Whether you are implementing a content strategy in-house or for a client, you can’t measure success without having goals.
So what business goals should your content be fulfilling, and what numbers matter to you? Well-known brands might find social shares to be vanity metrics but really care about how many conversions can be linked to content. To contrast, smaller brands might simply want to get their name out there and would be far more focused on how their content is creating awareness of their company’s product or service.
When you have clear guidelines for the purpose of your content and it’s intended outcome, it will be far easier to know if your content is generating a positive return on your investment.
Let’s walk through some of the common goals of content and what key performance indicators (KPIs) you can use to measure each.
Increase Share of Voice
Creating stellar content can show your brand off as an authority in your space. But how do you know if what you’ve published is awesome in theory or is actually impacting the way people see your brand or think about issues in your industry?
You can trace your content in social media and search and compare to the reach of your competitors’ content to figure out what percentage of the marketplace you can claim.
Followers on social networks
Social metrics directly correlate to share of voice because you can measure your audience through your following and the reach of their followers in turn. By monitoring what type of content gets shared the most and who is most likely to share your content, you can multiply this reach even farther.
Really diving into these metrics and exploring ways to combine them will give you the clearest picture of your success, as noted by Avinash Kaushik in his post on the best social media metrics. Since social media provides a certain amplification factor that gets multiplied every time other people share your content, you can calculate how your reach has expanded beyond your own follower count to include the followers of those who shared your content.
For example, the new Twitter Analytics tool has a built in feature that shows you how your reach is multiplied depending on how many retweets you receive and the reach of those who retweeted you:
It’s also important to look beyond the numbers and analyze the sentiment behind people’s words. If you’re getting a ton of shares and comments but they are mostly negative or irrelevant, those aren’t helping you meet your business goals. Tools like SparkScore and Social Mention can help you gauge the sentiment surrounding your brand.
Content can be one of the most effective ways to nurture leads because through it you can display your knowledge of your industry and demonstrate your company’s unique selling propositions.
On the other hand, content does not automatically equal leads. First spend time building market-research backed personas that have determined the voice and tone that your audience can connect with, the type of content they want to see, and manner in which they want to consume content.
At iAcquire we like to map out different types of content for each stage of the consumer decision journey. Then, we determine where in this process each persona would enter. This way we have types of content ready for each user group given that group’s needs and what type of content they will find most helpful or entertaining.
Once you’ve determined you’re making content that suits your audience, you should pretty easily be able to link this content to new leads.
Inquiry form submissions
Your sales process will be unique to your industry and company, so you’ll have to select the metric that makes the most sense for you based on your method of lead collection. What’s more important is correctly tracking user paths in your analytics. You’ll want to know what piece of content the user has open while or just before submitting their information.
Foster Audience Engagement
Every business wants to keep their audience happy and wants to be top of mind over their competitors. In order to accomplish both, engaging content comes into play.
Measuring the different ways one can interact with your content and how frequently these actions are performed will let you know just how engaged your audience is.
Time on site
Pages per visit
Time spent watching video
Percentage of video watched
CTR on social shares and emails
These KPIs are straightforward because they all involve the user taking his or her personal time to engage with your content. Whether a person stays on a page a few minutes to really read what you have to say, clicks your links to read more, writes comments with questions or opinions, or gives feedback through a survey, they are engaged.
Many of the tools you’re already using for content production and distribution have reporting built in that will let you keep track of engagement related metrics. If you’re using MailChimp for email you’ll know exactly what campaigns each user is opening and what links he or she is clicking in those emails, for example.
Certain metrics are not as straightforward. Take video plays, for example. Someone might watch a video for just a few seconds and still register as a “play.” It’s far more important to know how many people watched your videos all the way through, or even re-watched. Wistia does a great job of representing these KPIs in the engagement tab of their stats report:
Ultimately you’ll want to segment users by level of engagement and refine your personas based on the activity of real users. In other words, don’t stick to solely market research to tell you what types of people will be engaged by what types of content. Track and measure your own unique patterns and restructure your content planning based around these insights.
Sometimes it’s difficult to justify giving away content for free after spending valuable resources creating it. Figuring out how frequently users who view your content also make a purchase should take some of the weight off your shoulders when proving content’s value.
Number of people who make a purchase after performing a content-related action, such as downloading a white paper, clicking a link in a blog post, or watching a video
Amount of money spent by these users
Driving sales is similar to collecting leads in that you have to track what content the user has engaged with before making a purchase. The difference is that the numbers reported translate directly to dollar signs versus potential future sales.
Sales can be a bit tricker to pin down because users might familiarize themselves with your brand through your content when they are not yet in the buying stage, but then come to trust you over time and eventually make a purchase. With the right analytics set up to monitor a user over time, a little patience and solid reporting will help show your content efforts lead to monetary success.
For longer, more complex B2B sales cycles, there may be additional metrics you integrate into your CRM/SFA system along the way. Again, what’s important is having a roadmap in place to know what information is important to your sales team so that the content team can measure up accordingly.
Choose the Right Goals
When the conversation of content KPIs comes up, remember to always go back to the purpose of content in the first place. When you know the intentions you want to carry out, you’ll have a much easier time deciding what to measure. More importantly, the numbers you’re looking at won’t just be numbers. You’ll know exactly what types of insights you can gather because you’ll know where you want the numbers to lead, and can explain how well you are or aren’t meeting your goals.
To learn more about setting the right goals for your content, carrying them out efficiently and measuring them correctly, turn to iAcquire’s latest ebook, Content Strategy for Digital Marketers.
About the Author: Amanda Gallucci is the Associate Content Strategist at iAcquire, a content marketing agency based in New York City and Phoenix. You can follow iAcquire on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, or Facebook to catch up on more content trends and how to's!