What does it mean that your content marketing is “working?”
In general, this means it’s supporting your marketing and business goals.
Here’s an easy way to track your content marketing program and, more importantly, how to communicate this to your team and management.
How to track basic KPIs
When putting your measurement program in place, start by deciding how regularly you’ll collect your data.
A good schedule to start with is measuring marketing effectiveness monthly.
This has worked well for CMI, though we observe some metrics weekly to make sure monthly goals stay on track.
Then, create a spreadsheet that chronicles and tracks the following:
- Your marketing goals
- The key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Your plan for gathering this performance information.
- Who will be responsible for collecting and reporting this data?
Here’s an easy spreadsheet you can use based on our experience at CMI.
If your metrics spreadsheet is something you plan to share with others across your enterprise consider using Google Sheets or another shared platform so everyone can view and make changes when necessary.
The author can’t stress enough that everyone working on content marketing needs to know the core KPIs for measuring the marketing effectiveness of your content.
Whether or not they’re directly involved with your content analytics, it’s important that content creators understand how their work impacts overarching company goals.
Here are some examples of Key Performance Indicators (KPI)s you may want to track:
Measuring content marketing effectiveness can be as easy or as complicated as you make it.
Don’t measure simply for the sake of having some numbers to show to your management.
If you aren’t sure what you should be measuring, ask yourself these two questions:
- Do these metrics support my key goals?
- Can I act on these metrics?
Unless you can answer “yes” to the questions above, you likely do not need to be collecting the data — at least at first.
This post from Michele Linn draws some important data points you can collect and immediately put to good use: 4 Google Analytics Reports Every Content Marketer Should Use.
At CMI, one of our basic goals is getting new email subscribers, as this goal is a key to our business model.
We record how many subscribers we have, but we also delve into data such as:
- Where subscribers are coming from
- What topic brought them to CMI
- Opt-out percentages by month and opt-out sources
Content marketing measurement tips
Our measurement processes constantly evolve.
It takes time to track, analyze, and report on performance.
But over the years we’ve realized how important this cycle of measurement and optimization is to content marketing success.
As you build your measurement processes, keep these tips in mind:
While some futility metrics are easy to track, they’re rarely insightful independent of other data.
We do track our social growth, which allows us to look at trending and unscientific information about where we are getting the most shares and social conversation.
However, we’ve found it’s more important to track conversions to email subscription, topics of interest, and registrations for a CMI activity such as Content Marketing World.
This helps us adjust our content marketing plan so we are sure that we’re delivering on our readers’ interests and expectations — which certainly helps our own bottom line.
Collect actionable metrics
Only collect data you want to utilize and can act on.
For example, years ago they created a KPI document that allowed them to watch growth month-to-month in areas such as their email program, website, and social channels.
After a year of looking at these KPIs, the CMI team re-evaluated these metrics and made one meaningful change:
We now only track our most triable metrics, such as email subscribers, email engagement rate, time on site, and event registrations.
Talk to and learn from industry peers
Early in their efforts to measure content performance, the team at CMI had been looking at growth in particular areas – social followers, email subscribers, and the like.
But they found that it didn’t take into account everything CMI does on each of these channels each month.
And they were not capturing conversions their tweets, posts, and emails delivered each month.
After listening to Andy Crestodina’s presentation at Content Marketing World and reading his company blog posts, they have implemented better goal tracking.
Now, they can see not only what activity is generating engagement, but also which are converting.
They rely on many industry peers and CM World speakers for continuing education and advice.
Be ready to adapt
At one point, CMI realized they were tracking email opt-ins by source, but not doing anything with that information.
So, they fine-tuned the process to look at email deliverability, opt-outs, and completed profiles – all areas they can act on to help improve their email effectiveness.
What you track over time will likely shift, so evaluate your list of metrics quarterly, bi-annually, or annually to make sure you’re getting the data that will best address your key questions.
They review their metrics on a quarterly basis to make sure they continue to align with CMI goals as they evolve.
Automate data collection
Contemplate about how you can automate data collection with reports.
With their team’s help, they have been able to automate dashboards within Google Analytics, Salesforce, and our marketing automation system.
They can look at these dashboards each week, and then have a simple way each month to update their KPI document.
However, if automated data collection isn’t an option, consider additional resources and team members you can tap into if you need help figuring out your content performance.
Since many team members touch their marketing processes at various points, assigning oversight responsibilities for each KPI has improved ownership and accountability.
Take time for analysis
It’s not enough to just accumulate data and add it to a spreadsheet.
You need to examine the data so you understand where the opportunities for improvement lie — and what the best path may be for achieving those improvements.
For example, if data shows that their blog posts on content marketing strategy all have high numbers of Facebook shares, LinkedIn posts, and tweets, proper analysis of these data points can help show them the best ways to leverage these high-performing topics across their other content platforms and lead to a conversion.
Measuring the results of your content marketing activities lets you constantly learn what your audience likes and use that information to improve.
Happier prospects, happier customers, and happier management.
What analytics tips and tools do you hold that help you track and measure your content performance?