12 Top Content Marketing KPIs to Track
Content marketing involves techniques that focus on creating and delivering content that people actually want, to induce them to take action (which could be to buy a product, use a service, or join a mailing list). Expert content marketers know how to drive traffic to their websites/pages, which then leads to higher conversion rates and revenue. To add to that, content marketing is often cheaper than regular marketing strategies. So, there's a lot to gain from it.
Nevertheless, for businesses to harness the full power of content marketing, they should have and track nothing but the top key performance indicators (KPIs) in the field.
This comprehensive guide will provide you with those KPIs that may give you the upper hand over other businesses if you track them properly.
How Content Marketing Works
Here are the six simple steps involved in content marketing:
Step 1: Content creation
The first step in content marketing is to create relevant content that adds value to the person reading it. The goal is to keep readers informed by answering the questions they might have and putting yourself in their shoes. If you don't nail this step accurately, every other thing you do may not turn out well.
Step 2: Content sharing
After creating content that you're sure will catch the attention of readers, the next thing to do is to share it. Sharing content on social media or optimizing the results on a search engine are the two common ways to go about this step. However, you should not limit yourself to only these two. You may put your content on your profile page, or get experts and influencers to advertise for you.
Any sharing mode works, as long as you make your content accessible to your audience.
Step 3: Content Receiving and Engagement
Once your content is out there for anyone to access, the next step is for people to find and enjoy it. At this stage, you'll have to let it work for itself. The more useful your content is, the greater the chance that you'll rank higher on search engines, which leads to more traffic.
Step 4: Brand Awareness
After your target audience receives and is impressed with your content, the next step is to gain their trust. Once readers love the content you create, they will want to find out more about the company and what they do.
Step 5: Customer conversion and increased sales
Getting people to follow a call-to-action at this stage may become much easier. Even if they don't follow through on their promise to get the product or service, they would likely need no reminder of your brand and the type of products/services you sell.
Focusing on the Right KPIs
If you aren't tracking the right KPIs, you might be losing out on sales, conversions, and increased traffic to your site. Nevertheless, you shouldn't track any KPI because it works on your competitor's site. Instead, you need to find the KPIs that are unique to the goals you want to achieve and the targets you have set.
There are lots of KPIs in content marketing, and using a wide range of them reveals all the details on how users interact and respond to your content.
Top Content Marketing KPIs
1. Keyword Rank
Keyword rank refers to the position of a website in search engine result pages (SERPs) for a particular user query (keyword). As one of the popular KPIs in content marketing, keyword ranks help in determining what to change or continue in your SEO efforts.
Here's how it works. For companies that produce content on drugs, one of their goals may be for their websites to show up among the first results in their field. To do this, the company should be tracking the keywords to know which ones to use to achieve its objective.
This KPI is one that, when tracked and improved, ensures you are still in the fight (or even above your competitors) in search results.
Backlinks are one of the most important content marketing KPIs out there. When websites link to content on other sites, this tells search engines which content is the most popular, in a way that's similar to a voting system.
As a rule of thumb, if your content is highly valuable and your website is regarded as an authority in your niche, you might not have to do anything to improve the number of other sites that link to it. It happens naturally. However, one thing to note is that search engines don't only look at the number of backlinks you have, but how related these sites where the links come from are to yours. For example, let's say you own a welding site. Backlinks from Sky Sports may not be as effective as those from another welding site.
Another thing search engines look at with backlinks is how many you get over a period, as well as the domain authority of those sites that link to yours. If your site is doing well on all these fronts, then you should rank high on SERPs for user queries in your niche. But, how would you know if authoritative and relevant sites are helping to drive traffic to your site if you aren't tracking your backlinks?
3. Unique Visitors
Another popularity indicator of content that is worth tracking is the number of unique visitors. Unique visitors are the new persons that visit your site over a period and tracking this number reveals the status of your site's audience.
The number of unique visitors requires quite some effort to track because users and content marketers are finding clever ways to doctor results. For example, a single user may visit the same site on different computers or browsers, and search engines will report the findings as though they were from multiple unique users.
Nevertheless, as long as you are not doctoring statistics, the number of unique visitors is a KPI that's worth keeping tabs on.
4. Time on Page
If your content viewers spend only a short time on your content pages, then you have issues you need to attend to quickly. Two scenarios could lead to short time on your content pages or website. It could be because your content marketing efforts are targeting the wrong audience or that your target audience is not getting what they want from your content.
