Content marketing KPIs: getting started and how to track them

11 minutes to read • Last updated 10 June 2021 • Published 11 January 2021 • Content strategy, Digital strategy, Marketing

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    Whatever marketing practices your business undertakes, you’ll need to measure Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs. These will inform you about which elements of your online business are meeting expectations, and which are falling short are what you are looking to achieve. 

    There’s an elephant in the room, though. Unlike traditional marketing, content marketing cannot involve overt sales tactics. Content marketing relies upon engaging the interest of visitors to an app or website and building a reputation as an invaluable resource, not asking users to hand over credit card details before the hour is out. 

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    Content is not just about copy. Words are important. Nobody will trust a site that claims to offer a revolutionary product or service but fails to eloquently and appealingly explain how. All the same, you also need to consider interface design and user experience in addition to language. This where KPIs comes into play.

    By measuring content marketing KPIs, you’ll be able to assess if your website or app is appealing to visitors. Content marketing requires patience, as you are looking to establish your website or app as a valuable resource, rather than a transaction portal. Do this right and measure your KPIs, however, and the rewards will be plentiful.  

    Diagram: content marketing process

    Content marketing vs. traditional marketing 

    Essentially, content marketing is selling the idea of your business – not a particular product or service. Content should educate, entertain and enchant a user. Successful content marketing will generate brand loyalty, and ensure visitors are willing to spend their hard-earned money with your business. You’ll need to use content to demonstrate expertise and authority. 

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    Look at it this way. If you approach a stranger on the street and ask them for £20, and you’ll likely be told to leave them alone – probably in less-than-friendly friendly terms. Spend time getting to know somebody, however, launching a charm offensive that involves an investment opportunity for the low cost of £20 with anticipated returns, and you’ll enjoy much more success.

    This is content marketing in a nutshell. To understand if your approach to content marketing is paying dividends, however, you’ll need to assess your KPIs.

    What content marketing KPIs should be tracked?

    In traditional marketing, there are five core KPIs that should be assessed.

    • Revenue – are consumers spending money with your business? If so, is this more or less than the same time last year?
    • Income Sources – what products or services are your biggest money-spinners? Should you focus exclusively on these, or improve other offerings?
    • Revenue Concentration – do you have a wide variety of customers or just one golden goose that may stop laying eggs?
    • Profitability – is your income being wiped out by expenditure? Can that be reviewed?
    • Capital – is your business successful enough to provide a financial buffer for a rainy day or can’t-miss opportunity?

    Now, some of these KPIs still need to be tracked from a content marketing standpoint. The brutal truth is that if a business is not generating sufficient income, it is destined to eventually fail. 

    As discussed, however, content marketing KPIs are a little different to cold, hard promotional measurements. In addition to financial performance, you’ll also need to keep an eye on reputation management. Remember what we discussed – content marketing revolves around selling your business as a whole, not a particular product.

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    With this in mind, let’s take a look at the fundamental content marketing KPIs that you should be tracking. All of these KPIs merit serious consideration. Based on the measurements, you’ll know if you need to adjust your content marketing strategy.

    Page visits

    The Occam’s razor principle suggests that the simplest explanation is the correct one. This applies to content marketing KPIs. If you are attracting plenty of unique visits to your site each day, something about your content is appealing to users.

    This is not a failsafe measurement, especially when taken in isolation. As we’ll discuss in a moment, what happens once users enter your online domain is of even greater importance. All the same, numerous unique hits (or downloads in the case of an app) should never be sniffed at.

    Take a look at the geography of these visits, too. This will aid you in focusing your content marketing to a particular territory, adjusting your approach to language and consumer habits accordingly. Learning whether your users prefer to visit using a cellular device or desktop computer can also be invaluable.

    User behaviour

    Just getting users to click on your website or download your app is just the tip of the iceberg. The success of a content marketing strategy is reliant on how users behave once they have done so. Be sure to keep a close eye on these KPIs.

    Bounce and scroll rates

    Reviewing the bounce rate of your content is essential. Firstly, consider the impact this will have on your SEO strategy. Google algorithms will never be slow to punish websites that suffer a high bounce rate. This suggests they are providing content that is irrelevant or untrustworthy to the search term.

    Bounce rate can also be measured as a KPI to assess how engaging your content is to users. It’s a simple equation – a successful content marketing strategy will encourage users to stick around. Generic, poorly written or unreliable content will drive users into the waiting arms of a competitor.

    Look into the scroll depth of your site as a KPI, too. Users can be impatient and may lose interest before reaching the bottom of a page. Measure scroll depth analytics and build your content marketing around this. If the average user reads 60% of the content on your page, place your CTA higher on the page – alongside an encouragement to continue reading for more information.

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    Sign-ups and downloads

    Are you asking users to share their details to sign up for newsletters or exclusive offers? If so, you are entering into a unique bond of trust with a consumer. You are assuring a visitor that you will use their data for good, not evil, and will keep their data safe.

