By John Hall published July 20, 2022 Est Read Time: 7 min

Forget Views and Shares: Choose Metrics More Relevant to Your Content Marketing Goals

Updated July 20, 2022

It’s impossible for your content to hit the mark when you don’t focus on your aim.

Yet, content marketers do it every day. You track clicks, impressions, and shares, thinking those metrics will indicate if the content asset is on target to meet its goals.

But fixating on those metrics causes you to lose sight of the bull’s eye. They don’t tell the full story of what your content is doing. To help you refocus on what counts, I’ve compiled the metrics that best tell the stories for brand awareness, demand and lead-gen, sales enablement, and audience-engagement goals.

Brand awareness

Brand awareness is one of the most difficult metrics to track due to its incredibly qualitative nature. In the most recent Content Marketing Institute B2B survey, more than 80% of marketers say they’ve used content to increase 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:

Demographics

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 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. There are several digital PR tools listed at the bottom of this article that can help you execute brand image goals.

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.

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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 clicks 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. Clicks never tell the whole story. Maybe your content is improving your site’s position in search engine results. I’ve worked with MarketMuse in the past, and they are good at having AI features that influence the content so that it meets the right demand based on search metrics. Making data-driven decisions is key to content planning for demand volume. Taking a step back to look at larger demand volume trends relative to your content production and placement can yield helpful insights.

Clicks never tell the whole demand story, says @JohnHall via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Conversions

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. If you look at a list of growth marketing agencies, you will see content is playing a bigger role in each.  Agencies that used to just do paid marketing now offer organic or conversion services for content.

I recently spoke with one of those companies, and they commented on how it’s not just about the conversion but about who converted. Content can help you get more of the right conversions. Effective content is made even more effective when it reaches the right audience.

Effective #content is made more effective when it reaches the right audience, says @JohnHall via @CMIContent. 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 of prolonged content exposure. 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.

Micro-engagement

User-tracking platforms like Hotjar give information on how users are engaging with digital content, using click heat maps and tracking hovers and scrolls on your site. Matter Made can also help with demand generation by optimizing your marketing funnels to increase engagement and turn sourced deals to ROI. 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 with your #content, not just how much or how often, says @JohnHall via @CMIContent. 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. By picking the goals you want your content to hit, you can focus on the metrics best aimed at tracking them.

All tools mentioned in the post are identified by the author. If you have a tool to share, please add it in the comments.

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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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