If the situation is the former, then you may not have many options than to search for the right audience that'll appreciate your content. However, if the situation is the latter, then you may need to rework your content and make it more valuable. For example, sites, where there are lots of pop-ups that disturb the user from reading content, generally have a shorter time on page compared to those that don't.
Ultimately, search engines rank pages and sites that have a high average time on page because they see such sites as engaging and helpful to users. Therefore, this KPI might be worth tracking in content marketing, especially if the time your audience spends consuming your content has a direct impact on whether or not they'll convert.
5. Scroll Depth
Scroll depth is a KPI that explains how far down users scroll to while consuming your content before leaving it. It is usually expressed in percentages. For example, if the scroll depth of a website's home page is 50%, then that implies that most users scroll halfway through the home page before bouncing.
Scroll depth is a content marketing KPI that reveals things that may have been previously overlooked. For example, let's assume you own a plumbing site, and you place your key information at the lower half of the page. Data from the scroll depth will show, on an average, whether users view this piece of information or not.
Apart from its use as a KPI to determine where essential elements should be placed on a page, the scroll depth lets you know which sections of the page users find uninteresting. Therefore, you may consider tracking this KPI to get a better understanding of how your viewers engage with your content.
6. Bounce Rate
A rather popular KPI in not only content marketing but also other types of digital marketing is the bounce rate. It is the quantifiable measure of users who visit a page, then leave it almost immediately without consuming any of the content on it. If users don't consume your content at all or don't visit other pages on your site, then you might be losing potential customers/leads. It also shows that they are not getting what they're looking for.
To decrease your bounce rate, the first step that you should consider is revealing the product, service, or content that they want to see early on. Next, make sure the size of your text is large enough so that your viewers don't have to strain their eyes to see it. If you have several pictures on the page, then consider making them high definition as well. Finally, it might be a good idea to make your page and content minimalistic, so that your viewers can spot exactly what they need.
If you have a high bounce rate, then you might not get the number of conversions you would like. So, consider keeping an eye on it.
Having quality, well-thought-out comments on your site shows that you are doing something right. The KPI is perhaps the easiest to measure because it is visible for all to see. To help increase the comments on your site, you can ask open-ended questions or do some influencer name-calling.
Contents that have comments attract other users to join in the conversation, which in turn increases your brand's popularity and the traffic to the page.
In content marketing, conversions are the number of users that find your content intriguing and engaging enough to click on a call-to-action that follows it. Here are a couple of conversion metrics to keep tabs on:
- Traffic sources: This refers to direct, search, or referral visitors. Keeping the three sources equal helps to boost conversion rates.
- Interactions in a visit: If a visitor doesn't convert immediately, there's still hope. Tracking what they do on your page gives insights so that you can make them do more of it.
9. Page Speed
Another KPI you should consider keeping tabs on is the loading speed of the pages where your contents are. It is a crucial factor in user experience because it determines whether visitors will wait to read your content or look for a faster loading site to give them the information they need.
10. Pages per session
This metric reveals the number of content pages per period that visitors open in a session. For example, if your site has 2,000 sessions and 8,000 views per period, then this amounts to 4 pages in a session.
If the number of pages visitors go to in a session per period reduces drastically, then you may need to retouch the content on your site or use internal links to ensure users visit other pages.
11. Email subscribers
The number of users that subscribe to receiving emails after reading your content is a KPI that you should consider tracking. The intention here is to capture their attention to ensure you can interact and deliver more content to them through emails. For example, some sites use pop-ups as their call-to-action strategy to get users to subscribe and receive emails.
12. Followers on social media
Social media is one of the platforms where you can get the highest brand exposure on the Internet. So, if one of your goals is to make your brand more popular, then tracking your social media followers might just be the game-changer for you. Keeping records of how many followers you have helps in determining the ones to focus on your brand awareness strategy.
Tools to Track Content Marketing KPIs
Tracking and calculating content marketing KPIs by yourself might be challenging. So, why not use a tool that'll automate the process and keep you on top of your content marketing KPIs?
Here are the three top tools you can use to measure KPIs:
BuzzSumo is a software that helps content marketers stay informed about the best content marketing strategies to use by helping you track KPIs. These are the tool's major categories:
- Content Discovery: BuzzSumo helps content marketers find high-traffic keywords that they need to include within their content. It also shows trends and examples of each topic, so that content marketers might know the right questions to ask to increase the comments on their site. Asides these insights, BuzzSumo gives real-time updates on KPIs like time on page and bounce rates for content.
