The right content marketing metrics are often hard to find, and that may be because content marketing itself has become oversimplified. As you read article after article, you might get the idea that the purpose of creating content is simply to have more content. However, if you own a business, content creation for the sake of having content is a fool’s errand.
Sadly, many business owners create content with no plan or strategy, which is basically the same as “content for the sake of content.” They think, “oh, I have to have content!” That becomes the goal. Then, when it comes time to find out whether a campaign has been successful, they find themselves lacking actionable information.
The key word is “actionable.” There is always data: when you started a campaign, how long it ran, who ran it, what steps you took… But when you’re trying to measure the success of a campaign, you can get buried in all that data. However, if the data isn’t actionable, it’s useless.
Traffic, the Biggest “Fake News” of Them All
Bad metrics. A ton of campaigns have been derailed and failed because of bad metrics. Unable to figure out which metrics to track, the content marketer tracks the wrong ones. They get the idea that a campaign has failed and toss it all, or they think a campaign is succeeding and dump more money/time into it, only to find that they got it wrong.
Often, that bad metric is website traffic. While traffic is nice, it should never be a major metric to track. It’s easy to look at your analytics, watch traffic spike after a great article, and get all excited, but is that what you really want? Traffic? Do you want butts in the seats, or do you want hands on wallets? Which would you rather, 5 people that buy or 10 people that look?
While traffic might be a metric, we put far too much emphasis on it without using qualifiers. You never want just traffic. You want qualified traffic. You want interested traffic. You want paying traffic.
Which Content Marketing Metrics Should I Watch?
If traffic isn’t the biggest metric, what is? Which content marketing metrics should you use to track the success of your campaign?
Simply put, it depends on the campaign. Content comes in many forms. The form (and how it’s shared) makes a difference in what you should track.
Also, your metrics should give you an idea of how each step of the campaign is going. You aren’t going to look at only the bottom line (money), any more than you’re going to look at only the beginning of the campaign (traffic).
Email campaigns are an excellent example. If you’re creating an email campaign, what do you use to track success? When the campaign is finished, you want to know:
- How many people was it sent to? – This is your base number. It helps give you the formula to decide the success or failure of the campaign.
- How many people opened? – Your open rate, while not a measure of success, is a benchmark for making a campaign (or future campaigns) better.
- How many people clicked? – Click through rate is a measure of success. While people will not necessarily be buying, they are now aware of your company (if they weren’t already). Building awareness should always be a goal for content; awareness can turn into future buys.
- How many leads were generated? – This is your big metric for an email campaign, because emails are lead generation tools. You need to know how many people clicked through, and then how many converted from that click through.
For social media, you want to know how many people clicked on the link, reshared, commented and so on. For blog posts, how many unique visitors did you get? How many looked further on the site? Did they actually stay and read the article?
As you can no doubt see, deciding which content marketing metrics to look at can get a bit convoluted.
Here’s how to find the right ones to watch:
- Outline what actions you want to happen: more shares, more subscribers, more leads, more sales. Whatever the conversion action is for a particular piece of content, this is your main success metric.
- Outline additional actions that could happen to lead to positive results. For example, you may not get more leads (the main goal), but you got more followers (which could turn into more leads). These are your secondary success metrics.
- Outline the path to those actions. In the email example above, the path might be: send, person opens email, person clicks on link to landing page, person fills out information and converts. Each point is a success metric, albeit potentially minor ones. We’ve seen several email campaigns fail simply because the “send” baseline was bad and most of the emails bounced.
You must pay attention to your campaign’s components if you hope to pinpoint the right content marketing metrics. Traffic is, too often, marked as the metric of success.
Content for the sake of content, and traffic for the sake of traffic, are two of the biggest mistakes in content marketing. Not making them is a first great step towards realizing the potential of any content marketing campaign.
To your success!
If you need help pinpointing the correct metrics for your next campaign, contact Level343. We’ll get you headed in the right direction.