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11 Must-Measure KPIs for Content Marketing Success

Posted by admin on January 26, 2014

The search community has always been infatuated with content in one format or another, and the saying “Content is King” isn’t exactly new. However, the reality with content marketing that most people are starting to awaken to, is that content has value beyond simple search engine optimization. Content marketing, when done correctly, has its own ROI as a channel, and thus must be measured by a set of unique key performance indicators (KPIs).

The issue has always been in identifying the value of the KPIs most people tend to use. Social shares, links, and other measurements we will discuss are not new, but how you gauge their overall value in a non-channel specific format is important.


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Referrers are an important metric to gauge. It lets you know how well your content is being picked up by other thought leaders, but also gives you direct/real time insight into who is linking to you.

Sub-metrics to look for:

  • Traffic per Referrer
  • Moz Rank/Trust Flow of Referrer
  • Time on site from Referrer
  • Conversion Rate from Referrer

How to Measure

You’re looking at patterns, and the pattern that is most important is how referrals to content-based landing pages respond compared to your different landing pages. This gives you a good sense of the value of each referral source. Some may be only useful for SEO, and that has its place, but other sources that compete with engagement KPIs for commercial landing pages could be a great place to set up an ongoing relationship.

Engagement Metrics

Engagement with content is one thing marketers lose perspective of most often. They cite concepts like social sharing figures and overall traffic, but rarely quote serious engagement statistics to show the value of the content on the site. These figures are the core of how well your content is working. Getting people to the site, and even shares, is more of a display of your headline writing and social media capabilities.

Sub-metrics to look for:

  • Pages Per Visits
  • Time on Site
  • Bounce Rate

How to Measure them:

You want to measure these based on the baselines given for higher performing portions of your site. Content will undoubtedly underperform your money landing pages, however by how much is what is important. Again you want to get a relative ROI and value from what you’re producing, and you already have a barometer by way of other pages and traffic.

Social Sharing


These metrics are heavily used today, but I think they are often not used correctly.

For example, quite often we quote social shares, but not in the correct context. Yes, your article may have gotten X Facebook Likes, but is that the average for the site, or an increase of some kind?

Context is critical to figuring out the value of a social sharing program, if a piece of content did indeed go viral, and how to replicate that success.

Sub-metrics to look for:

  • Social shares
  • Referring Platforms

How to Measure them:

You want to measure these in context.

How many shares equal a visit, and how does that visitor behave? This is an incredibly important question to answer and most marketers aren’t making the connection. For example, we often see Facebook “like” counts outpace traffic for that content, suggesting users click like on content they have never read.

How different referring platforms react with content is important as well. Most platforms have advertising mechanisms so going “viral” is really just about what you are willing to pay. Figuring out ROI from each platform as it pertains to your site and content type can help you make smarter decisions with your budget.


Standard conversions have always been pointed to as the weakness in the content marketing channel. However, this is because the content has not been optimized for conversions. The key here is shaping content to generate primary and secondary conversions.

Primary conversions are obvious, they are what you gain revenue from: sales, leads, etc.

Secondary conversions are things like email list subscriptions, retargeting pixel drops, and buyer guide downloads. These items give you a second chance to convert a passive user looking for purely entertainment. This moves content marketing based traffic further down the buy cycle, where they are much more likely to convert.

Sub-metrics to look for:

  • Primary conversion rates per content type
  • Secondary conversion rates per content type

How to Measure them:

Conversion tools in Google Analytics and paid packages like KISSmetrics make it really easy to measure conversions, where they are coming from, and how conversion rates stack up. This data can then be used to refine your approach and improve your performance.


We have copious amounts of data at our fingertips, so the only reason content marketing as a channel should be a black hole is if you simply don’t know how to structure that data correctly.

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