Today, most marketeers agree that content marketing is an essential part of the marketing mix. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute has reported that content marketing is used by 88% of B2B marketers.

There’s little doubt that content is an essential tool for reaching many different business goals. But how can you truly quantify how well a specific campaign or piece of content is performing?

Below, we’ll show you some tips for monitoring the performance of your content, and give you some advice on the best metrics to look at, depending on your content marketing goals.

The real reason for measuring performance

Before we talk about ‘how’ to measure performance, let’s start with ‘why’ we should measure it in the first place.

If you’re trying to prove the actual return on investment for a piece of content or a content marketing campaign by putting an actual monetary amount on it, then you’re probably not going to find the answer you’re looking for.

Tracking performance is not about calculating ROI. The real reason why it’s important to measure your content’s performance is so that you can continually improve it. By gaining insights into what your content is doing well, and what it’s not doing so well, you can continually adjust your content offering to meet your target group’s needs more fully. And this is practically guaranteed to result in healthier lead generation and, ultimately, conversion.

There’s no one-size performance KPI for content

Measuring performance starts with setting your own goals for what you want your content to achieve. If your goals are not clearly defined to begin with, then there’s no way to tell whether your content is really performing or not.

Here are a couple of tips:

  • Try using the SMART method to get a clearer idea of your goals. That means setting goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-based.
  • Apply your goals not just to a specific piece of content, but to your content campaigns. This gives you more data to use to determine performance, so you’ll have more insights for what to improve going forward.

An example of a SMART content goal might look something like this:

‘We want to increase email signups by 10% over the next three months.’

As you can see, there’s a specific target (10%) that is time-based (over the next three months).

This goal is measurable, because you can track how many new signups you generate, and it’s actionable, because you can take specific steps to make it happen.

Whether this goal is relevant depends on your overall strategy. If you can link an increase in email signups with an increase in conversion, for example, that means it’s a relevant goal, and one that is worth pursuing.

Since your goals are what actually defines your performance, the metrics you look at must be linked specifically with them. In other words, there’s no magical universal metric that always indicates whether content is performing. Instead, it’s about keeping track of how well your content is performing in relation to the goal you’ve set.

Choose metrics that match your goals

To keep track of performance, you need to choose the right metrics to follow. Here are some common content marketing goals, followed by the metrics that are most often used to track them:

  • Lead generation: Signups, downloads, conversion rate
  • Engagement: Social media interactions, comments, likes and shares, view times (including bounce rate as a KPI of negative performance)
  • Brand awareness: Page views, downloads, social media interactions, website traffic

Focus on continual improvement

Lastly, remember that your goals (and your target group’s needs) will change over time. The purpose of tracking performance is to gain insight into how you can cater your content more fully to changing market conditions.

If you spot a trend in how one campaign has helped you to achieve a specific goal, then you can safely apply that insight in the future when trying to reach a similar goal. And, on the flipside, if you find out that your approach hasn’t helped you to achieve a goal, then it’s time to try something else.

Most importantly, be responsive to what your target groups are telling you. If the data shows that a certain type of content isn’t performing, use your creativity to offer them something else.