What kind of content marketing metrics should you be measuring, to determine whether you have the right strategy in place? Which metrics are the best indicators of success?

Back in 2012 we published some research on attitudes to measuring content marketing. After surveying 1,300 marketers we found that unique visitors was the main metric used to determine whether content was successful, followed by views, and then time spent on site.

These are perfectly reasonable things to track, and they are meaningful to a point, but most businesses will only invest in things that affect profits and sales. With that in mind, views and visits might not be best thing to focus on.

So what are the best content marketing metrics to track? After all, there’s more to life than visitors and page impressions, right? 

Indeed there is. I thought I'd compile a bunch of the best metrics in a chart, split across four areas.

Click on the image for a full-size version, and see below for a few explanatory notes.

Basic Metrics

These are the immediately obvious ones and are typically easy to measure. Depending on your business – or your mood – you might file some of these under ‘vanity metrics’. They’re not throwaway by any means, but I think there are more interesting things to look at.

Engagement Metrics 

You are probably sick of hearing the word ‘engagement’, but it actually means something... it isn't just a lousy buzzword. These metrics can provide you with valuable audience insights. From where I’m sitting, premium shares and comments are a much better indicator of content quality than page impressions.

Positioning Metrics

What terms do you want to rank for on the search engines? How would you like your audience to describe and perceive your brand? Does your content stack up against the competition? All of these things can help you to finesse your content strategy, to better align it to your objectives.

KPIs

These are the real deal. KPIs are the killer metrics that keep the CEO awake at night, and you should definitely try to figure out how content moves the needle in this area, and how it compares against other channels. Your content marketing strategy needs to support your overall business goals. 

Notes

  • As ever I will have left a few things out, and probably by accident. Do let me know what I have overlooked in the comments area below (or via Twitter).
  • Metrics are not equal! Some are much more important than others. I like the idea of scoring metrics, to give them different weightings. 
  • To prevent this chart from burrowing into the core of the earth I decided to group a number of metrics together (e.g. ‘retention metrics’). You can unbundle these groups (so, for retention, you might want to look at your loyalty rate, satisfaction, purchase frequency, etc).
  • This is the third content marketing visualisation that I’ve created. If you haven't yet seen them do check out the Periodic Table Of Content Marketing and the Content Marketing Team Matrix.
Chris Lake

Published 16 September, 2014 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (4)

Doug Kessler

Doug Kessler, Director at VelocitySmall Business Multi-user

Lakey strikes again! Bravo.

I want a dashboard showing all of these.

And I love the 'premium shares' concept.

about 3 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Ah, thanks Doug! The 'premium shares' thing harks back to something I wrote about a few years ago: https://econsultancy.com/blog/7282-how-to-extract-meaning-from-retweets.

The volume of shares matters, but what really stands out for me are those shares where people take time to add a comment, or to rewrite a headline, or to append a hashtag. They're so much more valuable. I can't tell you how often I think "I wish I'd thought of that headline!"

PS - I'd *love* to create an app that pulls all of this stuff together.

about 3 years ago

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Vicky Smith, Consultant - Online, Responsible & Volunteer Tourism at Freelance

Chris,

I've love to know best practice & where most people keep all metrics. Can you cover in an article?

I'm guessing BigCos API it into existing systems to run MI reports.
But what about the smaller guys doing it manually?
Do they just access them live via online analytics / insight software? Do they export and save reports in standard forms as offered by the suppliers?
Do they export the data and transcribe into excel, with data from different sources, so that they can analytse in pivot tables etc?

Sure bet I'm not doing the most useful or efficient way, and would definitely appreciate some insider info on the norms and best practice!

Thanks,
Vicky

about 3 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Hey Vicky,

I shall aim to assemble a Venn diagram for tools at some point.

Much of this is still done manually, and even where it is automated there remains the need for human brains to interpret things. For example, premium shares... tools can help you spot them, but you need somebody to undertake some analysis.

Wands will never replace wizards!

Cheers,

c.

about 3 years ago

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