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How to Track Content Marketing Goals and KPIs - Seth Czerepak

How to Track Content Marketing Goals and KPIs

Content Marketing Goals and KPIs – Your content marketing goals should be: 1) Specific Enough to Be Measurable. 2) Given a Definite Deadline for Review. Tracking your Content Marketing Goals and KPIs will help you quickly discover what’s working, and what isn’t. This gives you the clarity to do more of what’s working and less of what’s not. Tracking your content marketing goals and KPIs helps you analyze and troubleshoot the weak links in your content marketing funnel.

How to Track Content Marketing Goals and KPIs

Content Marketing KPI: a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving a key content marketing goal or how well a piece of content is performing. Companies use content marketing KPIs to make small-scale and large-scale evaluations of content engagement and ROI.

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This article on Content Marketing Goals and KPIs was last updated Friday, November 24th 2023.

How to Track Content Marketing Goals and KPIs

The seventh step of your Content Marketing Strategy is to track your Content Marketing Goals and KPIs. This step is based on a simple yet powerful idea that applies to all types of marketing:

“What gets measured, gets better.”

The first step of your Content Marketing Strategy is to set measurable, time-sensitive goals. This seventh step is how you track your progress in reaching those goals. It’s also how you track the performance of EVERY piece of content you publish. 

Tracking your Content Marketing Goals and KPIs will help you quickly discover what’s working, and what isn’t. This gives you the clarity to do more of what’s working and less of what’s not. Tracking your content marketing goals and KPIs helps you analyze and troubleshoot the weak links in your content marketing funnel.

Most importantly, tracking your content marketing goals and KPIs helps you increase your profits, decrease your cost per customer acquisition, and maximize every dollar you invest into content marketing. It’s hard to overstate how valuable this is.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, tracking your content marketing goals and KPIs is the most important factor in the success of your content marketing strategy:

Content Marketing Goals and KPIs as Top Success Factors

Top 3 Success Factors in B2B Content Marketing

  • Uses metrics to measure content performance: 95%.
  • Rates their ability to demonstrate ROI as excellent/very good: 84%.
  • Has KPIs to measure content initiatives: 83%.

Top 3 Success Factors in B2C Content Marketing

  • Uses metrics to measure content performance: 93%.
  • Prioritizes delivering relevant content when and where a person is most likely to see it: 84%.
  • Prioritizes their audience’s informational needs over the organization’s sales/promotional message: 73%.

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Setting Content Marketing Goals and KPIs

Tracking your content marketing goals and KPIs starts with setting good content marketing goals. This gives you an objective standard to measure your progress against. Good content marketing goals are important for every step in your content marketing plan, from content distribution to content creation, to managing your marketing team, to conducting your Cost-Benefit Analysis.

Most importantly, good content marketing goals will help you persuade either your client (if you’re providing content marketing services) or the people in your C-Suite to continue supporting your content marketing efforts.

Solid content marketing goals should meet two standards:

  • Specific Enough to Be Measurable.
  • Given a Definite Deadline for Review.

You can test your content marketing goals against these two standards by trying to break them down into smaller milestones. 

Content Marketing KPIs

If you can’t break your goal into milestones, it means your content marketing goals aren’t meeting the above standards. For example, let’s assume you set this content marketing goal:

“Our goal is to increase our total number of qualified inbound leads.

Notice that you can’t break this content marketing “goal” into milestones. It doesn’t define a specific number of leads, nor does it specify a definite deadline for reviewing your progress. Now, let’s assume you set this content marketing goal:

“Our goal is to increase our inbound leads from 25 a month to 200 a month by January 1rst 2025.

Notice that you can break this content marketing “goal” into milestones. It defines a specific number of leads and a definite deadline for reviewing your progress. Now you simply take your end goal of increasing your inbound leads from twenty a month to two hundred a month and cut it into two milestones. So, if you start your goal on January 1rst and give yourself a year to achieve it, you would now have two six-month milestones which you would document like this:

  • Increase our inbound leads from 25 a month to 100 a month by July 1rst.
  • Increase our inbound leads from 100 a month to 200 a month by (next) January 1rst.

