New tools to improve performance
on February 8, 2023 (last modified on April 12, 2023) • 28 minute read
Content marketing can be a double-edged sword.
While one content piece may bring in many leads and conversions, another may appear spammy and clickbaity – ultimately, hurting your brand reputation.
But how do you ensure your content marketing efforts always result in positive outcomes?
By setting robust content marketing goals.
These content goals help in boosting ROI, scaling content production, and aligning content across multiple channels. 7
If you’re looking for actionable ways to set and track content marketing goals, you’ve landed at the right place. We’ll be covering the following in this article:
The goals of content marketing are not the same for everyone. They vary for different industry types, target audiences, time of the year, and the content produced. To ensure you reap the most benefit from these content goals, you need to choose the ones that work for you.
We set out to find the commonly used content marketing goals among companies of different natures. For this, we conducted a survey in which we interviewed 79 companies.
Our respondents comprise of:
For more than 90% of our respondents, each content piece they publish has a defined purpose. This just shows how essential goal-setting is.
With that being said, what are common goals for content marketing campaigns?
As per our survey results, brand awareness (about 30%) and lead generation (about 30%) are the main objectives companies set for their content marketing efforts.
Some other primary content goals common among our respondents include; lead conversion/sales (15%), engagement (6%), and customer education (5%).
We’ll be discussing these common content marketing strategy goals in detail below.
Most companies create content to put their name out there. Your target audience wouldn’t know you exist if you don’t talk about the services you offer and why you’re better than similar companies.
Some marketers are critical of brand awareness as a goal because of how “vague” it appears and how tricky it is to measure. But in reality, brand awareness is key to increasing association.
No matter your audience, the majority of people will never commit to a product/service straight away because they don’t have the financial resources or they simply don’t need it at that time.
But if you create quality content consistently and are successful in associating your brand as a solution to a problem, the same people (once willing) will commit to your offering in a heartbeat.
The trick here is finding your unique brand identity and using it as a means to increase brand awareness. Lavender, for example, has successfully done this by using the lavender color repeatedly in their content as well as making it quirky to match their brand personality.
Related: 4 Things You Can Learn About Your Brand’s Strength by Analyzing Direct Traffic in Google Analytics
This content marketing goal requires creating valuable content, ebooks, guides, webinars, etc., to attract people belonging to your buyer persona.
Leads are not to be confused with the traffic you get on your channels. While traffic may include some leads, it also includes people not interested in your product/service.
Different content pieces produce leads of different value. A lead won through downloading product templates will be more likely to buy your premium plan than a lead gained through downloading an ebook. Hence, lead generation via content should be followed by lead scoring to nurture them properly and increase their chances of converting.
Related: Blogging for Lead Generation: 23 Best Ways to Generate Leads from Your Blog
Content marketing critics often question the ability of content in terms of having an impact on revenue. Converting leads and making sales is definitely a possibility with content.
By writing bottom-of-the-funnel content, like comparison articles, case studies, and use case landing pages, you’re essentially inviting your leads to invest in your product. Be sure to elaborate on the deciding factors for your leads, like price, positive and negative reviews, installation and onboarding time, etc.
Related: How to Create & Measure Your Content Marketing Funnel
A small, engaged following is better than a large, disengaged one.
Once you have gathered a decent following, be it your Instagram followers or email subscribers, engage them through the content you produce.
You can invite followers to post comments under your blogs, participate in polls, and join contests/giveaways – you get the picture.
You can also encourage social engagement and sharing by creating relevant, trendy content. Take the example of Morning Brew. Their fun TikToks have managed to get millions of likes and hundreds of comments.
Churn to companies is what kryptonite is to Superman. One reason why customers churn is that they are unable to realize the Aha moment and fail to use the product smoothly.
Educating your customers through content can reduce this friction without putting extra pressure on your customer support team. By creating comprehensive documentation, product guides, and a knowledge center you can help increase product adoption and reduce feature blindness.
Winning customers is one thing, but retaining them is a whole other task. Luckily, content can help you retain customers and make them loyal to your brand. The key over here is to continue delivering value.
One way you can do this is by giving them access to exclusive content. You could offer them passes to special events with limited availability, invite them to personalized webinars or give sneak peeks at upcoming content.
