When trying to determine the success of your content marketing campaigns, it is likely that you have tried to keep track of key performance indicators (KPIs) and linked them to your objectives so that you can measure your progress, or lack thereof.
This is because KPIs are a core part of effective data and analytics. These numerical metrics can look abstract on paper, but knowing the sales revenue or leads that your channels are generating is very important. Without them, you will not really know how you are performing.
Worryingly, less than half of B2B marketers have a set of defined KPIs in place, according to a recent survey by Finite. Even worse, 18% say that they have rarely or never defined KPIs in the context of their content marketing.
At a time when content marketers need to demonstrate the value of their efforts to senior management, KPIs are not something you can just overlook. Hoping for the best is not a strategy that can be relied upon during difficult times.
Fortunately, the very definition of a KPI allows you to limit your scope and analysis to a select few indicators and metrics that are very important to your business. You don’t have to track vanity metrics or keep tabs on everything, which will save you time and money and make the whole process easier.
If you are wondering exactly how KPIs differ from metrics, the former effectively tell a story. While metrics are just simple data points, KPIs are connected to your goals and objectives and thus allow you to act on them.
For example, if you have just entered a new market and want to drive growth there, the total sales in this region becomes a KPI when you use it to gauge your progress in achieving your growth goal.
While KPIs should be personalised for your circumstances and objectives, there are general KPIs that you should keep an eye on if you want to succeed.
Sales revenue is one of the most popular marketing KPIs for good reason as it gives you a direct and simple snapshot of overall growth. There are quite a few other financial metrics that you can track and use to optimise your sales performance and sales cycle though. You will need to dig into the data available to you to see what suits your objectives.
For example, monthly recurring revenue (MRR) may be important if you offer a subscription service of some kind. Sales metrics can be found in customer relationship management (CRM) systems and other forms of financial software.
Google also recommends using its ‘Enhanced Commerce’ feature within Google Analytics to link your marketing efforts with your sales figures so that you can really see the bigger picture.
Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
You want your campaigns to bring in new customers, but how do you know that you’re making investments in the right areas? CAC shows you how much marketing spend is required to gain each new customer.
This will give you a clearer idea about the value of, for example, email marketing in the context of supporting new business. User and customer acquisition metrics can be measured through your CRM systems.
Return on investment (ROI)
If you want to spend more on content creation in 2021, a good way of influencing higher-ups is by demonstrating that the activity will drive sales growth at an ample rate of ROI.
ROI is a big metric for marketers, but many still struggle to measure it. The Finite report found ROI to be the single greatest challenge for 16% of B2B marketers, even though management sees it as arguably the most crucial metric for success.
Basically, you don’t want to invest in digital marketing activities that are costing you money without this investment generating more in return.
Quality of leads
You probably use content marketing to generate awareness and engage potential customers who may want to buy your products and services. Tracking a KPI related to the quality and quantity of your leads will show you how effective your efforts have been at doing just that.
Lead quantity is a straightforward figure that should again be available in your CRM. Analysing the quality takes a little more effort as you need to develop an automated system that rates the leads based on their actions and data. However, platforms such as HubSpot do provide a built-in functionality for lead scoring if you need a quick solution.
Content views and shares
Specifically for content marketing, you will want to track any important numbers for your content that can help you to measure growth. For those with a corporate blog, page views are a useful metric, as are followers and subscribers on social media if you are cross-posting content on Facebook and Twitter.
Some of these may be described as vanity metrics, but depending on your objectives, they can still be valuable for tracking your progress. For example, if brand awareness is crucial for your business, then you need to analyse how your marketing is resonating with audiences via different platforms and channels.
Customer lifetime value (CLV)
The higher your CLV, the more you can spend on marketing to bring in new customers. You can measure this by multiplying the average order value by the average number of purchases made annually, and then multiplying by the average retention time.
CLV will also give you an overview of your current customers and their spending profiles, which can be used to determine how marketing can be used to support customer retention moving forward. Another useful metric for B2B companies is annual contract value (ACV), a figure that tracks the value of leads that originate from your content.
KPIs will be different for every company, and you need to balance their usage for short-term and long-term decision-making. ROI and CAC, for example, are skewed towards the short term, but both can be valuable. The most important takeaway is to link the right KPIs to your specific objectives, set up a system that allows you to track them, and then use the data to evaluate performance. Don’t just track numbers for the sake of it – unearth actionable insights that will improve your campaigns.