From there, you could break your six-month milestones into quarterly milestones and document them like this:

  • Increase our inbound leads from 25 a month to 50 a month by April 1rst.
  • Increase our inbound leads from 50 a month to 100 a month by July 1rst.
  • Increase our inbound leads from 100 a month to 150 a month by October 1rst.
  • Increase our inbound leads from 150 a month to 200 a month by (next) January 1rst.

Now we have our long-term goal broken down into short-term milestones. You’ll see why this is important as we move through the rest of the steps in this content marketing strategy. Before we continue to step two, let me make two more points about this simple goal-setting formula:

Your Content Marketing Goals Formula

  • Make it Specific Enough to Be Measurable.
  • Give Yourself a Definite Deadline for Review.
  • Break Your Goal Down into Smaller Milestones.

Notice that the purpose of the deadline is to review your content marketing goal, whether you reach it or not. All or nothing deadlines work well for some types of goals, but not for others.

For example, if your goal depends primarily on your efforts, a hard deadline is fine. The same is true if you’re setting a goal for a small team of people whose capabilities and limits you understand well. 

Content Marketing Goals and KPIs

However, most marketing goals depend on multiple unknown variables, including the buying behaviors of your prospects and customers, economic trends, or changes within your company. This is why, when it comes to your content marketing goals, I suggest using deadlines to review your progress, adjust your strategy, and move forward with a better plan.

Sometimes, you’ll overshoot your goal. Other times, you’ll miss it. What matters, however, is that you review your progress and analyze the role your plan played in creating the outcome. This approach has a psychological advantage and a tactical advantage. The psychological advantage is based on what psychologists call “Incentive Salience.” Incentive Salience determines a person’s motivation to move either towards or away from a particular goal or outcome.

Contrary to the myths of most motivational “experts,” neuroscientists tell us that setting and achieving small goals increases how intensely the reward center in a person’s brain responds to achieved goals. In other words, people who set smaller, achievable goals and overshoot them will receive a bigger boost of chemical stimulation (via the reward neurotransmitter dopamine) in their brain than people who set big goals and achieve them.

Content Marketing Goals and KPIs

Moreover, the failure to achieve a big goal (even by a small margin) dramatically increases the likelihood of discouragement or even depression. This is why, in my personal development writing, I encourage people to set modest goals and focus on mastering processes and developing habits.

The tactical advantage of this approach is that lasting success is more often the result of developing habits than it is the result of achieving goals.

Teams, organizations, and individuals who focus on turning processes into habits will achieve results more naturally and consistently because their positive habits will inevitably produce positive results. Treating goals as pure “hit or miss” targets don’t promote this kind of growth-focused and process-based mindset.

This is why I suggest setting and documenting modest, measurable content marketing goals with definite deadlines for review. This is the first step toward developing and implementing a winning strategy for tracking your content marketing goals and KPIs. 

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The Seven Content Marketing KPI Groups

The Antifragile Content Marketing Strategy organizes content marketing KPIs into seven groups. This section defines these KPI groups and why they’re important for optimizing your content marketing strategy. Once we’ve defined these groups, we’ll talk about how to use them to track your content marketing goals, optimize your content marketing funnel, and increase your ROI.

Visibility KPIs

Engagement KPIs

Collection KPIs

Conversion KPIs

Promotional KPIs

Production Cost KPIs

ROI KPIs

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Reviewing Content Marketing Goals and KPIs

The best way to track and improve your Content Marketing Goals and KPIs is to create a KPI Review Schedule. This schedule will tell you when to review your content marketing goals and KPIs and for which pieces of content:

  • DAILY: Review your KPIs for content any items currently being split tested.
  • WEEKLY: Review your KPIs for content published during the current month.
  • MONTHLY: Review your KPIs for all content pieces, comparing their performance to the previous month AND the same month of the previous year.
Content Marketing Goals and KPIs

Breaking Marketing Content Goals and KPIs into Milestones

Your KPI Review Schedule should also be based on your content marketing goal(s). For example, let’s assume you’ve set the following three content marketing goals:

  • Increase inbound leads from 25 a month to 200 a month by January 1rst 2025.
  • Increase conversion rate for inbound leads to 50% by January 1rst 2025.
  • Increase average income per customer to $750.00 (per month) by January 1rst 2025.

