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How Effective Is Your Content Marketing Program?

Budgets continue to grow, but how successful is your program? Here’s how to measure the efficacy of your content marketing efforts.

MC Measure Effective Content Marketing

By Paul Peterson

By this point, content marketing has solidified its position in marketers’ arsenals, and the novelty of strategic content creation has long worn off. For many companies, budgets for content efforts far surpass traditional tactics as marketers see the immense value in leveraging content to build meaningful connections with their customers.

And while the pandemic had most of us scrambling to shift budgets and re-prioritize our tactics, content marketing remained a top priority. According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2021 Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report, 61% of respondents said that content creation was the top spending category and marketing priority for 2021.

With this continued investment in content marketing, how can marketers measure its effectiveness? And how can we articulate the performance metrics that justify the investment and demonstrate content’s ROI to leadership? We’ve got three tips that can help you get started.

1. Start with the KPIs and Establish a Reporting Plan

When it comes to content marketing, that old saying, “What gets measured gets managed,” couldn’t be truer.

To measure the effectiveness of your content marketing program, you’ll need to start by outlining the objectives of your program and assign a plan for how you’ll measure each. And most importantly, you’ll need to establish a cadence for reporting against your goals — for most of our clients, it’s monthly. Tools like Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics are critical, but old school efforts like unique URLs, dedicated phone numbers and QR codes (which may be one of the best tech comeback stories of the decade) help demonstrate what’s working and what needs to be managed differently.

Measure It: Establish a centralized location for compiling data and tracking your KPIs. There are a number of platforms out there — our team uses DashThis — to help you compile various data sources into a real-time dashboard. This provides a visual, easy-to-understand overview of your efforts.

2. Use Web Analytics to Tell a Broader Story

Creating content for content’s sake is, frankly, a waste of time and resources. For every article, video and social post you develop, you should begin by asking yourself, “what is important to our audience (i.e., customers, patients, donors, travelers) and what do I want them to do after consuming this information?” And while hard conversions like purchases, email registrations or link clicks are important, sometimes it’s a softer sell, like encouraging visitors to stick around on your site or getting them to engage with multiple pieces of content — both of which demonstrate visitor intent and broader brand awareness.

Either way, begin each piece of content with a clear goal in mind for what your reader should do next, and then establish a plan to leverage your web analytics to track your content’s effectiveness.

Measure It: In addition to tracking conversions, leverage metrics like time on site and number of page visits to tell the broader story of how your content is creating visitor intent and broader brand awareness.

Here are additional content performance metrics to consider tracking and the information they can help illustrate:

Goal: Brand awareness
Possible Metrics: Website traffic, traffic sources, page views, video views, downloads, referral links

Goal: Engagement
Possible Metrics: Comments, likes, shares, re-tweets, clicks, forwards

Goal: Lead generation and conversions
Possible Metrics: Form completions, email subscriptions, conversation rates

Goal: Customer intention
Possible Metrics: Page views, time on site, return visitor rates

3. Optimize, Adapt and Know When to Cut Bait

Humans are complicated, fickle and easily distracted. Our interests change constantly as we’re inundated with thousands of marketing messages each and every day. What worked yesterday may not be effective tomorrow. But the beauty of the digital world is that we can leverage tools to understand what content is performing and what’s not. Don’t be afraid to revisit that underperforming blog post to incorporate new keywords or to redirect underperforming articles of a similar topic to something that’s resonating with your customers.

Measure It: It’s good practice to run a crawl (a couple times a year) of your content to gauge overall site and SEO performance and to determine what posts are performing well. For many of our clients, we take a “keep, repackage, remove” approach when auditing their existing library of website content. Much like our closets, our content hubs can use a good cleaning out a couple times a year to ensure they’re optimized for the best results.

Is Your Content Program Delivering Results?

We can help you build a strategic content marketing program that drives action and conversions.


Paul Peterson
Paul Peterson Chief Client Officer

Paul oversees client service at Casual Astronaut, working with our account management team to shape content and digital marketing strategies for clients. His nearly 20-year career in marketing and public relations ranges from healthcare to hospitality, consumer products to government relations, high-tech communications to entertainment. Paul’s worked with brands such as Nike, Disney, Johns Hopkins and Cleveland Clinic to build measurable, audience-engagement strategies.

A father to two boys, Paul usually spends his weekends at flag football games, chess tournaments, bowling leagues and coaching soccer (all of which may happen in the same Saturday). And when snow starts to fall in the mountains, he looks for any excuse to hit the slopes.

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