By John Hall published June 26, 2019 Est Read Time: 7 min

Shares Don’t Cut It: Pick Better Metrics for Demand and Lead Gen

Setting goals is the first step in establishing a valuable content marketing strategy, but how do you know when those goals have been achieved? It’s impossible to know how close – or far – you are if you don’t know how to measure the journey.

Developing an understanding of your key metrics is critical to keeping track of what your content is doing in the world. Establishing standards for assessing your content’s success is the only way to understand the value content brings to your business. Yet, CMI’s 2019 B2B Content Marketing Research shows that only a quarter of marketers say they are proficient in using their selected metrics.

You can’t know if your #content is meeting goals if you don’t know how to measure the journey, says @johnhall. Click To Tweet
Nearly every capable marketer today tracks things like clicks, impressions, and shares; AI has made managing big data a breeze. None of these numbers, however, tells the full story of what your content is doing. Sometimes, the best way of understanding the effect of your content is through both quantitative and qualitative means.

Brand awareness

Brand awareness is one of the most difficult metrics to track due to its incredibly qualitative nature. More than 81% of marketers in the CMI B2B survey say they’ve increased brand awareness in the past 12 months. But how do they know for certain what kind of awareness has increased? For insight into brand awareness, think about:


Striving for generalized brand awareness is usually the wrong way of going about it. While it’s great to be a household name, it’s important that your brand is known among the demographics most likely to engage with your product. Track who specifically searches and finds your brand. Do they belong to the demographic groups most receptive to your product?

Brand image

Regardless of how important shares and article views are as metrics, they don’t tell the whole story of brand awareness. They also don’t even begin to give insight into the brand image. One way around this is setting up short online polls that not only ask questions that relate to your brand’s public perception but also ask about how often people are likely to talk about your brand and how often they hear others talk about it.

A helpful way of thinking about this is through the lens of customer sentiment. Gauging how satisfied people are with your brand gives you a sense of how likely they are to talk about and share your brand with their peers. Brand awareness involves more than just static impression numbers — it’s also about making sure that the impressions you make are positive ones.

Demand and lead generation

Perhaps the most common method of measuring demand generation is content share numbers. These numbers, while important, aren’t reliable for understanding how content distribution generates leads. Even more specific engagement data like the number of click-throughs doesn’t necessarily shed light on which pieces of content are attracting new customers.

Consider these metrics to evaluate genuine demand and lead generation.

Demand volume

Simply put, how does your content publishing affect the number of people (and ultimately leads) engaging with your site? Carefully track your visitors to see how they get to your site. Click-throughs never tell the whole story. Maybe your content is improving your site’s position in search engine results. The content we do for our time management blog at Calendar, for example, led to a large increase in page views – almost universally in the form of organic search traffic. In May, we were up to 200K unique visitors, and we expect to hit 1M visitors by the end of 2019 after just launching the site in 2018. Taking a step back to look at larger demand volume trends relative to your content production and placement can yield helpful insights.

Click-throughs never tell the whole demand story, says @johnhall. Click To Tweet


Getting leads is all about getting your content in front of the right people. Fishing in a well-stocked pond yields better results than casting your line in a near-empty lake. Articles I published on CNBC indirectly related to my business have generated six-figure views. However, these articles generate fewer leads than articles directly related to my business published by smaller publications with specialized readerships. Click-throughs and conversions are important to track, but you should also focus on where those impressions are coming from, i.e., how many are derived from more specialized, better lead-producing sources. Effective content is made all the more effective when it reaches the right audience.

Effective #content is made all the more effective when it reaches the right audience, says @johnhall. Click To Tweet

Sales enablement

Sales enablement is the natural sibling of lead generation — there’s not much point in pulling in new clients if that effort doesn’t result in healthy sales. Content is a key component of the sales process; it often demonstrates your product’s or service’s practical value. To track how your content influences sales, look at:

  • Sales comparison: Track the effect content exposure has on your clients. Look at how sales fare among clients who haven’t engaged with your content stack against sales from clients who have. Look at both conversion numbers and contract sizes to determine the effect content does or does not have.
  • Customer retention: Track the effect prolonged content exposure has. Compare your customer retention rates for those who consistently engage with your content with those who don’t. It can demonstrate customers who find your content valuable post-purchase and will reward your brand, product, or service positively.

Audience engagement

A few years ago, audience engagement could only really be tracked by numbers – how many people looked at your site, how many shared your links, and so on. Today, the tools for tracking audience engagement are more advanced and give more meaningful information. Some ways of audience-engagement tracking include:

Platforms of engagement

Give context to your engagement numbers, particularly by categorizing them based on the platform. High engagement on a platform like LinkedIn often naturally leads to more results than high engagement on more casual platforms like Reddit. Evaluating the types of sites where your content is circulated is a big part of understanding what kind of traffic that content is generating.


User-tracking platforms like Hotjar give information on how users are engaging with digital content, using click heat maps or tracking where a user hovers and scrolls on your site. More detailed applications like these give greater insight into how your audience is engaging with your work, not just how much or how often. Looking at case studies of user engagement can provide a play-by-play of how users interact with your content.

User-tracking tools see how people engage w/your content, not just how much or how often, says @johnhall. Click To Tweet

Audience sentiment

Comments on social media posts help assess how your audience is engaging with your brand. But combing through dozens or hundreds of comments can be a big investment of time. Modern text analysis software can give a good overview of the kinds of words and sentiments people use in referencing your content. Seeing the language people use to discuss your brand can also highlight how likely those same users are to share your brand with others.

Think and choose

There’s no one right way to measure the efficacy of your content. If you know the goals you want your content to achieve, however, you can focus on the metrics best suited for tracking them.

As the B2B research shows, more than 95% of top-performing content marketers stick to a content marketing strategy. Documenting a plan for your content requires you to set clear goals – and clear metrics to track them.

Join John Hall at Content Marketing World to learn how to maximize your time to focus on what’s important for ROI and gain more insight from the dozens of sessions. Register today using code CMIBLOG100 to save $100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: John Hall

John Hall is the chief strategist of Relevance, a growth marketing agency. He authored the best-selling book “Top of Mind,” published by McGraw-Hill. John has been called a top “sales speaker”, “social media speaker” and “motivational speaker” that people should pay attention to. Follow him on Twitter @JohnHall.

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