You may be as sick of hearing "content is king" as much as I am. The sentiment, while repetitive, remains true. Over the past decade, digital marketing has realigned its focus towards creating high-quality, sought-after content. With a little nudge from Google, most organizations accept that creating valuable content is the foundation for any successful content marketing campaign. Where these organizations differ is in two main areas. One: how crucial is content marketing in achieving overall business objectives? Two: what constitutes content marketing success?
In this article, I plan to provide you with the tools to answer both by discussing the 5 most important metrics in content marketing. If you have had the chance to check out Jay Baer's field guide to 4 types of content marketing then you already have seen a few of the metrics we will be discussing today.
Without further ado, the five most important content marketing metrics are consumption metrics, engagement metrics, lead metrics, sales metrics, and keyword ranking. If you believe keyword ranking is just for your SEO department to worry about, it's time for a paradigm shift.
Consumption metrics are an easy starting point when measuring content marketing success. Examples of consumption metrics include views (video, page, etc.), downloads (when ungated), and overall traffic. These metrics are the foundation for calculating brand awareness. In addition, these metrics provide an understanding of your inbound marketing endeavors.
Keyword ranking constitutes a major portion of branding. Unlike consumption metrics which provide a big picture of your brand, keyword ranking represents the success of deliberate branding actions across industry & brand-specific language. It indicates your competitive position in the eyes of search engines, and thus, across all inbound marketing activities.
Alignment here is key. Even if SEO isn't your area of expertise, work closely with your SEO team. Stay diligent on your broad and long-tail keywords rankings and ensure the content you are producing is bettering your position in addition to driving the following metrics.
While engagement metrics are still in the realm of "vanity metrics" they provide a little more depth. Metrics such as shares, comments, clickthrough, likes, forwards, follows, etc. give you insight into content's quality. Using your engagement metrics, establish a promotion plan for highly engaging content, adjust your content creation strategy to align with the top engaging content, and track which platforms/media your content is being shared on.
Lead metrics are how you prove your marketing funnel and/or flywheel are working. How many leads are you generating? Check your form completions, gated content downloads, and subscriptions to see the success of your lead-gen. How qualified are these leads? Examine your SQL (sales qualified leads) & MQLs (marketing qualified leads). Is there a big discrepancy in the number of leads you are generating and how many of them are qualified? Lead metrics provide greater insight into how marketing is driving your overall business objectives. In the eyes of the C-Suite, these metrics are only second to bottom-line revenue and ROI (coming up soon).
Content marketing objectives are important, but they should be focused on driving overall business goals. Without proper alignment, vanity metrics become the unstable foundation of your marketing endeavors. Sales metrics such as deals, revenue, and ROI (return on investment) are the end goal. Focus your efforts on achieving these metrics and ensure you are able to attribute these metrics to specific marketing actions (promotion campaigns, individual content piece, etc.) because no matter how many times we prove it, we marketers will always be asked to convey our value.
At the beginning of this article, I proposed two areas of dissonance in content marketing. One: how crucial is content marketing in achieving overall business objectives? Two: what constitutes content marketing success? While neither has just one answer for any given organization, I hope I have provided you with enough context to seek the answers. So when the day comes, you can face even the most critical executive and explain the importance of content marketing and your organization's success thus far.