Best KPIs for Content Marketing: Why I Won't Screw Up Our New Blog Strategy

Content marketing KPI

So, in case you haven’t noticed, our blog content style has taken a pretty hard left turn recently.

And seriously, I’ve never been more excited.

For the past almost-two-years that I’ve been with DashThis, we’ve worked hard to share our wisdom and professionalism to the marketing world. We wanted to be taken seriously.

But we’ve finally gotten to the point where our know-how is pretty self-evident.

As Ron Burgundy would say, “People know us. We’re kind of a big deal.”

And while I do a lot of different things here at DashThis, from communications, to PR, to content marketing, to making chocolate-chip-banana-bread when everyone’s been particularly well-behaved, I’m still a writer at heart.

Words are my thing.

So deciding that we’re going to focus more on nurturing our brand personality, instead of just spitting out “best practices” lists that no one actually wants to read… my brain is just: “dear.god.finally!”

I’ve only been waiting for this moment for two years!

Pour me a cocktail, ‘cause this writer’s ready to paaaaaarty.

But while the writer in me is dancing on the speakers (figuratively, of course), the content marketing manager in me is in the corner, making a list of everything that could possibly go wrong.

Anyone who’s ever been in business knows that most changes are terrifying, no matter how prepared you think you are for them.

So we’re here, flipping our content style on its head and seeing what comes out of it…

But what about our readers? What do they think? Are they digging our new hawaiian-shirt-wearing-style of writing? Or do they think it’s tacky? Boring? Or worse, devoid of any REAL information?

How in the hell am I going to make sure this change in blog strategy doesn’t screw us over?


What are the Right KPIs for Content Marketing

You want to know how I’m going to make sure I don’t screw up? I’m going to keep tabs… on myself.

Writing; that part’s no problem. I can write in my sleep (and yeah… sometimes I do).

And although I may not be able to keep tabs on my KPIs in my sleep, DashThis can.

My department already has its own reports that allow us to keep track of our progress. Whether it’s for our blog traffic, our website traffic, our mailings, or our social media presence, all the KPIs for content marketing are represented somewhere or another.

And while I always make sure to keep an eye on our numbers at all times, making a change in style, behaviour, or branding means that I have to keep TWO eyes on them, at least until I can be sure that we’re getting the results we want.

So which KPIs for content marketing are THE big ones for me right now?


1. Time on page

Obviously, there’s no point in writing something if no one reads it. And unless you’re The Flash, I’m guessing it’s going to take a few minutes. That’s why one of my favourite KPIs for content marketing is time on page.

With our previous, boring-but-efficient-content, readers would spend less than a minute in our articles: just reading the section titles and maybe a sentence or too would be enough to get the gist of the article.

And of course, why would they spend more time reading?

It’s not like there was any colour or excitement in there or anything.

In an ideal world though, our new content style would suck in readers enough so that they’d actually want to get the entire story, from top to bottom. I’m talking every. single. delicious. word.

So if you can go ahead and spend a few minutes with me right now, reading the rest of this article, I’ll be a happy camper.


2. Bounce rate

My second favourite KPI for content marketing is pretty similar to the first. If someone arrives on a particular piece of content and reads it in its entirety, that’s one small victory in and of itself.

But if that same person then continues on to another page of our website? Oh hells yes, THAT is what I’m talking about!

I want people to be so interested by our content that they want more.

If my bounce rate goes down with our new content, it means I’ve brought you into my web of words and you’re so enthralled that you never want to leave.


3. Engagement (especially shares & comments)

Any content worth its salt is going to be talked about and shared. Which is where this next KPI comes in.

We tend to get an “okay” number of likes on our Facebook posts. When I say, “okay”, I mean 20 to 30-ish likes, about the same number of post clicks, and maybe 1 or 2 shares (besides everyone in the office who already shares… because I tell them to).

Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium… they all follow about the same trend in terms of being just “okay.”

But I don’t want “okay”. I want, “holy ****, we’re on the first page of Inbound, we have 450 likes, 200 retweets, 150 shares, and Neil Patel himself just retweeted us.”

Engagement can mean any number of things depending on the source we’re talking about: it can be shares, comments, likes, clicks, upvotes, etc. And although getting Facebook likes on my content is cool, and not something I’ll look down on in the least, I really want active engagement.

