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Content Engagement Metrics: Finding the Right KPIs

Using content engagement metrics to measure the success of content marketing programs isn’t a “want” for CMOs and social media managers. Knowing how to measure content marketing ROI is a need.

Still, it can be hard to know where to start.

The speed at which content marketing moves makes it difficult for marketers to pause to figure out how to measure content marketing effectiveness. It’s hard enough for content managers to take the time to ground content strategy in customer journey insight, let alone make time for content metrics.

Sometimes, the sheer volume of content metric options can paralyze marketers from choosing any content marketing KPIs at all.

However, it’s critical that we do measure our content campaigns. And the time to set content strategy metrics is during the content planning process, not after campaign launch. Before you publish your first piece of content, you need to know what your content marketing metrics for the campaign will be.

Following three foundational steps will guide your efforts to measure content marketing performance and find the best key performance indicators (KPIs) for your campaign.

Measuring With Content Engagement Metrics: 3 Foundational Steps

Before you can identify the best content engagement metrics for your campaign, you need to take three steps.

  • Align content deliverables and messaging with the customer journey.
  • Decide what action(s) you want your ideal audiences to take.
  • Tie KPIs to organizational goals.

All of the above impact content metrics and campaign performance. Understanding the journey a customer takes from first learning about your brand to purchase should inform the CTAs you use throughout your campaign.

Those CTAs should in turn inform the KPIs you select to measure the effectiveness of your content marketing campaigns.

With that foundation in place, you can turn your attention to deciding how to measure the success of your content marketing efforts.

How to Measure Content Marketing Performance: 3 Common Responses

Each time someone is exposed to a piece of your content, there is the opportunity for a response to that content. Here are three measurable responses you can turn into KPIs.

Actions that lead to business outcomes

    • Filling out an online form
    • Purchasing a product or service from an affiliate link
    • Scheduling a call with a sales representative

Engagement that doesn’t lead directly to business outcomes

    • Viewing a video
    • Liking or sharing a social post
    • Subscribing to a social channel

Exposure that predisposes someone to take an action related to a business outcome in the future

    • Seeing, hearing or watching an ad
    • Reading a news story or article
    • Viewing a video or post in a social media feed

Because the customer journey is nonlinear, it’s important to track and set KPIs across all three types of responses. Doing so provides a fuller picture of the effectiveness of your content strategy.

Selecting KPIs and Tying Them to Organizational Goals

Record your organizational or strategic business goals. Whether you use an Excel spreadsheet, presentation deck or yellow legal pad is irrelevant. What matters more is that you know what your strategic business goals are, how your content strategy will support them and what content engagement metrics you will use to show the effectiveness of your tactics in helping achieve those goals.

Think about actions customers or prospects could take to achieve your strategic business goals.

If one of your goals is to increase sales of an existing product or service, responses at every stage of the sales funnel (or flywheel) could become KPIs in the content campaign you develop. Potential KPIs could include:

  • Product video views.
  • White paper downloads.
  • Liking or commenting on a social media post about the brand or its products/services.
  • Reading articles on the company blog or website.
  • Opening an email from your company.
  • Exposure to a campaign ad or influencer engagement.

Be as specific as possible in the KPIs you choose. If reading company blog posts is one of your content metrics, specify the exact scroll depth or time spent on page that you will consider a success.

If viewing a video becomes a KPI, decide how much of the video must be watched to be considered a win.

Weight Responses Differently

Just like there are different types of content, not all actions, or responses, are equal. Reading 100% of a 3,500 word article on a complex topic and then clicking through to other pieces of content on a landing page or microsite requires more time and effort than watching a 15-second ad on YouTube.

For this reason, you’ll want to consider weighting your content engagement metrics. Assigning greater value to user behaviors that lead directly to a sale or require more effort of a prospect can inform how much time and money you invest in nurturing that prospect.

For example, webinar signups may carry a 0.1x multiplier within your content metrics, whereas staying through to the end and submitting questions to a moderator may carry a 1.0x multiplier.

Likewise, simply seeing a Facebook post may carry a 0.1x multiplier, whereas a “like” could carry a 0.5x multiplier and a “share” a 1.0x multiplier.

Weighting actions differently helps key stakeholders and decision-makers across your organization understand the relative value and importance of the responses people show to your content campaigns.

Keep in mind that platforms measure responses to content differently, so your content marketing reports should explain those differences. Provide context with your numbers to help decision-makers understand campaign results.

Establish a Baseline for Best Results

How do you currently measure success?

Are you measuring success one campaign at a time?

Or are you measuring marketing activities over a certain period of time, such as a quarter or year?

Especially in the beginning, work your content engagement metrics into the existing framework your organization currently uses. Set a baseline by which future activities will be measured over a designated time, event, or series of events.

Know Upfront What You Can and Cannot Measure

If one of your organizational goals is to increase sales of widgets and you want to show how your content contributes to sales, you’ll first need to know the volume, value and frequency of sales currently occurring.

You’ll also need to know who’s buying.

Align your buyer personas with the types of people buying the targeted product, create content for those buyers in each stage of the buyer journey and design tactics that set your content in places where your ideal audiences can discover, engage and respond to it.

If part of your sales cycle and customer journey occurs offline in an environment where customer engagement can’t be tracked, consider what metrics you can set to gauge the effectiveness of your content in settings where you have lower visibility.

Building questions about how a customer found you into your post sales process or requiring sales associates to record customer actions into a CRM system are two examples of how to measure the effectiveness of your content pieces in an offline environment.

Connect every piece of content you create to a business goal, customer journey stage and buyer persona.

Make it your goal to measure every content asset your team manages.

Then, amplify your content across your paid, earned, shared and owned channels to squeeze as much value as possible out of your content.

A Final Word on Content Engagement Metrics

If all of this feels overwhelming and you don’t know where to start, go back to basics. Let proven principles of inbound marketing, customer journey mapping and integrated marketing strategies guide your efforts.

And if you get stuck along the way, contact the pros at OBI Creative for help strategizing, designing and implementing campaigns with measurable tactics that deliver satisfying ROI and help achieve business goals.