KPI in content marketing – measuring success

As a sub-discipline of the entire marketing apparatus, content marketing is an integral part of modern communication strategies. No question about it. But how can success and failure, effort and return, profitability versus budget be determined and measured? We have compiled an overview of the most important metrics and KPIs in content marketing.

Today’s customers want content from companies that is informative, useful and entertaining. There is no question that content marketing plays a correspondingly important role in marketing. After all, the right content helps companies generate leads from potential customers. Content on all channels can therefore hardly be avoided in a marketing strategy.

Marketeers now produce an enormous amount of content: for the website, the blog, social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Nevertheless, success is by no means always a given. Because with the mass of content, it has become more difficult to stand out from the competition. After all, every company has the goal of generating traffic and leads as well as increasing the conversion rate. The question that arises: How can I measure the success and failure of my content strategy? How do I determine return on investment versus budget? And how do I measure the effort and return of my content marketing measures?

The selection of the KPI is what counts

As with many other marketing measures, KPIs also make content marketing measurable. The problem lies less in the general measurability, but rather in the selection of the right KPIs. And the right selection of KPIs in content marketing depends largely on what you want to achieve with your content marketing strategy. In the same way, the type of content plays a major role. Because for blog posts, again, other KPIs are important than for videos or podcasts. Last but not least, there are different types of KPIs, also called metrics, to choose from. This is because there are special KPIs for content marketing and metrics that are generally used in marketing.

We have compiled an overview of the most important metrics for you and differentiated between quantitative metrics, qualitative metrics, positioning as well as the category KPI Content Marketing, which you can fall back on for your content marketing analytics.

Our overview is intended to and can only represent a part of all metrics and KPIs in content marketing. The relevance of the individual metrics can of course vary depending on the company and industry. You can read about the tools that can be used to measure your content marketing strategy in our Market Overview Content Marketing Solutions 2020.

Quantitative Metrics (Basic Metrics)

  • Page impressions (page views): Page impressions indicate how often your website or its subpages are accessed by users. In marketing analytics, this metric is only a guide for now, as it does not make a qualitative distinction between website users.
  • Unique Visitors (unique visitors): It is considered an essential KPI in content marketing and, according to Econsultancy’s Create Quality Content, is most frequently used by 88 percent of the companies surveyed as a KPI for measuring content performance. The metric indicates how many page visitors actually used the content. In the case of a blog text, for example, how many users have read the article. It is important to note that this KPI only looks at the unique pageviews and not the total pageviews, as is the case with page impressions. In Google Analytics, you can set up special tracking for this by identifying page visitors with cookies or IDs, for example.
  • New versus Returning (new and returning visitors): In Google Analytics, you can display the number of new and returning visitors. This allows you to see how often your content is called up by visitors once or several times, giving you an initial indication of the quality of the content. For you, the trend should be decisive here: The more returning visitors, the more interesting and relevant the content usually is for your (potential) customers.
  • Devices (device usage): Measurable KPIs include support for different devices such as desktop, tablet or smartphone. The layout of a website should definitely be optimized for different devices. Therefore, it is worthwhile to look at how the user proportion via certain devices turns out. Basically, the following should apply: Mobile first! So that you really reach all potential users of your target group. Using the KPI Devices, you can see whether users are accessing your content on which devices – and optimize it accordingly, if not already done

In addition to these quantitative metrics, you can evaluate the quantity of your content in content marketing (Quantity of Content): How much content do you have on your website? However, this KPI can only give you an overview of the content volume and show whether there is a need for expansion or not. Make sure, however, that it is not only the quantity that matters, but more the quality of the content.

The Sources (Sources and References) as Basic Metric gives you the opportunity to examine your content in terms of sources and references. For example, are there links to other websites that verify parts of your content? Or do even other sources refer to your content? Especially the latter is an indication for qualitative content and has a positive effect on the Google ranking.

