By Bertie Taylor, Senior Content Specialist
Data is one of the key pillars of every effective content marketing strategy. Without tracking key metrics and analyzing campaign performance, identifying successes and areas for improvement will be difficult. However, not all content data points carry the same value. In B2B marketing, content is used for long-term lead nurturing and building brand awareness, so metrics like clicks, social media likes, and views don’t always tell the full story.
According to the 12th Annual Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends: Insights for 2022 report produced by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, approximately 75% of survey respondents said their B2B organization tracked content metrics. Of this group, 90% were categorized as top performers. But which content metrics ultimately matter the most? While tracking growth is important, additional metrics that measure engagement, SEO, brand awareness, and lead generation can provide more valuable insight into the buyer’s journey.
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Among the survey respondents tracking content metrics, 69% said website engagement provided the most insight into performance. Engaged users are essential because they are more likely to be qualified leads that convert, become loyal customers, and share their positive experience with other potential buyers. Content engagement metrics provide important information about buyers’ needs and actions, including how they are interacting with your content, for how long, and how often. Engagement metrics can reveal if conversion rates are meeting goals or if the content is underperforming. This information is essential in agile marketing strategies that iterate based on data. Key metrics:
- Time spent on site is the amount of time a user spends navigating through your website. It's measured by calculating the total amount of time between when a visitor clicks through a web browser or link to your content and when they navigate away from your website. Time on site measures how effective content is in delivering value, offering sensible next steps, and answering questions.
- Social media shares from websites are when users organically share content from your website on their social media channels. This helps build brand awareness by leveraging existing audiences and various social platforms to share content. The metric is calculated by identifying the total number of times a piece of content was shared to a specific social network.
- Pages per visit is the average number of pages users view on a site during a session. This data point helps marketers understand users’ journey as they interact with the content and whether or not visitors are completing the conversion goal. It's calculated by dividing the total number of page views by the total number of visitors.
- Email click-through rate looks at the percentage of email recipients that click on at least one link within your email. To calculate CTR, divide the number of people who click on an email campaign by the total number of emails sent. Multiply this result by 100 to get a percentage. Marketers use CTR as a way to evaluate the effectiveness of email marketing campaigns.
Changes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)/search algorithms (62%) were top-of-mind for B2B content marketers in 2021/2022, according to the survey. SEO is a strategy that helps your content rank favorably with online search engines. A more visible website means more traffic and opportunities for conversions. Key metrics include:
- Organic traffic is free traffic that comes to your site from a search engine. It shows how your content ranks in search and provides information about keyword search volume. Tracking organic traffic will confirm whether your strategy is attracting more visitors, leads, and conversions. This metric is easily tracked in your Google Search Console. As many content metrics will fluctuate, marketing teams often use web analytics and dashboards to maintain a clear view of performance. According to the survey, 83% of respondents said analytics tools are the top technology B2B organizations use in content marketing.
- Position changes refer to fluctuations in your content’s keyword ranking on Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). This can happen when search engines are testing or updating their algorithm. Ranking high for targeted keywords increases your content’s authority and helps your targeted audience find your content through search engines. It can also grow your organic traffic and number of qualified leads.
- Featured snippets are text excerpts that appear at the top of a Google search results page. Snippets make your content more visible to searchers and can help with brand awareness. Google's algorithms determine if a page would make a good snippet to highlight for a specific search. As for tracking them, Google Search Console Search Analytics can help you see if your content is appearing as a featured snippet.
- Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who land on your content and then leave instead of viewing additional pages within the same site. Bounce rate is calculated as a percentage by counting the number of single page visits and dividing that by the total visits. Bounce rate is a critical measurement of how “sticky” or engaging a content offering is to users.
- Domain authority is a metric first developed by Moz that predicts how likely a domain is to appear in the SERP compared to its competition. Different search tools have since developed their own versions of authority scoring metrics that consider various data points. While Google does not use domain authority officially, it's still useful to know how your content measures up against competitors.
Brand Awareness Metrics
The survey results revealed that the top three goals content marketing helps B2B marketers achieve are creating brand awareness (80%), building credibility/trust (75%), and educating the audience (70%). Customers tend to favor brands that they recognize and trust, so increasing brand awareness is an important step in increasing sales. Brand awareness metrics measure a brand's recognizability and they confirm whether your campaign is effective. A strong marketing campaign helps consumers remember and respond to your brand. This increases the likelihood that users will become loyal customers. Note that it’s always important to evaluate whether traffic results in measurable growth. So track these, but don’t treat them as the end-all-be-all of marketing metrics. Key metrics include:
- Branded search traffic is the volume of traffic that comes to your website through branded keywords on search engines. It's calculated by looking at the volume of visits to your content that arrived via a branded keyword on a search engine during a specific time period. This metric offers context for how brand awareness relates to the intent to purchase.
