There’s a tendency for content marketers to measure “vanity metrics”—metrics that look important but can’t be directly attributed to lead generation or sales.
This tendency stems from the fact that it’s easier to make these vanity metrics go up than harder things like revenue or leads generated.
Some of the most common vanity metrics are:
Overall website traffic
Blog page views
Email newsletter signups
Brand awareness (how do you even measure this?)
Social media engagement (e.g., “We’ve seen a lot more comments on Instagram page!”)
Now measuring some of these metrics can tell you if you’re headed in the right direction, but if the metrics you’re measuring can’t be directly attributed to sales, you can only make vague assumptions about actual performance.
As we’ve outlined in many past posts, producing content that generates a lot of traffic but very few or no leads is easy.
For example, I am working with a big b2b brand that has 80k monthly visitors but only 50 signups (0.05% conversion). And they have spent over 250k to reach this traffic.
The management team mentioned more than once that they had big blog traffic growth goals.
The keywords were helping them hit those goals—but what business value were they getting from it? Nearly zero.
The first step to measuring performance/results is choosing a content marketing metric with business value.
So most companies should only have these 3 metrics:
1) Qualified leads
2) Free trial signups or booked demos in SaaS.
3) Purchases in eCommerce and direct-to-consumer businesses.
If you want to measure results of your content, you need to track and report on one of these key performance indicators (KPIs) that tie directly to revenue.
Now you might be thinking, “Why isn’t this the standard procedure for measuring content performance?”
It’s because most consultants, agencies, and businesses don’t use a content marketing strategy that would even generate ROI in the first place.
Most content that companies produce doesn’t actually drive revenue, so most content marketers wouldn’t have these results to report on even if they knew how to track them (which many don’t).
So, it’s not in their interest to report on a meaty, useful metric like leads generated; it's far easier to use impressions” or simply overall traffic as a metric of success (or, worse, output metrics like the number of articles published or word count).
The bottom line? You need a content strategy that will actually attract potential customers, specifically those that are ready to buy (or sign up, request a demo, etc.).
And to do so, you need to focus on bottom-of-the-funnel topics and keywords first because that’s where the majority of actual leads and sales will come from.