Do you use content marketing to generate leads and grow your business? It’s one of the most effective ways to advertise, as customers organically come to you by providing free value and resources. However, if you want to maximize the results you get from content marketing, you need to track certain KPIs. The following are important metrics to measure to ensure that your content marketing efforts are paying off. Social shares Social media is a priceless tool for content marketers. These networks allow you to promote your content to a larger audience, and get direct feedback from readers. Perhaps more importantly, users can share your content and create a viral effect. This is why it’s a crucial KPI for any content marketing strategy. If you discover that you’re not receiving many social shares, it could mean that you’re not promoting content to the correct audience. Additionally, it may signal that you need to improve the quality of your content to make it more worthy of sharing. In fact, a study by the publication Mashable concluded that readers are more likely to share a piece of content that has a positive tone. Try experimenting by creating content that positions a solution and hope instead of focusing on the problem that the user is experiencing. Website traffic Ultimately one of the biggest goals of producing content is to have it drive traffic to your website and convert in customers. This is why you must use a tool like Google Analytics to observe how content is generating traffic. Has it been increasing steadily over time? Has it been stagnant? Being able to observe these trends in traffic will help you determine whether or not certain content strategies are working. Additionally, tracking website traffic helps you narrow down which sources like search engines or social media are making the biggest impact. Backlinks Links to your website remain as one of the biggest, if not the most crucial, ranking factor in the eyes of search engines like Google. They act as a voting system, telling search engines which sites are the most important and useful. Whether you specifically perform backlink building campaigns or let them naturally occur, they are an important KPI to track. Every business can use a free tool like SEMrush to keep tabs on which websites are linking to them. Enter your URL into SEMrush and navigate to the backlinks section. Here you will find what websites are you linking to yours along with metrics like trust score. Use this information to continually produce similar high-quality content to help acquire more relevant backlinks. Additionally, if these links were a result of a previous campaign, you will now have the insight to know your link building efforts are paying off. Average time spent on page If users only spend a short amount of time on your content and leave, what does that say? Firstly it could imply that you are not attracting the correct users. This would require you to further refine a buyers persona and retarget them in your content. Secondly, a low average time spent on page can be a result of poor user experience. Perhaps your website is slow, there are too many popups, or something else is interfering with the reader’s ability to consume the content. While it’s not a go-to metric for marketers, it’s critical to analyze and optimize because of Google’s Rankbrain algorithm. This was a search engine update in 2015 that started to weigh user experience metrics like average time spent on page more heavily. The idea is that Google will rank websites higher which have high average page visit durations. This makes sense because it implies users are finding the content helpful and staying. Bounce rate Similar to the last metric, the bounce rate is the number of users that land on your website and leave without visiting any other page. If readers aren’t navigating to product or sales pages, you could be losing out on potential customers. It’s believed that the average bounce rate is approximately 58.18%, so use that number as a benchmark. You can quickly improve the bounce rate by adding internal links within the content. These links direct users to other resources and useful pages on your website. Additionally, page speed is a huge determining factor in the bounce rate. The slower your website is, the more likely users are to leave to find another website. Try using a free page speed test tool like Pingdom to test page speed. Begin by entering the URL of your website into the text bar and click “Start Test” after. The following page will display metrics like page speed, page file size, and a performance grade. Don’t worry if your stats need some work. Pingdom lists all of the issues it discovered when you scroll down, giving you the knowledge to quickly fix them. Leads generated A good content strategy integrates with a lead generation funnel. For example, you may offer a free e-book, checklist, or whitepaper at the end of a blog post to collect leads. Furthermore, some businesses opt for a call to action to their contact form if relevant services are needed. Look how HubSpot collects emails by offering free templates at the end of their blog post: Once you have a funnel-like this in place, you need to be tracking how many leads are being generated and from what content. Through tools like Google Analytics, you can discover if certain pieces of content are bringing in more leads than others. You don’t want to run a content campaign, only to find out that it wasn’t creating the results you aimed for. By tracking leads early, businesses can optimize campaigns on the fly to enhance the number of inquiries they receive. Email subscribers Email marketing goes hand-in-hand with publishing content. Newsletters are an effective channel to promote content and reach a larger audience. Collecting emails is also a great way to create relationships with readers and remain on their radar. No matter how great your content is, some users will slip through the track. The key is to capture their information before they leave, so you can continue to interact with them. Whether you use a popup, sidebar, or integrated email form, businesses need to track how many email signups they are receiving. Try split testing where you place email signup forms, along with their calls to action and lead magnets, which brings us to our next point. Lead magnet downloads Having a newsletter signup form will help capture reader’s information, but they often need a reason to sign up. This is why it’s a common practice to offer a lead magnet in the form of a cheat sheet, book, or other free resources in exchange for an email. If you already have this as a part of your funnel, begin carefully tracking how many downloads you receive. You can test offering different forms of lead magnets to determine if one is more effective than another, as well. The bottom line on content marketing KPIs Once you have a great content marketing plan, you need to track important metrics to confirm if it’s working as intended. The main key performance indicators we touched on today were: Social shares Website traffic Backlinks Average time spent on page Bounce rate Leads Email subscribers Lead magnet downloads So, what are you waiting for? Start tracking these metrics and watch your content marketing results transform!