Here’s how you’d break these three content marketing goals into quarterly (every three months) milestones:

Goal #1 Milestones

Goal #2 Milestones

Goal #3 Milestones

Your Content Marketing Goals and KPIs Review Schedule

Once you have a set of quarterly milestones for reviewing Content Marketing Goals and KPIs, you would use them to build a KPI Review Schedule. This schedule will combine your daily, weekly, and monthly KPI review schedule with your goal milestones to create a robust blueprint for assessing the progress of your content marketing strategy: 

Quarter #1: January 1rst to April 1rst

Quarter #2: April 1rst to July 1rst

Quarter #3: July 1rst to September 1rst

Quarter #4: September 1rst to (next) January 1rst

Once you have your KPI Review Schedule, you’ll use it to conduct one of the most important steps in your Content Marketing Strategy, your Cost-Benefit Analysis. Your Cost-Benefit Analysis is essential for determining how profitable your content marketing strategy is, and how effective and efficient it is for achieving your content marketing goals.

Your Cost-Benefit Analysis is also important for persuading either your client (if you’re providing managing content marketing services) or the decision-makers in your C-Suite to continue supporting your content marketing efforts or even to expand your budget.

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KPIs and Your Cost-Benefit Analysis

Cost-Benefit Analysis is a business term that describes the process of evaluating how effective a project is, and/or how effective it might be in the future. In the context of content marketing, your Cost-Benefit Analysis determines how effective your Content Marketing Strategy is in achieving your Content Marketing Goals. It also helps you drill down on the effectiveness of each of your content distribution channels, and each individual piece of content. 

Most importantly, your Cost-Benefit Analysis gives you an objective set of facts to present to your client (if you’re selling content marketing services) or to the decision-makers in your C-Suite. This is how you persuade your client, or your company decision-makers, to keep investing in your content marketing efforts or to increase your budget. We’ll discuss this later when we talk about your Internal Promotion Strategy.

The Cost-Benefit Analysis model we recommend has three ingredients:

  • Clarity: clearly-defined goals (w/milestones), relevant KPIs and how you’ll use them to achieve your goals and track your progress.
  • Profit: well-documented evidence of concrete results (based on your relevant KPIs) to justify investments in your content marketing strategy.
  • Vision: exciting and achievable projections of long-term (future) results based on past data.
Content Marketing Goals and KPIs

Ingredient #1: Clarity

A good Cost-Benefit Analysis starts with clearly-defined goals (w/milestones), relevant KPIs, and how you’ll use those KPIs to achieve your goals and track your progress. This is how you set concrete expectations for your client (or the C-Suite) and give your content marketing a practical plan for achieving it. Here is an example using the first content marketing goal we defined earlier:

  • GOAL: Increase inbound leads from 25 a month to 200 a month by January 1rst 2025.

Goal Milestones

  • Increase inbound leads from 25 a month to 50 a month by April 1rst.
  • Increase inbound leads from 50 a month to 100 a month by July 1rst.
  • Increase inbound leads from 100 a month to 150 a month by October 1rst.
  • Increase inbound leads from 150 a month to 200 a month by January 1rst 2025.

Relevant Visibility KPIs

Goal Relevance: more web page views means more opportunities to collect leads

  • Search Visibility: get 10(+) of our web pages appearing in top 10 search results.
  • Search Click Rate: double our click rate for web pages that appear in search results.
  • Social Visibility: increase our total number of post views on social media by 500%.
  • Social Click Rate: double click rate from social media teasers to full website articles.

Relevant Engagement KPIs

Goal Relevance: higher content engagement rates should increase lead collection KPIs

  • Time on Page: increase average time visitors spend on our web page(s).
  • Page Finishes: increase % of visitors who scroll to the bottom of our web page(s).
  • Page Read Rate: increase % of visitors who read to the bottom of our web page(s).
  • Play Time: increase average listening and viewing time for our podcasts and videos.

