If you’re new to the term ‘content marketing’, it is likely that you might have a vague idea of what it is but are not too sure how it really works. If that’s the case, you’re not alone! Making a content marketing plan and making it work isn’t all that easy. However, with a little time and effort, you can make it really work in your favor. Let’s take a look at content marketing in a bit more detail and explore the 7 KPIs that you should be mindful of to measure your content marketing performance.
The Evolving Landscape of Content Marketing
Whether you’re new to content marketing or someone who has been leveraging it to market your brand, it’s best to not lose sight of the basics. Broadly speaking, content marketing focuses on creating and disseminating content to attract target audience. This content should be valuable to your audience, consistent, as well as relevant in context. The ultimate goal of such content is to drive profitability and encourage call to action.
You might have come across various digital marketing templates that people use to showcase their social media metrics, website performance or the trends for their content that went viral. This is a good example of what content marketing actually stands for and the metrics you should be using to judge the performance of your content. For example, you might have a great looking website, the page loading time might be good and the content may be visually appealing. However, if you are unable to reach your target audience or people seem to be bouncing off your webpage in just a few seconds, that means something in your content marketing plan needs to be tweaked.
Unlike a decade ago, we now have a content marketing landscape that is constantly evolving. There was a time many people turned Facebook as a go-to option to market their content. However, we can argue that the rise of services like Tik Tok, Instagram and Snapchat in recent years has acted as a vis major for major platforms. Facebook’s daily active users in the US and Canada declined by a whopping 2 million in the third quarter of 2020. This trend it appears is likely to continue. Especially, in the wake of various government led restrictions on the social media giant across different countries including Australia, India and Israel. With other countries likely to follow.
Other content creation options such as blogging, vlogging and podcasts are constantly facing flux in the wake of changing Google algorithms and emergence of a variety of new platforms constantly competing for attracting audience through viral content that is often odd, if not frivolous.
The 7 Content Marketing KPIs to Measure Performance
In the wake of this evolving landscape, you can ensure that your time and efforts are not misplaced by looking at the basics Key Performance Indicators to ensure you are able to strike a chord with your audience.
Many people use more than one platform to market their content. It is not all too uncommon to use blogging, social media posts, podcasts and vlogs with consistent content produced weekly to reach out to a potential target audience. However, where many content markets fail is to acknowledge the outreach or traffic that they are attracting. There was a time when producing regular content meant a quick way of earning a good Google Page Rank. However, with the introduction of the Penguin and Panda algorithms by Google, webpages with low quality links and ‘thin content’ is quickly downgraded in search results.
Traffic or the outreach of your produced content should be one of the major KPIs to measure your content marketing performance, as explained in this article.
2. Bounce Rate
Other than traffic, checking on your bounce rate is essential to understand if you are striking the right chords with your content. A bounce rate shows if people visiting your website are viewing other content or quickly exiting the website. Bounce rate shows not only if you are being able to produce content that can attract an audience but also whether it is attracting the audience you intend to target.
While it takes time to build an audience and it is quite likely that traffic will be frustratingly low in the short term, there is no point adding content that isn’t giving you desired results. If your traffic doesn’t pick up, you need to analyze what might be going wrong.
Based on the views of different content marketing gurus, a bounce rate between 40-50% is considered ok, whereas a bounce rate below 40% shows good performance. A bounce rate above 50% can be worrying. If your bounce rate is near 80% or above, something is terribly wrong with your content or content marketing strategy.
If you’re wondering how to measure something similar to a bounce rate for your social media channels, you might want to look at metrics such as the monthly likes vs unlikes for your page or the increase or decrease in followers over a period of time.
3. Outreach (Paid vs Organic)
Many people now use some type of paid promotions to attract users. Be it a paid campaign on social media, pay per click or using the old-fashioned banner ads to direct visitors to your content. However, what really stands out in the long run is your organic outreach.
Spending money to make money is likely to be short lived in the digital marketing landscape. This is because if the return on investment does not bite you, the bounce rate will! Unless you are able to build organic outreach in the long run, you are unlikely to remain relevant. In other words, your content marketing strategy would be a complete failure.
4. User Engagement
As a content marketing performance KPI, user engagement doesn’t necessarily mean the number of people that share or comment on your content. This is more about gauging the call-to-action or the intended result of what you intend to achieve. Is your content driving sales? Are you able to attract the right audience from the market you intend to target? Is your content resulting in a rise in your revenue?