Alternatively, you can boost loyalty by including your customer’s input in your future strategy. You can conduct Q&A sessions and run focus groups to gather their feedback, feature requests, and any improvements needed. If their concerns and requests are met timely, they wouldn’t have a reason to switch to a competitor.
Have a large number of leads that didn’t convert? Nurturing them through content will increase the chances of them converting.
Say, a lead gave you their email address in exchange for the ebook on your website. You can then send them personalized emails sharing industry knowledge and webinars of a similar topic of their interest.
Once you’ve noticed them engaging with the shared content, you can start pitching in case studies, showing how a company achieved success using your product. This can be followed by a product demo with a discounted limited-time offer to increase the possibility of conversion.
This nurturing flow will vary for different companies, situations, and lead quality, but the key is to offer personalized content that will help them move to the next stage in the buyer’s journey.
Related: The 6 Most Effective Lead Nurturing Strategies that Work Right Now
A strong digital presence cannot be created without a solid SEO strategy set in place.
In fact, more than 53% of all web traffic is organic traffic. This means that the majority of people refer to search engines to find answers to their queries and if you want to be at the top of your audience’s search engine results, you need to invest in quality SEO-driven content.
When looking for plumbing services, no one is going to type in your company’s name, especially if you’re just starting out. They would instead search for plumbing services near them or the best plumbing services in their town. If your web pages don’t appear on the first page of these search queries/keywords, you’re losing a big chunk of interested leads.
By creating valuable content that follows SEO best practices and spans across multiple keywords, you can gain higher rankings and SERP features, like featured snippets, to boost visibility.
To optimize your website’s content for conversion, you probably use Google Analytics 4 to learn how many people are interacting with your site, which pages brought them to the site in the first place, which pages they engage with the most, and more.
You may have to navigate multiple areas and reports within Google Analytics to get the data you want though. Now you can quickly assess your content performance in a single dashboard that monitors fundamental metrics, such as:
Now you can benefit from the experience of our Google Analytics 4 experts, who have put together a plug-and-play Databox template showing the most important metrics for measuring your website content marketing performance. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in marketing reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your Google Analytics 4 account with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
Did you know that 81% of consumers consider trust as a deciding factor when buying?
It’s not easy to win the trust of your target audience, especially when you’re new in the industry. But well-curated content can help you appear more credible.
Sharing whitepapers, research reports, and informative guides – basically anything valuable – helps you become the go-to source for information related to a certain industry. How does this make a difference? Well, when you provide free, valuable content to educate readers, you build a rapport, and when those readers are in search of a solution, they’ll pick you because of that credibility.
Another way you can use content to boost your trust is by associating yourself with subject matter experts in your industry. These SMEs have made a name for themselves and when you create content that features them, say an interview, you benefit from their credibility.
Employees can make or break your business. To be a force to reckon with, you need the backing of a qualified and skilled team.
But how can you attract the best talent to join your company? By showcasing your fun culture and bright future through the content you produce.
We at Databox rely on content to show why candidates should consider us as their next employer. From sharing company values to employee spotlights to our onboarding process, potential employees can learn more about what working at Databox is like. You can view such content here.
You’re now aware of the common goals of content marketing, but how do you go about selecting them for your business? Before we answer that, we need to address the elephant in the room – when should you set them?
According to our survey, the vast majority set new or review existing content marketing goals at least once a quarter. This shows how important it is to revisit these content marketing objectives because of changing business dynamics and company-wide goals.
To understand how companies set their content marketing goals (and measure their success), we interviewed 250+ respondents. We’ve shared the best tips below for you to take inspiration from.
You might have created the most well-researched and engaging content, but if it doesn’t speak with your audience, you will seldom witness positive results.
Before setting any goals, explore the kind of content consumed by your audience. In other words, the kind of content they prefer over others. This sets a good goal-setting base and ensures targets are achievable in the future.
Akeya Fortson-Brown from The Hustle Lab elaborates this further, “I decide on content marketing goals by first thinking through the ways my target audiences consume content related to marketing, branding, public relations, entrepreneurship, and personal development.”
“I use these patterns to inform what kind of content I will make (audio, video, text, etc.), where it will be published, and how it will be distributed. I then assess my financial goals and develop a plan to create content that my audiences want to consume to support efforts to achieve my financial goals.”
Related: 9 Expert Ways to Identify the Target Audience for Your Website
If you look at the core definition of content marketing, it’s meant to attract and acquire your audience. Conversions lie at the heart of content marketing, which is why prioritizing them is in your best interest.