Relevant Lead Collection KPIs

Goal Relevance: directly measures progress toward increasing our total leads per month

  • Lead Collection Rate: double % of web page views (impressions) that convert into leads.
  • Lead Collection Cycle: decrease time between the first content view and lead collection by 25%.

*You are reading the VQ Success article on Content Marketing Goals and KPIs.

Ingredient #2: Profit

A good Cost-Benefit Analysis should be based on well-documented evidence of the bottom line income and profits generated by each of your content distribution channels, and each individual piece of content. 

This is how you justify investments (past, present, and future) in your content marketing strategy to your client (if you’re selling content marketing services) or to the decision-makers in your C-Suite. 

Content Marketing Goals and KPIs

Since we discuss this topic in more detail in our article on How to Track Content Marketing KPI, I’ll make a few general comments here. First, it’s important to note that these documented results must be based on recent data, not projections. If you’ve been implementing your content marketing strategy for a few months or longer, you should already have this data available. 

If you’ve just started your content marketing strategy, you’ll need to focus on setting expectations based on clearly-defined goals (w/milestones), relevant KPIs, and showing how you’ll use those KPIs to achieve your goals and track your progress. This will help you set clear expectations so that your client (or your C-Suite) will be patient while your content marketing strategy gets traction. 

Finally, these documented results need to clearly demonstrate the ROI of your content marketing strategy, as well as your content distribution channels, and each individual piece of content. The good news is, that once you’ve had some time to document evidence of the bottom line income and profits generated by your content marketing strategy, you can use that data to inform your future content marketing goals.

Ingredient #3: Vision

A good Cost-Benefit Analysis should make exciting and achievable projections of long-term (future) results based on past data. This is how you keep your client (or C-Suite decision-makers) excited about the long-term and future benefits of your content marketing strategy. In my experience, it’s hard for people outside the content marketing process to understand the benefits of a content marketing strategy.

Moreover, many clients and decision-makers aren’t even interested in learning about the process of content marketing. Because of this, even people who are willing to invest in content marketing often give up or cut budgets before the strategy has gained any momentum. This is the biggest challenge for every Content Marketing Manager, whether you’re managing an in-house team/department, or running a content marketing agency.

The good news is, if you’ve done well with the first two ingredients (Clarity, and Profit) of your Cost-Benefit Analysis, it will be much easier to solve this problem. You accomplish this through something I call your “Internal Promotion Strategy.”    

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KPIs and Your Internal Promotion Strategy

Your Internal Promotion Strategy is how you sell your client, or your C-Suite, on the bottom-line value of your content marketing strategy. You do this using the three ingredients of the Cost-Benefit Analysis which we covered in the previous section:

  • Clarity: clearly-defined goals (w/milestones), relevant KPIs, and how you’ll use them to achieve your goals and track your progress.
  • Profit: well-documented evidence of concrete results (based on your relevant KPIs) to justify investments in your content marketing strategy.
  • Vision: exciting and achievable projections of long-term (future) results based on past data.

You’ll use these three ingredients to create your complete KPI Review Schedule, as well as a quarterly presentation and meeting agenda for you and your client. This presentation will set clear expectations of what you plan to achieve (your content marketing goals), how long it will take (your goal milestones), and how you’ll be tracking and reporting your progress (your content marketing KPIs). 

It will also help you make projections about the future results your content marketing strategy is likely to produce if your decision maker continues to support and fund it. This is how you keep your client (or C-Suite decision-makers) excited about the long-term and future benefits of your content marketing strategy. The following schedule is based on the sample Content Marketing Goals and KPIs we’ve discussed so far in this article:

Quarter #1: January 1rst to April 1rst

Quarter #2: April 1rst to July 1rst

Quarter #3: July 1rst to September 1rst

Quarter #4: September 1rst to (next) January 1rst

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Improving Content Marketing Goals and KPIs

The most powerful way to use and improve your Content Marketing KPIs is through smart split testing experiments. Split testing is when you take one key feature (your headline, call to action button, etc.) of your content, create two versions of it, and track the KPIs related to that feature to see which version is more effective. 

