Measure Content Marketing For Each Stage of the Funnel

In a recent survey, 19% of organizations reported they are still not measuring the results of their content marketing.  Are you one of them?  If you are measuring your results, are you using the right metrics?  In this episode, Chris Casale and Ryan Smith discuss different methods for measuring your content marketing and which metrics are best for each stage of the marketing funnel.

Podcast Highlights

Ryan Smith: [00:01:56] In this episode, we are going to break down and go through each stage of the marketing funnel and discuss the metrics that matter to your content marketing success.  

Chris Casale: [00:02:08] So here’s a spoiler alert. If you’re looking for a list of metrics so that you can configure your analytics dashboard, you’re not going to get it in this episode. Don’t get me wrong, we’re going to talk about some of the metrics that you can and should be using. But there are two primary things that you should be measuring after that. It’s about setting expectations so you can choose the right metrics to accurately measure those two items. So, Ryan, what are the two things we’re focused on?  

Content Marketing Analytics – Focus on Engagement and Conversions

Ryan Smith: [00:02:33] So, Chris, we’re going to focus on engagements and conversions, very important. Sometimes people overlook some of those. Other times you put too much emphasis on conversions when maybe you should be focused more on engagement based on the content type that you’re using. But before we get started, Content Marketing Institute in Marketing Profs came up with a study in July 2020, and I think it’s very relevant.  

Ryan Smith: [00:02:58] The question was posed, does your B2B organization use metrics to measure content performance? The answer they found was that 81% measure their content. To me what’s surprising is there’s an additional 19% not measuring content. So we want to start with there. 

It’s about 80/20, 80% of you are measuring it, at least to some capacity and (surprisingly) about 20% of you are not measuring. So a couple of things. When you talk about when you start at the top and when I say start at the top, it’s top of the funnel. This is that awareness stage and one of the primary areas we want to focus on. 

When you’re looking at awareness, when you look at marketing metrics, it’s engagement. There’s a couple of easy metrics. I think it’s great to look at when you’re talking about engagement. First thing you want to do is look at social shares. When you’re posting content on a Facebook, on Instagram, on a TikTok, you want to see how people are consuming it. 

Not only are they consuming it, but are they sharing it? How many people share your content?  

Ryan Smith: [00:04:18] Facebook is obviously big and Instagram is big on comments. TikTok is enormous for that. How many people took the time to write something? Use that as marketing research, not just the fact that they commented on it, but what are they writing about? Are you starting to see the same comments on it? Or maybe it’s not like, ‘hey, great post’, but they actually have a question that they’re posing on it. And if they are, that’s going to give you some content ideas down the road that maybe you want to address that. 

So with engagement, look at social shares and look at comments. (If you post a video, also look at how long they watch the video)

Chris Casale: [00:06:32] It is actually surprising to me that in 2020, there are still 19% of businesses that are not measuring their content. We’ve talked about this before on the podcast. But this idea that, you know, you’re producing content, you’re doing it, you know, all of this work to produce something that’s useful. 

  • And if you’re not taking the time to measure it, how do you know if you’re producing the right content? 
  • How do you know if you’re reaching your audience? 
  • How do you know if you’re achieving your goals? 

If you if you don’t know where you are and you don’t have a clear idea of where you want to go, then any steps going to take you there. So you absolutely have to be measuring it. But as Ryan said, if you’re focused on a couple of the key areas of engagement and conversions, you’ll be able to accurately measure and determine if you’re getting the results that you need and you know, kind of where you should take your next step, what that next direction looks like. 

How to Measure Brand Awareness

Chris Casale: [00:07:56] I hear (people mention) brand awareness is a goal pretty frequently and brand awareness simply doesn’t pay the bills. There is a concept of or a concept around brand awareness, I should say. 

Well, the reason I want to raise my brand awareness is so that when people are in the right frame of mind, if they are aware of my brand, they’ll make a purchasing decision. And I think that might work for certain industries, but not for the majority of them. 

You know, for the majority of them, people are looking to solve a problem. And so awareness might be a reasonable objective, but it should always be tied to other stricter goals that the organization has created 100%. 

Brand Awareness Example Metrics

  • Reach: How many people saw a particular piece(s) of content?
  • New Visits: How many of your visitors were new to the site?
  • Inbound links: How many other sites/pages linked to our content?

