Potential customers can be hard to pin down. They move around online. They change their minds. They make their own choices and step outside boxes.

Even when your brand stands out where your customers hang out, that’s not enough. You need to be able to measure and adjust the individual elements of your content strategy. You need reliable content marketing metrics to track.

Marketing metrics, or key performance indicators (KPIs), create the foundations of a successful inbound content marketing strategy. When you get the metrics right, you discover what works. And that means you can control the buyer’s journey and improve audience conversion rates.

It’s that simple. Keep a close eye on the right marketing metrics and you’ll celebrate more victories. Content marketing metrics also help you to tweak campaigns and measure the results. You’ll get more return on your marketing spend too.

Every B2B marketer needs to build a bigger customer base. Here are the content marketing metrics that will make it happen.

1. Pay attention to conversion rates

Conversion rates are the starting point for all your other metrics. You need to get a handle on these before you do anything else.

The conversion rate is nothing more than the percentage of people you convert from one status into another.

When people talk about conversion rates, they usually focus on sales conversions. That’s important, but it is simplifying things a bit too much. Every time someone completes an action that moves them through your sales funnel, that’s a conversion.

To understand conversion rates, you need to understand that your contacts are divided up into leads, prospects and opportunities, as well as sales.

2. Segment your contacts

Not all contacts (or leads) have the same value to your business. You need to be able to identify the potential value of each one and where they are in your sales funnel.

Your contacts can be classified as:

  • Leads
  • Prospects
  • Opportunities
  • Sales

Your leads are all those contacts who have yet to interact with your business in a meaningful way. They may have expressed a low level of interest in what you’re doing, but they still sit at the top of your sales funnel.

When a lead responds to a certain number of calls to action (CTAs), like clicking on a LinkedIn ad or downloading a piece of gated content, they become a prospect. These are also sometimes called marketing qualified leads (MQLs), as they have ‘qualified’ as a prospect, based on factors that your organisation has decided on.

When a prospect starts to take a closer look at one of your products and agrees to consider it, they become an opportunity. These are also sometimes called sales qualified leads (SQLs).

And the opportunity leads to the sale.

So, if you’re only focusing on your sales team converting an opportunity into a sale, you’re missing out on a lot of valuable data.

Don’t forget to look behind the conversion rates, too. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Which paid ads converted most leads into prospects/MQLs?
  • Which pieces of content converted the most prospects into opportunities/SQLs?
  • Which emails had the most click through rates?

Once you know which pieces of content work and which don’t at each point in your sales funnel, you’re well on the way to cracking your marketing metrics.

3. Track those website visits

Website visitor stats are a terrific way to demonstrate that your marketing is working. Your directors will love to see the number of visits going up every month.

It’s also great for your own confidence.

But if you just focus on the visitor numbers then you could be in trouble. You need to reveal the opportunities behind the numbers. You need to ask:

  • Where are visits coming from?
  • What search terms are people using?
  • What’s my bounce rate?
  • Which pages are most popular?
  • Which content is holding people’s attention for longest?
  • Which pages are underperforming in terms of visits?
  • Which pages have the highest exit rates?

The good news is that there are plenty of analytics tools out there that can help you. It’s likely you’re already using one of them.

The even better news is that the most popular web analytics tool, Google Analytics, just got a lot more advanced. In October 2020, Google released Google Analytics 4. This new version can track visitors when they use multiple devices. It can even alert you to significant trends in your data. For example, if a cluster of pages suddenly gets a spike in traffic, due to a change in the marketplace, you’ll know about it. And you can react.

When you make web analytics a core component of your content marketing metrics, you’ll be able to tailor your content to the needs of your audiences. That means better return on investment (ROI) from your marketing in the long term.

What’s more, most web analytics programmes allow you to create automated reports. So, you spend less time gathering data and more time acting on it.

4. Know your traffic sources

This is connected to tracking your website visits, but it deserves a section of its own. There are many routes that people can take to reach your website, and you can influence most of them.

There’s organic search, social media, press mentions and backlinks (also known as referrals), emails, ad campaigns and direct traffic. When you begin to monitor and analyse your traffic sources, you’ll get a better idea of how people are finding your content and reaching your website.

This will allow you to make better judgements on conversion rates and understand which channels are delivering the best ROI.

5. Track your CTA performance

Calls to actions (CTAs) are fundamental to your marketing campaigns. These are the signposts that lead your contacts through the sales funnel. They are the words and the phrases that compel your audiences to act in a specific way.

They also need to prompt an immediate response, whether that’s watching an explainer video or downloading a free checklist to help you run a successful content offer campaign.

Your campaigns are only as good as your CTAs. For every piece of content that you create, you need to ask yourself “what do I want my audience to do after they’ve read this?”. When you have the answer, you can create better content and strengthen your CTAs.

And the only way to know whether your CTAs are stronger than before is to measure them. Build your content marketing metrics around the three key stages of CTAs:

  • Click through rates
  • Clicks to submissions
  • Views to submissions

Click through rate (CTR) is the most common CTA metric. This tells you how many people who saw your CTA actually clicked on it. The higher the percentage, the stronger the CTA. Remember your web stats? You’re going to need those here.

Clicks to submissions tells you how many of the people who clicked through then went on to complete your form and download the content. The higher the percentage, the more compelling your landing page and submission form.

Views to submissions tells you the percentage of people who saw your CTA that converted into a prospect (or MQL). This metric is often overlooked, but it is one of the most significant. It tells you how many prospects you are likely to create from future campaigns.

When you combine these three metrics together, you can identify which techniques work best for your target audiences, as well as exploring and shutting down any weak spots in your CTAs.

6. Track your ROI

This is the best bit! This is when all your hard work pays off.

If you’ve successfully nailed down all your content marketing metrics, then you’ll have a much better idea of where all the money is coming from. You’ll know which parts of your inbound marketing campaigns to focus on, what to tweak and what to rethink or drop.

Tracking your ROI depends on a strong relationship between sales and marketing. As you’re likely to have handed all your opportunities over to the business development and sales teams to convert into sales, you need to make sure they are following them up.

This should be fairly easy, as your salespeople will get a percentage of their salary through commissions. That means it’s in their interests to tell you which deals have closed. When you have that information, you can focus on doing more of what works. Which means you look good and they make more money too.

Don’t forget you need to measure the customer lifetime value (CLV) as well. This is the total income that you receive from a customer over the entire period of the relationship. It’s incredibly important, as it costs much less to retain existing customers than it does to acquire new ones.

Also, the first sale may be relatively small, with upsells and repeat business building a more accurate picture of the ROI.

Now, put it all together!

Now you have the tools that you need to measure your inbound marketing tactics and strategy. And that’s a big step towards getting the most out of your marketing budget.

Make sure you track your campaign progress on a regular basis. It’s a good idea to create a monthly report, where you can refer to all activity in one place and track your progress.

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