The phrases “content marketing metrics” and “data-driven content marketing” are singing on the lips of every 2020 marketer. And you want in.

But, while you understand that content personalization and content analytics tools will boost your 2020 content marketing campaigns, you don’t know where to start.

In fact, you’re so tangled up in statistics and insights that you can’t tell the content trends from the conversion insights, the page views from the purchase data.

To get a handle on harnessing your 2020 content metrics (and reach your marketing goals), you need to know the key content marketing metrics to measure.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of pinpointing the most important content marketing metrics for 2020.

Read on to learn:

  • Why more content data doesn’t always mean better content marketing campaigns
  • How to identify strong marketing metrics specific to you
  • Important consumption-, engagement-, and conversion-related content metrics
  • The best analytics tools to measure content marketing metrics

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How Many Content Metrics Are Too Many?

There are two important considerations to bear in mind when devising content metrics.

Content marketing metrics need to be relevant to each business goal and manageable.

Bad Content Marketing Metrics Are Irrelevant

Your metrics need to be relevant to your business goals. When you focus on monitoring tons of marketing metrics that are irrelevant, these insights are known as vanity metrics.

Vanity metrics are a sly way  of making you feel like you’re performing better than you are.

Vanity metrics may show that you have lots of followers on social media or that lots of people downloaded your free guide, but if you’ve had no sales from these behaviors?

They’re just fluff.

They’re not helping your content marketing ROI.

Good metrics are tied solidly to the goals that you create to scale your business and boost your marketing ROI. They are contextualized with robust key performance indicators.

If you’re collecting a bunch of content performance data and you can’t make head nor tail of it, ask yourself these three questions:

1. How can this metric be used to guide future marketing efforts?

EXAMPLE: The data shows you have 10x subscribers to your Crypto mailing list. This means 10x as many customers to market your ‘Crypto Business Contacts List’ to. Your next emails should focus on this call-to-action.

2. What does this metric show you that you can actionably reproduce?

EXAMPLE: 90% of new mailing list subscribers came via a landing page for a ‘Free Guide to Investing in Crypto Startups’. Create more landing pages and free guides and market these on the same content channels.

3. Is this data a true picture of reality?

EXAMPLE: 50% of the new subscribers are actually employees in the business. They were threatened with being fired if they didn’t sign up but have no intention of buying anything.

For a metric to be valuable, you need to establish that it’s actionable, accurate, and replicable.

Bad Content Marketing Metrics Are Unmanageable

It’s one thing to set up complex analytics systems to collect data, but managing that data is another thing entirely.

This is especially poignant in today’s world. Stringent legislation is being introduced, forcing strict data management procedures for the collection, use, and storage of data.

With this in mind, it’s far better to have fewer strong content metrics you can manage, rather than drowning in data you can’t decipher.

Map out the resources you have to cope with content metric management. How many staff can you dedicate? Which tools can you afford? How much time can you spend on this every month?

Without designing the internal structures to cope with this flow of important data, you’ll miss trends and leave yourself open to legal data problems.

As the CMO of Bazaarvoice, Sara Spivey, puts it:

“Think about the first problem that people complain about when a city experiences great growth – the roads are too crowded. The infrastructure can’t keep up. Marketing is facing the same problem. Too much data with not enough structure in place to manage the data and not enough meaningful application.”

And you’ll know when you have too many marketing metrics — you’ll simply start ignoring your content campaign altogether.

Rather than getting to the stage where you need to bury your head in the sand, establish a systematic approach to data management. Work out where you’ll store the data, who will interpret it, and how you’ll strategize for future marketing campaigns from there.

How to Craft Strong Content Marketing Metrics

As noted above, marketing metrics are based on the goals you have already created to scale your business.

First, establish these goals.

This should be done before a content marketing campaign.

However if you happen to be late to the game, consider the main goals for the content you have already put out. Did you write that blog to increase subscribers? Did you use Facebook polls to get more user-feedback? Have you added lots of landing pages to collect data for email marketing?

Secondly, look for your key performance indicators (KPIs).

