Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) | Glossary

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are the metrics a business uses to measure its performance. KPIs offer a quick and easy way to ensure things are running like they should and goals are met. The content marketing industry has many standard KPIs that help track brand awareness, website visits, lead conversions, and impressions, among others. The right KPIs are a must for measuring the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy.

What are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)?

Key performance indicators are the essential metrics that a company"s employees use to measure operational success. Content marketing is one industry that relies heavily on KPIs since they provide a window into how successful a strategy is. Marketing teams regularly adjust their efforts based on KPIs, changing content strategy to match what the numbers are telling them. For this reason and more, KPIs are incredibly important to your content marketing efforts. Choosing the right KPIs for your organization and then tracking and measuring them are all essential activities that every content marketing team should do.

What are Some Common Content Marketing KPIs?

Content marketing professionals utilize many content marketing KPIs. Some of the most common include:

  • Generated leads
  • Qualified leads
  • Lead conversions
  • Website views/impressions
  • Newsletter open rates
  • Newsletter click-through rates (CTRs)
  • Engagement rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Client feedback

This is a small list, representing just some of the dozens of KPIs regularly used in the content marketing industry. While not all of them apply to every company or content marketing strategy, the above list features KPIs that most content marketers track and observe. It"s not uncommon for some organizations to use unique or proprietary KPIs to measure their marketing effectiveness.

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How to Choose the Right Content Marketing KPIs?

Given that content marketing strategies vary from company to company, choosing the right KPIs for your organization takes careful consideration. Before selecting KPIs to track, it helps to take a step back and remember the main goals of content marketing: engaging an audience and converting leads into customers. With that in mind, it becomes easier to pick the KPIs that are most relevant to your content marketing strategy.

Given the overarching goals of content marketing, metrics that describe the volume of published content are generally useless. After all, the goal is not to issue an endless stream of content with the hopes that some of it will catch a reader"s attention. Worthy KPIs measure how effective content is with regard to engagement and converting leads. Even if the KPIs you choose are so individualized that they only apply to your company, they are valid if they measure engagement and customer growth in some fashion.

That"s why KPIs such as the number of generated leads have value. This KPI reflects the number of potential new customers gained by content marketing. Customer retention is a similarly worthy KPI, one that you can gauge with newsletter open rates and CTRs, along with website engagement metrics.

Using time-bound metrics

One other important thing to remember in the KPI selection process is to select metrics that are easily time-bound. For instance, website impressions in one week, one month, or one quarter are all valid metrics because they cover a specific timeframe. As you build up historical data, you can easily compare KPIs to previous timeframes, comparing metrics month-over-month and year-over-year. These historical insights are valuable because they help you see long-term trends.

Setting goals for good KPIs

KPIs have the most value when they can be compared against a baseline. That makes it important to set content marketing goals that are measurable. This way, a baseline metric is easily set, and your KPIs can measure performance vs. goals. Broad business goals may be challenging to quantify in numbers unless they are revenue goals. Specific objectives (e.g., "Increase website impressions 15% year-over-year") are much more suited to KPIs. When possible, translate business goals into a numerical form to ensure they can be measured with KPIs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Content Marketing KPIs

Getting started with content marketing KPIs can be a trial-and-error process. Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions among those new to measuring and tracking KPIs:

How do you measure content"s effectiveness?
The word "effectiveness" is often used in content marketing strategy, but it"s not always clear how to measure it. Remember to create business goals that are specific and time-bound so that your goals are clear and measurable. Then, you must closely track your content marketing efforts and tie them to business goals.

For example, if your goal is to increase visits to your website and you have started a new blog series to help with that goal, pay close attention to website visit stats after the new series premiered. If you find a correlation between the blog series and increased visits, you have the start of effectiveness metrics. Just think of "effectiveness" as a measure of how much your content marketing helps you meet business goals.

How do you measure brand awareness?
Brand awareness KPIs are typically based on market surveys. It"s one of those metrics that"s hard to measure without directly asking people about it. An important thing to remember for these types of metrics is that they should be measured before and after starting a content marketing campaign. You"ll then have a way to measure if brand awareness has improved, along with data to gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Are content metrics KPIs?
Content metrics are typically a measure of quantity—the number of pieces of content published, the most visited pages, the most clicked links, and the like. By themselves, content metrics are not KPIs because they aren"t measured against a goal. However, these metrics have a lot of value when they"re used for measuring KPIs. For instance, the most visited pages statistic could be used for a content effectiveness KPI.

Want to learn more about content marketing and successful strategies? Here are some other recommended resources for further reading:

What is Content Marketing Analytics?

How to Measure Your White Paper"s Success

Why The Smartest Marketers Have External Writing Teams

How to Set Up an Effective Content Marketing Strategy

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