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Imagewerks Marketing Content Metrics

Forest for the Trees: Finding the Content Metrics That Matter

Posted by Molly Geipel on August 22, 2016 at 9:00 AM

As we head into the final quarter of 2016, it’s time to put together the numbers for the year. Choosing the right metrics to tell the story of your marketing can be a challenge. This guide will get you started with the metrics that matter.


If you’re like many organizations, you've implemented a content marketing strategy in January and have been plugging away all year. There are many different behind-the-scenes analytics that demonstrate how your content is performing— site visits, time on page, bounce rates, likes, shares, downloads…


It can be hard to know where to start, especially if you’re more comfortable wearing the hat of content creator rather than a data guru. Let's outline a few metrics to capture your content performance and reveal weaknesses that you can improve upon as you refine your strategy for the coming year. More importantly, we’ll help you identify the metrics that matter most for your business goals and content objectives.

Let’s Start on the Same Page

It's easy to think there are metrics that matter and metrics that don’t. In actuality, all metrics matter for one reason or another. It just depends on goals of your content marketing strategy.

You may be thinking, “Um…what goals?” If so, you’re not alone. According to the Content Marketing Institute’s Annual B2B Content Marketing Report, 55% of organizations embark on a content marketing strategy without outlining goals or identifying benchmarks for success. If you don’t define what qualifies as success for your content marketing program, how will you know if you’ve actually succeeded?

The metrics that matter are the ones that reveal whether your content strategy has successfully supported your business objectives throughout the year.


The process should go like this:

  • Step 1: Outline business goals
  • Step 2: Define content objectives that support business goals
  • Step 3: Identify the metrics/key performance indicators (KPI’s) to signify success
  • Step 4: Produce and publish content
  • Step 5: Measure and assess KPI’s
  • Step 6: Re-calibrate content strategy accordingly


Not sure how to turn large-scale business goals into quantifiable content objectives? You can reverse engineer the process by working backwards from the numbers you want to see at the end of the year.

To calculate the percent ROI you’re earning from your content marketing efforts, you first need to have a way of tracking and quantifying the revenue from your conversions. Once you have that data, calculating ROI is pretty simple.

First, figure out the cost per page view of your content by dividing the ## of page visits by the $$ spent on content marketing services to create and promote those pages.

Next, calculate the revenue value of each session by dividing the ## of page visits by the $$ generated by conversions.

Compare these two numbers to determine the ROI from your content marketing program. If you’re not reaching the percentage you’d like to see, use the second equation to work backward and identify your new content marketing goals.


You can do so by inserting the revenue value you’d need to generate per session to achieve that ROI and solving for the number of page visits you will need to generate to reach that number. Or, just use this handy ROI calculator.


Let’s Get Down to Metrics

Marketing goals can be broken down into three categories: brand awareness, increasing revenue, and improving customer experience. Within each category there's a handful of supporting content marketing objectives.


Brand awareness: Web traffic, SEO rankings, social media reach, brand sentiment.

Revenue: Lead generation, lead nurturing, sales, conversions and up sells.

Customer experience: Engagement, advocacy, retention.


The most important content marketing goal for B2B marketers in particular is lead generation. Sales, engagement, brand awareness, and loyalty are all crucial as well, but the most important goals for you will depend on where your business is in its life cycle.


More established companies are likely to prioritize engagement and customer retention, whereas companies in their infancy will give greater importance to lead generation, nurturing, and brand awareness.There’s no one magic metric that serves as the benchmark of success for each content marketing objective. Rather, metrics paint the most comprehensive picture when viewed together.


If you concentrate on any one metric at the exclusion of all others, you’re going to get a myopic and lopsided view of your content performance. At the same time, looking at every metric at once can cause “can’t see the forest for the trees” syndrome.


Here are the metrics that matter most for each of the top 5 content marketing objectives:

Lead Generation & Nurturing

  • Sales lead quality

  • Sales lead quantity

  • Website traffic

  • SEO ranking and search traffic

  • Return visitor rate


  • Conversion rates

  • Purchase intent

  • Cost per customer

  • Sales lead quality

  • CTR of nurturing emails



  • Time on page

  • Percent of page read

  • Bounce rate

  • CTR across social platforms

  • Total social actions (shares, likes, mentions)


Brand Awareness

  • Social follower growth
  • Social shares
  • Search traffic
  • SEO ranking
  • Email subscription growth


  • Return visitor rate
  • Social follower counts
  • Email subscription growth
  • CTR of email newsletters
  • Total social actions

You’ll notice some overlap between objectives. That’s because your content marketing goals aren’t achieved in a vacuum. Each element of your strategy supports and interacts with the others. Performance in one area impacts performance in another. If lead generation is under performing, sales will suffer. If engagement is down, lead nurturing will falter.


In the process of recapping 2016 and formulating your 2017 strategy, brainstorm ways to boost these key metrics. Put a literal price tag on success, and then work backward. Identify benchmarks. Set goals. Then go forth and create top-quality content.


Need an expert to guide into digital diagnostics?

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Topics: content marketing measurement, analytics, marketing metrics

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