    This makes downloads and sign-ups a helpful KPI for measuring your content marketing strategy. Something about the content of your site or app is appealing to the visitor. So much so that they are willing to share personal information to obtain more of the same. Do not take this lightly – user data is a cornerstone of long-term business growth.

    Obtaining user data is also a great way to generate leads for future conversions. Immediate success on a sales funnel is great, but not always achievable. The bigger your mailing list, the more chance you have of success at a later date. Studying these KPIs will aid you in understanding the potential potency of future email marketing – especially when paired with a suitably killer CTA and landing page.

    Comments

    There is an old saying on the internet – “never read the comments.” Anybody unfortunate enough to have drifted below the red line on YouTube will understand why. In content marketing, however, comments from customers and users can be an invaluable tool for research and reputation management.

    See also →  User behaviour strategy: 4 synergies of UX and marketing

    Leaving a comment is a sign of commitment from a customer. Unlike post on a social media post, it requires action from the individual in question. They will need to set up an account, sharing personal information to do so. 

    Perhaps more importantly, comments create a community on your website. If a user cares enough to create a profile and leave a comment, they will likely reply to others. This can create communication threads akin to a message board. A successful comments function can leave conversations running days, weeks or even months – especially if you get involved yourself.

    Comments will not impact the bottom line of your business (unless they are universally negative, leading to reputation damage). They can be a useful KPI to measure the success of your content marketing strategy, though. Inspiring users to leave comments means that you are instigating return visits to your site or app – even if that is just to see what others are saying.

    Social media shares

    Social media metrics are a tough KPI to accurately measure. In many respects, they are primarily an exercise in vanity. If Facebook likes equalled profit, selfies would be a multi-million-pound industry. Do not lose sight of the fact that social media shares are the 21st Century equivalent of word-of-mouth marketing, though.

    This is especially important in content marketing if you find blogs and newsletters being shared with regularity, especially by influential accounts. This suggests that users are finding your content helpful and engaging. By sharing it with their audience, a user is placing a stamp of approval on your content. With the right influencer placing their trust in your brand, you will really start to feel the wind behind you.

    This is not a fast way to turn a profit, but it’s certainly a way to get eyeballs on your site or app and build your customer base. By attracting shares of your content, you will make your way into the hearts and minds of potential customers without resorting to arm-twisting sales strategies.

    Customer loyalty

    The hunt for new customers can become all-consuming. Measuring your content marketing KPIs will shine a valuable light on existing customer loyalty, though. An ever-rising customer retention metric suggests that users are regularly returning to your site or app for new insights.

    Customer loyalty does not just mean spending money. People commit to a purchase – or do not – for a wide range of reasons. You can only attract business if people are visiting you, though. For people to keep returning, they are keeping you in mind. This greatly enhances the likelihood that they will commit to spending with you.

    What’s more, this is a comparatively simple metric to measure. Review how many visitors your site is attracting. If this grows month-on-month, it suggests that you are retaining pre-existing visitors in addition to attracting new leads. 

    If the numbers remain primarily static, it is a fair assumption that you are trapping within a revolving door of visitors. New users are still finding your site or app but existing leads are failing to return for more.

    Conversions 

    In many respects, conversions are tied in with user behaviour. If you are finding that users are signing up for updates, you are doing something right. The proof is in the pudding, though. 

    Vanity KPIs, such as social media interactions are shares, remain worth tracking. Alas, they are essentially just window shopping until users agree to part with funds for a product or service. Keep a close eye on your conversions, ensuring that your content is persuading people to commit to purchasing sooner or later.

    Return on investment

    Of course, ROI arguably remains the most critical metric of all. Content marketing is no different from traditional marketing techniques in this sense. The maths is simple. If you are spending more on your content marketing strategy than you are bringing in, you’ll soon start running a loss.

    Do not make the mistake of writing off content marketing immediately based on ROI. There may be a little short-term for long-term gain. As we have been at pains to point out, measuring your content marketing KPIs will demonstrate whether you are slowly and steadily building a positive reputation. 

    Alas, unless you have a multi-skilled team in-house, effective content marketing will come at a cost. You will likely need to in external support for copywriting, design and UX framework. If you’re going to commit to this spending, it would be a false economy to neglect content marketing KPIs and pursue ever-greater rewards.

    How to track content marketing KPIs

    As discussed, do not rely solely on profit-and-loss margins to judge content marketing KPIs. By the time you reach this point, it will be too late to make the necessary changes to improve results. 

    Instead, utilise the many and varied tools available to measure your content marketing KPIs. Examples of these include:

    Even with these tools, you may need further assistance with measuring your content marketing KPIs. This is where Creative.onl can step in. If you’re looking to compile a complete, detailed report on the performance of your site or app, or are keen to audit and improve your content, get in touch today. Our expert team are waiting to assist and aid you in achieving all your targets.

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