|Photo by Marissa Grootes on Unsplash|
If you are feeling this way while staring at the long list of content marketing KPIs you could be tracking, wondering which to pursue or forgo, you’re never alone. There are thousands of content marketing metrics, spanning dozens of categories. And if this weren’t overwhelming enough, all the experts and metric-tracking tools — including Google Analytics, HubSpot, and Semrush — have different recommendations of which work best.
After teaching thousands of companies the way to build world-class content marketing programs — many recognized as some of the best inbound marketing case studies on the planet — we’ve narrowed down our list to 7 KPIs that generate the most content marketing wins.
But before we get to the list, we would like to share with you the single most important thing your team can do to nail its content marketing goals.
What’s the one thing that enabled all of those companies to achieve such incredible success?
They all hired a full-time in-house content manager whose sole job was to own the content marketing for the company.
If you would like to improve your content marketing wins — and fast — you need to hire an in-house content manager.
Whenever one among our clients starts a content marketing initiative without a true “owner” of the content, it never works out. Other priorities always take precedence, production is just too slow, and therefore the entire team never catches the vision.
Companies that hire an in-house content manager have one person whose only goal is to make content, and that they are far more invested in the success of your content marketing program than any freelancer or agency could ever be.
Not only will your content manager ensure content is published regularly without fail, they're going to also:
- Obsess over creating high-quality content that accurately reflects truth tone and spirit of your brand.
- Interview your company’s material experts and capture their insights (and your company’s unique perspective) and integrate it into your content.
- Work directly with the sales team and help them integrate content into the sales process, allowing them to shut more deals faster.
- Monitor your organic search performance and routinely improve ranking and traffic results.
- Update existing content to make sure it remains relevant and effective.
- Oversee the opposite areas of your sales and marketing initiatives where content is critical (including your website, email, and social media).
As you'll see, this role is actually a full-time job and someone has to own it. We’ve seen businesses add content marketing responsibilities to staff who are already wearing too many hats, and it’s never figured out . you want to have a content manager if you want to be successful.
We’re often asked, “Can’t we just outsource our content to a freelancer or an agency?”
The answer to this question is a definitive no. the bulk of companies embracing inbound marketing take this path, and it’s a path that results in inconsistent, lackluster results.
We’ve seen it too repeatedly .
No freelancer or agency is ever visiting be able to give your content marketing efforts what they need to succeed. They aren’t as invested as an in-house content manager would be; they're going to always be juggling your work with the needs of other businesses.
Content marketing KPIs to trace for better results
Now that you simply have your content manager in place (you took that first step, right?), let’s dive into the 7 content marketing KPIs the foremost successful content managers track — and your content manager should too.
1. Number of content marketing pieces published per week
The most important KPI to track — especially when you’re first starting out — is publishing at least three pieces of quality content (articles, video, etc.) hebdomadally .
This is because search engines have one mission: Find information that best answers their searchers’ questions and help them meet their goals. once you publish valuable and transparent content on a regular basis, search engines will recognize that your website provides plenty of useful information, and you'll rank higher and faster in SERPs.
In other words, if you would like your website to rank well for lots of terms, and if you would like Google to see you as an authority in your area of expertise, you want to publish at a consistent rate.
Our data shows that when companies produce three or more pieces of great content per week, for a minimum of one year, traffic and leads generally explode.
Some companies publish more to urge bigger results even faster. But generally , three higher-quality articles, videos, or other content is what you would like to get search engines to recognize your website and offering up your information in search results.
Take Ragan Roofing, for instance . After publishing two articles per week, they weren’t seeing much change in website traffic (they were getting around 200 to 300 page views per month, which were increasing slowly). After working with IMPACT to publish three pieces of content per week, they experienced a way faster increase in organic traffic with page views nearing 40,000 per month — that’s 16 times the traffic!
Once again, so as to hit this metric, you would like to hire an in-house content manager. it's extremely difficult to rely on freelancers or agencies to wrangle enough quality content per week to get you to this place. Your content manager, however, should be ready to hit this metric easily (and even more).
Note: If you’re still thinking three articles per week is just too many, consider this: One great article should take a competent writer at some point to produce. If this individual is sweet at their job, and assuming they need subject matter experts available to them (leadership should ensure this happens), three solid posts should absolutely be possible.
Another reason you MUST have a content manager on staff.
2. Organic website traffic
Despite what other sources might say, at IMPACT we believe organic traffic is a particularly important metric to track. For starters, it’s one among the best ways to measure how well your company is educating people (more traffic means more people are finding you). Also, it’s a number one indicator of more inbound leads and sales. The more folks that are on your site, the more opportunities you've got to convert leads.
Now, is all website traffic great? in fact not. Website traffic is merely great if you have the right type of website traffic. and that we can tell you definitively there is a surefire way to get qualified traffic — meaning real buyers looking for products and services like yours, on your website.
When Marcus Sheridan, one among the principals here at IMPACT, owned his pool business, he and his entire company, River Pools and Spas, almost lost everything to the 2008 recession. to save lots of his business from going under, he published content on his website that answered the questions his customers were asking. But not in only any way — with honesty and complete transparency.
As a result, his website’s traffic and sales erupted, saving the corporate – which is still thriving today.
After seeing such a lot success by using content to drive more traffic, Marcus analyzed the patterns that indicated which sort of content was driving the best results. He discovered five topics that drove the foremost traffic — and this traffic was from real potential buyers, also resulting in more sales opportunities.
These could seem simple to you or even obvious, but after teaching many companies his method and helping them get the same results, it’s clear that the majority businesses aren’t doing this at all, or a minimum of not well (typically because most businesses are afraid to tackle these topics head-on). Marcus also found these are often effective in any industry, whether your business is B2B or B2C.
