Greg Walthour

CO-CEO, Intero Digital

Greg Walthour, CO-CEO of Intero Digital, is a pioneer to the digital marketing space. He began his career as a commercial real estate broker and in 1996 took on the challenge of getting this website to rank higher in search engines. Greg has over 20 years of experience in digital marketing and enjoys camping, ATVing, traveling, and coaching football. Greg also has a passion for photography.

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How to Measure Content Marketing Success: Goals and KPIs

How to Measure Content Marketing Success: Goals and KPIs

Greg Walthour, CO-CEO • Intero Digital • October 29, 2021

Creating content just to get it done and out the door is not a good use of time, money, or marketing resources. To be an effective industry thought leader, you must take a step back, determine the audience you’re trying to reach, and then craft your content strategy around your specific goals before you can start seeing measurable results.

Once you have an idea of your primary content marketing goal and have outlined some tactics you might use to reach that goal, you need to choose which metrics you’ll measure. These metrics will help you determine whether progress is being made or you need to reimagine your content marketing strategy. Below, you’ll learn how to use the right KPIs to measure the success of your efforts for the most common content marketing goals.

Lead Generation

If your primary goal is to increase revenue for your brand, marketing’s primary role is to gather more leads — and content can drive your lead generation efforts.

Your off-site content, such as guest-contributed articles and press mentions, can give you the opportunity to lead people to your website. Then, if your site contains informative, helpful, engaging content, you can use that on-site content to maintain the attention of those prospective customers and then use gated content to turn them into leads.

Having all this content at your disposal is invaluable, but if you want to know whether your content is actually serving its purpose and bringing prospects through your funnel, you have to track specific metrics.

  • Average Lead Score
    Lead generation is more about quality and less about quantity. You can use lead scoring to help you decide which leads are likely to convert into customers. Start by identifying the criteria for a qualified lead, and then set and assign point values. When you assess all leads in the same way, it’s easier to determine the quality of the leads you’re generating through your marketing campaigns. Lead management software such as HubSpot can make this process a lot easier.
  • Lead Conversions
    Your conversion rate illustrates how effectively your content marketing efforts are turning visitors into leads and, finally, into customers. If you attract more leads but a small number are likely to become customers, your content might not be touching on the right audience pain points. Your marketing automation software can track marketing-qualified leads, and then once those leads become paying customers, it can measure your content marketing ROI.
  • On-Site Analytics
    Metrics like time on site, bounce rate, and finish rate allow you to effectively track your content’s performance. Review your conversion rate metrics to see which content pieces are encouraging which actions. For example, if your website is hosted on HubSpot, you could use its tools to monitor the number of people who saw a call to action in a blog post, how many people actually clicked on that CTA, and then how many people filled out a form as a result. This would let you know whether your content is convincing the audience to take the desired action and build a deeper relationship with your company.
  • Referral Traffic
    This metric reports how many visits to your website come from other websites. This metric can help you see which press mentions or guest-contributed articles drive the most traffic. You can monitor this metric using Google Analytics, marketing automation software, or SimilarWeb.

Search Engine Optimization

Simply crafting engaging and insightful content won’t make your strategy more effective. You also must ensure your content ranks highly on search engine results pages. Performing a technical website audit and keyword research can aid you in building the foundation for your SEO campaign. But if you want to see how effective your SEO strategies are and how they can help you see tangible marketing results, you have to keep track of the data that matters most.

  • Backlinks
    Backlinks (especially follow links) are important because they signify a “vote of confidence” from a reliable site to yours. Backlinks let search engines know that others are vouching for your content’s credibility. To track the number of backlinks that drive visitors to your website, you can use software such as Ahrefs.
  • Organic Search Traffic
    Organic search traffic refers to the number of visitors who land on your website due to unpaid (organic) search results. Organic visitors can click straight through to your website from search results, so they’re not “referred” by any third-party site. Metrics based on organic traffic can also show the keywords someone searched before reaching your site. A boost in organic search traffic means that you’re effectively leading your audience from search engine results pages to your website. You can track this metric using tools like Google Analytics, SimilarWeb, or marketing automation software.
  • Search Visibility
    Search visibility is all about how easily your audience finds your website’s content online. You can use tools such as Moz and Ahrefs to track search visibility and how many keywords your website ranks for. The higher you rank in SERPs for these terms, the likelier it is that you’ll improve your organic search traffic. Information on your search visibility is beneficial for blog posts, in particular. For example, if a blog post ranks for only a few keywords you’ve targeted, you can strategically rework the content to include more keywords you’d like to rank for. We typically use Moz to see how our website’s content performs in search results and what keywords we rank for.
  • Bounce Rate
    Bounce rate is the rate at which site visitors arrive on a page of your website and then leave before accessing another page. Visitors might bounce because the page they reached from search results gave them the things they were looking for, and they didn’t feel compelled to keep engaging with your site. Another reason could be that the title of your content needs to be more precise — if that’s the case, visitors might not be able to find what they were searching for and, therefore, leave to find it on another site. A high bounce rate signifies to search engines that your content is not providing a great user experience, which can negatively affect your search rankings. Google Analytics, SimilarWeb, or marketing automation software can help you monitor this information.
  • Referral Traffic
    This metric reports how many visits to your website come from other websites. This metric can help you see which press mentions or guest-contributed articles drive the most traffic. You can monitor this metric using Google Analytics, marketing automation software, or SimilarWeb.