Chris Casale: [00:12:41] What types of metrics you choose to evaluate under the bucket of engagement or under the bucket of conversion is up to you and your organization. But to the point that Ryan just made, you should be asking yourself with each piece of content that you’re producing for each of the different stages in the funnel, who is the audience this is intended for and what is the action that I want them to take? And that’s how you determine what components of engagement to track and what components of conversion to track. 

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Are people consuming your content?
  2. Are they sharing your content?
  3. Does your content lead to conversions (i.e. Leads)

Ryan Smith: [00:14:37] what’s not surprising is the number one metric that people use for content marketing performance is their website traffic. 90% of marketers say that’s what they look at first and foremost. And most important, that would include the page views. What content are people looking at? 

Chris Casale: [00:15:27] And with website traffic, we’re talking about that First Pillar of Digital Marketing – Search, which if you go back to Episode 29 , you can listen in and learn a lot more about that, but a lot of the metrics that Ryan just mentioned, page views, backlink, things like that, are ways that you’re measuring how your search traffic is performing on your website. And that’s an important top of the funnel metric as we start to work our way a little bit further down the funnel. 

Website Traffic to Conversions  

Chris Casale: [00:18:06] For me, the biggest level of website engagement is the leads that you’re generating. Right. If the purpose of the website is to inform and generate leads, is it succeeding at doing that job? And you mentioned several other important statistics, Ryan, in terms of time spent, bounce rate, things like that. 

But for me, it really comes down to: 

  • Are you getting sign ups? 
  • Are you getting conversions on the website? 
  • Are they engaging enough with the content such that they’re willing to hand over their email address? 

So I think that’s an important one. And speaking of conversions, we’re talking about conversions of all types. Right. So are you converting traffic to your website into subscribers? 

When we’re talking about (website) traffic to subscribers, that primarily is, you know, are individuals that are coming to your website, reading your blog, or are they subscribing so they can get new content as it’s published, but it could apply to other areas as well. But that’s also things like leads to sales, right? 

If you’re getting somebody that comes to your website and you fill out an online form and they express interest, how many of those leads actually convert and become paying customers? Once they’re a paying customer how many of those paying customers refer other customers to you? Conversions are a critical component of any business, and you need to determine what are the ones that are most important to you so you can be tracking them at each stage of the funnel. 

Ryan Smith: [00:19:18] Yeah, and it’s still surprises me that conversions, whether it is leads or sales, was actually the fourth most tracked from content. I actually…you would think that would be higher. I can understand website traffic because it’s hard to convert somebody if they are not coming to your website. Right. So I get why website traffic is number one. 

But, you know, the fact conversions was the fourth most tracked metric I thought was relatively low. But then again, I think that only 81% are measuring content is also really low. So maybe that falls in line with that as well. 

One Takeaway

Chris Casale: [00:38:10] So my takeaway would be don’t overcomplicate the measurement process. We talked about engagement and conversion being the two primary buckets. Pick a few key performance indicators (KPI) for the content that you want to measure and measure it. 

And if you get a chance to look at other data, great. But focus on the things that are most important to you, measure it within context. 

I think seasonality is important. Ryan, it’s one of the things you talked about year over year. We’ve worked with some clients. For example, in the education industry. You can’t compare the month of October to the month of April, for example. They’re very, very different. 

So you really have to look at data in context year over year. But as long as you’re doing that, keep it simple and track it consistently and that will tell you how you’re doing. What about you, Ryan? What’s your one takeaway from this episode?  

Ryan Smith: [00:38:56] You know, I would encourage everyone to challenge what they’re looking at with analytics. I was in grad school and this was like one of the few things this is this is one of the big things that really stuck with me from that. I took this class and it was challenge everything, everything you see challenge. And what the professor meant by that was ask questions, ask why. 

When you’re looking at your analytics, you have to peel the layers of the onions back a little bit, ask why is that? If you have a high bounce rate, ask why. If you’re getting to a page that you’re having a lot of conversions do the same thing, challenge it. Why is it doing that? And you start to get answers on either way. 

So I would say when you’re looking at everything in analytics, question it, ask why and don’t always take everything at face value. So if someone says again, you had increases on something 300% also ask what were the raw numbers? Because context is everything.  


TIP: When reporting on content, it’s important to know your internal audience. Executives care about how content marketing efforts influenced increased revenue. Having Goals properly set up in Google Analytics and leads properly attributed in your CRM are vital to show any sort of ROI.

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