In order to get the most out of content marketing, marketers must identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) needed to measure overall efficiency and organizational goals. Since marketing objectives are highly individualized, there’s no one-fits-all strategy. However, content marketers can get started by focusing on a few key areas.
Broadly speaking, distribution/awareness, engagement and conversion are the most common marketing goals, according to Tim Lombardi, director of strategy and analytics at digital marketing company Sq1. In a nutshell, if distribution is the goal, marketers should keep an eye on media-focused metrics like click-through rate. If they look at engagement metrics, basic KPIs can be time spent on a page or bounce rate. If their marketing objective is conversion, they can measure whitepaper downloads, newsletter signups and traffic to online webinars.
Lombardi gives a detailed explanation on each goal and aligned KPIs, as shown below:
Objective: Make potential customers aware of products and position your brand as a thought or service leader in the industry.
KPIs: Click-through rate, impressions, clicks, placements
Tips: These KPIs may not be the most insightful if marketers are looking at blended metrics. They may want to employ a grading strategy in order to prioritize the delivery of certain publishers or placements.
Objective: Engage with an existing customer base to help support retention or upsell new products.
KPIs: Average time spent on page, bounce rate, pages per sessions, newsletter signups
Tips: Marketers can build advanced goal tracking to help contextualize engagement KPIs. Engagement KPIs tend to be the most valuable when they are used directionally. To make better use of the absolute metrics, marketers can develop benchmarks by performing analysis around a user’s frequency. For example, how many times they need to come to the site before buying or signing up; recency, which shows the length of the user’s purchase decision; or hit level behaviors that explain optimal time on page before a user decides to sign-up or assign page value to the pages leading up to a conversion environment.
Setting up these benchmarks as goals or events can help optimize content and landing page experience as they are predictive behaviors rather than simply the outcome.
Objective: Use content marketing to optimize direct response or retail campaigns
KPIs: Whitepaper downloads, newsletter signups, view-through conversions
Tips: Content marketing can be a valuable tool in supporting existing e-commerce, lead generation or awareness campaigns. Deterministic data is becoming extremely valuable to marketers who are looking for more ways to provide personalized messaging and deeper attribution. Consumers, more than ever, know their behaviors online are not going unnoticed. To part with their first party data, the topic needs to be relevant, the content valuable and the brand credible. Content marketing is positioned to achieve all three, so it serves as a great vehicle in collecting first party data and supporting a brand’s customer relationship management (CRM) efforts.
Will Sandwick, director of analytics at The Barbarian Group, thinks the above goals and KPIs are direct response-oriented, which compel prospects to take a specific action. For big brands whose awareness is extremely high, it’s much more about increasing awareness of specific attributes of the brand, such as technical innovation or charitable programs. He continues that relevance can be a common marketing objective, as well.
“Nine times out of 10 we are asked to drive relevance with a certain audience, but in certain cases marketers also use content to drive site traffic, e-commerce purchases, or more specific perceptions of their brand,” Sandwick says.
“There are a range of KPIs that can address these directly or indirectly. [For example], if there is a specific objective around site traffic or purchase, activities attributed to your content is going to be the KPI. More indirectly, common KPIs are return visitation to your site, or lift in brand awareness or perception as measured via a custom study,” he concludes.
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