You just published a fresh new blog post that’s informative, fun, and on-brand. Over the next few weeks, you thread the blog link throughout email campaigns, social media posts, and on your website – but, you’re not seeing the traffic that you expected this awesome post to attract. What’s the deal? If your articles are consistently falling flat, it’s time to examine your strategy and your content marketing KPIs – specifically those that measure blog success.

What Are Content Marketing KPIs?

Content marketing KPIs, or “key performance indicators,” are agreed-upon metrics selected by a team in order to define their version of success. A smaller digital agency might deem content valuable, if it engages people on social media and draws at least 100 new visitors to their site. Alternatively, a larger agency might only view value as newsletter sign-ups or user return rate.

There is specific data that can clue you in on how your content is performing – you just need to know where to look and how to analyze the metrics.

Ready to get started? Great! Digital marketers beware: vanity metrics, or content metrics that give the appearance of value, can easily dilute data. By defining content marketing KPIs, you can avoid latching onto vanity metrics and quickly hone in on what you and your team defines as blog success!

How to Define Content Marketing KPIs

The first step in defining your content marketing KPIs is deciding what to track. Sure, that seems a bit obvious, but different departments or teams may find more or less value depending on the metric.

For example, a team of copywriters may define blog success with organic rankings, social shares, and winning SERP features; whereas the sales team might place more value with the actions taken on the page such as newsletter sign-ups or link clicks. Each of those content metrics is valid, but devising an agreed-upon list of content marketing KPIs will help you understand where you’re winning, and where you’re falling short.

So, how do you specifically pinpoint blog success? Let’s look at a few content marketing KPIs that will help you understand how your content is performing.

Content Marketing KPIs that Measure Blog Success

It’s difficult to track the success of a content marketing strategy – but that doesn’t mean you should stick to top-level vanity metrics and call it a day. Digital marketing is a complex ecosystem that is powered by creating content, understood through measuring data, and improved upon with strategic manipulation. The key to developing a solid content marketing strategy is in understanding data.

How do you track the success of your content?

  • Traffic
  • Returning Visitors
  • Time On-Page
  • SERP Rankings
  • CTR
  • Social Shares & Clicks from Social Platforms

Traffic

Even if a reader takes no action on a blog post, exposure builds value over time. According to Small Biz Genius, it takes 5 to 7 impressions for people to remember a brand. If your content is generating traffic, then by default, it is being seen and is planting the seed for brand recognition, engagement, and conversion.

However, traffic by itself is not a clear indicator of blog success. If you’re properly executing your content marketing strategy, you should inevitably see an increase in traffic over time.

When analyzing your content in Google Analytics, be sure to view both user metrics and sessions. Users are defined as unique site visitors. If you view this post, then visit another page or return to this post at a later date, you would still be categorized as one visitor.

Session metrics get a bit more granular. Sessions count each time someone comes to your site – regardless of whether it’s a new or returning user. If you view this post, then return to this post two more times in the future, Google Analytics will track the usage data as 3 separate sessions.

Both User and Session metrics have value, but the key is evaluating activity over time.

A man reaching forward to click an illustrated graphic of a search tool bar with the words, “Returning Visitor” spelled out in search field.

Customer Retention

Think of your favorite coffee shop. How many times have you gone? Do you plan on going again?

Like your preferred coffee, restaurant, retailer, or mechanic, when people build trust with a brand, they will likely repeat business. The same goes for content. The ratio of returning visitors will tell you whether or not your content is good enough for people to come back for more.

A solid content marketing strategy doesn’t view one-time visitors as a win; rather, an indicator that something is off. You obviously want people to return to your site over and over! That said, your aim should be to grow User metrics, but to also track a steady growth in Sessions as an indicator of quality content.

You can view New Visitors vs Returning Visitors in the Google Analytics dashboard. Direct Traffic includes visitors that come from a bookmarked link or a user typing in the URL directly. Direct traffic also includes other uncategorized traffic from Google, so, while this metric is helpful in identifying return users, it shouldn’t be the only metric you rely on.

Remember, users are only counted one time per visit, but sessions gather the number of times a user accesses your content. Focus on the volume of sessions from direct traffic to get a realistic depiction of whether or not your content is building trust.

Time On-Page

This metric is the true golden egg when determining the value of your content. It’s pretty safe to assume that the longer someone stays on a page, the further down the user is reading.

This is called Session Duration in Google Analytics. You can evaluate an individual post by finding the URL in the Analytics dashboard under Behavior, Site Content, All Pages, then making use of the search tool.

Compare the average time spent on that page with the article read time to see if they line up. If so, people are likely reading your article all the way through. If not, you might need to analyze user experience or the content itself.

SERP Rankings

Search engine results page (SERP) ranking is where your content shows up in search results. This is a tricky KPI to track, as it’s not a metric that you can calculate – but it’s one of the clearest indicators of how your content is performing. Why? If Google favors your content, that’s a pretty surefire sign that you’re doing something right!

Track SERP ranking by selecting a few keywords and search queries that are relevant to your content. For example, what might users search when finding this post? We might want to see where this post lands in search results for queries such as, “content marketing KPIs for blog success,” “how to track content,” or “best content marketing metrics”.

Keeping a log of keywords and phrases that you want to win a higher position for in search results will help you optimize your content strategy – which will eventually lead to more traffic.

If your content is good enough, you could also land a spot as a SERP feature. This requires a touch more than clever copy and savvy strategy – SERP features require schema markup on your website to deliver context to search engines. But, that’s an entirely separate topic for another post…seriously, check it out here.

Click-through Rate (CTR)

Another metric that’s nestled inside of SERP rank, is click-through rate. CTR is the ratio of users who click on a link as compared to the number of impressions. Dividing total clicks by total impressions will give you CTR for a keyword or keyword group.

Headline writing is a major part of getting people to click your content! If your headline is shown to 10,000 users and only 4 click-through to read your article… it’s pretty clear that you need to go back to the drawing board to figure out where the disconnect is.

Social Shares & Clicks from Social Platforms

Whether B2B or B2C, social media is where potential customers “hang out”. When a reader shares your content, by default, they are stating that your content brought them value – and it deserves to be read. Content that gets shared helps increase visibility and trust.

Social platforms also have their own analytics dashboards. These tools act as a granular extension of Google Analytics, and can be used to understand engagement and click-through rate. You can leverage these insights to learn what types of content your followers are interacting with.

One commonly touted content marketing KPI that is actually more of a vanity metric, is the amount of “Likes” your brand has on a social media platform. Just because someone is flicking through Facebook or Twitter and decides to “Like” your brand, doesn’t serve as an indicator to any further engagement.

Keep in mind: it’s far more valuable to drive active engagement with valuable content, than by gathering bot-like followers that may never interact with your brand.

Develop. Discover. Dominate.

One of the most frustrating things as someone that manages a blog, is creating content that doesn’t earn results. In defining what your content marketing KPIs are, you can then begin to understand your successes and shortcomings.

Ready to make sure that your content serves you? If you’re not comfortable developing KPIs, creating content, or analyzing data, reach out the Next Horizon Digital Marketing. Our team of SEO swashbucklers and content connoisseurs can help your business define content metrics, develop value-driven articles, and dominate search results.

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Next Horizon provides holistic technology solutions for businesses looking to improve sales, increase agility and optimize productivity. From digital marketing to building bespoke business applications, Next Horizon uses its 40+ years of experience and award-winning talent to provide technical business solutions for its clients.

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