Other than call-to-action, user engagement can also include people who might appear to be interested in what you’re marketing. You might be getting queries but not sales. In such a case you will have to assess the missing ingredient.
User engagement is an essential KPI to see if the content you are producing is worth your time and effort. Not to mention the cost it is piling up for you needs to be reassessed if the results appear to be less than satisfactory.
5. Returning Visitors
Once user engagement picks up, it is quite natural to have returning visitors. Whether you’re running a blog, Facebook page or YouTube channel, returning visitors are a good indicator that your content is getting traction.
You can also analyze what attracts the most returning visitors, likes, comments and user outreach to understand how to produce something that can continue to engage your audience. However, it is not recommended to be monotonous, since that might lead to an increase in users bouncing off what might seem to them as ‘too much of the same thing’.
6. Brand Awareness
In the race of producing and updating content, many people can lose sight of an important KPI for assessing the performance of what they are producing, i.e., brand awareness. It is important for people to favorably view your brand and be aware of its qualities.
A glance at social media influencers is a good example of how they leverage brand awareness for increased organic traffic, user engagement and driving revenue. People have gone from being jobless to selling branded T-shirts and mugs for the content produced on their Facebook page!
Be it small retailers, medium size organizations or large-scale businesses flexing their muscles to expand to new markets, brand awareness is key to ensure that you are able to build brand loyalty. The latter can be key in ensuring that you are not left at the mercy of search engine and social media algorithms to market your content. As people would opt for subscribing or returning to you automatically.
Measuring brand awareness as a KPI can be a bit tricky. Just because someone is aware of your brand does not necessarily mean that your content is likely to be viewed favorably. Running surveys, tracking backlinks, measuring user engagement (e.g., positive vs negative) against your competitors and customer feedback are a few methods you can employ to track brand awareness. This can also help you gauge what might be the pitfalls for your brand that you can avoid to improve your brand reputation.
7. Conversion Rate
Regardless of how popular your content may be or how much effort you might be putting in, what matters in the end is the conversion rate. It is also a good indicator to analyze if the visitors viewing your content are from the intended audience. This is particularly important if the services you offer are geographically restricted.
A blog about high end fashion looking to sell products to US customers might not benefit much from users outside the country. Though users from other countries might benefit the ranking for your content and drive traffic, it might not be instrumental in driving revenue. Moreover, there are also other factors to be looked into such as to analyze whether you are making sure that your content is produced in a user-friendly UI?
For course correction, you can look into areas that might need improvement. For example, do your website visitors use a laptop or mobile device to visit your website? What’s the average resolution of their screens, the browsers they use or the operating system they have? Is your website ranking against valuable keywords in the US?
Fortunately, this information can be easily tracked using social media insights and traffic monitors available natively for your CMS. For more in-depth analysis, you can always use tools like Google Analytics and Sprout. For social media, you can run surveys or try to establish two-way communication to gather user feedback. Even if that means using giveaways or other engagement techniques, such as featuring user generated content via a competition. Giving offers that sell your products or services with discounts might also be a good way to start improving that conversion rate.
Final Words on Content Marketing KPIs
Nearly a decade ago it was easier to rank by producing consistent content. Hence, the term ‘content is king’. However, not only has search and social media algorithms made it harder to engage audience but the competition for engaging users has also become stiff. Much of the space has arguably been taken over by less serious content, produced for kicks, with some getting unexpected viral value. This makes it hard for marketing content that does not have the luxury to rely on ‘unexpected success’.
Many brands trying to imitate the so-called ‘influencers’ can end up producing something that can go viral for all the wrong reasons. Leading to a devaluation of the brand and a number of angry users finding your content offensive. Therefore, when marketing content, you need to tread carefully. What is likely to be a better approach is to start off with a thorough analysis of your target market, the type of content that might work for it and the best way you can produce and disseminate it. Jumping the bandwagon is often the worst way to make an impact. As users enjoy something original, which can catch their attention in a short time span.
When assessing content marketing KPIs it is best to stay focused on the basics. If you are building steady traffic, that is a good indicator that you are reaching out to people. An eye on your bounce rate, organic outreach and user engagement can ensure that you are able to create content that appeals to your audience and results in returning visitors. This will give you the margin to work on your brand awareness and conversion rate.
Hero photo by William Iven on Unsplash
This is a post contributed from one of my marketing partners.