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    What Are Content KPIs and Why Do They Matter?

    What Are Content KPIs and Why Do They Matter?

    Whether you’re a business or company with an online presence (read: a website), the content you create defines you. But how do you measure what defines you? This is where content key performance indicators (KPIs) come out to play. Content KPIs are the metrics and measurements that help you assess the effectiveness of your content strategy. Let’s review what content KPIs are, why they matter and how they can empower your online efforts. 

    Defining Content KPIs 

    Content KPIs are quantitative and qualitative metrics used to gauge the performance and impact of your content marketing efforts. These metrics provide valuable insights into how well your content is resonating with your target audience and whether it’s achieving its intended goals.  

    KPIs provide direction toward getting a desired result and can help businesses and marketers make informed decisions. Think of KPIs as strategic and big picture, as they help achieve strategic goals, such as profit, growth, sales and performance levels. They vary by industry and business, but they should always be well-defined and able to show progress toward achieving an identified goal. Well-chosen KPIs should communicate results concisely to allow management to make better-informed strategic decisions. 

    KPIs can be financial, including net profit, total revenue per employee, gross profit margin and operating cash flow. KPIs can be customer-focused, such as those around customer retention, or process and project-focused, such as turn-around time, resource efficiency or cost variance. KPIs can be sales-focused, including the average number of leads generated per quarter and deal conversion rates. And, of course, KPIs can be marketing based, such as conversion rate and cost per lead.

    RELATED: Better Manage Your Metrics

    An eCommerce security hardware company working toward the fastest growth in its sector may identify year-over-year revenue growth as its chief KPI. A brick-and-mortar locksmith business might place more value on same-store sales as the most relevant KPI for assessing growth.  

    Common content KPIs include traffic, engagement, conversions, search engine optimization (SEO) performance, social media metrics, lead generation, brand awareness and audience feedback.  

    Traffic 

    This KPI measures the number of visitors to your website or the specific content piece. It can be further divided into metrics such as page views, unique visitors and return visitors. 

    Let’s spend a minute on two elements of traffic KPIs that we find particularly interesting to evaluate: Time on site and bounce rate. 

    If visitors spend time on a site, it usually indicates they are finding what they need on it. Session duration metrics are more relevant for some businesses than others. Often B2B sites, with rich resources for customers, see high session duration times as users seek information and expertise.  

    For sites with eCommerce offerings, longer times on the site may mean more browsing or buying. If users go beyond the landing page and visit other pages within the site, it probably means what’s offered is a story well-told to that targeted audience. Session duration can also tell the story of site navigation ease, friendliness for users and value of the content users spend time consuming. 

    If metrics identify low-performing pages and visitors spend little time on them, it’s worth investigating why those pages struggle. 

    The bounce rate is a more specific cousin of the time spent on site metric. The bounce rate measures how quickly users visit your home page and then…bounce. No deep dive. No second page. No clicks and no action, other than leaving the site. Except for the exception. Google Analytics 4 is specific about the time before a user leaves the page, which determines if it’s a bounce.  

    We’re believers in the idea that a bounce reflects that the landing page is irrelevant (a poor content match), doesn’t immediately catch the user’s interest, the loading time was excruciatingly long or there were loading errors. 

    High bounce rates can be an indication that the home page is poorly designed or optimized, or the digital marketing efforts that drive users to the site are poorly targeted and need a strategy adjustment.  

    “Average time on site seems like a no-brainer KPI to use for trying to measure the effectiveness of the content on different webpages. But there are actually some limits to be aware of regarding this KPI that need to be considered before using this as a way to measure the engagement success or lack of success of website content,” according to Search Engine Journal.  

    In an interview with SEJ, analytics expert Kayle Larkin cautioned that average time on site should be justified with data before using it as a KPI. 

    “I don’t use Average Time on Site as a KPI, so I’d have to see how they’re excluding bounces. I guess this is one of those where and why things because it’s so situational. Maybe if it was an affiliate site? Where you want people spending time on your page. Maybe if they’ve found that people who spend between X and Z time have an increased conversion rate? Otherwise, I’d ask why is this a KPI? How does this achieve business objectives?” 