- Blog traffic tracks the level of interaction with your blog content. Monitoring blog traffic confirms what posts are the most popular, where your audience is coming from and what they are clicking on. These statistics are easily tracked in Google Analytics. Additionally, many blogging platforms also have their own tools for monitoring engagement. Tracking blog traffic will help you identify and create more content that leads to conversions.
- Direct traffic is the number of visits to your website that don’t come from a referral website or a clear source. There are many reasons why direct traffic occurs. One of the simplest examples is when visitors use a bookmark to access your content. But direct traffic can also happen if the technical aspects of your website such as traffic codes and redirects aren’t set up to reflect accurate direct traffic stats. While high traffic metrics can be exciting, attributing as much of your traffic as possible can help you understand how to iterate your content strategy and target qualified leads.
- Backlinks are hyperlinks that point users to your content from another website. This metric simply monitors the number of backlinks that navigate to your content. Backlinks matter for SEO because some search engines will assign more credibility and relevance to content that has several quality backlinks, and these pages will rank higher in search results.
- Social shares track the number of times your content is being shared by social media users. Monitoring this metric will help you see who is talking about your brand and content offering, and which posts are connecting with your audience. The total number of times your content is shared will be visible on your social media accounts.
- Social engagement metrics measure the number of shares, comments and reactions to your content posts on social media. One way to calculate engagement is to divide the total number of shares, comments, and likes by your total number of followers. Multiply this result by 100 to calculate your average engagement rate percentage. While tracking social media followers is important, actual engagement provides important context. Comments, shares, likes and other interactions can confirm whether or not your content is resonating with users.
Lead Generation Metrics
Lead generation metrics are some of the most important key performance indicators because of how much insight they can offer about the buyer journey. While generating more leads sounds positive on its own, it’s more important that the leads are qualified. Knowing how many leads actually become sales can help you understand the quality of your leads and how different actions within the sales funnel are impacting end results. Key metrics include:
- Conversion rate is the percentage of visitor actions taken after the number of total content interactions. These actions can include steps such as clicking on an additional link, downloading a document or signing up to receive more information. The conversion rate is calculated by dividing the number of interactions by visitor actions. Higher conversion rates indicate a more effective marketing campaign.
- Cost per acquisition/Cost per lead shows you how much marketing spend it costs to generate each lead. It also tells you how effective a marketing campaign is. It's calculated by dividing total marketing spend by the total number of leads. As you define your audience and hone the messages you’re using, your cost should ideally decrease; if it doesn’t, you can use that data to iterate.
- Qualified leads/Marketing qualified leads/Sales qualified leads tell you what percentage of leads you’re bringing in are qualified as defined by your team’s profile of a qualified lead. This metric calculates what percentage of leads generated are likely to become customers. it's calculated by dividing the number of qualified leads by the total number of leads. This result is multiplied by 100%. If this metric is too low, it may indicate that your content is attracting and converting people who are not your targeted customers. Also, if your lead conversion rate is increasing but your qualified leads are flat, there is a disconnect resulting in more leads who aren’t interested in your offering.
All of these essential content metrics will help ensure your marketing campaigns are data-driven, effective, and agile. Regularly evaluating your content effectiveness at different stages of the buyer’s journey can help you nurture qualified leads, build brand awareness and increase conversion rates over time.
Content Marketing Institute, 12th Annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends/Insights for 2022
HubSpot, What Domain Authority Is (and Isn't), and How to Increase It, June 2, 2021
Hootsuite, Engagement Rate Calculator + Guide for 2023, November 23, 2022
Hootsuite, 16 Key Social Media Metrics to Track in 2023, June 23, 2022
Indeed, 8 Ways to Measure Brand Awareness to Track Marketing Success, July 21, 2021
HubSpot, 16 Website Metrics to Track for Growth in 2023 and Beyond, January 16, 2023
Hubspot, What Is the Average Time Spent On a Website? [+ How to Improve It], December 22, 2021
Search Engine Journal, Top 10 User Engagement KPIs to Measure, February 3, 2019
Ironpaper, Marketing Math for Beginners: How to Calculate and Improve Key Marketing Metrics, March 31, 2022
Moz, What is Domain Authority and Why is it Important?