As a content marketer, strong content performance is the difference between success and failure. But how exactly can content marketers prove such performance when there are so many components of successful content marketing that can potentially be reported? Which metrics actually matter to your brand?
Imagine the CEO stopping by your desk and asking, “How is your content marketing program performing?”
Don’t panic. Start digging into the data, and see which metrics tell the best story. You’ll be on your way to the content marketing hall of fame in no time.
Need to prove content performance? Use this as your guide for the KPIs that matter.
- Number of Ranking Keywords: Being able to show that your content marketing program increases the number of keywords ranked on search engine results pages (SERPs) is a powerful story. But it’s not just about the keywords. It’s the exposure. The more terms and variations of terms your content ranks on, the more likely your audience is going to see your content. If your company is still focused exclusively on search engine marketing (SEM), you need to start considering how your content and keywords work together. Take the keywords your program is ranking for, determine the average cost per click (CPC) for those keywords in a SEM program, compare that cost to what you invested in content, and show the ROI you’re getting from content vs. SEM. Not to mention, content lives forever. Advertisements do not.
- Search Competitiveness: Not only will you have an increasing number of ranking keywords, you can show your CEO what keywords you’re ranking on compared to competitors in that same SERP. For example, let’s say you are Marriott and your content ranks number one for the term “10 things to do in Chicago.” That’s great all by itself, but who are you ranking over? Hilton, Starwood, Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast? Search competitiveness isn’t just about the competitors you compete with in the business arena, but it’s also your content’s competitors, and publishers are your number one target because they create a lot of content. Telling your CEO that your content ranks higher than prominent publications that have been doing this for years is a game changer.
- Compounding Search Views: Launch an advertising campaign and it may reach thousands of people in a short period of time, but publish a piece of content and it has the potential to reach thousands of people every single month. Maybe the most important metric, compounding search views, is the ability to show how content performs over time. Plot out each piece of content and the search views it’s received after 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, etc. The views of most content will spike when published and diminish over time. However, the pieces that have longevity are your rock stars and the content you want to build on, repurpose, and generate new topic ideas around. Optimize those pieces for conversion, link to more content, and offer different content types to spark engagement.
- Share of Voice: There is a lot of chatter on social media. And hopefully, there’s a lot of chatter around your content’s topics. One way to show how effective your content is in reaching the people starting, joining, and reading those conversations is share of voice. You take the total number of conversations happening around a specific topic and compare that to the impressions your content generated within those conversations. It’s an incredibly powerful metric to prove the effectiveness of thought leadership and track your ability to drive word of mouth.
- Influencer Mentions: Showing the social media activity on your content is a great thing, but drilling down to show that very successful or prominent social media users are sharing your content is even better. At this point, you should have personas for your content marketing program. Take it a step further in your reporting and profile the individuals you’re reaching with your content. They should be very similar to your persona.
- Contributor Social Activity: You’ve hired individuals to create content for you. There’s an ROI on that alone, but being able to show favorable impact on your social media metrics directly driven by your contributors is another win. In most cases, you aren’t paying for this extra reach, so it’s a powerful metric to show a CEO that you’re getting the biggest return possible. As a content marketer, make sure you’re nurturing your contributor pool, celebrating their wins, and activating them as ambassadors of your content.
- Engagement Metrics: Time on site, bounce rate, pages per session, these are all engagement metrics. I bucket these together because they go hand in hand. As your content marketing program matures, you want to see these metrics improve to show you’re attracting people to your content and they’re staying there to read it. But don’t leave these metrics to stand on their own. Dig deeper and provide examples. What pages are driving the improvement for time on site, and why? What pages aren’t performing well and driving up the bounce rate, and why? What are the most commonly visited second and third pages on your website, and why?
- Conversion Metrics: This is what you close your executive report with (assuming the numbers are good). Is your content driving conversions in the form of downloads of assets, clicks through your company or product pages, newsletter signups, sales? Depending on your industry and/or business, a conversion can be defined differently, so establish your conversion metrics upfront and track them immediately.
- Budget: Show the money. Executives always want the cold hard numbers, so give it to them. Show them how you’re tracking against your budget goals for metrics like content costs, contributor costs, editorial costs, promotional costs, etc. Being able to show that you’re on budget is important. Map this with your conversion data and show that you have a strong ROI story for your CEO.
Content performance can be a difficult thing to track and prove, but don’t give up. Be creative with your data, dig in deep, then dig deeper to try to find that story that paints a positive picture for your content marketing program. At the end of the day, executives don’t care if you have a million metrics to share. What’s important is selecting the right metrics, supporting those metrics with a good story, and explaining why it’s important and what you’re doing to make it even better.
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