Metrics | Glossary

Metrics provide the means to measure the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts. They are the numbers you track to gauge how well your content is performing. Without a well-defined set of metrics, it's nearly impossible to know if your content marketing strategy is successful. If you haven't defined the right set of metrics and started using them as the basis for key performance indicators (KPIs), here is what you need to know.

What Are Content Metrics?

Content marketing metrics are statistics that measure the performance of content and promotional activities. In the world of digital marketing, metrics report essential figures such as click-through rate, comments, social shares, bounce rate, and much more.

Content metrics are important because they form the basis for key performance indicators (KPIs), which measure the return on investment (ROI). Metrics provide insights that allow you to adjust marketing strategies based on your content"s performance.

What Are the Different Types of Content Marketing Metrics?

There are five main categories of content metrics:

  • Brand awareness metrics
  • Engagement metrics
  • SEO metrics
  • Lead generation metrics
  • Sales enablement metrics

Here"s a brief overview of all five types, with examples for each.

Remember, this is not an exhaustive list of all possible content metrics. In fact, many metrics are unique to an individual company or content marketing organization. This list is meant to give you an idea of the high-level categories and types of metrics commonly used in the content marketing industry.

Brand awareness metrics
Brand awareness metrics are relatively simple stats that measure how many people view or follow your content. Site visits, page views, unique page views, and impressions are all standard website metrics. Social shares (such as retweets or Facebook shares) and follower count are similarly common social media metrics.

Engagement metrics
Engagement metrics go beyond the raw data offered by brand awareness metrics and provide insight into how well your content connects with your audience. Click-through rate is a standard engagement metric that measures how many people click on your links, which is a good indication your content delivers what your audience is looking for. Social media comments and mentions are two effective engagement metrics that indicate user engagement levels.

Search engine optimization (SEO) metrics
SEO metrics measure how well your content performs in search engine result pages (SERP) for keywords and other criteria. Google Search Console provides valuable SEO metrics like Page Authority, which determines how well a page will rank, and domain authority, a metric for how relevant your site is for a given subject.

Lead generation metrics
One of the main goals of any content marketing strategy is generating more leads (the visitors who are potential new customers). Click-through rates are a valuable metric here, especially for calls to action (CTAs) in your blog posts. Conversions are perhaps the most important lead generation metric.

The term "conversions" is used for more than the number of leads who become customers since it can be applied to the number of new email subscribers, downloads of whitepapers and other freemium content, and form completions.

Sales enablement metrics
Some content marketing efforts are specifically for growing sales, and sales enablement metrics measure the results of these activities. Demo requests, sales cycle length, and sales conversion rate are all standard sales enablement metrics.

Qualified leads might be considered a lead generation metric, but some marketing organizations put it under the sales enablement category. That"s because qualified leads are much more likely to become long-term, loyal customers.

Content Metrics vs. KPIs

You may sometimes hear content metrics referred to as KPIs, but that"s technically incorrect. Confusion between the two is understandable because metrics form the basis for KPIs. However, it"s important to remember what KPI stands for: Key Performance Indicator.

By their very nature, KPIs are limited to the most essential aspects (the "key" party) of a content marketing strategy. They also measure performance against some sort of baseline, which could be a budget or forecast or a comparison to performance in a previous period. Metrics, meanwhile, are simply quantitative measures of given activities.

An easier way to understand the difference — and relationship — between metrics and KPIs is to consider the context. Most content metrics have no context other than what you read into them. For example, 10,000 unique site visitors per month is a metric. But without any context, there"s no indication of whether 10,000 unique visitors signal strong performance. You may know if the number is good or bad based on your past experience, but the metric itself provides no context. KPIs combine and contextualize metrics to indicate performance levels.

Using the same example of 10,000 unique site visitors a month, a KPI might compare that number to the previous month"s total. A year-over-year comparison might be appropriate. Many KPIs compare current metrics against the all-time high numbers.

So, while 10,000 unique site visitors is a metric that many marketing groups would be happy with, it might be disappointing for a company that had 100,000 unique site visitors in a previous month. It"s this level of contextualization that makes KPIs essential for all types of business processes.

However, that"s not to say that metrics are meaningless on their own. It"s quite the contrary since metrics form the basis for KPIs. Even on their own, metrics provide content marketers with a quick measure of their work"s performance. But you should remember that some metrics, without context, can serve as "vanity metrics."

Those 10,000 site visitors sound like an excellent metric for a brand-new company in their first month of operation. But if only 50 of those visitors clicked on CTA links, and even fewer became customers, the number of visitors suddenly seems less relevant. That"s why it"s critical to use metrics that help form the basis of KPIs and other analytical tools, such as business intelligence applications.

Are you interested in learning more about content marketing strategy and performance? Check out these other resources from Scripted:

What is Content Marketing Analytics?

How to Measure Your White Paper"s Success

Performance & Optimization by Scripted

How to Set Up an Effective Content Marketing Strategy

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