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Your brand is producing videos, blog posts, and listicles out the wazoo. But how do you know if your content has “made it,” or is in any way successful? Content marketing success isn’t subjective, and isn’t a touchy-feely thing. There are direct, tangible ways to measure the effect your brand’s content is having, and to see whether or not it’s doing what you want it to do.

What Is Content Marketing Success?

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s B2C Content Marketing 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends – North America report, 63 percent of marketers reported being more successful with content marketing than in the year before. In a similar report for B2B marketers, 65 percent of marketers said their efforts were more successful.

But what is “success” in terms of content marketing? The easiest way to define success, at least in terms of content marketing, is content that achieves the goals your brand wants to achieve.

One way to see if your brand’s content is on track towards reaching its goals is to use metrics, such as key performance indicators (KPIs).

What Are KPIs of Content Marketing Success?

The KPIs your brand uses to gauge its content marketing success depends in large part on the goals you’ve set for your marketing. If your goal is to increase sales, looking at how many page visits you get or how many shares a piece of content gets won’t tell you whether or not that content is on track to help you reach your goals.

Here are a few common content marketing goals and the KPIs you can use to track them:

Goal: Improve sales by X percent/boost conversion rate.

  • KPI: Time it takes for a lead to convert to a customer.
  • If you hope to use content such as ebooks, email newsletters, or how-to articles to turn leads into sales/customers, you can track how long it takes for a lead (someone who signs up for your email newsletter, for instance, or who downloads an ebook) to make a purchase.

Goal: Improve customer loyalty/retention.

  • KPI: Number of repeat customers, turnover/churn rate, retention rate.
  • Providing existing customers with valuable content or content that meets their needs will make them more likely to stick around and be loyal to your brand. You can create and publish content on your company’s blog or via an email newsletter, and track how many people return to make a purchase after checking it out.

Goal: Boost website/blog traffic.

  • KPI: Website/blog visits, time spent on site, returning visitors, conversion rates if content has a call-to-action.
  • Successful content can drive more traffic to your company’s website or blog, either by being enticing enough to get readers to click through to your website to read the whole thing or by encouraging readers to visit with an engaging call to action.

Goal: Raise brand awareness.

  • KPI: Number of shares on social, number of clicks from other sites to your brand’s site.
  • If you want your content to get the word out there about your brand, looking at how many people have shared the content is one way to measure its success.

A Look at Content Marketing Success

Having clearly defined goals and a way to measure those goals is just one component of successful content marketing. What you put into creating the content also determines whether it will succeed or not. Take a look at the anatomy of content marketing success.

A clearly defined audience

Who is your content addressing? If you don’t know the answer to that question, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for you to create content that makes an impact.

Useful content that stands out

It can be tempting to just “do what everyone else is doing” when you create content. But the most effective and successful content is content that differentiates your brand in some way. Don’t just follow the crowd — create content that sets your brand apart.

A plan for promotion

No one’s going to look at your content if you don’t have a plan for getting it out there. Whether that plan includes socials shares, having influencers promote it, or another tactic, make sure you have a plan.

A way to measure and track your content

How can you gauge whether your content is doing what you want it to? You’ve got to measure it. Analytics will help you see the number of clicks, traffic rate, and other metrics, so you have an idea of what’s working and what’s not.

Learn From Content Marketing Success or Failure

If at first you don’t succeed with content marketing, you can try again. In fact, since content marketing is relatively easy to measure and track, you can quickly learn what went wrong if a campaign or particular piece of content is DOA or just doesn’t make the splash you expected.

Ask yourself these questions to figure out what you can do differently next time:

  • Was the content unique and engaging?
  • Did the content set out to solve a problem someone might have?
  • What did you do to promote the content?
  • Did you know or define your audience?
  • What influencers can you work with to help promote your content?
  • Was it useful in any other way?
  • What can you do to make it easy for your readers to share your content?

Your brand’s reputation, and in some cases continued existence, depends on the strength of its content marketing. Even if you’ve not had much luck with content marketing yet, adjusting your approach and paying attention to particular KPIs can make you more likely to enjoy content marketing success in the future.