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Killer KPIs for Marketing Managers Struggling to Show Content ROI

You’ve heard all the hype about content marketing. Customers, even those in B2B industries, want to better engage the companies with whom they do business. Ninety-six percent of B2B buyers want content with more input from industry thought leaders, according to Hubspot. Content marketing seems like the way of the future, but you’re still skeptical. How can you be sure the content you’re creating is earning a strong ROI?

It’s a valid question. In its 2017 report on B2B content trends, Content Marketing Institute (CMI) reveals some concerning statistics about content-related KPIs. A whopping 59 percent of B2B marketers surveyed were unclear about what content marketing success would look like in their organization. Of organizations that have a content marketing strategy in place, only 54 percent have well-defined business goals for their content, and even fewer have a measurement plan to track the progress toward those goals.

“The less companies know about their KPIs, the less likely they are to meet their revenue goals,” says Hubspot. On the other hand, 88 percent of the most successful B2B content marketers used well-defined KPIs to measure the ROI of their content.

If you want your company’s content marketing efforts to land new leads, you need a solid plan for measuring your results. Keeping tabs on these KPIs for content marketing—and comparing them to year-over-year and month-over-month data—will help uncover trends and insights that lead to informed business decisions and a content marketing strategy that earns a healthy ROI.

Awareness KPIs

Awareness KPIs are the metrics that help you determine whether your content is visible to the current customers engaging with your brand and the potential customers you’re targeting. You can create the best content on the internet, but it will all be a waste if no one sees it. Track these KPIs to ensure your content is improving brand visibility.


One of the most obvious way to measure awareness is to keep tabs on your site traffic. Hubspot reports nearly 80 percent of companies failing to meet their revenue goals attract 10,000 or fewer monthly visitors. It’s not hard to see the connection here: More website visitors means more potential leads.

If you want your company’s content marketing efforts to land new leads, you need a solid plan for tracking your results.

Consistent content marketing can attract more website visitors and generate more leads over time. Companies that published more than 16 blog posts per month received nearly 3.5 times as much traffic as those that posted four times or less per month. B2B companies that publish a blog post more than four times per week see the highest increase in traffic and leads, and small businesses that consistently publish see 126 percent more lead growth than those that don’t.

Pageviews that consistently demonstrate month-over-month growth are a good indication of an uptick in brand awareness. The statistics don’t lie: Where there’s higher site traffic, increased lead generation is sure to follow.

New vs. Returning Visitors

You can learn even more from your traffic by focusing on the percentage of visitors that are new to your site versus those who are returning. Returning visitors are a sign your content is valuable enough for them to come back for more. It also gives users the opportunity to convert if they passed up the chance the first time. Contently says if return visitor rate is more than 30 percent, you’re probably publishing engaging content that’s resonating with your audience—but if it’s below 25 percent, your content likely needs an overhaul.

However, a returning visitor rate that’s higher than 50 percent may signify a different problem. Returning visitors can only provide so many leads, conversions, and ultimately, revenue. New visitors, on the other hand, indicate that your customer base is expanding—along with your potential for added revenue. Keep an eye on this marketing KPI to ensure you are attracting the type of traffic you need to succeed.

Traffic by channel

Not all visitors are looking for the same thing when they land on your website. Users who clicked through from Twitter will have a different mindset than someone who landed on your page from an organic search. Understanding where your traffic is coming from gives you the tools necessary to evaluate your current content strategy and pivot when you’re missing the mark.

“Content promotion is just as important as content creation,” according to Kissmetrics. Knowing your traffic channels is essential to effective content marketing. Tracking your traffic by channel can reveal insights such as which channels result in the most conversions, which channels are driving the most traffic, and which channels result in visitors with the highest bounce rate. This saves time and money as you focus your strategy on channels that are bringing the best results.

Engagement KPIs

Where awareness KPIs reflect whether or not your content is being seen by the right people, engagement KPIs tell you if those people are interacting with it once they find it. It’s not enough to attract visitors who ultimately close the tab and forget about your brand. 

Conversion rate

Every piece of content you create should have a call to action that guides visitors to take the next step based on where they are in your marketing funnel, such as reading additional content, learning more about your brand, making a purchase, or subscribing to your email newsletter. The B2B Content Marketing Report shares that content that triggers a specific response is one of the top three factors of effective content marketing. Without this action, your visitors may never take the next step in your sales funnel.

Once you have a goal for each piece of content, you can easily use analytics to determine your conversion rate (The basic formula is to divide the number of conversions by the number of unique visitors a page received). Content marketing brings in conversion rates that are six times higher than other methods, so this metric should show good results if the content is doing its job.

Scroll depth

You create content in the hopes that potential customers will actually read it, but the odds aren’t in your favor: 55 percent of visitors spend less than 15 seconds on a web page. You may be tempted to look at your bounce rate or time on page to learn which articles are most engaging for visitors, but the CMI says that’s not the best strategy. “There are so many variables to how we browse a website that Google (or any analytics tool) does not account for. This makes time on page a questionable metric at best.

Keep an eye on your visitors’ scroll depth instead. Scroll depth measures how far down the page a visitor scrolls, making it a more accurate metric than time on page, which can be skewed by users who open a tab and walk away without reading. If a piece of content isn’t returning great results, you’ll be able to flag it for further optimization so that every blog post you produce is performing its designated role.

Marketing KPIs That Make the Difference

Don’t make the mistake of seeing content marketing as a drain on your budget. Understanding where to look to find a return on your investment will show you the lead-generating power of content. Using these KPIs for marketing will allow you to make smart, strategic decisions that make content marketing an asset to your brand. Learn more about the effectiveness of inbound marketing with these expert opinions.

Picture of Ashley Brooks
Ashley Brooks
Ashley Brooks is a content marketer and editor on a mission to help businesses cultivate genuine relationships with their audience. She’s all about well-chosen words that forge connections and smart strategies that make business blogging easier. You can always find her with an iced mocha in hand and a book in her purse (just in case).