Now that you’ve put your content out into the world and promoted it to your audience, your last step is to measure its effectiveness to help inform your future efforts. Measuring how your content performs against your own success metrics will help you craft more engaging content that better connects with your audience in the future.

As you learn more about your audience -- who they are, what types of content they consume, and how they consume it -- and you answer the questions above, you can continually refine any new content you create to better target them and convert more prospects into customers.

The Four Key Content Marketing Metrics

By now you’ll understand that content marketing is about creating useful content that engages your audience, influences their behaviour, creates loyalty for your brand, and converts them into customers. And because you’ve created different types of content depending on where in the buying cycle you’re targeting your audience, no one single metric can measure its efficacy. 

Here, then, are the four primary metric types that will help to paint a more accurate picture of your content marketing plan’s effectiveness:

Consumption Metrics

This is the most basic and fundamental of the four types, and the one that most marketers will already be familiar with. Consumption metrics, or what content was consumed the most often, looks at how many people consumed your content and how often. This can be measured as page views, video views, downloads, or other such statistics. If you’ve ever explored Google Analytics, then you’ve looked at consumption metrics.

Consumption metric data is critical, but it’s only part of a larger story. Remember that your end goal is action, not just eyeballs.

Sharing Metrics

Sharing metrics look at how often your content was shared, usually on social networks. It helps you to understand how your content is resonating with your audience, giving you insight into how your content is impacting your brand awareness and audience engagement. Your sharing metrics may include statistics like likes, shares, retweets, pins, forwards, or inbound links -- all depending on the social platform used to share it. 

Sharing metrics are important, but they’re sometimes given more weight than they necessarily deserve because the data is often made public by the social platform (for example, YouTube views are displayed prominently below the video). Assign an internal business value to your sharing metrics to help provide some clarity, rather than getting hung up on the optics.

Lead Generation Metrics

Measuring how often your content generates a lead starts to bring you closer to your primary goals. Form submissions, access to gated content, email subscriptions, blog subscriptions and comments, and their conversion rates -- i.e. how often users who consume your content become leads -- are the keys to understanding your lead generation at a high level. For example, if your website has an overall lead generation rate of 3% and an individual piece of content is at 1.5% then you can conclude that the content in question is under-performing.

This is also where you can start to assign a dollar value to your metrics and begin to measure your return on investment. Even though these behaviours may not produce revenue immediately, you can still assign a business value to them and produce custom reports to show goals for each piece of content. Google Analytics lets you do this through their ‘page value’ option. 

Sales Metrics

The ultimate goal of your content -- converting your audience into paying customers. Sales metrics answer the question of whether or not the content you created made money for your business. Online sales through an e-commerce platform, offline sales that you track through your CRM, and even manual reports and anecdotes from the field can all help measure which content, specifically, led to a sale. 

But remember, your content needs to be trackable for you to track it -- unique URLs, cookies, tracking pixels, and reporting tools like Google Analytics, Marketo, HubSpot, and email deployment software can all help you track individual pieces of content, your audience’s engagement with them, and the behaviours that follow.

Conclusion

Understanding all four content marketing metrics -- what they tell you, what they don’t, and what parts of the whole story they tell -- will give you a holistic measurement system that will help you evaluate the content you create and, more importantly, derive learnings from them to help fine tune your future content creation efforts to maximize your return on investment.