The marketing funnel walks through every stage of acquiring customers, from introducing your brand to closing a deal. It usually starts with a lot of people in the initial awareness stage, and few people at the bottom becoming customers. Typically, you want to make the funnel as cylindrical as possible, meaning that a lot of people move from start to finish.
Content marketing helps people not just stay in the funnel, but actively progress through it.
Content has a number of different (although sometimes overlapping) goals, but ultimately, it should provide value to potential customers’ needs at each stage in the funnel. For this reason, there’s no single way to measure content’s success. Rather, success depends on what objective your content is supposed to achieve, and the metrics you measure should reflect that objective.
Tracking unique metrics for each type of content builds a data-informed approach to marketing. Your marketing team should be empowered to use data in every step of the process.
The metrics your team cares about will probably vary depending on your company’s business model and priorities. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the metrics your content marketing team can use, based on specific content goals.
Goal: Raise brand awareness
If you’re talking to potential customers and industry thought leaders and no one knows who you are, you probably have a brand awareness problem. You want your target audience to recognize your brand, as well as understand what problem your business is trying to solve and how.
Pretty much all content feeds into raising brand awareness. Some specific examples could be blog posts centered around thought leadership, product messaging and/or “viral” news topics in your industry; videos; revamping your corporate website; social media posts; and engaging with communities.
When the main purpose of your content is to build an audience that is genuinely interested in your brand, some metrics you could track are:
Pageviews over time. Are you increasing your overall traffic? Though definitely not the most informative metric, at a basic level, pageviews gives you a pulse on whether you are managing to grow your audience or increase their interest. If you're putting out content but your daily, weekly, or monthly traffic stays the same over time, you have a problem.
Web traffic by channel and source. How do people find your website? They could be coming from search engines (organic traffic), social media platforms (referral traffic), or by directly entering in a URL (direct). By seeing which sources drive the most traffic to your site, you can figure out where to devote time and resources, like promoting on specific social media or engaging in certain communities.
Time on page. Complement your pageviews metric by seeing whether people are reading your content for comprehension or just skimming. However, this metric can be deceiving: People can have a page open for a long time without actually reading it. Check for clicks and scrolls as well to see if people are actively reading.
Keyword rankings. What are people Googling to find your website? Check whether your target audience can find you when they search for topics related to your product/industry. Typically, it's good to have your homepage rank for a few relevant keyword phrases that have high search volume and that is also relevant to your audience.
Goal: Generate more leads
One goal of every content marketer is to create content that’s compelling enough that people are willing to share their personal information in order to get their hands on it. This means that people willingly take action to maintain a connection with your company, like signing up for your email list.
Blog posts that are salient and relevant to your target audience's interests can get them to sign up for your newsletter, for example. Gating high value assets like ebooks and reports and hosting special webinars are other ways of gauging potential customer interest.
The important thing is, don’t try to sell your product quite yet. Instead, highlight a couple key features, and show how other customers have used your product.
The metrics you should measure here should assess whether people can and want to connect with you. Let’s look at some examples:
Unique vs. returning visitors. Are people coming back to your site? Do they want to know more about your content? This is especially useful to look at if you have high traffic but low conversions.
Call-to-action clickthrough rate. Your calls-to-action should be easy to understand and consistent with the rest of your content. For example, if you write a blog post about a data report, people should know where they can download the report.
Landing page traffic. Look at what drives people to your landing page: Is it certain website pages? Blog topics? External sources? Figure out how to optimize your content so that more people get to this page sooner.
Landing page conversion. Out of all the people you’re driving to your email signup list, to your product demo, or to other kinds of landing pages -- how many are actually filling out their information and indicating interest in being contacted?
Goal: Close more deals
You have the audience, you have the interest. But even the folks who are super interested in your content are unlikely to talk to sales after just a couple emails. That’s where lead nurturing comes in.
Lead nurturing is all about giving your leads the resources they need to evaluate your product. Show them what you offer, how your product will benefit them, and how you compare to competitors. Customer testimonials, trials and demos, and email campaigns (supplemented by blog content, case studies, and videos) are prime lead nurture resources.
Your metrics here should give you a sense of whether your content is useful in helping sales start conversations. Here are some metrics to keep in mind:
Lead-to-customer percentage. Track your leads through the marketing funnel by seeing how many of the folks up top actually become customers. Where are most people dropping off in the funnel? This will indicate whether to focus on lead nurture, or on an earlier stage of the funnel.
Email open rates and clickthrough rates. You put time into reaching your email subscribers, but are they paying attention? This is especially important for more targeted emails, which are designed to address people’s specific product interests.
Goal: Retain more customers
You’ve sealed the deal with new customers -- congratulations! But how do you keep them around beyond the first purchase?
The key is building brand loyalty. It’s not just about getting them to make more purchases; it’s about having them identify with your brand. If people trust and support your company, they will also want to tell others about your product. Special email outreach efforts and customer-only deals and discounts are some ways you can show your existing customers some love.
Instead of focusing solely on metrics here, think about fostering collaboration among all your teams. This means building a solid product, making sure customer support addresses users’ needs, and maintaining relationships through marketing outreach. All teams contribute to a customer’s experience, so make sure everyone is on board.
Metrics are not one-size-fits-all
There’s no single metric for measuring your content’s success. Different pieces of content have different goals, so adjust your metrics accordingly.
With the right metrics in place, your marketing team can understand how your audience behaves and what strategies work best. Your content will always be evolving; let your metrics evolve with it.