Content marketing is now an established pillar of any digital marketing strategy and brands are working harder than ever to produce great, eye-catching content. Content is the best way to increase brand awareness at a low cost, and a successful content marketing strategy can build trust in your brand across the web.
Content is booming and many businesses are jumping on the bandwagon. Yet despite the value of content to a digital marketing strategy, many brands are failing to optimize their content because they lack clear direction. For the best return on investment, a content marketing campaign should have clear goals and, crucially, a way of tracking performance relating to these goals. That’s where Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) come in.
What Is A KPI?
Key Performance Indicators are, broadly construed, any way of analyzing the impact of content marketing. KPIs consist primarily of a numerical figure that can be analyzed for change over time. Through the figure of the KPI, you can see the impact of your content marketing and determine whether or not it’s a success. KPIs can guide your digital marketing strategy to greater specificity and efficiency.
It’s important that for KPIs to function, this figure is accompanied by a methodology. A company may choose to track enquiries it receives over the phone. It could generate a number from day to day of how many people are calling up and asking about the services it offers. These numbers, in theory, can tell the business something about customer interest in response to marketing efforts. However, tracking these calls by day, week or hour provides the business with a methodology – if they discover they receive more calls in the mornings or on weekends, they can tailor their business accordingly.
Thus any KPI cannot be a number in isolation – but a number surrounded by a context that gives it meaning. There are many KPIs that brands can gather to inform their content marketing strategy, but before we explore the range of KPIs we’ll see why they really matter.
Why You Should Care About KPIs
KPIs are essential because they enable brands to allow their desired outcomes to lead their content strategies. A good digital marketing strategy will have focussed on certain goals – these could be improving the reach of your brand or improving your conversion rates, meaning you have more individuals signed up for newsletters and email marketing. Without KPIs, your content strategy will be adrift on a sea of guesswork.
“Introduce key performance indicators to the mix and your business will have a razor sharp insight into the success or failure of your content strategy,” says Cora Greer, a content editor at Essay Services. “With KPIs that are explicitly linked to your desired outcomes, you can ensure you never lose sight of your marketing goals.”
8 KPIs You Need To Track
We’ve seen how important KPIs are for guiding your content marketing strategy. Now let’s see which of these metrics you need to be putting into action.
One of the primary outcomes of content marketing is to do with the engagement of your visitors. It’s not enough to emphasize quantity in your approach – although more views the better – but quality of engagement matters too. To this end, tracking the behaviour of users of your site is an incredibly valuable KPI.
Tracking pageviews can indicate how many pages of your site a user visits. Does your average user find engaging content in your sidebar and click around, or are they scanning the page they came to visit and then leaving? Understanding the performance of this metric can reveal if you need more engaging content that encourages users to click around. If engagement is your aim, then pageviews are an important metric.
Attaining this kind of behavior on your landing page by offering plenty of options for users to click on and generate traffic is very important, so be sure to measure the pageview KPI here.
2) Unique Visits
Unique visits is an essential metric to keep track of and can be a valuable KPI for your content strategy. A unique visit is defined as an individual visit to your page from one user – so the number of unique visits tells you not how many times your page was viewed, but how many unique individuals viewed your page.
Fortunately, this metric is easily gathered via a tracking tool from Google Analytics. Certain pages of your website, such as your blog or sales page, may be the most important for unique visits and by tracking the value of this number over time you should see if your content marketing strategy is paying off.
Tracking the KPI of unique visits to your site also helps you to measure conversion by letting you see how many new unique visitors you get.
3) Bounce Rate
Your bounce rate is another valuable KPI, only unlike unique visitors and pageviews, this is a number you want to see decreasing over time. Bounce rate is a percentage that tells you how many people are leaving your page without spending any time there after landing. Google defines their formula for bounce rate as being either the site’s total single-page sessions divided by all its sessions, or the percentage of all your site’s single page sessions that triggered just a single request to Google’s Analytics server.
Acceptable bounce rates vary depending on the purpose of your site – content pages typically have bounce rates of around 40 – 60% whilst sales pages tend to have lower bounce rates of between 10% and 40%. Either way, if your bounce rate is high you’re losing visitors and potentially sales. A high bounce rate could be because visitors didn’t find the content they were advertised or because your website is poorly structured to discourage viewers – both of these are examples of failing to meet customer expectations. Tracking your bounce rate over time can be hugely informative for tackling these failings.
4) Time On Page
This is a KPI that is directly linked to the performance of your website – time on page tells you how long visitors are spending on your site before they click away. These are users who haven’t left immediately – and been captured by your bounce rate – but it’s still a crucial metric for ensuring your site is meeting the levels of engagement desired.
“You can combine time on page with pageviews to gain an intricate picture of how users are interacting with your site, and to see if your content is doing the trick,” says Gwendolyn Mitchell, a manager at Revieweal. “A content strategy working successfully should reveal these numbers ticking up.”
5) Site Heatmap
Specialized tools now exist to track how users drift the mouse across the page or the rate at which they scroll through your site. Whereas a pageview can only tell you someone’s been there and time on page reveals how long they spent, generating a heatmap of user activity on your site gives you an incredibly detailed picture of how users are interacting with your site.
When you can see this data on how users experience your site, you can track it over time. Your layout – and your content – can then be driven by user behaviour, and optimized to ensure you get the best engagement. For example, your CTAs can be restructured into the site now that you know where people are hovering the mouse – you’ll snag a few more clicks.
6) Sources Of Traffic
The web is a network of links and your site doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Understanding where your traffic is coming from is crucial for assessing the performance of your content on the web as a whole.
Traffic can be driven to your blog from a variety of sources – there’s paid ads, social media, newsletters, blogs and links on a broad community of sites. Reliance on paid ads for your traffic will eat into your marketing budget, and tracking traffic sources as a KPI can help you transition to organic sources of traffic.
7) Social Status
Your social media channels will provide you with a wealth of data, and very often sites like Facebook and Instagram provide additional analytics about the performance of posts. Using your social media numbers like Facebook likes or Twitter shares as a KPI can give you better insight into your reach as a brand, and tracking new followers will indicate how your content is performing out in the world.
The data you get from potential customers signing up to a mailing list, like their email address and name, gives you plenty of opportunity for personalized marketing in the future.
Sales data is of course a very valuable and extremely interesting KPI, because not only do you obtain lots of information about someone who is interested in your products in general, you also know which products they have bought previously, and you will be able to market similar products towards them.
As well as this, you know how many people liked a certain product.
Content downloads is an important KPI because it’s a direct indicator of the performance of this essential stage in your digital marketing strategy. Tracking downloads over time will inform you if your content is performing healthily or if something has to change.
Your requests are one of the most valuable levels of your marketing funnel. Whether your content consists of ebooks, webinars or free trials, this content is not only a way of building leads that can be turned into sales, but also information about your audience from email addresses to demographics.
As we’ve seen, there are a range of KPIs your brand can track to keep your content marketing eye on the ball. By combining KPIs such as pageviews and time on page you can gain a detailed view of user behaviour and adjust your strategies accordingly. Whether you’re in B2C or B2B, these KPIs are essential for revealing the performance of your content, and ensuring your digital marketing strategy is guided by the desired outcomes.