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Are you measuring the results of your content marketing? Measuring your marketing using a number of key performance indicators (or KPIs) can let you see what’s working, what’s not, and what can benefit from a re-think or new approach. Knowing your content marketing KPIs can help your brand really see results from your content marketing.

What Are Content Marketing KPIs?

Content marketing KPIs can take many forms. As Investopedia notes, a KPI is simply a quantifiable measure a company can use to track performance over time. With a content marketing KPI, you can see if a particular piece of content is helping your brand reach its goals, or not doing much at all.

KPIs aren’t only used by marketers. In fact, the type of KPIs used varies based on what department is using them. For example, human resources might track KPIs such as employee turnover or how long it takes to fill a vacant role. Customer service might measure how long customers are on hold when they call, or how many callers rate the company highly in surveys after a support call.

Content marketing KPIs are also not set in in stone. The things you measure when you first launch a content marketing strategy might be considerably different from the things your brand measures a month later, or with its next content campaign.

Think With Google divides types of KPIs into two major categories. There are output KPIs, which reveal the end result of a project. And there are also in-process KPIs, which help you achieve the output KPI, but aren’t a measurement of the final result.

For example, reach, or how many people see a piece of content, is an example of an in-process content marketing KPI. How many people click or purchase is an example of an output content marketing KPI. These are the people who took direct action as a result of the content’s reach.

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Why Care About Content Marketing KPIs?

The major benefit of paying attention to and measuring content marketing KPIs is that they give you an idea of whether or not you and your content is on target. Not using any sort of metric or measurement during a content marketing campaign is similar to not using a scale or weighing yourself from time to time if you are trying to lose weight. Without a way of tracking the number of pounds you’ve lost (or not), you have no way of knowing if your exercise or eating habits are helping or hurting you.

When you measure KPIs, you’re able to see not only how many people are looking at your content, but also where they are coming from and how long they are they sticking around. That gives you a fair idea of what distribution methods work best.

It also gives you a good idea of whether or not the content you’re producing is of any value to readers. If people click through to the content and then leave pretty much right away, you can see that you’re not hooking them in. But if visitors linger, you can feel pretty confident that you’ve produced an engaging piece of content.

Which Content Marketing KPIs Should You Focus On?

Although the exact KPIs your brand focuses on will depend your specific goals, here’s a rundown of some of the more popular KPIs used in content marketing, as well as when to use them.

Unique visitors/users

When looking at how many people are checking out a piece of content, you want to measure more than the number of “hits” or views that particular post receives. It’s far more useful to measure the number of users (formerly known as unique visitors) a piece of content gets. Views are simply the number of times a page has been loaded. A user is usually specifically identified with a cookie or other form of ID. Tracking users lets you see how many distinct, separate people are coming to a page.

According to a study from eConsultancy, the number of unique visitors/users is the KPI publishers use most often. About 88 percent of study participants look at unique visitors/users as a way to measure the success of their content.

Time spent on site

The average amount of time people spend on a page is a good way to see if they are actively engaged with the content you’re creating. If you’ve published a 1,500-word blog post and the average person leaves after a minute, well, they probably didn’t read the whole thing. The same is true of videos. If a video is five minutes long and people are only spending an average of two minutes on the page, they’re not watching the full video.

Source of traffic

Measuring and tracking the source of a piece of content’s traffic helps you see which amplification efforts are effective, and which are less so. For example, if you give influencers a unique link to share, you can easily see how many users are coming from each link. If you use Google Analytics, you can create tracking codes to measure the volume of traffic from specific sources.

Location of visitors

Knowing where people are when they read or view your content can help your brand know where to focus its marketing efforts, or where it needs to step up its efforts. You might be trying to target people in the US, for example, only to learn that most of your audience is coming from Europe or Asia. If that’s the case, you can either pivot and focus specifically on targeting an international audience, or examine ways you can promote your content to better reach a US audience.

Social shares

Measuring social shares is an example of an in-process of KPI. Examining the number of shares a piece of content gets lets you see how far it is reaching. It also lets you see where your content has the most resonance, and where people are more likely to be engaging with your content.

Type of device used

Does it matter whether people are visiting your content on mobile devices or desktops? Yes, it does. The majority of people use mobile devices now for most web-based activities. According to a report from Think With Google, more than a quarter of users use only their smartphones for online activities. If it turns out that most of your visitors are using mobile devices, that can change the way you design and optimize the content you create.

Leads generated

If you’re creating content with the goal of generating leads, you want to measure how many leads a particular piece of content creates. A simple way to track leads generated is to tally up the number of people who gave you an email address or other contact information in exchange for access to a white paper, ebook, or other valuable content.

Number of new subscribers/followers

Sometimes, the goal of content is to increase the number of people who subscribe to your blog or email list, or to boost your follower counts on social media. Using tracking links and measuring before and after subscriber or follower counts allows you to see whether your content is helping you reach that goal or not.