Tracking your content marketing performance isn’t as easy as simply measuring your ROI – you need content marketing KPIs.
By its very nature, content marketing demands time, effort and consistency. This makes performance analysis a complicated and often overlooked process.
That ends today.
The difference between a good and great content marketer is found in the finer details. More often than not, that means knowing what to track and how to use this information to optimise your efforts.
In simpler terms, know your content marketing KPIs!
As an experienced content marketer, I have tracked (what feels like) a thousand different metrics. But, after years of measuring (near enough) every stat on the web, I’ve boiled my content marketing metrics down to the handful on this list.
Using the information from these metrics, I understand more about my audience, can predict results from almost every piece of content and most importantly, constantly up my game (and my content marketing return).
Now it’s your turn.
In this guide, I’ll explain and point you in the direction of the most important valuable content marketing KPIs so you can track your content’s performance.
The Importance of Content Marketing KPIs
Content marketing, whether you’re working on a personal brand or an established company, is a business activity. This must act as a distinguishing factor in your thinking.
Business activities only make sense if the business prospers as a result of them. This means knowing your goals, understanding where content marketing fits in and tracking your performance in relation to that goal.
The great thing about content is that it ticks many boxes. Content can:
- Build awareness
- Grow audiences
- Generate traffic
- Capture leads
- Convert sales
- And much more…
It’s your obligation – before we get into the content marketing KPIs – to know what you want content to achieve for your business.
This means knowing your digital goals, having a clear strategy in place and deciding on the content tactics that are going to take you there.
BTW: KPI stands for key performance indicator. These are the metrics that are most valuable when measuring your performance.
If you’re stuck, I’d suggest checking out one of these articles before tracking the content marketing KPIs:
- The Content Strategy: A Forward Thinking Approach
- The Content Marketing Funnel: From Cold Prospect to Customer
When you’re in the knowledge of what it is you’re trying to achieve, you’re ready to track your content KPIs and optimise your performance.
The Crucial Ingredient
Before you can track anything, you need the correct software.
As you may have noticed, I’m a native content publisher. That means that I prefer to publish content on websites (that are owned by myself or those I work with).
By publishing here instead of content sites like Medium, it gives me free and unrestrained access to the analytical information I require – allowing me to track my content marketing KPIs and optimise my content performance. (As well as a bunch of other very important strategic stuff).
If your content strategy is largely based on social media, YouTube or podcasting, I recommend making an effort to publish content on your website (content can easily be transferred from these sites or embedded on your site), in addition to using specialised analytics tools, for instance:
- YouTube Studio
- Instagram Analytics (for business accounts)
- iTunes Podcast Connect
However, when it comes to your own website, there is only one winner – Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is free, powerful and grants content marketers of all abilities access to invaluable data.
Short of sounding like a salesman for GA (which wouldn’t earn much because it’s a free tool), it’s one of the first things you should configure after launching a new website.
Make sure you have the correct analytics software installed for your content type. It’s the only way you’ll be able to track your content marketing KPIs and optimise for them.
The Content Marketing KPIs
Our KPIs have been split into larger sections, so you can quickly find the data that’s most important to you.
Go through our list and start building your own content marketing KPI document.
If you’re already tracking your content performance and notice that we’ve missed something, be sure to leave a comment at the bottom of this article.
We may even add your KPI to this article.
Traffic is the term used for visitors who enter your website.
High traffic scores tend to resemble successful content marketing strategies, but as you’ll come to learn, it’s not as simple as that.
For this analysis, you’ll need Google Analytics installed and plugged in to your website.
There are several different ways to track traffic as KPIs – here are some of the most valuable:
KPI Location: Google Analytics – Audience > Overview
The easiest way to use traffic as a KPI is to measure it in its entirety. This score will reveal how many visitors you’re attracting to your website.
Set intervals and measure your stats for each period – for instance, every 30 days.
Traffic is a good way of measuring the general popularity of your website, but doesn’t reveal much about the performance of your content – especially if you’re doing other things to draw new visitors to your site (e.g. advertising).
Traffic By Landing Page:
KPI Location: Google Analytics: Behaviour > Site Content > Landing Pages
This metric reveals the page that visitors have entered your website via, giving a good insight into your most valuable access points.
This is a particularly useful content marketing KPI, as it will show you what content is drawing the most traffic into your site – and therefore what your most valuable topics and pages are.
