Make Content Marketing Effective: Choose the Right KPIs

Make content marketing effective: Choose the right KPIs

I’m worried about the future of Content Marketing.

According to the 2016 Content Marketing Benchmark Study, only 30% of surveyed marketers consider their programs effective, down from 38% the year prior. Organizations are spending more of their marketing budgets on content marketing but aren’t proving their value.

While some may claim technical inefficiencies or lack of resources as the cause, I have a different perspective: content marketers are choosing the wrong Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Often times, marketers get caught up in the latest buzzwords, like content attribution and CRO (conversion rate optimization), and choose unobtainable KPIs that lead teams into measurement paralysis, causing their program to stagnate.

To choose the right KPIs, marketers must first take a reality check and answer one important question:

How Advanced is My Content Marketing Program?

Understanding a program’s maturity stage helps break down the complexities of a content marketing program and pinpoint achievable growth goals for the next year. Choosing the one or two KPIs that focus a team on building the skills, processes, and learnings required to reach those growth goals effectively will help lay a solid foundation to scale efficiently in the future.

Content Marketing Maturity Levels

The simplest maturity models breakdown content marketing into three stages:

  • Emerging Organizations have sporadic success running effective content marketing campaigns but have yet to gain organizational support to deliver consistent results.
  • Experienced Organizations are publishing content towards one strategic plan consistently and effectively but lack the tools to understand how the content drives overall business goals.
  • Optimized Organizations typically have invested in more sophisticated tools and have transitioned to a data-driven program that is a core component of the company’s overall marketing strategy.

Over the next few weeks I will dive deeper into each maturity level and outline strategies in choosing the right KPIs for each stage. Up first: emerging content marketing organizations.

Emerging Content Marketing Organizations

An emerging content marketing organization has gotten their program off the ground, but is struggling to get full buy-in from the rest of the organization and secure the resources and technology needed to really advance their program. The key to selling the value of a content marketing program in an organization and set it up for future success is to choose KPIs which meet the following criteria:

  1. Easy to measure with existing analytics tools
  2. Comparable to other marketing programs within the organization (and will likely outperform)
  3. Provide insights to hone a brand voice and prioritize content themes

Two classic KPIs that meet these objectives are content views and engagement.