By Sarah Goliger published June 11, 2015

5 Ways to Translate Your Content Marketing Goals into Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)


As a content marketer, it’s not enough to simply research, write, publish, and repeat. You must constantly measure the impact that your content marketing is having on your business.

To make sure that your content marketing is having the impact that you want it to have, you must have the right content marketing strategy. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to identify the key performance indicators (KPI) you need to measure. Content marketing goals are highly individualized. Your marketing priorities are strongly influenced by the size of your business, budget, available resources, previous tests and outcomes, plus many other factors that vary from business to business.

To get the most out of your content marketing strategy, determine your specific goals and tie them to the right KPIs. Let’s take a look at how to determine the best approach for doing so.

Determine your content marketing goals and KPIs

As Joe Pulizzi recently noted, “Great content marketers do two things differently than the rest: They document their content marketing strategy in some way, and they review and consistently refer to the plan on a regular basis.”

Let’s start by documenting your goals to create the foundation of your content marketing strategy.

First, never create content for the sake of creating content – or because you “know” it’s important. You must understand what you want your content to solve.

In other words, what are your overarching marketing goals? Here are some goals you may want to focus on:

  • Increase brand awareness.
  • Drive more traffic to your website.
  • Generate sales leads.
  • Convert more leads into customers.
  • Improve retention and drive upsell.

With each of these goals comes a different type of content marketing strategy focusing on specific audiences, leveraging different marketing channels, and communicating targeted messages. This is why it’s so critical to first figure out your goals before deciding how to reach those goals using content.

Let’s take a quick look at each of these possible goals to get a better understanding of how to devise a content marketing strategy and appropriate KPIs for each one.

1. Increase brand awareness

Focus on content that will catch the attention of a lot of people. Think about content that’s highly relevant and exciting.

Content marketing strategy: Create branded content that people will love and want to share.

Types of content:

  • SlideShare decks about a particular topic within your industry
  • Co-branded content (e-books, webinars, etc.) created in partnership with another organization in your industry
  • Funny videos

Ask yourself:

  • Does the content reflect our company mission and values?
  • Is our content noteworthy enough to draw attention to our brand and get people to share it?

KPIs for this goal:

  • Social shares
  • Views and shares from partnership audiences

2. Drive more traffic to your website or blog

Unlike brand awareness, driving traffic to your website is a funnel-focused goal – specifically, a top-of-the-funnel goal. Content should drive people to your site or your blog, show them why your company offers value, and lead them through the rest of the marketing funnel.

Content marketing strategy: Create content that drives readers to your website.

Types of content:

  • Blog posts with calls to action, such as downloading a piece of content from a landing page
  • Social media posts that link to your site or blog
  • Outbrain or Taboola campaigns, which promote your blog content on other sites

Ask yourself:

  • Are we optimizing our content to drive readers to our website? How can we integrate this step as a natural part of the content-consumption experience?
  • Are page view metrics a weak measurement? If so, what other relationship metrics will give us a better view into our content’s impact?

KPIs for this goal:

  • Number of blog visits per month
  • Percentage of returning readers
  • Total number of website visits per month
  • Engaged time on site
  • Conversion rates for call-to-action content

3. Generate sales leads

The next step in the marketing funnel is converting your blog and website traffic into leads that you can nurture. Lead generation content is a great way to do this. Typically, lead gen content requires potential viewers to complete a form to access the content. Each piece of gated content also requires a unique landing page.

Content marketing strategy: Compile valuable content offers and gate them with a lead generation form.

Types of content:

  • E-books
  • Checklists
  • Tools and resources (i.e., a pre-designed spreadsheet or slide-deck template)

Ask yourself:

  • Is the content we’re creating valuable enough that viewers will provide their information in exchange for it?
  • How can we provide and communicate more value for each content piece to increase conversion rates?

KPIs for this goal:

  • Number of leads generated from each piece of content
  • Landing-page conversion rates

4. Convert more leads into customers

You have your lead gen strategy covered, now you’re focused on generating revenue from the leads in your database.

Content marketing strategy: Create content that educates your leads about the company and its products or services.

Types of content:

Ask yourself:

KPIs for this goal:

  • Lead-to-customer-conversion rate for each nurturing campaign or piece of content delivered
  • Average time to close for new customers

5. Improve retention and drive upsell

Putting the metrics aside for just a second, the ultimate goal is to delight your customers. Believe it or not, the metrics will follow from there. If your customers are happy with your product, support, and communication efforts (and hey, it doesn’t hurt if they feel a connection with your brand, too), it’s going to be a whole lot easier to drive loyalty and gain more revenue.

Content marketing strategy: Delight your customers with relevant, valuable content that educates and keeps them informed.

Types of content:

  • Customer blog with posts on the latest industry trends
  • Video tutorials for new product releases
  • Free, exclusive e-books and webinars for customers
  • Exclusive deals

Ask yourself:

  • Do we make our customers feel special? Do we go above and beyond to give them what they need?
  • Do our customers feel well-informed about product updates, company news, and our tools?

KPIs for this goal:

  • Retention rate (or churn)
  • Revenue from upsell
  • Percentage of repeat customers

There you have it. Now take some time to sit down and figure your goals at a high level, then map out a strategy to help you get there. And, of course, don’t forget to tie your KPIs to those specific goals, so you can gain insight into how well you’re progressing toward them.

Develop, implement, and scale your content marketing program using CMI’s series of practical tools and exercises. Download Launch Your Own Content Marketing Program.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Sarah Goliger

Sarah Goliger provides strategic business consulting and marketing freelance services to help her clients grow their businesses through better, smarter marketing. She writes for studioD (a CMI benefactor), a content studio that connects brands to audiences using original content. Through data-driven content strategy and innovative content creation, studioD is changing the way brands communicate with digital audiences. Find out more about studioD by visiting our content marketing blog. Reach Sarah on her website or Twitter.

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  • Shai Geoola

    Fantastic article Sarah! Thanks for sharing. Cheers

  • Frank Strong

    A well organized piece, Sarah, nests neatly within the attract, convert, retain spectrum for mapping out content with a purpose.

  • Susan Kisiel Morris

    Awesome article, I love how it ties so nicely together!