By understanding what’s drawing visitors to your website, you can create more of it!
Users by time of day:
KPI Location: Google Analytics – Home
It’s crucial that you know your optimum time to publish content.
Vary your publishing time, testing different days and times until you have enough data to fully understand your audience’s preference. Keep a track on the most popular times and days every month.
KPI Location: Google Analytics – Audience > Overview
Successful content generates ‘Returning Visitors’ – these are visitors who have already been to your website and are happy to come back again.
You must track and measure this every month. Your website (and traffic) will grow much faster if you’re able to encourage visitors to return regularly.
If this stat is not increasing month on month, you need to perform a thorough audit of your content. When visitors aren’t returning, it shows that your content isn’t doing enough.
Traffic Source Breakdown (and analysis):
KPI Location: Google Analytics – Acquisition > Overview
This content marketing KPI reveals your 6 main traffic sources: Organic, Direct, Social, Referral, Email, Other, and shows the level of traffic that each has brought in to your site.
This is a very important stat, as you can measure the strength of your content tactics and optimise accordingly.
Use this breakdown to analyse your best and worst performing sources. Discover where you can improve and what’s worked so far.
For example, if you’re putting a lot of energy into Facebook ads, measure the strength of your efforts in terms of traffic scores.
Best performing content (for traffic):
KPI Location: Google Analytics – Behaviour > Overview
This content KPI reveals the most viewed pages on your website, allowing you to see your best performing content.
Here, you’ll find a ranked list of the most viewed pages. Analyse the top content’s traffic sources and use this to help your content distribution and channel targeting strategy.
When you have a solid understanding of the traffic KPIs, it’s time to dig a little deeper into performance and see how it relates to your audience.
User behaviour is the best way to investigate what your audience think of your content.
It will give you a clear picture of the success of your content, your key distribution channels and your visitor’s behaviour after reading your content.
User behaviour is absolutely crucial. As a content marketer, I would much rather have 50 of my target audience visiting my site, than 5,000 random uninterested visitors.
The content KPIs in this section reveal the metrics that track how successfully you’re attracting the right kind of visitors, and give you insights into your content’s user experience.
Let’s take a look at the key user behaviour metrics you should be measuring every month:
KPI Location: Google Analytics – Behaviour > Overview
Bounce rate reveals what percentage of visitors are leaving your website without taking any further action.
If somebody visits one page on your website and leaves without clicking or visiting another page, they are considered as a ‘bounce’.
Tracking bounce rate will show you the success of your content at convincing your visitors to take further action.
If you are writing blogs without encouraging readers to take action (whether that’s reading something else, visiting another page, viewing a product) you will suffer from a high bounce rate.
As a content marketer you must aim to keep visitors on your website for as long as possible (further exposing them to your brand).
Time on Page:
KPI Location: Google Analytics – Behaviour > Overview
Avg. time on page shows how long visitors are spending on your content. It’s crucial that you aim to drive this number up every month with high-quality content.
The longer your audience spends on your content pages, the more it indicates success.
If your time on page stats are low, it’s an indication that your site is slow to load, your content doesn’t fulfil its promises or that your site doesn’t appeal to your visitors.
Bounce Rate and Avg. Time on Page (segmented by source):
KPI Location: Google Analytics – Acquisition > Source
Record the KPI metrics above for each traffic source.
This will give you an understanding of how each source is interacting with your content, and what requires the most work.
Behaviour Flow Analysis:
KPI Location: Google Analytics – Behaviour > Behaviour Flow
Whilst this metric is difficult to record, I always keep a close eye on it.
The behaviour flow shows the movements of your audience through your content. This can be used to understand if you’re driving your visitors in your desired direction, and how they’re interacting with your website.
Content isn’t only hosted on your website. Distributing, publishing and marketing on your social networks is an important part of content marketing.
Remember, a simple post on Facebook is content marketing, as is a curated video on Instagram. These are quicker to create than a video or long-form blog post, but their performance is still a crucial KPI that you should track.
Every post published on your social channels acts as a representation of your brand, it’s crucial that you measure how they perform.
These are some of the key content KPIs for social media that you should measure every month:
KPI Location: Social Profile/Social Network Analytics
The quality of your content has a massive effect on your social followers. Record your follower numbers every month (for each individual platform) to understand where and why your content is performing best.