- Content Research: The content research category helps users to crawl the web and compare KPI trends. BuzzSumo analyzes the KPIs that work for your competitors and provides statistics on the formats that are worth tracking.
- Monitoring: The software also reveals information on KPIs you need to monitor, as well as industry updates and mentions. BuzzSumo notifies users from time to time when reports of these statistics it keeps tracks of are available.
Another tool that automates the process of tracking content marketing KPIs is SEMrush. It is a software that helps in rank tracking, keyword research, backlink building, and many other features.
The tool has several dashboards where users can find updates on KPIs. For example, if you are interested in tracking your keyword rankings, then you might use SEMrush's SEO Performance dashboard to get up to speed. Some other dashboards available on the site include keywords, position tracking, and site audit dashboards.
Since it was founded in 2008, SEMrush has had some big names like Quora, and eBay as customers.
Pingdom is a website that focuses on tracking the performance of websites. The tool promises to provide:
- Uptime monitoring: This checks that your website is accessible from around the world.
- Page Speed monitoring: It also tracks and analyzes the page (homepage, forms, etc.) loading speed, which is an important KPI in content marketing.
- Interaction Testing: The tool helps in testing interactions like logins and unsubscriptions on content marketing pages.
- Notifications: Issues spotted by the tool are vetted to ensure only real incidents come to your notice.
Steps to follow to develop the correct KPI
Follow these steps if you want to get custom-made content marketing KPIs:
1. Have goals and targets
Before you start tracking a KPI, you should first have a goal that it relates to. For example, if your goal is to increase the number of social media comments on your content by 10%, it might not be the best idea to track the number of email subscribers. They are not related at all. Therefore, your goal should point towards the KPI you should use, and not the other way around.
2. Gather all the information you need
You'll need to put some thought into the goal you have and how you intend to achieve it. As you may have noticed, one goal can have several KPIs that relate to it. Therefore, you must answer all questions and gather sufficient supporting data before selecting a content marketing KPI.
3. Select the KPIs you need and determine how often they need to be tracked
Once you have all the information you need, the next step is to select a KPI and determine how often you need it to be tracked. If you are using a tool like SEMrush, Pingdom, or BuzzSumo, then you might not have to worry about the tracking frequency of the KPI since you can get real-time updates.
However, you can decide to track your KPI yourself. For example, it isn't a tough job to track the number of comments on one social media platform. But having to keep tabs on this KPI is a tasking job, the type that these tracking tools are ideal for.
4. Review and access the functionality of the KPI
The job doesn't end until you are certain that the KPI is functioning as it should. Therefore, you need to review it from time to time and access if it is still in line with your goals and strategies.
Why do different companies use different content marketing KPIs?
To answer this question, we'll look at the three business types:
- B2B (Business-to-Business)
- B2C (Business-to-Customer)
- Media Publishers
1. B2B companies: The aim of the content that a B2B company creates is to get leads, then convert them. The contents from these companies also focus on retaining customers and after-sale activations. Engagement for these companies is essential, but not as important as the number of conversions. So, of course the KPIs companies like this will track will be conversions and customer retention related.
2. B2C companies: B2C content lures new visitors to a site and encourage repeat visitors. Their content usually reveals more personality than B2B sites. For example, social shares KPI is usually more important to the content marketers of a B2C customer than those of B2B companies.
3. Media Publishers: For media publishers, engagement is key. For example, most of them have a goal of engaging advertisers. Therefore, KPIs like time spent on a page and pages per session are more important than social shares.
Nevertheless, these are not binding rules. For example, a B2B company can decide to track the company's social sharing because it relates to one of its goals.
Content marketing is the branch of digital marketing that different companies use to sell products and services, and in the process, get loyal followers. There is no doubt that key performance indicators (KPIs) are essential because they show whether or not a company is on the right track.
Effectively measuring how your content is performing means that you have to pick the right KPI and also review it every step of the way. This is done to ensure that you do not track the KPIs that are not useful to you.
Measuring every content marketing KPI out there is impracticable. Therefore, marketers need to be aware of those that'll make the difference and allocate their resources to keeping tabs on them.
In this guide, we've included 12 content marketing KPIs to track. We've also explained three tools that help in measuring the KPIs so that the burden doesn't rest solely on your shoulders.