ITL #258 Content Marketing: Measurement and Analysis

3 years, 11 months ago


To track and measure content marketing effectiveness, marketers should focus on applying metrics in six different areas. By Ina Nikolova.

In today’s digital society, metrics become increasingly important for content marketing. It is not enough to only measure visitors or users, then display the results in fancy graphics. Every marketing manager should know that proper analysis is vital for identifying top-performing content, assessing key metrics and creating actionable, data-driven next steps.

Given the amount of time you invest in creating content, it’s essential to analyse its performance. This allows you to adjust future content creation efforts and measure the results driven by your content, to quantify the return on investment to the business.

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Think about the money and time your team could be wasting on channels that don’t drive you toward meeting your goals. It’s all about analysing how your short-term effort can eventually impact your end goals and long-term plan. Measuring your content also allows you to discover insights you may have missed in your offers, some new trend in your industry or what works best for your audience. Good practice is to review not only your content but that of your competitors. In this way you can be sure that you are addressing basic questions and new developments.

Creating a list of questions is always of use when building up the new marketing strategy. For example:

  • Are you progressing toward your goals in a timely fashion?
  • Do you need to adjust your content plan, either because you are behind on your goals or way ahead?
  • What insights did you gain from each of your marketing efforts? How can this be used to prove the value of the work you do, or adjust next year’s goals?

In the process of tracking and measuring your content marketing efforts, I would recommend focusing on the following six areas:  brand awareness, engagement, lead generation, customer conversion and sales, customer loyalty and retention, and website performance. Each area is based on different goals and drives different metrics.

Brand awareness

Brand awareness can drive your company to the top of the search engine rankings and to the top of your potential customers’ minds. Before digging into measuring brand awareness, estimate which metrics and channels are important. For instance, you could measure reach on various channels, including social media followers, external media coverage, or inbound links and even conversations about your brand.

Check also how many people are searching for your brand name and other branded keywords in search engines. Referral and direct traffic to your site may also be indicative of your audience’s awareness of your brand as a trusted partner.


Engagement measures not just who’s seeing your content, but who is interacting with it. By measuring who is interacting with your content through engagement, you are interpreting feedback signals your readers are giving you without having to explicitly ask them how they like your content. You can measure engagement on social media, including shares, likes, comments, and retweets.

You should also keep track of how many comments each post receives: which blog posts and topics get the most comments? When you promote a content offer via email, do your recipients click and download the offer? Do they forward the email along to a colleague or friend?

After they download a content offer on a landing page, do people then share the landing page with their own networks? These signs of engagement offer feedback that can help determine the most popular and effective content pieces, topics, channels, and formats. Engagement data not only helps you gain actionable insights into what content is working best, but also allows you to tie engagement data back to overall business goals.

Lead generation

Many content marketers focus on social media mostly as a brand-building tool, but a few realise how well it may be used to generate leads and customer retention. By monitoring the number of your leads and conversions generated from social media efforts, you’ll be in a better position to increase effectiveness of your content marketing campaigns. By using lead generation metrics, you can prove that your time and your company’s money is well-spent.

For that purpose, it’s necessary to follow the number of leads you generated, number of blog subscribers and number of downloads of your content offer. If so, which content offer? Have you been able to qualify them, either through lead scoring or using lifecycle stages?

Look at the number of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), representing leads making their way down your marketing funnel. Then look at the amount of Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), which reflect leads that are further down the funnel and more “sales-ready.”  Discover what activities lead to someone becoming a lead and how much does it cost to acquire a lead.

All these actions are possible by using Lead Generation software. Some marketers rely on platforms with a free trial to get results and make detailed analysis. The most used are Hoovers, (a Google Chrome extension), Rapportive (Offered by LinkedIn, a free add-on for Chrome and Firefox), and Slide Share (great platform for sharing presentations and to tell stories with compelling slideshows).

Customer conversion and sales

Let’s say that this is the real money maker! Be ready to include creative and technical time, software costs, and overhead in your calculation of cost. Then check it out: What is the ROI of your total content marketing efforts? What is the cost of acquisition for a new customer?

You can track the quality of sales touched by content marketing in comparison to cold sales to help prove the ROI of your inbound and content marketing efforts. What is the ratio of leads to customers, as well? By looking at this ratio in several different areas in the funnel, you can easily identify where your strategy may be falling short.

Customer loyalty and retention

The next area of tracking and measuring your content marketing efforts is customer loyalty and retention.

Here you should check how often customers buy from you and if they recommend your business to others. Do they come back for more? Lifetime value and repeat business can be especially important for a company that has a relatively high cost of acquisition and lower long-term cost to service.

If you can get customers to stick with you over time, the return on your investment in them during the marketing qualification and sales process grows exponentially.

Website performance

It’s essential to keep your website fully optimized for inbound marketing and user experience. It should also be user-friendly and customer-oriented.

Google Analytics will be of great help in measuring your website performance. You can take a look at traffic including unique visitors, conversions, page views and which sources of traffic are top-performers for your business.

When it comes to organic search, pay attention to metrics for visits arriving from organic search to individual pages and the site overall. It’s a good sign if it’s growing steadily over time. Frequently keep track of these key metrics to be sure that you create quality information.

Taking into account the measurement process outlined above, you can determine what metrics are important to track based on your content marketing goal. By looking closely at the metrics, you can present a coherent case for the time and money you spend on content creation and promotion, while also making recommendations for where to expand.

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The Author

Ina Nikolova

Dr. Ina Nikolova leads all marketing activities of the German IT company PATECCO. She is an author of its corporate technology blog about Identity and Access Management and a speaker in Kuppingercole’s international conferences. Along with developing brand identity and strategies, Ina participates in European Commission events concerning Digital Transformation, Open Data and E-Government issues. Over the past 10 years, she has implemented marketing projects across sectors including IT, FMCG, Tourism and Real Estate.

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