Luke Glassford of Gambit Partners shares why conversions matter, “For us, the one and only metric we really care about are conversions – whether that’s the number of leads generated by a specific content campaign or the amount of sales it contributed to. It is, of course, useful to monitor the amount of traffic a particular blog post gets, but if that traffic is not contributing to conversions in any meaningful way, then it may not be worth spending time on in terms of further promotion.”
When the end goal is to make conversions, you can list down all the supplementary goals that will help you achieve just that. For instance, if you’re looking to boost sales of a product, you can invest in lead generation content (ebooks/webinars) followed by lead nurturing content (newsletters/case studies).
One thing to remember here is the nature of conversions can change for different businesses and the need of the hour. Alex Birkett from Omniscient Digital agrees, “All of this depends on the specific business we work with, but in every single case, it maps down to driving revenue. Now, the strategy dictates the leading indicator goal.”
Birkett gives examples of how this conversion goal can take different shapes, “With a product-led SaaS company, this could be product signups. Enterprise software companies could measure demo requests, MQLs, or even brand awareness metrics if their content is largely driving audience on external channels. But in every case, I map the goals in a growth model to make sure they’re contributing to revenue and are ROI positive.”
When you aim for conversions, your entire content process must align toward achieving it. You must use high-intent keywords and convincing calls to action to encourage conversions.
High-intent keywords, in particular, are key to use since they have a greater transactional and commercial interest.
Tim Connon from ParamountQuote shares how high-intent keywords brought them impressive conversions, “Our content marketing goals are based on the high-intent keywords we use for our blog. So if a user is searching ‘life insurance for a family member’ we know that is a high-converting keyword so we will target that and other long-tail variations of the word.”
Connon further adds, “We estimate a 20% conversion rate off of those specific keywords we target. We use Ahrefs and then search out the marketing name of our product. Once we have a list of these keywords Ahrefs gives us, we will pick the long tail keywords that are easiest to rank on that are similar to each other. We then begin writing articles around each keyword topic and interlink them to each other.”
One way to determine your content marketing goals and KPIs is by first deciding on your buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a fictional characterization of your ideal customers. Ever heard of the 80-20 rule? 80% of revenue is brought by 20% of your customers. That 20% are your best customers and they can be used to inspire your buyer personas.
Examining buyer personas is a great way to understand your audience’s preferences, habits, likes, and dislikes. Different buyer personas require different content to be produced. For example, if your buyer persona is fashion-forward Gen Z college students, trendy and relatable TikToks are a great way to reach them.
Nate Nead from Marketer.co shares the same opinion.
“We reverse engineer our content marketing goals based on a very tightly-defined customer persona. From there, we ideate content topics that align with both the desired persona and the keywords we and our competitors are targeting via content gap and keyword research & analysis.”
Principal at Marketer.co
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Exploring buyer personas is a great tactic if you’re looking to improve brand recognition and awareness, which we saw earlier is a common content goal.
When Sai Blackbyrn from Coach Foundation aimed to boost brand awareness, buyer personas were referred to create content across multiple channels.
In Blackbyrn’s words, “I start by putting myself out there and creating my buyer personas, which will make it easier for me to comprehend my prospective and current customers. We refer to this as brand awareness. The last stage is to regularly create content for my social media and website sites – interacting with rivals, supporters, and spectators. Make use of all the content marketing strategies I have at my disposal.”
If you’re new to the game and don’t know where to start, a great way for setting goals is to look at company weaknesses and fix them through the content you produce.
Talk to your sales team if they’re finding issues in generating leads and closing them or the product team for any inefficiencies in onboarding and product adoption. You can also look at important metrics that dictate the success of your company, like churn rate, MRR, conversion rate, etc.
One would want to improve their business processes continuously but identify one or two of your most pressing issues that require urgent attention. This will set the basis of the content goal you decide on and will pave the way for content to be produced later on.
Georges Fallah from VBOUT discusses the time when a problem was realized and how it was rectified through their content.
Fallah said, “We operate in the SaaS industry. In the first few years after our startup was launched, we discovered that our free-trial signups have not been converting to paid due to lack of onboarding and educational materials that would help them grow their business. Our retention rate was low.”