    We agree, but still think time on site is an important metric. 

    Engagement 

    Engagement KPIs focus on how users interact with your content. Many marketers put time spent on the page metrics in this subcategory, but we think they need to be evaluated as elements of both traffic and engagement.  

    Engagement can be as superficial as likes (low stakes and no real commitment), or it can go deeper to shares, comments and click-throughs. Audience feedback through surveys, polls or direct comments can provide valuable insights into how your content is perceived and we like it under the “engagement” category, albeit a metric that can stand alone. 

    Conversions

    Conversions are crucial KPIs as they directly affect your business objectives. They could be sign-ups, purchases, downloads or any other action you want your audience to take. 

    According to business analytics platform Databox, nearly 90% of businesses face the conundrum of high click-through rates coupled with low conversion rates. The ads are engaging, but it seems they’re not doing what’s needed to close the deal. Don’t be quick to blame the ads, as the landing page is the top reason an ad doesn’t convert.  

    According to Databox, a high CTR combined with low conversions on any campaign distills down to the UX of the landing page or website. Website speed is crucial—both for desktop and mobile. If users must wait for pages to load, they rarely convert. They bounce. And high bounce rates will back that up.  

    SEO Performance 

    Content’s effectiveness can be determined by its ability to rank well on search engines. In the universe of SEO, key performance indicators (KPIs) guide the way. They are the metrics to measure how well SEO strategies work and they include organic traffic, keyword rankings, click-through rates (CTR) and conversion rates. 

    “Organic traffic is like the foot traffic of the digital world. It tells us how many visitors come to our site from search engines,” according to digital marketing agency SeoEaze. “Think of keywords as the signposts on the online highway. KPIs related to keyword rankings help us understand how often our website appears for specific search terms. We watch these rankings closely to ensure our site remains visible and relevant.” 

    The motherlode of SEO is conversion KPIs, according to Search Engine Land. 

    “The most important SEO KPI, in most cases, is conversion. Tracking conversions from organic search should be at the top of your list,” according to Search Engine Land. “These KPIs need to be customized around your specific goals. Examples here include conversions from organic search, percentage increase in conversion rate, organic search conversion rate, lead conversions, downloads and email and phone clicks.” 

    Social media metrics 

    If your content is distributed on social media platforms, metrics including follower growth, engagement and social shares are important KPIs. Often, using social media metrics, businesses can also evaluate mentions, media coverage and sentiment analysis that can help assess the impact of your content on brand visibility and awareness.  

    Lead Generation 

    For businesses, measuring the number of leads generated through content can be a significant KPI. Feel free to go deep with a great source, Databox

    Why Content KPIs Matter 

    Content KPIs are not just numbers on a dashboard. They help you assess content effectiveness, align content with organizational goals and make informed decisions.  

    Content KPIs help quantify the success of content initiatives. Whether it’s blog posts, videos or social media updates, KPIs provide a concrete way for you to assess whether the content is achieving its intended objectives. KPIs also work to align content efforts with broader organizational goals. By tracking KPIs including website traffic, conversion rates or social media engagement, you can ensure your content strategy supports your goals and objectives. 

    KPIs matter because they provide data-driven insights. These metrics empower content creators and marketers to make informed decisions, optimize content and refine their strategies for better results. They also help determine the return on investment. By tracking KPIs, you can assess the cost-effectiveness of your content and adjust your budgets accordingly. 

    RELATED: How to Diversify Your Content Strategy

    As a window into audiences, KPIs offer a peek into audience behavior and preferences. Metrics including time on page, bounce rate and click-through rate help businesses understand what resonates with their audience(s), which enables you to create more relevant and engaging content. 

    Through KPI analysis, companies and marketers can identify underperforming content and make data-informed adjustments. This iterative approach is essential for content improvement over time. KPIs also help marketers allocate resources efficiently, including time and budget to channels and content types that generate the best results. 

