a benchmark while monitoring website traffic (the process) in line with getting, say, 1,000 repeat visitors per month (the goal).

It’s also important to note that the right metrics depend on an organization’s specific content goals (of course, they aren’t all the same). For example, if you’re looking to purely increase search engine optimization (SEO), you might want to focus on building your reputation, visibility and audience (this example was originally offered by Eric Enge, founder and CEO of Stone Temple Consulting). For this SEO goal, Enge suggests some targeted metrics:

  • Measurements of reputation and visibility, such as brand searches

  • Measurements of the reach of sites where you successfully publish content (i.e. 3rd party sites)

  • Social share counts, and total audience reached

  • Links and domain authority of the links obtained

Once you identify your goal, it becomes easier to determine which metrics will work best for achieving it. Yet even still, it can be difficult to determine which metrics are most relevant for your organization. So, how can you figure this out?

Determine relevant metrics by asking targeted strategy questions. Doing so should guide you towards one of four metric categories created by marketing guru Jay Baer: consumption metrics, sharing metrics, lead metrics, and sales metrics. Curata suggests four additional metric categories to consider: retention, engagement, production and cost metrics. According to Curata, these provide more “detail and clarity about the ROI of content marketing.” If you’re looking for a more advanced overview of metrics, specifically in relation to ROI, then I’d suggest clicking the link at the top of this blog. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll stick to Baer’s four.

This question-asking strategy is key for the 81% of companies that are not properly aligning content marketing metrics with goals.

For example, do you want to know how many people are consuming your content? Which channels they’re using to do it? How frequently and how in-depth their consumption is? If so, then your goal is consumption-based and you’ll want to focus on consumption metrics. Some examples of consumption metrics include page views, unique visitors (exampled above), and average time on page.

Here’s a breakdown of the other three categories:

Sharing Metrics:

  • Which of your content pieces are being shared?

  • Who is sharing them?

  • How/where are they sharing?

  • How often are they being shared?

Metrics to consider: session duration (how long a visitor stays on your site during a given visit across multiple pages), page depth (how many pages your audience visits per session), comments/social media chatter.

Lead Metrics:

How is content supporting demand generation in terms of lead generation and lead nurturing?

Metrics to consider: the goal here is to attribute leads to specific pieces of content. Consider campaign tracking using a marketing automation platform, and don’t forget lead conversions.

Sales Metrics:

  • How does your content influence bottom-of-the-funnel results?

  • In which ways does your content drive revenue?

  • How does your content fill the pipeline?

Metrics to consider: dollar amount of pipeline opportunities influenced (i.e. how much of the sales pipeline was influenced by consuming one or more pieces of content) or dollar amount of revenue influenced (i.e. the dollar amount of revenue closed where a contact associated with that opportunity consumed one or more pieces of content prior to the deal closing).

If you’re still lost (totally okay!) here’s a simple, three-step process for aligning content marketing goals and metrics:

  1. Determine your content marketing goal(s). Popular goals include: developing brand awareness, generating sales leads, converting leads into customers, improving retention, increasing SEO (exampled above).

  2. Consider which metric category your goal(s) fall into. Consumption, sharing, lead or sales

  3. Track category-specific metrics to achieve this goal. Use the above metric suggestions or do some research to determine which metrics align best with your content marketing goal(s).

Voila! Hopefully you now feel more comfortable and confident with content marketing metrics. Stay tuned for more blogs that will explore content marketing metrics and analytics.