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The Exact Metrics You Need to Track Based on Your Content Marketing Goal

One of the biggest challenges for content marketers is measuring ROI. Maybe it's because they spend so much time actually creating content that, once it's published, their energy for distributing it and finding ways to measure its success is limited.

Well, that's just not a good enough excuse — especially because there are real, tangible returns to be gained by measuring your content efforts. No matter what goal you're using content to achieve, measuring your results is the best way to know whether you're on the right path to success. And to do so, you need to identify the correct metrics based on your overall goal.

That's why I've outlined the three main goals of content marketing — thought leadership, lead generation, and SEO — and indicated which metrics you should be using to track success according to each goal.

If Your Primary Goal Is Thought Leadership

Some people think that thought leadership is more of an idea than something tangible and easily measurable. And you wouldn't be completely wrong if you thought that, too.

Thought leaders are professionals who want to make a name for themselves within their industry — but more importantly, they're people who are committed to sharing their unique knowledge and experiences with their audiences with the goal of educating and engaging them. And because that isn't exactly something you can measure on a chart, it can be hard to know how to track the results of a content strategy that has thought leadership in mind.

Download your copy of "The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing for Thought Leadership" to learn more about how to create and use content to become a thought leader.

That doesn't mean you should create all kinds of thought leadership content — like guest-contributed articles, press mentions, blog posts, whitepapers, and more — and just cross your fingers. There are a few metrics you can use to gauge your effectiveness:

Metrics You Should Track:

  • Content syndication: One of the clearest signs that you're creating valuable, high-quality content is when other publications pick up your published content and syndicate it on their sites. If other publications are republishing your content, then that probably means you're doing something right.
  • Social shares and engagement: When people read something that really resonates with them, they comment on it and share it on their platforms. If your content is sparking conversations online, then you know you're heading in the right direction.
  • Award opportunities: Awards aren't given to just anyone — you have to earn them. Receiving awards from leaders in your industry proves you've demonstrated your expertise in your space.
  • On-site analytics and engagement: Time on site, finish rate, and bounce rate are important analytics that will help you track engagement with content on your website. Use conversion rate metrics to see which pieces of on-site content encouraged specific actions. 
  • Speaking engagements: When was the last time you went to an event that was headlined by an obscure, unknown speaker? Being asked to speak at events is a good indicator that you're sharing valuable insights with the right audiences.
  • Press opportunities: Press opportunities can include anything from requests to contribute as a source or quote for an article to appearing on a podcast or co-hosting a webinar. Receiving requests like these means people value your insights and want to share them with their audiences.

If Your Primary Goal Is Lead Generation

Content marketing and inbound marketing go together like two peas in a pod. In fact, content really is the driver of inbound marketing, so if you're wanting to generate leads, using content is a very smart way to go about it.

Learn how to use your content to generate leads by downloading your copy of "The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing for Lead Generation" today.

Here's (a quick rundown of) how it works. Your off-site content, like guest posts and press mentions, lead people to your site. And when your website is full of valuable, informative content, you can use it to engage and convert those visitors into leads. To know whether the content you're creating is working to create that funnel of opportunity, you can look at metrics like:

Metrics You Should Track:

  • Clickbacks to your site: This metric tracks the number of people who click through to your site from a piece of off-site content. When your referral traffic is high, it's a good signal that your audience finds your content valuable and wants to engage further.
  • Lead conversions: This is crucial. Your conversion rate shows you how effective your content is at turning visitors into actual leads — and future customers. If you’re generating a lot of leads but few of them are becoming clients, then your content may not be compelling enough.
  • Average lead score: Lead generation is about quality, not quantity. Make sure you have a system for scoring your leads based on the type of customer you want to attract. By evaluating your leads the same way, you’ll be able to more easily determine the quality of leads you're generating.
  • On-site analytics and engagement: Just as with thought leadership, metrics like time on site, finish rate, and bounce rate will help you track on-site content engagement. Look to conversion rate metrics to see which pieces of content encouraged which actions.

If Your Primary Goal Is SEO

Today's content world is a crowded one. So in addition to creating original, high-quality content, how can you make sure your content is getting seen over time?

Learn how to create content that is optimized for search by downloading "The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing for SEO."

Search engine optimization plays a huge role in getting your content seen. A technical audit of your website and comprehensive keyword research will help you lay a foundation for your SEO efforts. But to know how effective they are and how well they're setting up your content for success, you need to look at the right metrics:

Metrics You Should Track:

  • Search visibility: If your SEO is in good shape, then it shouldn't be hard to search and find your content online. Using tools like Moz and SEMrush will help you track your search visibility. The higher you rank in search engines for your keywords, the better chance you have at improving your organic click-through rate and generating organic traffic.
  • Keyword rankings: You want your website to rank higher on a search engine results page (SERP) for a particular keyword because the higher you rank, the more likely it is for your audience to find you when they search based on keywords. Track your rankings over time to see how well your efforts are working to elevate your position.
  • Organic search traffic: This basically shows you the number of visits to your site from organic, unpaid search, and it should be relatively easy to track via Google Analytics. An increase in organic search traffic typically means you're doing a good job at driving audiences from a SERP to your website.

No more making excuses or being in the dark about how to measure success from your content marketing efforts. Identify the goal you're trying to achieve, and use the corresponding metrics to assess whether your content is effective.

Download your customizable content marketing assessment template bundle and map out the strategy, tools, and metrics you need to reach your goals:

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About Natalie Slyman

I love meeting new people, and my drink of choice is champagne. I prefer to spend my days outside, riding my bike or catching up on my favorite blogs. I enjoy telling stories about my cats, even though no one is listening.

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