By Pawan Deshpande published October 7, 2015

Metrics Made Easy: 8 Easy-to-Use Categories and A Dozen Tools

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Why are you analyzing your content?

Before diving deep into metrics, ask yourself: What do we want our content marketing to achieve?

Your answers likely will lead you to one (or more) of the eight metric categories that I’m sharing to help you improve your focus in your analytics and better define content marketing success. (In CMI’s recently released B2B Content Marketing 2016 study, 55% of B2B marketers say it is unclear what an effective or successful content marketing program looks like within their organization.)

Keep in mind that not all of these metrics apply to all types of content. It’s broken down by channel with specific examples of each metric.

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  1. Consumption metrics look at the number of readers who consume your content, the channels they use, and the frequency of their consumption. Those of you who are in the consumption or sharing phase are likely earlier in your sales funnel or top of funnel (TOFU).
  • Website or blog: Look at page views, unique visitors, and average time on your site using a tool like Google Analytics.
  • Assets like downloadable e-books or white papers: Check your download or form completions using Pardot, Marketo, Eloqua, Act-On, or another marketing automation platform. Keep in mind that if your asset is indexed by search engines, users may be able to download the asset and bypass the submission form.
  • Social media: Tools like Bitly can help you measure click-through action.
  • Email: MailChimp, Marketo, Eloqua, and Constant Contact measure areas such as open rates and clicks for your email campaigns.
  1. Retention metrics look at the effectiveness of holding your audience’s attention beyond the initial contact.
  • Website or blog: Look at the percentage of returning visitors, the number of visits, the pages per visit, and the bounce rate using a tool like Google Analytics.
  • Social media: Track your followers on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
  • Email: MailChimp, Marketo, and Eloqua can measure the number who unsubscribe or opt out from your email content.
  • Feeds: Use FeedBurner or FeedBlitz to quantify your subscriber base over time.
  1. Sharing metrics examine what content is being shared, by whom, and where or how they are sharing it. They are not really applicable to feeds.
  • Website, blog, asset, and social media: SharedCount can help quantify retweets, “likes,” and social media shares of your content.
  1. Engagement metrics are key to understanding whether your content resonates with readers. What kind of action (if any) are they taking after reading your content? Are they frequently or consistently taking action?
  • Website or blog: Google Analytics can help measure a user’s session duration and page depth (how deep into your site they’ve clicked).
  • Social media: Tools like Disqus can help you measure comments and social chatter around your content.
  • Feeds: Use FeedBurner or FeedBlitz to quantify your subscriber base over time.
  1. Lead metrics (marketing’s part of the sales pipeline): As customers advance through your sales funnel, some will reach the lead metrics phase (middle of funnel). Here’s where you’ll want to see new leads generated and existing leads touched through your content. Tools like Eloqua, Marketo, Pardot, Act-On, and similar marketing automation platforms can assist in this area.
  1. Sales metrics apply to customers at the bottom of your sales funnel where you’ll want to look at the dollar amount and percent value of opportunities influenced or generated and those ultimately won. Use a CRM tool like Salesforce or Full Circle Insights for this.
  1. Production metrics are an internal assessment of your content operations. How is your team (including members) performing against editorial calendar deadlines and goals? How long does it take your team to turn a content idea into a published piece of content? How many pieces of content do you regularly publish in a week or month? You’ll need to measure these areas on your own over time. I suggest using a simple Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to track this.
  1. Cost metrics are among the most important since they help you calculate a return on investment or ROI for content marketing. What does it cost to produce and distribute each blog post, white paper, or email campaign? Remember to consider not only the cost in staff time or freelance budget, but also stock images, design fees, and any paid distribution channels.

Getting started with content marketing measurement

To begin measuring the efficacy of your content marketing, I would recommend the following:

  • Start small. You don’t need to measure everything all at once. Rather than flying blind, start measuring something that’s easy for you and work from there.
  • Focus on TOFU first. The top of the funnel is often the easiest place to get metrics. For example, sharing and consumption metrics don’t require marketing automation or a CRM tool.
  • Go broad, then deep. It’s easier to get coverage over all your channels for a class of metrics such as retention or consumption, rather than going deep and trying to map a whole customer journey down to revenue.
  • Count consistency. For your metrics to really pay off, much like your content production, it’s necessary to generate metrics for your content over a period of time, not just for a one-off of your newest content. By doing so, you can identify which older content is evergreen, and what may be underperforming and should be retired or reworked.

Measuring these areas will help you improve your content marketing and demonstrate its value to the rest of your organization. For more strategies to help you improve your ROI, download my extensive e-book on this topic, The Comprehensive Guide to Content Marketing Analytics & Metrics.

Want to expand your measurement knowledge? Register today to join the virtual, three-day Content Marketing Show, Oct. 12-14. Participants also have on-demand access for 90 days to the online-only event.

Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team.  No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).

Note: The original version of this post appeared on this site Nov. 23, 2014.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Pawan Deshpande

Pawan Deshpande is the CEO and visionary behind Curata, a CMI benefactor. Curata is an easy-to-use marketing solution for content curation and content marketing. Pawan has spoken at leading events including Content Marketing World, SXSW Interactive, Online Media Summit, Social Media Breakfast and multiple AMA webinars. Prior to founding Curata, Pawan held positions at both Microsoft and Google. Pawan attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for both his graduate and undergraduate degrees in Computer Science. You can contact Pawan via Twitter @getcurata or on LinkedIn, or Google+. If you're getting started with content curation, Pawan would recommend downloading 5 Simple Steps to Becoming a Content Curation Rockstar, which includes tactical tips so you can get started curating today.

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  • Steve Rotter

    Great article Pawan. This is a really nice framework for organizing the concepts and tools involved with content measurement. One thing we have also seen our customers use is a specific measure of content quality (disclosure, I work for Acrolinx and our product does this). With this approach, they can correlate the performance measures you list (consumption and sharing) with content quality scores like readability and informality. It’s quite powerful.

    • http://www.curata.com/ Pawan Deshpande

      Good point. What class of metrics would you place that under? It’s not a performance metric, so I was thinking may be production metric on the operations side.

  • http://www.SocialMktConvo.com/ Social Marketing Conversations

    Pawan, Excellent consideration of the eco-system, the factors involved and many of the tools. One of the few I’ve come across that consider the entire aspect of POEMs. Any thought on dashboards or tactic that can combine them?

    • http://www.curata.com/ Pawan Deshpande

      You can try piecing together a dashboard using geckboard or a similar dashboard creator. But tools like that may not combine data across different silos for the more powerful insights, rather they will display data from different silos in a single interface.

      My company (Curata) released a product earlier this year that does more of what you’re looking for… combining data across these different data sources.

  • http://www.globalwebforce.com/ Hitesh Parekh

    Well written and very consumable. Features the base platforms to do a DIY metric setting for webmaster and business owners.

    • http://www.curata.com/ Pawan Deshpande

      Thanks Hitesh! Glad it was helpful. As a next step, please take a look at the eBook which goes a level deeper.

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