Don't let your content marketing efforts fall flat due to hastily thrown together goals; instead, get inspired by your goals. We've collected some of the key metrics you should measure here. As a marketer, you have many goals to meet – from personal KPI's to brand awareness, increased conversion, retention, website traffic, registration rates, and more. If you set the bar too high, your goals become unrealistic and you may not reach them. Set the bar too low and you don't have a good benchmark to aim for. This year, don't just make content marketing goals and never look at them again. Instead, use these relevant metrics to not only set realistic goals, but achieve them: Raise Brand Awareness Brand awareness is vital for the success of your business – it's the ethos your audience experiences when they see your logo or think about the experiences they've had using your product or service. Growing brand awareness requires patience and a long-term strategy. When formulating a strategy, your overarching goal should be to become the most talked about brand in your product or service category on a local or national scale, depending on the size and nature of your business. The simple fact is that most people won't remember your brand if they only hear about it once or twice. And (perhaps most importantly) people don't want to feel like they're being sold to. That's why your goal should be to produce a healthy mix of content, both in terms of quality and quantity, that appeals to your audience. For thought-leadership pieces, think about producing how-to's, white papers and tutorials, while also participating in webinars and online industry forums. For viral content, think about pieces that are playful, fun and humorous – content you'd personally love to read and share. In general, your most common content should be in the evergreen category, which people can come back to time after time, but frequent topical pieces will also generate spikes in traffic. One way to measure your brand awareness is to examine your Klout score, which uses data mined from social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to measure your social media reach, including key metrics like how many people are following you, how many people are talking about you and how influential you are across your network. At the same time, Google Trends is also a great way to measure long-term brand awareness by examining how your company is being searched for and discussed online. Increase Inbound Traffic Inbound traffic is how a website grows. In general, you want to increase traffic in key traffic categories like organic, referral and social. + Organic Traffic – Organic traffic is tied to traffic from search engines, which means you need to set the goal of producing relevant content that answers questions from your audience. To do this, SEO research is key. With the right SEO strategy, you can craft content around keywords that have historically driven traffic and even predict future traffic patterns. + Referral Traffic – For referral traffic, you should think about at least one guest blog post on other respected sites and publishers on the web. This will also contribute to your link-building strategy, which will improve your search engine page ranking (SERP). + Social Traffic – To increase social traffic, you should make it a goal to post at least once a day across all social channels. By pursuing a strategy that seeks to improve traffic from a variety of sources, you should be in a position to improve your overall inbound traffic. When determining whether you're meeting your inbound traffic goals, you should use metrics that dig deeper. That means examining metrics like unique users, how many are returning visitors, your website's bounce rate and what channels are driving traffic to your site. Use tools like Google Analytics, Sprout Social and SearchMetrics to achieve this. Qualified Leads You should be following a multi-pronged strategy to acquire qualified leads, including white papers, e-mail marketing and lead segmenting. Of course, a blog is a must. One study showed that B2B companies that blog had 67 percent more leads than companies that don't. You should be setting goals for increasing qualified leads through your content strategy month over month. To do this, you should be producing the type of content that generates actual leads. For example, producing informative white papers serves a dual purpose. By requiring a user's e-mail for a free download, it not only generates a list of potential customers, but it also helps you create a quantifiable metric of how popular your white papers are. You should also be producing content for each step in the sales funnel. By segmenting leads into categories, you will understand where they are in the funnel and what content you should target them with, such as a follow-up informational e-mail for those at the beginning of the funnel or a free trial offer for those towards the end. When measuring your activity with qualified leads, it's important to look at a variety of metrics, including how long it takes you to respond to a lead and how long it takes you to close on a lead. Always push yourself to improve lead response times, measure which channels generate the best leads and introduce new tools like automated response emails to improve efficiency. Customer Retention Customer retention is often overlooked in the rush to onboard new customers. However, on average it costs seven times more to onboard a new customer than to keep a current one. This means you need to dedicate the resources to keep customers tied to your brand. You should routinely be crafting targeted e-mails to existing customers as well as offering a loyalty program that features discounts and coupons. Retargeting is also key — but instead of annoying customers through a direct ad, you should instead consider retargeting with an informative article which offers the customer real value.