“Therefore, we decided to focus on writing helpful content and resources that teach them how to be pros in the marketing automation industry and how to generate, nurture and convert their leads into loyal customers. After we focused on writing less generic, more specific content, the outcome was satisfactory and we managed to improve our retention rate.”
This method of setting content marketing goals is passive, i.e., you wait for a problem to realize and then solve it through the content produced. You can follow a more active approach by creating content that you consider would be helpful for your audience in the future.
Cory Dickson shares the strategy followed at 3DPrintingWiz for creating helpful content, “We aim to publish content in clusters that are helpful to our user, this may be broken down by different product models, troubleshooting, or simply inspirational ideas.”
Content marketing is constantly evolving. You must follow what’s new in the industry in hopes of getting the traction you’re aiming for.
However, just because something is trending doesn’t mean you should blindly follow it. If a trend works for your business nature and buyer personas, only then should you incorporate it into your content strategy.
Madison Tong from My Supplement Store reinforces this, “We first do some research on what topics are currently trending in general. After we find a few topics, we look for ways to relate the trending topic to our industry and come up with a way to create content out of it.”
Tong further adds, “Once we figure out a way to relate a trending topic back to our industry, I start to brainstorm how to format it and write an outline for it. Once I have the outline finished, I review it with my team and then start writing the content piece.”
Tracking the success of content marketing is equally important as setting goals. Doing so will ensure you’re on the right path and that any weak points are identified and rectified timely.
But with so many KPIs and metrics available, how do you actually go about monitoring the performance of your content marketing efforts? We asked this question to our survey respondents, and their answers are worth noting.
If brand awareness and demand generation were your content marketing goals, you should pay extra attention to changes in demand.
Demand generation should not be confused with lead generation here since the former aims to create interest in your product/service while the latter deals with identifying potential customers and turning them into paying ones.
How can you monitor changes in demand? Romana Hoekstra from Leadfeeder shares her best tips below:
“As we are focusing on demand generation, we have clear OKRs that we monitor. Two of the most important numbers that we are looking at are:
You can’t control the type of traffic you receive on your web pages. Some traffic is qualified, meaning they fit in your ideal customer profile. Others are not, since some are looking for a quick answer to their query and are not willing to commit to a solution.
For those that are interested in your content, you must find a way to bring them into your lead nurturing sequence – a newsletter will do the job just quite.
When measuring your content performance, notice how many new email subscribers you have bagged. This ultimately shows that your content was so engaging and valuable that the reader has signed up to hear from you again.
Nick Gray from The 2-Hour Cocktail Party reinforces this, “Our main KPIs are centered around new email subscribers. We look at:
Ultimately the most important thing for us is the ratio of readers who will convert into active newsletter subscribers. We use OptinMonster for a lot of unpaid lead generation. We receive weekly reports on new subscribers from ConvertKit, this acts as a scoreboard for content marketing.”PROTIP: Use marketing reporting software to track your ConvertKit subscriber data and create visualizations that help you better understand and communicate your email marketing performance.
Related: 14 Proven Ways to Increase Your Blog and Newsletter Subscribers
The top 3 results on Google get 54.4% of all clicks. No wonder why SEO is a popular content goal amongst so many marketers. If you are one of those, there are a number of SEO metrics that you can track to determine the success of your content marketing efforts.
Mitch Fraser from Flashdrive.com.au shares some examples of how they track their content marketing success through monitoring SEO metrics, “The metrics related to our SEO growth are directly related to our content marketing and give us an idea of how we’re doing. We track metrics like domain authority, what keywords we’re ranking for, clicks on internal links in our content, and similar metrics like this. Our marketing team keeps a close eye on these metrics to understand how our content marketing is affecting our SEO – and vice versa.”
Keyword rankings, impressions, referring domains, and bounce rates are a few of the many SEO metrics you can monitor. But should you be tracking them all?
Tracking multiple KPIs can get super tricky really fast, especially if you don’t have an SEO expert on your team. This is why Adam Berry recommends tracking only two.
“Measuring the success of content marketing can be complex – there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. When evaluating our content marketing output, organic traffic and conversions are two of the main metrics we look at. Organic traffic helps us understand how content is performing in organic search results, while conversions indicate to us what kind of content resonates with our audience.”
Search Engine Optimisation Consultant at Adam Berry SEO
Conversions seem like an obvious indicator to track for determining content marketing success. But there is one way through which you can maximize the number of conversions you get via the content you produce.