Your blog KPIs are measurable moments in your sales funnel where you are converting leads from one stage to the next.

For example, if someone signs up to your email campaign, they go from being a cold lead to entering the top of the sales funnel.

In this case, your goal may be to increase lead generation by 50% in six months.

Your KPI would be the number of people that sign up for your email campaign.

Here, the content marketing metric you would measure would be the rate of increase of subscribers.

If you start with 100 subscribers, and you have 200 subscribers after six months, that’s a 100% increase — you smashed your goal, so replicate this campaign.

Whereas a rise to 120 subscribers after half a year would only be a 20% increase, so you’ll need to change up your campaign.

Consumption-Based Content Marketing Metrics

Consumption-based metrics relate to the visibility of your content, often referring to the number of people that access each platform.

These metrics are useful to pattern your brand awareness, especially at the beginning of content marketing campaigns.

This data will show you consumption patterns such as:

  • Pageviews – How many people have viewed your website/social media page per day/month/year
  • Organic website traffic – How many non-paid-for visitors do you get? 76% of marketers believe that this is the most important metric to content success
  • Unique pageviews – How many of those views came from new visitors (compared to returning visitors)
  • Subscriber rates – How many people are signing up to your social media or email campaigns?
  • Traffic source – Which platforms are your visitors coming from and when?
  • Sessions – How many times did a user go to your site?

Most analytics tools will enable you to view these statistics in the back-end of your account.

By monitoring these metrics, you can see how many people are touching your content and how many times they return. This will help you to identify the number of times you need to ‘convince’ visitors with content.

You’ll also get an idea of your rate of growth and from which channels that growth is stemming from.

Facebook

A sample Group Insights of Facebook.
A sample Group Insights of Facebook.

It’s pretty well known that Facebook dabbles in data management. Luckily for the end user, this means that the social network’s analytics systems are pretty comprehensive.

You can monitor the total number of members you have and see the visual rate of growth with a handy chart. Change the growth period on the chart to see how campaigns perform over time.

Instagram

A sample Instagram page.
A sample Instagram page.

While Instagram doesn’t have in-built analytics systems for the average user account, you can monitor the rate of follower growth.

By comparing your follower growth to the number of posts, you can calculate your average number of followers per content piece.

For more detailed metrics, try tools like Owlmetrics.

Mailchimp

A sample MailChimp backend analysis.
A sample MailChimp backend analysis.

Mailchimp’s backend analytics are super easy to understand but very thorough. You can see how many people have opened your email marketing campaign, and the reach of your social media posts.

Both of these metrics show you how visible your content is to consumers.

Engagement-Based Content Marketing Metrics

While consumption-based metrics show you how visible your content is, this data is limited. As previously noted, lots of visitors and no sales makes for a very sneaky set of vanity metrics.

Engagement metrics tell you a story about how existing customers and target clients are interacting with your content.

Quality engagement metrics measure behavior:

  • Click-through rate – What are people clicking on the most?
  • Dwell time – How long are people staying on each page before leaving?
  • Bounce rate – How quickly are people leaving without doing anything?
  • Shares, comments, likes – How are people interacting and how often?
  • Unique Page Views – Where are return customers coming from?
  • Sessions/Pages – How many pages does each user visit? What journey do they take?

Facebook

A sample engagement-based content marketing metrics of Facebook.
A sample engagement-based content marketing metrics of Facebook.

Facebook has a myriad of ways in which users can engage, from comments to reactions, from like to shares.

Take ‘reactions’, for example. An increase in ‘haha’ reactions to certain posts rather than simply ‘likes’ shows a better quality of engagement, since reactions are a little more effort than likes.

With photo, video, and written content marketing opportunities abound, Facebook is a stellar marketing channel for locking into key engagement marketing metrics.

Twitter

A sample of Twitter's comprehensive analytics suite.
A sample of Twitter’s comprehensive analytics suite.

Despite its brevity when it comes to the 140-character limit, Twitter actually has a very comprehensive analytics suite out back.