Qualitative Metrics (Engagement Metrics)

  • Social Shares: You can determine the success of your content by looking at the response on social networks. Is your content shared a lot by private accounts? Then that’s a first indication that the content appeals to your target group. The social shares are evidence of strong user engagement and show that they identify with the content. At the same time, social shares can tell you whether a chosen topic is becoming a trending topic that you can pick up on with further content pieces. According to Econsultancy, social shares are one of the five most frequently used KPIs in content marketing.
  • Comments & Feedback (comments and feedback): Similar to social shares, comments and feedback are central to content and its evaluation. However, they not only refer to social media such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, but also to your own website (if a comment function is activated) or blog. Of course, you can also receive feedback on your newsletters.
  • Time On Site & Bounce Rate (dwell time and bounce rate): According to Econsultancy, time on site and bounce rate are the most frequently used content marketing KPIs, with 67 percent (time on site) and 53 percent (bounce rate) respectively. This is due to SEO-related reasons, among others. After all, the longer the time on site, the higher the likelihood of a good Google ranking. This is because a long time spent on a website is an indication of high-quality and relevant content. Google then evaluates this positively with regard to the target group and thus the ranking. The bounce rate is equally important in this context. It reveals how quickly users lose interest in the content provided. The bounce rate is measured by whether or not a user visits another page after reading/viewing your content.
  • Clickthrough Rate: It is also abbreviated CTR and indicates the percentage of users who actually reach your website via search results. The clickthrough rate can be used to measure which pages in search results are clicked on frequently and less frequently. Among other things, the clickthrough rate is an important indication of whether you should revise your metadata and description, as this information is the first point of contact users have with your site in search results.
  • Completion Rate: It measures the percentage of users who have completed a task, such as watching a video. Especially when you create videos or podcasts, the completion rate is a useful KPI to measure the success of your content. Let’s take a video ad as an example: if you only take the click-through rate as a KPI, every user who clicks on the video ad will be counted as a success. Regardless of whether he or she only clicked away from the video ad. With the completion rate, the user must view the entire video ad in order to be booked as a success.

Positioning (Positioning Metrics)

  • Search Metrics (Search Engine Ranking): Anyone who uses the search engine ranking as a key figure in content marketing can derive how good the performance of individual subpages of their website is. The KPI also indicates how the rankings of the website under consideration are distributed among the subpages in percentage terms and how the ranking is developing. The Search Metrics can furthermore give clues to SEO problems and help you optimize content for SEO and thus improve the ranking. However, Search Metrics also have a disadvantage: you must not limit yourself to measuring individual keywords, but should always keep an eye on a keyword group. The reason lies with the website visitor. Each visitor arrives at your site via various search queries through Google. If you now only consider individual keywords in SEO, you will in turn quickly lose your ranking for another keyword, unless you consider a keyword group. We provide you with an overview of SEO content tools that you can use to optimize your content for search engines.
  • Reputation Metrics: Reputation metrics include all KPIs that measure the reputation of your content. Therefore, this category includes metrics such as social shares, comments & feedback, leads generated, referrals, and quantitative KPIs such as unique visitors or sources. Reputation is more or less a summary of various metrics that measure the acceptance of the content by users.
  • Reach: Reach is an overarching KPI. Because, in order to measure the reach, one uses different key figures, which belong to the quantitative metrics. These include unique visits, device usage, and page impressions. The reach can also be viewed geographically.

KPIs in Content Marketing

  • Leads: This KPI is especially relevant if your content marketing strategy is focused on lead generation. The leads generated will help you determine the return on investment. To measure leads, define what you intend the content to do – for example, sign up for an event. Based on the number of registrations made through the content you create, you can track how successfully it performs against your goal.
  • Sales (sales figures): If your content marketing strategy aims to sell products or services, the KPI is relevant for you. Based on the sales figures you have generated via a content, you can see whether the content meets your goals or not.
  • Conversion Rate: You can also use the KPI from online marketing to evaluate your content marketing measures. It shows you how many of your website users become customers via content. For example, by signing up for your newsletter or buying a product.

Other KPIs in content marketing are the profit that a company achieves through its content. But also recommendations, longevity of the content (so-called evergreen content) and customer retention (retention metrics) can help you evaluate your content in terms of success and failure.

Connection of KPIs crucial

As elsewhere in marketing, the same applies when evaluating content using KPIs: The key performance indicators should always be considered together. Because each KPI taken on its own sometimes leaves a lot of room for interpretation. You should also consider the metrics in the context of your content and goals. For example, if you have created content that you want to use to generate traffic to your site, low lead numbers are less problematic in this case than if they occur with the goal of generating leads. When it comes to traffic, on the other hand, KPIs such as unique visitors, new and returning visitors, or page impressions in general count as the first point of reference in the focus.

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