By Ann Gynn published August 8, 2014

Finding the Right Content Marketing Measurement Tools: Expert Advice

tape measure-toolsIs your content doing what it is supposed to do? When questioned about the degree of success your content marketing efforts are achieving, anecdotal answers like “Readers seem to be interested in our content” or “We are getting a lot of “likes” on our Facebook page” just won’t suffice. When you are trying to prove that your content marketing brings value to your business, you need clear evidence of what’s working, and what isn’t — and accurate measurement is really the only way you are going to get it.

But how do you know what to measure? Or how to measure it, for that matter? Heidi Cohen, president of Riverside Marketing Strategies, sums it up simply by quoting a former accounting professor of hers: “It depends,” she said. “Your content marketing metrics must relate back to your goals.”

But don’t just think statistics; you can think of people as a measurement tool, too. Ardath Albee, CEO of Marketing Interactions, notes that feedback the sales team receives from customers is one of the most reliable metrics she has at her disposal, as it can provide direct evidence of “how the content marketing produced has helped to get them in conversations,” she said.

To help provide a bit more guidance on how to determine the impact that content marketing has on your company’s bottom line, we asked some of CMI’s blog contributors, Online Training instructors, and Content Marketing World speakers to share the measurement tools and metrics they consider to be the most essential. Following are their words of advice:

Observe time spent on the page (and what they do next) 

How long does it take an average person to read the content? What do they do next? Hopefully, it’s to click on a call to action or click to continue the story. If people aren’t spending the time or following your lead, there’s work to be done. Ardath Albee, CEO, Marketing Interactions, Inc. | @ardath421

View success through your customers’ eyes

I work at a venture capital firm, and our “sales cycle” spans years and years as investors in start-ups. But for anyone dealing with really long sales cycles or targeting customers that won’t neatly fill out a lead-gen form (perhaps you target executives, for instance), the Net Promoter Score survey has proved invaluable for me. The survey asks one question: How likely is it that you would recommend (this company) to a friend or colleague? The results allow you to see the company through your customers’ eyes. Jay Acunzo, Director of Platform & Community, NextView Ventures | @Jay_zo

Prioritize conversions, large and small

If your content doesn’t convert, then your content plan is flawed. Every content object can be tagged with an identifier. In fact, we [at Raven] created a tool to make this easier for marketers. Your goals, of course, will be set up in Google Analytics.

One area we’re looking to track is micro-conversions. We have a good handle on how our current customers use our software and where they derive the most value, but we’d like to understand how users engage with our website or blog before purchasing. Nicolette Beard, Sr. Digital Marketing Specialist, Raven Tools | @RavenNickiB

Consider blog optimization

Marketers would get better results faster if they paid attention to the conversion rates for each piece of content. Blog posts often inspire visitors to subscribe to newsletters, but some do it much better than others. Which posts have which conversion rates? You’ll know which topics to write about more often, what formatting and types of media are most effective, and which of your old posts to put into heavy rotation on social streams. Really, this is a basic form of blog optimization, but few marketers ever do it. Andy Crestodina, Principal, Strategic Director, Orbit Media | @crestodina

Embrace the loyalty of subscribers

If the content you create isn’t building a subscription-based relationship with a valuable audience, it’s not working. If your subscribers don’t spend more time than non-subscribers, your content isn’t working. That’s it. You want an ever-growing subscriber base that spends more with you. Content builds relationships. Relationships build trust. Trust drives revenue. Andrew Davis, Author, Brandscaping | @TPLDrew

Follow the leads

Rather than solely looking at top-of-the-funnel metrics like page views or social shares, I have started looking at the number of leads that have consumed a piece of content. Unlike the aforementioned metrics, lead metrics also give me a sense of the quality of the viewership, and how they are tying in to our demand-generation goals. Pawan Deshpande, Founder and CEO, Curata | @TweetsFromPawan

Don’t forget the gold standard

Google Analytics! I’m always shocked when I learn most content marketers don’t review their website analytics at least weekly. In fact, Orbit Media just did a study that shows nearly half of those surveyed either never or only occasionally review their analytics. Gini Dietrich, CEO, Arment Dietrich, Inc. | @ginidietrich 

Start with tried and true

Proper attribution modeling is pretty powerful. But good old nurture flows in marketing automation is the starting point. Link it to CRM to track through to money. Doug Kessler, Co-Founder and Creative Director, Velocity Partners | @dougkessler

Automate it

A robust marketing automation platform is the essential tool for evaluating the content marketing strategy and individual tactics. The MAP offers myriad ways to track and trend results as well as measure the influence marketing activities have on the sales pipeline. You get both marketing metrics and revenue metrics from a good MAP. Bruce McDuffee, Interim Content Director at Boeing Digital Aviation Marketing consultant, Knowledge Marketing for Industry (KMI)  | @brucemcduffee 

Revel in shares and rankings

Lately, I’ve fallen in love with Buzzsumo to give me a quick look at what content is being shared and how it ranks with other popular content and with content on the same site. It’s especially good for identifying which types of content work better on certain channels. I can also figure out where I need to work a bit harder on the distribution side of things. For example, if I have a post with a low number of shares on LinkedIn, it’s a sign I need to find different LinkedIn groups where I can post it. Sarah Mitchell, Content Marketing Consultant, Global Copywriting | @globalcopywrite 

Looking for more guidance on knowing which metrics to build into your content marketing? You won’t want to miss Content Marketing World 2014, September 8–11, 2014. Register today! 

Cover image via Pixabay

Author: Ann Gynn

Ann Gynn edits the CMI blog. She also serves as the Tech Tools editor for Chief Content Officer magazine. Ann regularly combines words and strategy for B2B, B2C, and nonprofits, continuing to live up to her high school nickname, Editor Ann. Former college adjunct faculty, Ann also helps train professionals in content so they can do it themselves. Follow Ann on Twitter @anngynn or connect on LinkedIn.

Other posts by Ann Gynn

Join Over 140,000 of your Peers!

Get daily articles and news delivered to your email inbox and get CMI’s exclusive e-book Launch Your Own Content Marketing Program FREE!

  • Twelve Gates Resource Center

    Outstanding article and very timely!

  • James Miller

    Great post .
    some very useful advices on content marketing and their impacts on business.
    looking forward for more useful articles.

  • Andrew

    Great stuff – thanks Ann. We did a webinar with Forrester a couple of weeks ago on exactly this issue. It’s so important to measure value beyond engagement metrics, and tie to business value that is known and understood by the business. Content marketing is now not just a buzzword, but a full-blown budget line – and therefore needs a ROI proof! The webinar recording is at