Sales Enablement

Any marketing strategy’s ultimate goal is to generate revenue. But it can be tricky to provide a helpful, educational, and efficient experience for prospective customers that leads them to make a purchase. That’s where sales enablement content plays a significant role.

When the marketing team produces content that addresses typical sales objections and questions, salespeople can use that content to boost sales conversations and nurture prospects closer to being convinced to convert. Plus, if you’re maximizing your marketing automation system, your sales team can see every piece of content your leads have engaged with. This empowers your sales team with critical insight into which topics interest leads, allowing them to enhance the sales process based on individuals’ needs.

To gauge the success of your content strategy for sales enablement, you can track a few significant metrics.

  • Close Rate
    An important piece of data to track is the close rate. This metric allows you to monitor how effective your sales process is. The close rate is calculated by dividing the number of confirmed sales by the number of prospective leads the sales team worked on within a given period. You can gauge this metric for individual salespeople and the sales team as a whole. You can measure and track this metric using your CRM, such as HubSpot’s Sales Hub, or you can manually monitor this metric by using a spreadsheet.
  • Sales Cycle Length
    The sales cycle length is absolutely what it sounds like: how long a prospect takes to make it through the sales process. A platform such as HubSpot will let you see the time it takes for deals to close. Or if you’re doing this by hand, you’ll need to keep up by using a spreadsheet where you record the complete process of each prospect your sales team connects with so you can look back and decide how long it took them to make a purchase.
  • Contact Form Sales
    Contact form sales are new customers whose initial point of contact with your company was filling out a contact form. This metric is essential to see how your website and gated content perform regarding sales generation. Using a platform such as HubSpot, you can see how prospective customers engaged with your company and imparted their contact information to you. Whether they first gave you their information through a gated content form or a standard contact form, HubSpot can monitor this sale and consider it a contact form sale.

Thought Leadership

If your primary goal is to boost your company’s reputation as an industry expert, your focus should be on thought leadership. While tracking can be somewhat complicated and unclear for this goal, there are some kay data points you can monitor to gauge the effectiveness of your thought leadership content strategy.

  • Social Shares and Engagement
    When people stumble upon content that they enjoy and that resonates with them, they’re more likely to engage with it. They might give it a like, comment, or share it on their social media pages. To keep track of social shares, you can use a tool such as BuzzSumo. BuzzSumo highlights your audience’s social engagement with your content. Plus, if you press the people icon on the right side of the engagement numbers, you can see your “top sharers.” These people have shared your content and have large, engaged followings on social media.
  • Content Syndication
    When other publications syndicate your content on their sites, you know your content has struck a chord in the industry. Not only does syndication give you heightened third-party credibility, but it also allows you to reach an even broader audience than before. To keep tabs on syndication, set up Google Alerts for your company name and the names of company leaders. This way, you’ll be notified when your content has been republished online. Then, create a spreadsheet where you can keep track of content syndication over time.
  • On-Site Analytics
    Keeping tabs on metrics like bounce rate and time on page can help you monitor engagement with the content on your website. Page views can also be a valuable metric for your website and on-site content because it reflects how many people know about your business and engage with your content. And by seeing which pieces of on-site content get the most page views, you can test out similar types of content to boost your performance. You can use your website hosting platform or Google Analytics to track on-site analytics.
  • Awards
    Awards have to be earned. When you receive recognition from industry leaders, you’ve proven your thought leadership in your niche. Keep a spreadsheet running down every award you apply for and get nominations for, and keep it regularly updated along with the status of each recognition.
  • Press Opportunities
    Press opportunities can include being tapped to serve as a source for an article, being a podcast guest, co-hosting a webinar, or several other possibilities. Receiving these requests signals that people value your knowledge and want to share it with their audiences. List these public relations opportunities in a spreadsheet to monitor how many press opportunities you gain. Note how these opportunities came to your attention so you can understand which content pieces or publications are driving the most engagement.
  • Speaking Engagements
    Whether in person or virtual, industry events usually aren’t headlined by unknown speakers. Being asked to speak at events indicates that you share meaningful insights with the correct audiences and are considered a reliable expert in your space. Keep a running list of your speaking events. Also, note where these invitations came from so you can get a better glimpse of whether certain publications or content drive the most speaking engagements.
Greg Walthour

CO-CEO, Intero Digital

Greg Walthour, CO-CEO of Intero Digital, is a pioneer to the digital marketing space. He began his career as a commercial real estate broker and in 1996 took on the challenge of getting this website to rank higher in search engines. Greg has over 20 years of experience in digital marketing and enjoys camping, ATVing, traveling, and coaching football. Greg also has a passion for photography.