When it comes to engaging with consumers, an effective content strategy is essential. Producing educational content targeted for specific keywords can help attract more traffic and raise awareness of your brand. Content about your industry and how your product or services stack up can help persuade your audience to enter your marketing or sales funnels. Even when dealing with pure conversions, content has a power that can produce leads, improve the customer lifetime value, and increase loyalty.

All of these are possible outcomes of a successful marketing strategy, important data points to measure and benchmark for content marketers in any industry, but one metric stands apart.

The only content marketing metric that matters is the one you’re trying to measure.

The Target Metric

Content marketing is a numbers game. Every piece of content you produce should be tracked and measured according to the metric you’re aiming to benchmark. It takes time to establish this benchmark and understand what works with your content marketing and what doesn’t.

What is the only content marketing metric that matters? Conversions, obviously.

But what about awareness-content; content for targeting the top of the funnel? Measuring conversions for that content would be a waste of time. If you’re measuring the success of your content marketing based on conversions, and only conversions, you’re setting yourself up for failure. The conversion metric isn’t the most important.

If you’re measuring the success of your content marketing based on awareness, and only awareness, you’re again doomed to fail. Awareness fills up the funnel, but you’ll start to watch your bounce rate soar.

The target metric is the most important benchmark for the asset in question. You need to establish a goal for every piece of content you create, and each piece of content you create should have just one goal. This is your target.

Determining The Target Metric

Set up your metrics carefully, or you could end up damaging your relationship with your audience. You shouldn’t be providing a solution to your audience’s problem through media while backhandedly selling them your solution at the same time. You must be willing to give something away and trust in your consideration content to lead the audience down the funnel.

Above all else, be authentic with your audience. They can sense it.

Get Buy-in from Stakeholders

Your metrics should be easy for every member of your team to understand. Top-of-funnel, middle-of-funnel, and bottom-of-funnel content is easy enough for anyone to understand. Once you’ve established the metrics you’re going to benchmark against, start measuring.

Successfully implementing any new target metric will require the approval of the people using the benchmark. This new data-first mentality or updated content strategy will have to be implemented from the bottom up.

Learn How to Collect Data for the Target Metric

Once you’ve established the target metric for each piece of content, determine if you have the tools and resources to get the data required to make the target metric operational. Most of the time, marketers have the tools they need to determine the success within one channel but lack the ability to understand cross-channel success.

Use Case: ReviewTrackers

ReviewTrackers, a customer feedback software platform based in Chicago, was creating content to educate and qualify traffic. Through sheer force (writing an average of nine blog posts a week) content creation had proven to be an extremely valuable tactic.

We’re blazing a trail in the customer experience industry and doing our best to educate our customers moving forward. Nevertheless, we noticed content that created the most awareness or supplied the most new traffic was not converting leads when compared to the content that brought less traffic to our website.

Something was off.

We knew the content with the most traffic was raising awareness about our brand online. But without a direct ROI, how could we justify making more of it? We needed to measure some different metrics.

The Performance Audit Results

After we conducted a performance audit, measuring social shares, conversions, and traffic, we discovered top content fit into two specific themes: an article that provided actionable takeaways, or one that told a story.

Knowing the metrics that matter the most to our content strategy, we were able to benchmark the metrics we needed to hit in order to consider any piece of content a success.

Content Strategy for the Future

After we found the conclusions from our audit, we re-developed our content strategy. The goal is to establish ReviewTrackers as thought leaders in the industry, bring exposure of our products and services, and drive traffic to our site through organic search.

But because we are now measuring content based on its place in the marketing funnel, we now create for audiences based on stage of the funnel—awareness, consideration, or conversion.

Before this strategy, our intent was to educate readers about customer feedback and online reviews. We wanted to move them through the marketing funnel, but without a way to measure it, we didn’t know how content was helping them.

With content marketing, it’s imperative that you learn from your mistakes. What works for us might not work for you. Just be sure the way you measure content is including the all parts of the marketing funnel, and you’re creating a target metric. That way, you’ll know success when you see it.

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