Are You Distracted by the Wrong Content Marketing Metrics?

August 19, 2013

If you’re just getting started with content marketing you’re likely eager to start tracking your results. But with so much data available these days, marketers can often find it difficult to zero in on the content marketing metrics that matter.

On one hand, we now have the ability to monitor, analyze, and optimize every piece of content we’re delivering at every stage of the buying process, in theory making it easier than ever to crank out more sales-qualified leads.

The problem, says content marketing consultant Robert Rose, is that “by focusing so closely on numbers of transactions, you lose sight of actually closing better, more valuable customers that are more highly engaged.”

Rose, Chief Strategist at Content Marketing Institute, recently sat down with OpenView Labs to discuss the pitfalls of content marketing analysis and how to avoid losing the forest for the trees (listen to the full interview here).

Step 1: Begin at the End

Before deciding which metrics you need to focus on, Rose suggests defining your end goal first. Be as specific as possible. Once you know what you’re after, Rose says, then you can establish benchmarks for everything that gets you to that goal.

For example, if the end goal is “trying to generate 10% more leads with the same marketing budget,” then you can look back at your data to determine approximately how many pageviews it takes to result in an opt-in or conversion, and how many conversions generally translate into leads. From there, you can look to determine which channels bring the highest quality traffic to your site, and which of your pages convert visitors best.

Using that model, Rose says that you can narrow in on the right metrics no matter what your goal is. By “working backwards through the metrics that get you to that final goal you can understand, specifically, what you should be measuring at each stage in the process.”

At the same time, Rose warns against letting an obsession with individual KPIs distract you from your end goal. Keep your eyes firmly on the prize, he says. In the end, it is your only “real, true metric.”

Simplified Reports = Fewer Distractions

“Not all metrics need to be reported. Some are simply there for you to use to improve your process.”


Robert Rose, CMI

Now that your goals are set, and you understand the metrics you need to get you there, Rose suggests simplifying the reports that you send to your managers. Even though you may be studying a variety of metrics while working toward your end goal, don’t supply all of those to management. If you do, you risk having to answer questions every time a shift in strategy produces fewer pageviews or a higher bounce rate.

Instead, Rose recommends simply reporting the progress toward your end goal. Using the “10% more leads” example from above, he says the only metrics worth reporting to management would be “the number of leads that you have generated, and the percentage of the marketing budget that you have used.” Keep it as simple as possible — other metrics only serve to distract.

For example, if you’re able to generate more leads that in turn produce more sales, then traffic and bounce rate fluctuation is irrelevant. “Not all metrics need to be reported,” Rose advises. “Some are simply there for you to use to improve your process and get you closer to the bigger results that are ultimately what you report.”

Remember: Transactions Aren’t Everything

How to develop a marketing program that is all about relationships

Peaceful Resolution

Relationship vs. Transactional Marketing

Rose stresses it’s important to remember that content marketing’s measurable impact stretches far past the point when a lead becomes a customer. In fact, while Rose admits that the process of guiding a prospect through the funnel via content marketing can sometimes cost more initially and take longer than other marketing channels, those customers who have been acquired via content marketing have been shown to spend more, be more engaged, stick around longer, and be more likely to share their story.

In short, content marketing doesn’t just result in more leads, it results in better customers.

In order to broaden your reporting to reflect this benefit of better quality in addition to quantity, Rose recommends establishing goals and metrics around building deeper relationships, rather than focusing solely on transactions and conversions.

“A recent study from Accenture found that 80% of the data CMOs are using is still being used to facilitate transactions instead of to develop deeper relationships with customers,” Rose says. “The content marketing metrics of the future will focus on determining and improving how effective we are at developing insight and engagement with our customers, not just our ability to get them to jump through hoops.”

Additional Resources for Tracking the Right Content Marketing Metrics

What metrics do you look at to assess your content marketing? How did you zero in on what really matters?

Photo by: Chefranden 


<strong>Robert Rose</strong> is the Founder and Chief Troublemaker at <a href="">Big Blue Moose</a>, where he helps marketers become better storytellers. He is the co-author of <em><a href="">Managing Content Marketing</a></em>, and a recognized expert in content marketing strategy, digital media, and the social Web. Robert is also the Chief Strategist of the <a href="">Content Marketing Institute</a> and a featured writer and guest blogger for several online magazines.