Remember watching cookies bake through the oven window when you were a kid? You wanted to make sure they came out just right — not burned, not underbaked. Metrics provide the same continual view into your content marketing program. Focusing on the numbers helps you communicate better with your audience, allowing you the means to get your content execution just right. In fact, measurement may be the most important part of a successful content marketing strategy. Without a way to measure your content’s impact on audience engagement or lead generation, it’s hard to know if your message is heard. In this 101 post, we look at metrics, benchmarks, and the cycle of “review metrics, revise content and strategy, and repeat.”
Understanding program metrics
Choose Your Measurement Tools
As you develop your strategy, you’ll look at a lot of data, choose the metrics that support your goals, and establish a standard for comparison (or a baseline). This standard shows how things stand before you start your program and gives you a point by which to compare growth and determine success.
Depending on your strategy and goals, you might benchmark the number of site visitors, how long they stay, how many pages they look at, and where they’re coming from. Other metrics include ad impressions, the number of people moving into your lead-nurturing programs, lead sources, and social-media channel performance. These are all known as key performance indicators, or KPIs.
Once you’ve chosen your metrics and set your benchmarks, create a schedule to review your metrics and refine your strategy based on the numbers and their comparative actuals.
Review Early and Often
I recommend checking your metrics monthly to spot trends as they develop and to track your key performance indicators. Annual reviews will show your program’s performance year over year and point you to opportunities for longer-term improvement.
For example, maybe your monthly reviews show engaged readers visiting your brand’s blog from Facebook, staying on your site, and visiting multiple pages. On the other hand, you might find that your brand’s tweets drive traffic to the same blog but those visitors don’t stay.
In this scenario, you’ll want to dial up the execution of your Facebook program and either revamp your blog content to suit your Twitter followers’ needs or draw down your activity on that platform to focus on better-performing channels.
Appoint a Measurer-in-Chief
And while checking your metrics is important, it won’t make a difference if you don’t ever put your findings into action. Have you ever used a ruler to find the shortest distance from point A to point B? Your brand can do the same to find the shortest distance between content and metrics. Instead of handing content to marketing and metrics to digital, and waiting for them to meet in the middle, give someone oversight of the entire content marketing strategy, from metrics benchmarking and review to content strategy and development. You’ll end up with a unified, responsive content marketing strategy that uses the numbers to deliver a more compelling message.