Social networks tend to favour different demographics, by measuring your social follower counts on each platform, you can analyse where your content is attracting the highest number of ideal customers.
Using social followers as a KPI sounds basic, but you’d be surprised how many businesses don’t track or make targets for metrics like this. Don’t fall into this trap.
Check out our guide to getting more Facebook Page Likes.
Engagement rate (segmented):
KPI Location: Social Network Analytics/Insights
Engagement is a clear indication of content success.
Your engagement rate is measured by totalling up your comments, shares and likes (on each platform) and dividing this by your total number of followers.
E.g. if my post receives 100 likes, 10 comments and 20 shares, my total engagement for this post is 130. If my follower number is 1300, my engagement rate is 10%.
Be sure to segment your engagement rate for each platform – this will give you insights into where your audience is most responsive and where your content is most suited.
Native Social Shares (segmented):
KPI Location: Website share counter (plugin)
All our (natively hosted) blog posts and podcasts have share buttons.
Social shares are the digital world’s version of word-of-mouth – acting as a recommendation, creating social proof and increasing your organic reach.
Total up your shares each month to track performance.
Check out this article if you’d like want more social shares:
Competitor Analysis & Comparison
Understanding your place in the wider digital world is a key trackable metric (and probably my favourite data to watch).
In the past I have used a variety of different tracking sources, but I’ve streamlined this process down to the two that I deem most valuable.
I still use other tools but instead of tracking our performance, I use them for competitor analysis – you can find out more about this inside Einstein Marketer’s free subscriber training courses – Subscribe at the bottom of this page for more…
These are the two content marketing KPIs that I track every month:
KPI Location: https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo
Alexa is an Amazon company that ranks every website on the internet by its traffic score. The highest scoring website (Google) is at number 1, following this every other website is ranked in descending order.
This stat is important to record, but don’t chase a high Alexa rank.
Your audience comes first, so make sure your User Behaviour KPIs do not drop as you optimise for more visitors.
KPI Location: Ahrefs (paid) or Moz (free)
The domain authority is a measurement of the strength of your domain and the likelihood of it ranking on search engines.
Websites are ranked from 0-100, with 100 being the highest (it’s almost impossible to hit a perfect 100).
This is a really important monthly metric to track and build upon, so make sure you’re checking it!
You can learn more about domain authority and how to improve it in this Complete Guide to Domain Authority.
Most people use search engines to find answers, solve problems and perform product research, this is why organic/search performance is so important.
Traffic from search engines is (usually) highly qualified, interested in your content and always provides good behavioural metrics and it’s FREE.
My aim is to increase organic traffic month on month and so far on the Einstein Marketer website, I have (an almost) perfect record. This is in part due to creating evergreen content, as well as making a wider effort to market the content.
Most websites have to increase marketing spend in order to drive more traffic, but if you’re increasing organic traffic every month, you are receiving all the same benefits without having to spend a penny.
Increasing your organic traffic can be achieved with keyword research, link building, quality content and on-page SEO strategies.
Here are some of the content marketing KPIs to track your SEO performance:
Total organic traffic:
KPI Location: Google Analytics – Acquisition > Overview > Organic
Starting with the most obvious metric, always track and record your total organic traffic. This number refers to the total number of visitors who entered your website directly from search engines.
This can be found in Google Analytics.
More organic traffic = more free visitors. Optimise for search and track your total every month.
KPI Location: Google Search Console
A tool that will massively help your search engine tracking, optimisation and performance is the Google Search Console.
Using this FREE tool, you are able to track how many people saw your results in their search enquiries (impressions) and analyse the data for each page.
You can also submit your sitemap here, track some vital website metrics (including mobile usability, coverage and core web vitals) and compare your organic traffic across any Custom date range.
I’d suggest tracking your website’s organic impressions of your posts on Google as part of your content marketing KPIs. It’s a good measurement of how high your posts are appearing in the SERPs.
KPI Location: Google Search Console
When you know how many people are seeing your posts in the SERPs, it’s important to track how many of those people are clicking on your link – this is known as a CTR (click through rate).
A high CTR demonstrates appealing, clickable pages. A low CTR highlights a problem with your content.
Ensure that your headlines, meta descriptions and content is primed to appeal to new visitors.
If you notice a page with a low CTR, edit your headline and meta (without removing the keywords) and track the effects.
