11 Content Marketing Metrics Your Team Should Be Tracking

Writer:
Catherine Lovering
Published: Jun 19, 2024
Table of Contents
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Content marketing is about a lot of things: your brand identity, your unique selling proposition, your voice, and the list goes on. Ultimately, it’s a tool to drive revenue. Like traditional types of advertising, content marketing helps you sell your product — whether that’s enterprise-level software, consumer packaged goods, or meal subscription services.

So, how do you know if your content marketing is doing its job? The worst thing any brand can do is never link its content marketing output, including blog posts, white papers, and social media, to revenue. While it seems like a simple calculation of spend versus gain, there’s actually a more detailed picture. 

Content marketing metrics complete this picture. Here’s our list of the metrics you should pay attention to and what they mean for your business.  

How Is Content Marketing Measured?

Like with all business initiatives, it might seem obvious that content marketing is measured with reference to your ultimate goals and objectives. However, defining those goals is a bit more hazy. 

Your content marketing performance metrics should link closely to activities that ultimately support the health of the business: bringing in sales and revenue. To define and capture those activities in a success analysis, you can start with the basics. Building upon those, you can assess your content marketing ROI.

The first step is to map your customer journey. This is the old-fashioned marketing funnel with three distinct stages: awareness, nurturing, and conversion. Your content marketing campaigns typically focus on people in one of these stages. Each piece of content has a set goal to reach your target audience and move them forward in the customer journey.

Your customer journey map should include refined goals for each stage against which you can measure content performance. If your content is performing as you intend, the work of increasing sales and revenue should take care of itself.

Here are a few examples of goals for each marketing funnel stage:

  • Awareness: Increase brand awareness as measured by more traffic to your digital assets.
  • Nurturing: Sit front-of-mind for consumers as they weigh their buying options as measured by engagement with product comparison and informational content.
  • Conversion: Translate customer interests into sales.

You can use several specific metrics to harness the details of success at each of these stages and measure the overall effectiveness of your content marketing strategy.

What Are Metrics in a Content Marketing Strategy?

Your digital marketing strategy might look great on paper, but it’s the metrics for content marketing that give you the hard data to see whether your efforts have driven results. The best content marketing metrics are linked closely to a related concept: key performance indicators (KPIs). These are the content marketing metrics that matter most. A metric is a metric, but its status as a KPI might differ depending on the goals of your strategy. KPIs are the marketing metrics that ultimately determine whether you’re moving your target audience through the funnel toward a product purchase.

Top 11 Content Marketing KPIs To Track for Success

To determine your content marketing ROI, start with these 11 marketing performance metrics. These common marketing metrics will show you when you're doing well and highlight where to shift strategy to maximize the overall impact of your marketing efforts.

1. Keyword Ranking Variations

One of the fundamental objectives of content marketing is to rank high on Google's search engine results page (SERP) for target keywords. Ranking can appear fickle: One day, you’re at the top of the list, only to be kicked off the first page or out of the featured snippet days or weeks later — even if your content is still focused on relevant keywords.

There are a dozen or more reasons your keyword ranking might change rapidly from day to day, and it’s not always for reasons you can control. The keyword competition can be real. However, monitoring this metric is essential, as it helps you to stay on top of organic traffic trends. 

If you have a powerful new competitor or sense an appetite shift in your target audience, you might revamp your keyword strategy or create new content based on those updated terms.

2. Organic Search Traffic for Your Content

Keyword ranking can help support traffic that comes from search engines. This is your organic search traffic. It’s broadly defined as any traffic you get from Google, Bing, or other search tools that you don’t directly pay for.

The obvious benefit of organic search traffic is that there’s no direct fee like there is with a pay-per-click advertisement. You can track where your traffic comes from with tools like Google Analytics 4

This should be a strong area of focus when developing content and an overall content marketing strategy because when Google ranks your content highly, it’s akin to an endorsement. When visitors come to you through organic search, they'll already have a level of confidence in your brand as it's deemed relevant to what they're looking for.

3. Views or the Total Number of Visits

Views are one of the tried-and-true content marketing success metrics, but it’s important to take the information in context. Views are simply the number of times a person views a page on your site. Older pages may have more views simply because they’ve been around longer, so pay close attention to the date range of this analytic. 

Views don’t always tell you how a person interacted with the page or how long they stayed there. The latter is answered by a different metric, average time or engagement.

The total number of visits, or views, can tell you if people are finding your site. If you’ve invested in an SEO strategy to drive traffic and your views are still low, you might want to take a second look at your content optimization.

4. External Links or Backlinks

Backlinks are when another website links to yours in its content. This key metric won’t tell you directly how your content is performing, but it is an important facet of off-page SEO. Backlinks serve a couple of important functions: They help searchers find you and they increase your credibility to search engines.