We call them the large 5, and that they are:
- Pricing and costs: what proportion your solution costs (factors, considerations, what defines value, etc.).
- Problems: The negatives about, or issues with, your solution that buyers ask about.
- Versus and comparisons: How your product or solution compares to similar products or solutions.
- Reviews: Honest and unbiased opinions and observations about your product, solution, etc.
- Best in class: What the simplest solution available is.
When people keep coming to you for these answers, search engines feel easier offering your content to other searchers. The result's typically organic traffic that increases steadily month over month, which indicates that the content you’re producing is establishing a precedence of reliability and trust with prospects and search engines alike.
For most companies, picking between tracking organic traffic metrics like “sessions” or “new users” doesn’t matter too much. As long as you choose one, measure it consistently, and ensure you’re seeing consistent improvement month over month to determine whether your content strategy is working.
3. Session-to-contact rate
After publishing plenty of content, it’s exciting to work out the organic traffic pouring in; however, you would like to be sure it’s not just any traffic — but the right traffic.
Measuring your contact conversion rate can facilitate your gauge this.
To calculate your contact conversion rate, divide new contacts by the amount of total website sessions. a robust contact conversion rate means your website visitors are clicking on your calls-to-action (CTAs) and filling out forms, exchanging their personal information for content they find valuable. (A tool like HubSpot will manage this for you.)
Some of the high-performing content we see our clients use that drives the most conversions include:
- Buyer guides
- Self-service or self-assessment tools
When you see an increase in conversions, it means your content is providing such a lot value that your prospects don’t mind sharing personal information — such as their name, email address, and name — to gain access to that content. this is often difficult to do sometimes because we all want to guard our personal information and are reluctant to share it.
4. Sales opportunities generated from inbound (SQLs)
When you invest in a content marketing program, this is often likely the KPI your company will pay the most attention to because you want to know the content you’re creating is not only driving more organic traffic to your site but that it’s also increasing sales opportunities.
By applying the principles of the previously mentioned the large 5, you’ll attract real potential customers who have problems that your company helps them solve. This creates more (and better) opportunities for your sales team.
This is because by the time your prospects reach out to you, they’re already educated about your products and services. (Which may be a direct result of the incredible content you’re creating that answers their questions and helps them solve their problems.)
If done correctly, your website are going to be your company’s best salesperson.
This was a discovery that slapped Marcus within the face back when he was selling for River Pools and Spas.
After receiving an invitation for a sales appointment, Marcus noticed that an opportunity (whom we’ll call “Mr. G.”) landed on his site after searching “cost of a fiberglass swimming bath .” He found that Mr. G.’s wife, Mrs. G., was also reading pages on the River Pools and Spas website. They stood bent him for one very peculiar reason: these two users had viewed over 500 pages of his website! Marcus went ahead and scheduled the appointment.
5. Average length of the sales cycle
Speaking of shortening the sales cycle, one among the biggest lessons we teach at IMPACT is the importance of aligning marketing and sales. When your sales team and content manager are in step with which pieces of content your sales team must close deals more efficiently, the effect this has on your revenue are often incredible.
We call these revenue teams, where the key players in your sales and marketing teams meet weekly to make sure both departments are headed toward the same goal: increasing company revenue.
The revenue team is responsible of developing and executing a content strategy that can be used to increase closing rates and close deals faster — and we do this with the process of assignment selling.
Remember the incredible example of Mr. G.? He and his wife consumed over 500 pages of content and knew exactly what they wanted during a swimming pool.
When Marcus showed up for the sales appointment, it had been a 45-minute visit versus the typical 2½ hours. And again, he didn’t have to do any actual selling. The couple had their minds made up.
We’re not saying you would like to assign this much content (30 pages or more is key), but with assignment selling, you’re sending prospects information about your products and services before they meet with sales. This way, when prospects reach bent you, they’re more educated about your offerings and closer to being able to buy.
With content tracking tools like HubSpot, you'll also see which specific pages prospects have visited. this protects your sales team time and helps them close more deals faster because they’ll know what information they can leave out and quickly fill in the gaps of what your prospects need to learn to make a purchasing decision.
6. Ranking for important keywords
When your website starts ranking for the highest keywords in your industry, it shows that your dedication to providing valuable content and being the No. 1 teacher in your space is paying off. You’ve hired your content manager, they’re ensuring you’re publishing high-quality content at a regular cadence, and your prospects are finally finding you. Search engines are noticing, too.
This creates a snowball effect because as your content ranks well, your overall program optimization (SEO) success improves — which means more visibility on those search engine results pages (SERPs). In turn, the speed at which your content produces results increases.
IMPACT client AIS, a B2B technology company, saw these results once they addressed all The Big 5 questions in their industry. They initially thought it had been too late to beat out their competition with content, and even worked with workplace — but when they addressed those difficult-to-talk-about topics, like copier costs and comparisons (e.g., Sharp copiers vs. Kyocera copiers), they went from ranking for important keywords in about fortnight to a few minutes.
They even ranked for a really short, difficult-to-own keyword in their space: copier. And even more impressive, this keyword ranking is before big-name companies in their space such as Xerox, Canon, and Konica Minolta.
7. New sales attributed to content marketing
When your sales are increasing as an immediate result of the content you’re creating, it’s no surprise this means a content marketing win. Again, content-tracking tools like HubSpot can tell you exactly where – specific articles or videos – a prospect entered your site, and the way many pieces of content they touched before making a purchase.
You can use this information to tie back one piece of content to a specific dollar amount or ROI, and you'll tell exactly how many new sales are coming in because of your content marketing program.
This means you will never second guess whether the time and energy you’re putting into your content marketing initiative are actually worth it — you will have the numbers to back you up!
(If you're putting together a complete marketing program, take a look at this broader look at the marketing KPIs that matter.)