By tracking your organic CTR as a content marketing KPI, you give yourself a much higher chance of increasing it.
Make aims, implement tactics and track!
Goals and Conversions
The ultimate aim of content marketing is to benefit a brand or business – this means contributing with leads and sales in your funnel.
Unfortunately, the effects of content cannot be completely tracked as many visitors will find your website via content, leave and directly return, be retargeted, or follow on social, before making a subscription or purchase decision.
This is why I don’t recommend basing your content marketing KPIs around goals, leads and conversions. Yes, they’re vital to your success, but content often has an indirect impact on stats like these.
Track these numbers but don’t obsess over them. Remember, many of your leads and purchases will come as a result of content, but that doesn’t always mean that they’ll come directly from it.
Leads by Page Source
KPI Location: Google Analytics Goals or Opt-in Analytics Tools
99% of your native content should include some sort of offer on the page – even if that is as small as a newsletter subscription.
The highest converting type of lead generating offers are known as lead magnets. These are things like ebooks, checklists and templates, that are offered in exchange for a prospect’s contact details (check out this post for more ideas).
Attach or embed these offers to your content and track which pages generate the most leads for your business.
This content marketing KPI can be tracked in Google Analytics by setting up goals, tagging new subscribers by their offer page (although this would be a lengthy process) or using an opt-in software.
Opt-in tools that allow you to create pop-ups, embeds or slide-ins will all have their own native analytics tools – track these numbers as KPIs.
Goals (set-up in Google)
KPI Location: Google Analytics – Conversions > Goals > Overview
On a more general note, Google Analytics allows their users to track any goal that they choose to create – this includes things like sales, lead sign-ups, account creation, live chat, contact us or media plays (amongst many more).
These Goals are created in Google Analytics, by following this route:
Admin > View > Goals > +New Goal
From here, Google will walk you through the required steps.
Use this option to make goals that are specific to your business, offers and content marketing.
KPI Location: Onboarding questions.
Have you ever made a purchase and seen a message like this:
‘Where did you hear about us?’
Onboarding questions like this act as vital information for marketing and sales teams, and allow content marketers to better track their performance.
It’s important that you find out as much about your leads and customers as possible, this will allow you to personalise your future offers/content and optimise the customer journey.
Use a dropdown menu of options for your new customers to choose from and track the % of new customers who attribute your website’s social or native content as their first interaction with your business.
Tracking, recording and analysing your content marketing performance is the first step to optimising your strategy and improving your return.
Just as it is vital that you understand where you’re weakest, it’s also crucial that you know what you’re doing right and why it’s happening.
The more you know about your audience, the better you can serve them. Content marketing is a relationship, use the data from your KPIs to understand your audience’s needs.
The metrics in this article do not lie. Create goals and always aim to beat your previous performance!
How many of these content marketing KPIs do you already use? Have you got anything to add?
Leave a comment below and subscribe to the Einstein Marketer blog!
Thank you for outlining the matrices, however how do you project content marketing efforts in annual sales or revenue ? Because that is the kind of numbers clients are expecting when they compare digital marketing with tradirional marketing over print, tv etc. Can you elaborate on this point ?
Hey Sivaprasad, thank you for your comment and raising a very good question.
When I put this article together, I intentionally avoided talking about financial or lead generation metrics. It’s impossible to judge content in these terms without understanding your output, quality (of content) and industry.
However, it’s crucial that you remember that content marketing is a long term strategy. It isn’t like PPC ads, where you receive clicks until you stop paying.
Content is a commitment to consistency and quality. For instance, we have put a lot of time and effort into this blog (alongside all our client work) and we now we receive 1000’s of visitors from Search Engines, this is FREE qualified traffic. If we were selling something on this site, we would be very strongly positioned and have much more chance of doing it, because of our investment in content.
I hope this helps and has answered your question.
Just curious – what are your thoughts on metrics that show how content influences conversion?
I track conversion from Content by using the ‘Goals’ section of Google Analytics and tracking back to Goal Completion ‘Source’ and looking at the behavioural flow through our content.
It’s very difficult to know accurately how each piece of content affects conversion, as some users leave and return directly to buy (especially those who browse lots of websites before making a purchase decision). All I know for sure is that it definitely makes a massive difference, and the more high-quality content you create, the better you’ll position yourself for high conversions.
I’ll bookmark Einstein Marketer!