When someone from your target audience reads content on another site and clicks a link to your page, you’ve just increased your exposure by at least one potential lead. While this human-level discovery might seem slow and steady, it can be an essential connection that increases awareness. 

Search engines also find your site when they crawl other web pages that link back to you. This increases your chances of being indexed. If you have a lot of backlinks, it also tells the search engine you might have reliable content that deserves high ranking in search engine results pages.

5. Impressions To Determine Your Content’s Exposure

Content marketing involves social content, which can be a huge driver of exposure and engagement. Impressions are a key metric that help to determine how many people actually see your content. Remember, it’s not as simple as the number of followers you have on your pages. Even if someone follows you, the channel’s algorithm might not put all of your posts in their feed.

Impressions are distinct from reach. You can get multiple impressions from a single individual. If your post shows up in a person’s feed five times, that’s five impressions — even if they don’t comment or click on the post — but your reach is just one. 

6. Traffic Sources To Identify Top-Performing Channels

Your content marketing team has likely carefully chosen which channels to focus on. The success of these distribution networks will vary, so it’s essential to identify which platforms generate the most traffic. 

Organic search, paid ads, and social media sites are all possible traffic sources. Before you radically shift your strategy, try to gather engagement metrics over an extended period of time. A spike in traffic from one source might have been just that — an isolated spike — so looking at a few weeks or months of trends can give you a more accurate perspective.

7. Brand Mentions for Gauging Visibility

Social shares are an important way to assess how your online content is performing, but that’s not the only information you can get from the social media landscape. Among marketing success metrics, brand mentions are often overlooked. This is when people, including influencers and everyday users, mention your brand without prompting or payment from you. 

While you might know about social mentions where you are tagged in a post, this can also include when your company is mentioned in the absence of a tag. When this happens, it indicates good brand awareness.

8. The Return on Investment of Your Content Marketing Efforts

Some business leaders might think content marketing spend is like keeping the lights on: It’s an essential expense that you can’t directly link to revenue. Fortunately, that’s not usually true. It is possible and advisable to determine your content marketing ROI. A positive value indicates success that only increases as the number gets higher.

The formula for content marketing ROI is:

(Revenue from Content - Content Marketing Spend) / Content Marketing Spend X 100

Say you spend $5,000 on content marketing in one month but bring in $15,000 in revenue. Your ROI is 200%.

9. Average Engagement Time To Prove Your Content’s Value

Ideally, you have something to offer visitors who make it to your site. You can get evidence of your content’s value by the amount of time visitors spend engaging with it. Google Analytics 4 calls this average engagement time, or the number of seconds with your webpage in focus or with your app in the foreground (background running on mobile devices doesn’t count).

Since the average time one can focus on a screen is about 47 seconds, capturing attention is critical for content marketing success. 

10. Click-Through Rate To Analyze Your CTAs

Content marketing teams are made up of people who consume online content like everyone else. They know that just because a brand delivers an awesome piece of content, that doesn’t mean every reader will respond to the call to action (CTA). In the later stages of the marketing funnel, this action on the part of the reader is the ultimate goal. 

You can look at how often people click to assess the effectiveness of your CTAs. Remember, CTAs are not just in content designed to bolster organic search traffic; they’re also a key component to paid online ads. In fact, those clicks might determine how much you pay for those ads. Click-through rate is a measure of how many people follow the CTA compared to how many people saw it.

11. Engagement Rate for Your Social Media Content

While impressions and reach are important social media content marketing metrics, it’s also essential to calculate the engagement rate. This shows the percentage of people who had access to your post actually engaged with it through a like, click, or comment. 

There are a few ways to calculate engagement. The classic formula divides total engagements by your number of followers:

Social Media Engagement Rate = (Total Engagement / Total Followers) x 100

Say you have 5000 followers and 500 people engage with your post. Your social media engagement is 10%.

However, since most of your followers won’t see each post, a more reasonable calculation might be the number of engagements divided by the number of people who actually saw the post in their feed:

Social Media Engagement Rate = (Total Engagement / Total  Post Impressions) x 100

In the example above, say 2,000 people saw your post. The engagement rate by that standard would be 25%.

You can also further delineate engagements by public only, such as likes and comments, or public and private, which also includes shares through direct messaging or other private channels. 

How Compose.ly Can Help You Create High-Performing Content

Content marketing strategy success metrics can demonstrate how your efforts are paying off – and where you might want to make changes. You can take the first step towards upping your content game by outsourcing content creation. Working with a dedicated team of content creators allows you to focus on the fine points of digital marketing strategy. 

At Compose.ly, you can access expert blog writers who can execute your goals for content. Talk to our team today about our blog writing services and other solutions Compose.ly has to offer your business.

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