When you’re embarking on a content marketing program with a long-term mindset, it can be difficult to see the progress you’re making. Is your content being seen? Are people engaging with it? Is it enhancing the authority of your brand?
When a brand invests in digital content creation — whether it’s an informative blog, an always-on social presence or an integrated content marketing program across multiple channels — that brand is doing more than strictly trying to sell right now. Instead, the brand’s content marketing supports longer-term objectives. By putting the time and resources into creating high-value content, a brand garners attention from more potential customers, develops and strengthens relationships, and builds upon its industry reputation.
Digital analytics provides baseline insights into user behavior, audience growth and other metrics, but content marketing KPIs help measure content success in line with overall goals. At Imagination, our digital analytics team develops specific measurement plans for each client that tie the numbers to three key marketing objectives: visibility, engagement and authority.
The visibility and brand awareness KPIs to track
When we talk about visibility, or audience awareness, of your content, we’re literally talking about how often your content is getting in front of people. Because if they don’t see it, what’s the point?
So it’s critical not only to track visibility but to gauge the following content marketing KPIs in line with your overall marketing goals:
- Search impressions represent the number of times a webpage shows up in search results. If, for example, a blog post has low impressions, then you’d want to revisit the content and metadata to the page to make sure it’s following search engine optimization (SEO) best practices.
- Organic traffic is the number of visits a webpage or website receives through the organic search channel (most often Google). When a user sees your page in search results and clicks through to the page, this visit contributes to total organic traffic.
- Pageviews represent how many times each page within a website is viewed. You can drill down to see the number of pageviews for each page to understand which of them have the highest visibility.
- Unique pageviews are the number of times a page receives a visit, but it doesn’t count a pageview more than once for each user. So if a user clicked through to a product page, went back to your homepage, then clicked back to the same product page, that would only count as one unique pageview for that product page.
The engagement KPIs to track
Once your audience finds your content, the next thing you’ll want to know is how engaged they are with it. Are they finding what they’re looking for? While they’re on a page, are they discovering more valuable content or new ways to interact with your brand? These are the types of behaviors we associate with engagement, and the following content marketing KPIs are what we consider to be engagement metrics:
- Organic clicks are logged when a user clicks a link to your page from the search results of a search engine (e.g., Google). Organic clicks suggest users are finding the title tag and meta description of your content to be aligned with what they’re looking for.
- Organic click-through rate (CTR) is the number of organic clicks a page receives divided by its search impressions, expressed as a percentage. Several factors contribute to a page’s organic CTR (e.g., how compelling the meta description and title tags are), but a high organic CTR generally indicates that users are finding the content engaging and valuable.
- Average time on page is how long a user spends, on average, on a particular webpage. If you’re comparing the average time on page for two blog posts of similar length, for example, then the blog post with the higher time on page is likely providing users a more engaging experience than the other post.
- Average session duration measures the amount of time users spend interacting across the pages of an entire website. If there’s no activity (e.g., clicking on links) for 30 minutes, a user’s session will time out.
- Average page depth is the average number of pages a user visits during a website session. This engagement metric can help you understand how far a user has to journey through the website to find what they are looking for. So if your website’s average page depth is higher than the industry average, your website may not have a clear user journey.
- Page events are actions that users take on a website that can be tracked using custom tracking through analytics platforms like Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics. Depending on what page events you want to measure, you can track user actions such as scroll depth percentages, PDF downloads, subscription clicks, newsletter sign-ups — it’s really up to you. Any of these events and more can give you a better sense of how much your users are engaging with your content.
The authority KPIs to track
The last, but arguably most important, characteristic of a successful content marketing program is that it enhances the authority of your brand in the mind of your customers and prospects. Authority is rooted in content quality, which is difficult — but not impossible — to measure. Luckily, a handful of content marketing KPIs track content authority:
- Return visits record each time a user visits your website, leaves and then comes back within two years, the maximum setting available in Google. When return visits increase over time, it’s a great sign your content is connecting with your audience, which is seeing your brand as a trusted resource for information and returning for more of your perspective.
- Bounce rate is the percentage of users who leave the website after one pageview. If more users than expected are leaving your site after viewing one page, additional research should be conducted to identify optimization opportunities to ensure quality user experience and produce the intended user behavior.
- Social shares can be tracked in several ways. One tool we like for tracking social shares at Imagination is BuzzSumo, which tracks URL shares on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram. Another method for tracking social shares is through custom tracking, as previously mentioned. If your content features social share buttons, a custom tracking event logs each time it’s clicked. A high volume of social shares can indicate that users find your content so amazing that they want to associate themselves with it on their social networks. Positive social shares are like rocket fuel for your brand authority.
These content marketing KPIs provide you with a starting framework for a blog or website-centric content marketing program. However, if there are other channels involved in the program — particularly email, social or paid media — you’ll also want to include additional channel-specific metrics in your overall measurement plan.
Although defined KPIs included in your measurement plan will provide a picture of month-over-month growth, there will always be dips, blips and anomalies along the way. For that reason, we recommend tracking performance for at least a year so you can understand seasonal trends before making any significant strategic shifts. For example, if you’re running a B2B content campaign, you can expect your audiences to take time off at the end of the year, which typically means less frequent email or social check-ins, resulting in dips in visibility.
With a sustained focus on content marketing KPIs to measure higher-funnel visibility, engagement and authority, you’ll be able to gain a clearer picture of how exactly your content fits into your larger marketing program and is furthering your business goals. As you build out your content and respond to audience behavior, you’ll see big results for your brand down the road.