I’ll be looking more for things like shares, retweets, and comments.

These are all types of engagement that require more action on the audience’s part - it means that people actually took time out of their day to express their appreciation for what I wrote… I want in on that action.

So if I can get a Twitter retweet, a Facebook share, and a comment on the article itself: that’s the trifecta!

Go on… I dare ya.

Facebook Post engagement
So we may be getting a decent number of likes on our posts, but that's mostly because the rest of my team is a super supportive bunch.


4. Followers & Subscribers

Continuing on the engagement bandwagon, the next KPI for content marketing that I’ll be following closely is our number of followers and subscribers.

Social media wasn’t really a top priority when I arrived at DashThis - and rightfully so, there was so much other stuff to do.

But when I came aboard, I made it my mission to get people talking about us, following us, adoring us. And through more regular posting, and systematically inviting people who like our content to like our pages, the number of followers crept up.

I was able to bump 1,000 Facebook followers up to 3,000 within 5 months just through simple grunt work.

But now, the trend is sort of stagnating. We’ll get some more followers, here and there; I still invite people on a regular basis if I find there’s some interest, but I’m not really getting the same rush as before.

I’m going to have to do something big. Something major. Something like… change my entire content style.

Hopefully, it’ll do the trick.

Total page likes on Facebook
Let's just say, numbers change quickly once you start taking your social media strategy seriously!


5. Traffic volume

My next favourite KPI for content marketing is all about the traffic.

After all, that’s why I do what I do.

My life as a writer revolves around the idea that I can share my thoughts with others, that they’ll find my thoughts interesting, that they’ll want more of them, so they’ll come explore the rest of the website filled with my words.

Although I love to write, I don’t do it for myself. I write so that others enjoy it.

So now that we’re changing our blog strategy, I want to make sure that whatever we’re writing is going to be driving more traffic to our site than it was before.

Back in the day (ahem, three years ago), our blog was almost identical to our Help Center. There was some information, sure, but it wasn’t really where it was supposed to be.

And for the past two years, there’s been a little more colour injected into it, but still, it was a lot of “shirt-and-tie-let’s-be-serious” content.

The amount of traffic went up when we started posting more regularly with more relevant content, but the change wasn’t that drastic.

It’s not like anyone was waiting with baited breath to see what we would be writing next.

Yeah, it’s time to change that.

I want traffic coming in by the bucketload.


Social media traffic graph
These are just the sessions that come from social media traffic... from 3,000 a month to almost 6,000. What a difference a year makes!


6. Assisted conversions

Speaking of driving traffic, my final favourite KPI for content marketing is about conversion. Assisted conversions, to be exact.

Let’s be real here. I don’t just write so that people enjoy reading our words; I write so that people learn about DashThis, fall in love with our tool, and hopefully become regular users.

And I know that not every individual piece of my writing is going to be the trigger that gets someone to subscribe to DashThis.

That’s not how it works.

Hopefully, the combination of multiple pieces of writing does do the trick though.

That’s why, when it comes to my content marketing, I don’t look at direct conversions as closely as assisted conversions.

I want to know what content someone went through, and through which channels they went, before finally falling for us, hard.

And I want to be able to make that happen, over and over again.

Attribution model comparison tool
It's pretty obvious, if I were to just look at the conversions (called Last Interaction), the blog posts we share on our social media pages don't seem to do that much good. However, by also looking at our assisted conversions (called Last Non-Direct Click), I can tell that we're actually making a decent difference! 50% more conversions is nothing to sniff at!



KPIs Are My Safety Net

In our tech-filled world, sometimes you want to read something that is as informative as it is innately human. Automate your reporting, sure, automate a lot of tasks; but I don’t want to automate the way I talk to you.

Even though I’m super excited about this change in style and direction, I need to know: are you?

And although you wouldn’t think early 90s hip-hop was applicable to content marketing (or if you did, you’re already my best friend), Ice Cube was right: “you gotta check yourself, before you wreck yourself.”

Following the right KPIs for content marketing, and keeping them at the top of my content marketing reports at all times, that’s me, checking myself.

And honestly, even with a kick-ass content marketing report, and clear data on my ROI, it’s still going to be a little iffy. After all, can numbers REALLY tell you how people feel about your new vibe?

I’m not sure, but we’re giving it a shot.

I’ll let you know how it pans out…

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