    Tracking KPIs over time enables you, as a marketer, to sharpen your long-term content strategy. When trends and patterns are identified, businesses can evolve their approach, even as audience preferences and technology change. 

    Implementing Content KPIs 

    You may know that we are big proponents of having a plan. To make the most of Content KPIs, you need a well-defined strategy with clear (and documented) goals. Maybe your goals are to increase website traffic, boost brand awareness or generate quality leads. Make sure your KPIs align with those goals and choose KPIs directly related to them. For example, if you want to generate leads, focus on conversion rate and lead quality rather than social media likes. 

    Implement analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, social media insights and email marketing analytics, to track your chosen KPIs. These tools provide detailed data and trends. And you must plan to regularly monitor your KPIs to provide a real-time overview of your content’s performance. As part of your monitoring, evaluate your content strategy periodically and benchmark your KPIs against industry and (your company’s) specialty standards.  

    Put all this monitoring activity on your calendar and hold yourself accountable, so you have a broader perspective and you’ll know if certain KPIs are underperforming.  

    We’re big fans of A/B testing, too. Experiment with different content formats and distribution channels to see what works best. A/B testing can help optimize your strategy for higher KPI achievement. And, of course, listen to feedback from your audience. If you receive comments or survey results, use them to polish and hone your content. 

    Common Pitfalls to Avoid 

    While content KPIs can be incredibly beneficial, there are common pitfalls you should be aware of and sidestep. 

    • Be inclusive of qualitative data: Don’t focus solely on quantitative data. Qualitative feedback from users can provide valuable insights. Consider these comments from Forbes. (We like the part about how words matter.) 
    • Ignore vanity metrics: Avoid metrics that make you look good, but don’t correlate with business objectives. We all love a big crowd under our tent, but having a large social media following doesn’t matter if it doesn’t drive conversions. 
    • Respect seasonality: Consider seasonality when analyzing your KPIs. Some content may perform differently at various times of the year or quarter, but seasonality affects your marketing more than you may think
    • Avoid short-term focus and unrealistic goals 

    Don’t get fixated on short-term results. Content marketing is often about long-term brand building and some KPIs may take time to show significant improvements. Also be realistic about what your content can achieve. Setting unattainable goals can lead to frustration and poor decision-making. At the top of this list is expecting marketing to solve all a company’s problems. Marketing is only one (strong) tool, not a company’s entire tool chest. 

    Content KPIs are indispensable for anyone engaged in content creation and marketing. They offer a data-driven approach to assess the effectiveness of your content, align it with business goals and adapt to changing audience preferences.  

    With the right KPIs in place and a commitment to continuous improvement, you can optimize your content strategy, drive better results and make a more significant impact in your digital world. Yes, content is king, but without the right metrics, you won’t know if your kingdom is thriving, in need of some renovations, or burning with the city.  

    For a richer look at metrics you should measure, download our whitepaper here, or call and let’s start a conversation.  


    FAQs

    What are Content KPIs?

    Content KPIs are quantitative and qualitative metrics used to measure the performance and impact of your content marketing efforts.

    Why do Content KPIs matter?

    Content KPIs help assess content effectiveness, align content with organizational goals, provide data-driven insights, and determine the return on investment.

    What are some common Content KPIs?

    Common Content KPIs include traffic, engagement, conversions, SEO performance, social media metrics, lead generation, and brand awareness.

    How does SEO performance affect content effectiveness?

    SEO performance, including organic traffic, keyword rankings, and CTR, indicates how well content ranks on search engines and its visibility.

    Why is audience feedback important in content metrics?

    Audience feedback provides insights into how your content is perceived and helps in creating more relevant and engaging content.

    About The Author

    Elton Mayfield

    Elton's career spans media, production, digital and building industry expertise. His diverse experience makes him nimble, innovative, and curious – always pushing the envelope to create extraordinary work that delivers real results for our clients.

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