For example, let’s assume you’re split-testing these two headlines for one of your SEO articles:

  • Headline Version A: How to Track Content Marketing Goals and KPIs
  • Headline Version B: Content Marketing Goals and KPIs – Your Complete Guide

You would split test these by showing Headline A to half your website visitors and Headline B to the other half. 

Content Marketing Goals and KPIs

If your website is built on WordPress, I suggest Vervenia’s WordPress Split Testing Plugin for split testing your headlines and web page content. Some paid content distribution channels let you set up split tests that show you which headline or ad version has the higher click rate. 

Regardless of what technology you use, split testing shows you the weak links in your content marketing funnel, improves your content marketing KPIs, and achieves your content marketing goals. For example, let’s assume that while reviewing your Visibility and Engagement KPIs, you realize that Headline Version A is getting more clicks and that people who see that headline are scrolling farther into the article.

This means your Visibility and Engagement KPIs are telling you that Version A is your most effective headline. This is a simple example of how split testing can give you valuable clues for improving your content marketing KPIs. A second example would be split testing two lead collection forms, which are exactly the same, except for their button text. Your split test would compare these two versions of your subscribe button text:

  • Button Text Version A: Click Here to Subscribe Now
  • Button Text Version B: Get My Free eBook Now

Now imagine you run this test and find that Version A yields a higher Lead Collection Rate. You’ve now improved one of your Lead Collection KPIs with a simple split testing experiment. Other split testing experiments might involve everything from headlines to buttons, to file download text, to article openings, add-to cart buttons, lead collection offers, and much more.

The point is to pick features of your content that directly affect the Content Marketing KPIs that are most relevant to your content marketing goals. Most importantly, you should use your split testing experiments to gather the information that will help you create more engaging content and offers. 

Content Marketing Goals and KPIs

For example, when you run a split test, ask what that test taught you about any (or all) of the following:

For example, imagine you create an ad with two headlines—one headline targets Stage #2 Prospects, and the other targets Stage #3 Prospects. 

Your split test reveals that your Engagement KPIs are better for the Stage #2 headline. This tells you that the people seeing that ad are mostly Stage #2 Prospects. You then use this insight to optimize your landing page, message, call to action, and other features of your landing page for Stage #2 Prospects. This should further improve your Engagement KPIs and Lead Collection KPIs for that landing page.

You can use similar split testing experiments to refine your knowledge of your Buyer Persona Traits, psychographics, content preferences (media, distribution channels), shopping habits, and much more. This is how you use split testing to inform your content marketing efforts and accelerate your progress.

By combining this kind of smart split testing with the other strategies in this article, you can create a content marketing funnel that is remarkably effective for achieving your goals and improving your content marketing KPIs. 

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Final Thoughts on Content Marketing Goals and KPIs

We hope you enjoyed this article on Content Marketing Goals and KPIs. In closing, let me make a few final points about setting and tracking Content Marketing Goals. Firstly, in addition to being measurable and deadline-driven your Content Marketing Goals should do two things: 

The first is important for keeping your client (or C-Suite) bought in to your content marketing strategy.

The second is important for making sure that your content marketing strategy isn’t sabotaged by a poor sales process or a failure to get your sales and marketing processes working in harmony.

Content Marketing Goals and KPIs

I’ve seen content marketing strategies generate inbound leads, only to see the leads go to waste when they hit the end of the sales funnel. This is why I suggest having a Salesperson at your company double as a member of your Content Marketing Team. This team member will work with your Content Marketing Manager to make sure your content marketing efforts are supporting your Company’s Sales Process, and vice versa.

This is also why I’ve created a complete article on the perfect B2B Sales Process based on my experience as a salesperson and sales manager back in the corporate world. Bottom line, good content marketing goals are achievable, measurable, deadline-driven, aligned with your company goals, and integrated with your company sales process.

If you use the content marketing KPIs and strategies discussed in this article to track your progress and set future goals, your content marketing strategy will be remarkably effective. Most importantly, you’ll have an easier time persuading your client, or the decision makers in your C-Suite, to continue supporting and investing in you and your content marketing team.

This concludes our article on Content Marketing Goals and KPIs.

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-Best



           
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