How to measure the effectiveness of content marketing

There’s often a disparity between the metrics that marketers do measure and the metrics they should measure. I suspect most of us have been guilty of this at...

There’s often a disparity between the metrics that marketers do measure and the metrics they should measure.


I suspect most of us have been guilty of this at some point. Your boss (or your clients’ boss) has expectations and these tend to manifest themselves as sales targets. The conversation usually starts with: “did we hit our sales figures this quarter and how can you prove the impact you had on revenue?”

For some businesses, and particularly those with a long sales cycle, this isn’t straightforward.

A potential customer isn’t likely to come across a blog post and decide right there and then that they need to buy your products or services, no matter how fantastic the post is. They need to be nurtured and it can be weeks, months or even years before they convert into a customer or a qualified lead.

In the meantime, our marketer is left clutching at straws as they try to justify their work and show something impressive and, inevitably, they fall back on vanity metrics.

This isn’t to suggest that all intangible benefits (such as reach and engagement) should be discarded, but it does depend on where the content fits into the sales funnel. Content designed to generate awareness and fill the top of the sales funnel will have very different KPIs to end-funnel content which is focused on sales and lead generation.

These objectives, expectations and KPIs need to be made clear from the outset and should never be an afterthought.

Although it’s by no means an exhaustive list (there are, literally, hundreds of possible metrics), I’ve identified four campaign objectives and highlighted some of the key metrics that might be used to determine success.

  • Brand awareness: share of voice; website traffic; impressions; reach; video views; mentions
  • Engagement: Likes, shares, comments, retweets, etc; blog comments; link clicks; inbound links generated
  • Lead generation: form completions/downloads; email subscriptions; blog subscriptions; conversion rates; cost per conversion
  • Customer retention/loyalty: Brand evangelists; Net Promoter Score (NPS); customer retention rate; customer reviews

Measure what matters to your campaign objective, and ignore the rest. As Robert Rose says:

“Have the capability to measure everything – and then don’t.”

Are you a digital marketing consultant or agency? As part of our ‘Growing your digital marketing agency’ series we’re hosting a free webinar on July 14th. We’ll be looking at  what metrics matter for social, email, SEO and content marketing and how to tie these metrics to business goals. You can register here for free.

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    Great article Jeremy! It’s been a pretty interesting read, sure we’ll come back for more! Just would like to add that we usually use the position of our branded keywords to measure brand awareness. It’s a bit weird, but really accurate when it comes to certain business models…

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge! See you around!