Look out for the content pieces that generate the most conversions and try to create similar ones in the future. By similar, I don’t mean paraphrased versions of it but instead similar content format (blogs or videos) and keywords chosen (long-tail or how-to), among other factors.
Tom Riley from Zego adds to this, “I use attribution modeling to understand the role that different pieces of content play in the conversion process and to identify which ones are most effective at driving successful conversions.”
Successful content generates engagement. This engagement can be in the form of comments, social sharing, clicking on call-to-action buttons, and more.
People who are engaged are people who have your attention. This means they’ll be more open to product launches, upsells, and being the promoters of your brand.
Garrett Smith from GMB Gorilla adds to the narrative, “The best way to measure content marketing success is to analyze your audience’s engagement. I look at how long people are spending on our content, how often they’re clicking on links to our website or social media pages, and what they’re doing on those pages (e.g., clicking on links to related content).”
“I also look at my analytics for metrics like unique visitors and total page views to see if our content is reaching a broader or more engaged audience over time. Analyzing this data gives me and my team a better understanding of what content is working well and where you can improve.”
Related: The 14 Website Engagement Metrics Every Marketing Team Should Be Tracking
If your content marketing goal was to generate and close leads, it’s natural for you to base your content marketing success on new leads won.
Leads can be people who download an ebook, attend a webinar, or purchase your product, so it’s better that all stakeholders reach a consensus on what leads mean before they’re tracked.
Tim Connon from ParamountQuote shares how they track leads through content, “Our KPIs are the impressions and clicks, so this means we will look at the total number of leads that came in off our website then divide those leads from the total number of clicks and impressions.”
Connon further adds, “This allows us to calculate exactly how many searchers are becoming leads. Once we have this total number then, divide it by 20% for our closing ratios. This is how we measure our content marketing. We expect to maintain a 20 – 25% closing ratio on our leads.”
A user journey, or customer journey, tracks all the steps a buyer goes through before purchasing your product/service. If you have an abnormal ratio of leads generated to leads closed, you should produce lead-nurturing content to move your users toward the end of the journey.
To measure how successfully you’ve made leads advance to the later stages of the user journey, we suggest you read what Rakshit Panchal from Sydney Digital Agency has to say.
“We measure Avg Time on Blog and check Exit Pages after blog pages to know the user’s journey. We implement and refine our blog according to customers’ experience. Let’s take three scenarios for a better understanding of how we measure content success:
Google Analytics and Google Search Console have long been trusted tools in the arsenal of content marketers. With a number of metrics and dimensions available, marketers can easily track user behavior and activity.
“As far as measuring and tracking metrics to build our KPI reports, we mainly use the features available in Google Analytics 4 and Google Search Console. These two tools provide metrics on impressions, clicks, and many other user-related metrics such as conversions and engagement,” agrees Hector Ruiz from BBQ Grill Academy.
Google Analytics can get intimidating for newbies considering the wealth of information provided. This is why Ruiz suggests tracking the below metrics:
“In terms of the business KPIs we monitor to measure content success, we discovered that these four key performance indicators best meet our business goals.
Editor’s note: Google Analytics and Google Search Console are two powerful tools for tracking the performance of your content. By using these tools together in one single marketing reporting software can gain insights into how users interact with your content and make informed decisions about how to improve it.
Content marketing goals are as versatile as you can make them. From increasing brand awareness to generating leads to educating customers, content can achieve it all, if not more.
Since content marketing is so diversified, you’re likely to have multiple content goals operational at the same time. Imagine tracking performance for all these goals – you’d have to monitor multiple metrics, test different hypotheses, switch between various tools, create numerous reports, and whatnot.
But wait, content marketing tracking and reporting don’t have to be this complex. With Databox goal tracking software, you’ll be on top of your content marketing reporting in no time (and with minimum effort).
Databox is the all-in-one content marketing dashboard tool that gives you the power of performance visualization at your fingertips. Track and measure your content efforts in real-time and display your performance on attractive dashboards instead of boring spreadsheets.
You can check your content’s conversions, traffic, and engagement without having to log in to multiple platforms. With 100+ integrations available, you can view all these important metrics on a single screen (and that too in real-time).
Not only that, but you can visualize content performance on hundreds of report templates and can create your own using our user-friendly drag-and-drop editor.
What’s not to like? Start your free trial now to unleash the full potential and benefits of content marketing reporting.
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