5 Ways to Measure the Impact of Your Content Marketing Efforts
Jasmine W. Gordon is a copywriter at Lean Labs. She's written for digital audiences for over 5 years, and her background includes agencies, tech startups, health care, big data analytics, energy, and more. Jasmine loves new marketing statistics, optimization studies, and live music.
A lack of measurable efforts has haunted marketing teams for decades. In fact, 69% of CEOs believe marketers consistently fail to demonstrate measurable ROI. However, the right inbound marketing tools signify an end to the era when marketing was primarily measured in "brand awareness" and "sentiment."
Content marketing allows your team to mark your wins in more concrete terms, like engagement metrics, lead generation, and yes, ROI.
Establishing a Culture of Content Measurement
How often should you check in with your metrics? Probably more often than you think. HubSpot recommends taking a peek at your visits, leads, and site traffic sources on a daily basis. Measuring your success on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis will prove your team with the knowledge tools to genuinely improve your content. With the right all-in-one marketing tool, it can be easy to assess the health of your blog, email outreach, lead generation, and sales from a single portal.
In this blog, you'll learn about the five primary types of content marketing metrics, and how to drive significant value from a culture of measurement.
Type #1: Engagement
Engagement metrics are a snapshot of how well your content is capturing the attention of your audience. Content that drives clicks and repeat site visitors is appealing. Engagement metrics aren't directly linked to ROI, but they're a positive indicator that you're doing something right.
Google, Bing, Facebook, and other major algorithms reward brands with high engagement rates. While engagement metrics aren't necessarily a sign that you're attracting the right people, page visits and click rates can positively impact your search ranking and presence in Facebook feeds. Evaluating the following metrics on a daily or weekly basis is an indicator of how interesting your content is to connected consumers:
- Visits: The total number of visits to your website.
- Unique visits: A measurement of each IP address that visits your website, which does not account for repeat visitors. It's a useful measure of the total audience you're reaching.
- Bounce rate: The percentage of "single-page" visits to your website. It describes the prospects that view just one page or article and then leave your site. A high bounce rate is interpreted by search engines as a sign of low-quality content that doesn't engage. Strive for a bounce rate of 26-40% or lower.
- Crawl rate: If you subtract your bounce rate from 100%, the resulting percentage is your crawl rate, a measurement of your visitors that view more than one page in a single session. It should be at least 60-74%.
- Time on site: The average length of a website visit. A long average time on site indicates highly-engaging content or a good crawl rate. HubSpot reports that 55% of site visitors spend 15 seconds or less on a website.
- Comments: Average number of comments per blog article. While your comment rate probably doesn't have a major impact on your SEO, take this metric as an indicator of your efforts to engage, ask the right questions, and build a community.
- Email open rates: The percentage of emails sent that are opened. The average across all industries is currently about 9%. A related email engagement metric is click-throughs or the percentage of email openers who click through to your website.
- Re-conversions: The percentage of existing leads who download a second lead generation offer. This can indicate the success of your lead nurturing efforts.
Type #2: Promotion
Promotion metrics are fewer in number than engagement metrics, but they're critically important. These measures reveal how successfully your company is promoting your content on social media and other channels. Promotion metrics can also indicate the health of your SEO optimization of your web pages and blog articles.
The success of a content marketing campaign is said to be 80% promotion and 20% content creation. Use your promotion efforts to determine the channels that are driving the best volume of traffic for your brand, and where you need work. Measuring promotion month-over-month can reveal whether your social media presence and SEO are trending in the right direction.
- Traffic sources: Evaluating your traffic by the source can reveal the relative strength of your social media, SEO, email, and other forms of promotion.
- Social metrics: If you're using HubSpot's social media management tool or a related inbound tool like HootSuite, you can gain additional insight into the reach and engagement factor of social presence on a post-by-post and hourly basis.
Type #3: Sharing
Sharing metrics are an indicator of how well your content resonates with your prospects. Few people ever take the time to share a blog that's decidedly mediocre.Studies show that consumers are most likely to share content that evokes:
Obviously, for many brands in the B2B and B2C spheres, inspiring feelings of "cuteness" or "shock" isn't always the best marketing tactic. However, earning shares indicates that your team has created something that's relevant and engaging. Shares on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and other social media networks will have a positive impact on your site's SEO.
- Facebook metrics: Facebook post views, likes, comments, and shares.
- Google+ metrics: Google +1s and comments.
- Twitter metrics: Tweets, ReTweets, responses, and direct messages.
- LinkedIn metrics: Post views and engagement, comments, and performance in LinkedIn groups.
- Email shares: HubSpot, Wordpress, and many other major content management systems offer email shares buttons as a standard option for blog articles, allowing you to track this metric via your analytics portal.
Type #4: Lead Generation
For 61% of marketers in the B2B space, generating enough qualified leads is a top challenge. Achieving a high visitor-to-lead conversion rate with your content marketing campaigns indicates you're writing topics that appeal. It also reveals that you're successful at convincing your prospects.
While monitoring lead generation metrics on a regular, frequent basis is critical, these metrics have limited value if they're not viewed in the context of your overall marketing health. If your lead generation is sky-high, but your sales team isn't closing customers, you may not be targeting the right people. Perhaps your landing page forms are too short, and you're experiencing an influx of poorly-qualified contacts as a result. Lead generation metrics matter, but quality should always precede quantity.
- Visitor-to-Lead conversions: The percentage of website visitors who click on a call-to-action button, complete a landing page form, and download an offer.
- Lead sources: This can reveal whether LinkedIn, Google, email, or another channel are your best lead generation tools.
- Conversion assists: If a contact engages with a piece of content immediately before converting, this is known as a "conversion assists." Content that appears here frequently is your lead-generation MVPs.
Type #5: Sales
Ultimately, content marketing-driven sales is what your boss wants you to measure. To understand the true ROI of their inbound marketing efforts, marketers must "close the loop" and track website visitors throughout their buyers' journey to the final customer conversion.
Effectively understanding your content ROI requires a robust analytics solution and an understanding of your buyer's journey. If it takes your average customer six months to be ready to purchase and you just started content marketing last week, you're unlikely to see any results yet. With the right content marketing tool, you can refine your knowledge of your buyer's journey and understand the content campaigns that are creating customers by source.
Poor lead-to-customer conversion rates can indicate that something is going awry with your content marketing or sales. It could be your workflows, lead scoring, lead nurturing, or even your company's sales representatives. By applying intelligence from closed-loop analytics to track your buyers journeys, you can determine the formats and topics that drive best results, and where you need improvement.
- Closed loop analytics: Visitor-to-customer conversions, which can be analyzed by source.
Know When You Are Succeeding
Each of the five primary types of content marketing metrics has value to your inbound marketing program. Engagement metrics can indicate strengths and weaknesses in your content user experience while your lead generation can indicate how well you've mapped your content strategy to your buyer's needs.
Smart content marketers make an effort to consume and analyze each of the five types on a regular basis. While your boss likely wants you to prove the ROI of content marketing, it's not the only form of measurement with serious value.