October 14, 2014

Five Content Marketing Metrics You Should Be Measuring to Drive Success

Content marketing has proven to be an effective strategy for driving a number of business goals, such as increased brand awareness and improved lead generation. Developing a content-based strategy, however, is not without its challenges for marketers. Although 2014 was a banner year for content marketing budgets—70 percent of marketers increased their investment, according to Curata—marketing professionals are still perplexed by their inability to implement a sound content marketing plan.  

If our team learned anything from attending Content Marketing World 2014, it was that strategy reigns supreme. As the founder of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) Joe Pulizzi put it, “The industry is more educated; now it’s all about strategy.”

So, how do you cultivate a sustainable strategy that drives results? By measuring the right set of metrics.

Many brands, however, are measuring their content the wrong way, which prevents them from determining whether their approach is successful or needs fine-tuning. With new research showing that content marketing budgets will be even bigger in 2015—over half of companies plan to boost marketing budgets next year, according to the Chief Marketing Officer Council’s eighth annual State of Marketing report—how you measure success is critical to your company’s ability to stay ahead of the curve. It’s time to go beyond the basics.

Below are a five metrics we suggest measuring to deliver ultimate strategic success in the coming year:

1. Social Interactions: Chances are you push your content out to social channels. By monitoring and measuring your various social platforms, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of how well your content is being received and which social platforms perform best. Start by monitoring and measuring the following:

  • Page consumptions
  • Clicks
  • Likes
  • Comments and shares
  • Video views (YouTube)
  • Mentions
  • Replies

You should also be able to directly correlate social activity with your other marketing vehicles, for example, a spike in webinar registrations after posting a promo on Facebook, or an increase in email subscribers after running a contest on Twitter.

2. Engaged Time: All traffic is not created equal. By measuring engagement time—the amount of time users spend actively “paying attention” to content—companies will be able to determine just how well individual pieces of content are performing. This can help marketers identify content best practices (for instance, perhaps you’ll see your last five evergreen stories had engagement rates through the roof, while your last few Q&A-style pieces faltered). In fact, this is one of the top metrics measured by Coca-Cola—one of the world’s largest and most recognizable brands—to tell which stories or marketing campaigns are captivating audiences the most.

3. Finish Time: With the average consumer attention span dwindling by the second, average finish time—the number that indicates exactly how long readers took to actually finish reading your page—is a vital metric to measure. In doing so, you’ll be able to definitively tell whether your readers were skipping over content and, therefore, what kind of first impression readers typically tend to get from the content you’re creating.

4. Return Readers: While it’s great to measure consumption, the metric only tells you how many of your target readers checked out your content once. It does not accurately show you the longevity of your content or reveal the effectiveness of your long-term content strategy, which aims to keep readers coming back. So, how many of your readers are in fact coming back for more? Furthermore, how do they differ from your one-time-only readers? Answering these questions will help you identify how to better acquire and retain readers with your custom copy.

5. Content Longevity: In measuring content longevity, you’ll be able to identify the extended value of your content. In other words, how many benefits can your customers reap from one piece of content? While the average consumer attention span is low, you should be aiming to create content that sticks with the reader. Ask yourself if your content is the kind that readers will want to print out and tack to their wall. Once you identify the secret recipe for longevity, you’ll be able to create priceless content. But first you must measure it.

If you fail to properly measure the right content marketing metrics, you’ll likely fail to track content marketing ROI. An accurate determination of ROI will convince C-suite backers that your strategy is measureable and fundable. 

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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