Content marketing strategies don't unfold overnight. Once an organization commits to a long-term comprehensive strategy, it takes time for their campaigns to take root and flex their cumulative value.
Even so, the question of content marketing effectiveness needs to be answered on a continual basis. Management needs an indication that these various campaigns and strategies are moving toward solid returns. For that matter, marketing managers feel the same way. Marketers need evidence that their efforts pay off, even if those larger strategic goals remain far off in the distance.
But too many marketers aren't sure which metrics are most reflective of an effective strategy. If you're a member of that club, focus on these four revealing stats.
1. Social Sharing Activity
Activity on social networks is a clear way to see whether content is getting any meaningful, organic social engagement. Even if you're paying for increased social reach, the comments, shares, retweets and other engagements can't be bought — the social user must be motivated to take action.
Track this engagement easily through platforms offered through the social networks themselves, along with external analytics tools as a supplement. Early content efforts might not generate much traction, but good content will gradually build engagement as it rallies an audience and proves the brand as a voice to be trusted.
2. Unbranded Search Traffic Frequency
Branded search traffic is made up of people seeking out your company — unbranded is entirely different. This type of search traffic consists of people who are searching for a product or solution and see your brand as a possible supplier. This traffic is vital to growing your digital presence and, ultimately, your sales. To attract this traffic, Content Marketing Institute recommends creating content that speaks to trends in your industry, relevant news, common questions and pain points for your customers, and other topical information that'll be relevant to related online searches.
As you publish this content, segment your search traffic to see how often you're winning traffic from unbranded searches. High rates will indicate your company is effectively targeting — and reaching — your audience with your content marketing efforts.
3. Lead Sign-up and Conversion Rates
Conversions are fairly obvious indicators of marketing effectiveness and campaign ROI, but low marks don't necessarily spell doom for a young campaign. Marketers merely need to demonstrate growth over time. Not only does content strategy become more productive over the long run, but increased data and analysis of marketing activities will uncover tweaks that can be made to increase these rates.
Higher conversion rates are always ideal, but focus on month-over-month growth.
4. Increasing Engagement Rates
This metric is more indicative of your progress in building better marketing effectiveness into your content strategy. As you implement various content-focused changes, these improvements should yield growth in the frequency of engagement for this content. It's a simple metric for analyzing the impact of specific content tweaks.
Even if conversions aren't necessarily following suit, escalating engagement rates show that your strategy is becoming more appealing to your audience. When other metrics are lagging, use this metric to advocate for patience while maintaining confidence that your strategic moves will pay off.
Through these metrics, your marketing effectiveness will become much clearer, and the forecast for your future gains will be easier to predict.