7 Critical KPIs of Content Marketing that Let You Know You’re Winning or Losing
With 2017 now freshly upon us, and many organizations attempting to experience success with their content marketing, one of the major questions these companies (especially their leadership teams) will be asking is, “How do we know if this stuff is actually working?”
In other words, what are the critical KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) of Content Marketing?
At The Sales Lion, we’ve worked with dozens and dozens of unique industries over the past five years to achieve success with their content marketing efforts. Some were B2B, some were B2C, some were services, and some were products. So as you read the following words, know that they are based on real cases studies, real results, and real conversations with CEOs and leadership teams.
In conjunction with this, I’m bothered by much of what I read with respect to “content marketing predictions” and KPIs lately.
Because everything is so “marketing” oriented, marketing slanted, marketing driven.
Folks, successful content marketing starts and stops with SALES.
Don’t ever be convinced otherwise.
Sales is the fuel that drives the engine to every organization, large or small, B2B or B2C.
It is for this reason that my book coming out this month, They Ask, You Answer, spends half the book addressing the marketing side of content, and the other half addressing the sales side.
Thus, as you read this, keep this major point in mind. Furthermore, you’ll probably never see these first three items mentioned in other articles about content marketing KPIs.
But that’s why you read The Sales Lion, right? 😉
With this being said, let’s get down to business…
7 Critical KPIs of Content Marketing
1. Is the content “Sales Team Ready?”
Remember, we said this was about sales, which is why good content is VERY buyer focused (not fluff) and used to address the most critical issues sales teams are constantly addressing.
In fact, if you’re just kicking off your content marketing and want to start with a bang—especially with your video marketing—begin with the 80% of questions that Sales gets on their first call/contact/pitch with a prospect.
Used properly, great content will dramatically eliminate many of the “uneducated” questions sales teams receive when they are meeting with a prospect/potential customer for the first time, ultimately decreasing the sales cycle will potentially dramatically increasing closing rates.
2. Is the Sales Team actually using the content?
You may think this is the same as #1, but it’s not. There is a VERY big difference between sales oriented content and your sales team actually using said content.
What we’re talking about here is the essence of strong sales enablement and a culture where sales/marketing are aligned and working in unison with the core purpose of not just finding prospects, but moving them down or out of the sales funnel as quickly as possible.
3. Is the Sales Team and other subject matter experts involved in the content production process regularly?
A culture of content is almost never built simply by marketing departments doing what they do in a silo. In fact, the best cultures of content are ones where members from the sales team and other subject matter experts are actively involved in coming up with content ideas and then helping to produce them—most commonly through video.
The other element with them participating in video is that it helps them to naturally and organically become more connected to the company, build their own brand, demonstrate their expertise, and better learn the products/services of the company—all of which are a KPI of content marketing most folks never even consider.
4. SEO Victories
SEO is as alive and important in 2017 as it has ever been, and although it may be difficult to rank in search engines for important phrases involving your business, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Fact is, Google and searchers alike are always looking for better content. Always.
For the majority of our clients at The Sales Lion, at least 80% of the content they produce (be it text or video) does have an SEO goal (i.e. a group of keyword phrases we are targeting from an SEO standpoint) These phrases are established with each piece of content and then tracked in the coming weeks/months to see the results.
A good rule of thumb is this: How did the piece of content perform with its keyword phrase objectives by day 30, 90, and 180?
Generally, we consider something a “victory” if it lands in the first five results of Google search engine results. (And don’t forget YouTube search results as well)
5. Conversions and Leads
With every conversion/lead (someone that takes action and fills out a form on your website) that comes through your website, there was an original point of entry (page of the site where they landed).
As a business, it’s absolutely critical you track all leads and find out which pieces of content are rendering the greatest amount of leads. (And preferably, quality leads)
6. Customers Acquired
As mentioned, content is about sales. And if we’re doing things the right way, as an organization we will look at our customers and identify with as many as possible their “first contact” with the company. Was it PPC? Was it an organic search result to a particular page? Was it a social media visit?
Regardless of what it was, once it’s tracked back to its original source and an actual customer is identified along with it, we can then start to attribute a specific dollar amount to individual pieces of content and campaigns.
(Keep in mind none of this tracking occurs if you’re not using advanced analytics, such as a HubSpot.)
7. Total Revenue Generated
Just because a piece of content acquires customers doesn’t mean it was necessarily a huge success for your company. Rather, “huge” success comes when the revenue dollars are high.
To paint the picture clearer, let’s look at a few examples of how numbers, sales, and revenue can get a little misleading:
- Content Piece #1: 10,000 reads/views, 20 conversions, 0 customers, 0 revenue
- Content Piece #2: 1000 reads/views, 10 conversions, 5 customers, $10,000 revenue
- Content Piece #3: 100 reads/views, 2 conversions, 1 customer, $1,000,000 revenue
Of the three pieces shown above, which was the most successful?
In this case, the majority of all businesses would take #3 as their preferred result, which is why the bottom line revenue numbers ultimately matter the most.
Other numbers that matter:
I’ve listed in this article seven critical KPIs of content marketing. But as you know, there are others that matter. In fact, some of the most common are:
- total views
- bounce rate
- inbound links
- time on page
- social shares
Of course, the value of each of these metrics vary wildly on the business. For example, when Coke puts out a video on YouTube, their major KPI is not revenue, but rather total views is more likely to be their highest concern.
As someone that has worked with small businesses and brands alike, I can appreciate the difference.
But for this article today, I’m writing for the masses.
And the masses are not Coke.
Furthermore, the masses need more than vanity metrics and empty numbers to pay their bills.
In this case, the masses are small to medium sized businesses that are truly wanting to know if their content marketing efforts are paying off.
Thus, this list of seven is where it starts.
Hopefully this article helps in your efforts to better measure your content marketing success in 2017 and beyond. Again, please don’t forget the fact that this list is not all-inclusive. If you feel like there are other KPIs you’d like to add to your efforts, then do it.
But the key is to track. Measure. Change as needed.
And with that, hopefully you’ll experience tremendous success with your content in 2017.