When it comes to engagement metrics, Twitter won’t simply give chart-laden analytics on tweet likes. Twitter takes engagement metrics a step further by showing you the most popular tweets, top mentions, top follower, and so on. You can also use tools like twitter analytics tools for best results on the analysis for your twitter engagement.

SEMRush

Backlinks are connections created to your site by someone sharing inbound links to your content.

Backlinks are created when someone posts a link to your article on a forum, shares a social media post, includes you in a ‘Weekly Top 5’ newsletter, and so on.

Backlinks show that consumers consider you an authority on the topic, pushing you up search engine rankings by improving your E-A-T rating.

SEMRush will help you track who is sharing your content where. This map will help you to project future content in the right direction.

Conversion-Based Content Marketing Metrics

While likes and shares are great, conversions are the real honey.

The aim of your content marketing campaigns is to guide your target audience down the sales funnel, from lead generation to engagement to conversion.

Conversions are most often considered to be sales, but this isn’t always the case. Your conversion-based content metrics should measure the completion of any purposeful call-to-action, such as signing a petition or downloading a free guide.

For example, lead generation is considered to be the second most important content metric for success, and can be considered conversion.

Robust conversion-based content marketing metrics relate to your call-to-action touchpoints:

  • Signup rate – How many more new subscribers are you converting each week?
  • ROI – How much did your marketing campaign cost compared to your sales? Did you stay within your marketing budget?
  • Response rate – How many people replied to your survey
  • Lead generation rate – How many new leads are you generating each week?
  • Sessions: What leads customers to conversion most often?
  • Cart abandonment: How often do customers leave with a full cart?
  • Traffic source: Where do converting visitors come from?
  • Conversion rate: How many visitors convert?

ClickFunnels

A sample of a content strategy analysis of ClickFunnels.
A sample of a content strategy analysis of ClickFunnels.

ClickFunnels is one of the top sales funnel tools. Championing the combination of landing pages and email marketing, ClickFunnels has a very complex backend to analyze the success of a content strategy.

The data from each funnel will highlight which stage generates the most profit, along with the open and click-through rates.

It’s pretty clear to see where customers convert best and where content needs improvement.

Retention Content Marketing Metrics

One important factor of marketing that’s often neglected is retention.

Considering the Pareto Principle, it’s commonly accepted that 80% of your profits will come from 20% of your clients. In this vein, customer retention strategies are vital.

To ensure you’re reducing your churn rate, look at retention metrics such as:

  • Bounce rate – How many people click off your site without acting, and how soon?
  • Unsubscribe rate – How many people are unsubscribing and following which events?
  • Returning customer rate – How many customers browse or shop again?
  • Referral rate – How many customers and where are customers referring to you?

Best Content Marketing Metrics Tools For 2020

Analytics tools can make measuring metrics far easier as this type of software packages the data into visual-friendly reports. Since 86% of B2B companies now used content analytics tools, why not try some of these.

#1: Google Analytics

Google Analytics will show you who is visiting, when, from where, and how often.

A killer free tool, you’ll be able to understand where your campaigns are sucking in the most engagement and how that’s converting to your website.

#2: Bitly

Originally simply a link shortening tool, Bitly now shows you the analytics of all the websites you used the link shortener for!

#3: WordPress

There are a whole host of WordPress solutions for content analytics. Here’s an article with some of the top WordPress SEO boosting tools.

#4: Social Animal

Social Animal brands itself as the ‘Swiss Army Knife of Content Marketing.’ You can find tons of insights and content suggestions to help action the data you collect.

Conclusion

Understanding content analytics and getting a grip on your content metrics doesn’t need to be a disaster.

While rivers of metrics can be chaotic and unmanageable, a few high-quality, relevant metrics will give clear indicators of how to steer your content campaigns for success.

Remember to consider your return visitors as much as new customers. Customer retention is a big deal and client churn can work negatively for your marketing ROI.

In short, use metrics to understand what your audience is moved by and double down on this type of content.

Use metrics to identify customer engagement trends. Leverage this customer interaction by providing clear call-to-action points to move your audience through to converted customers.