Measure performance

📊 Measure performance

Ultimately, every B2B marketing department is looking to increase leads and sales. But the path to that goal looks a lot different for an early-stage content marketing program than a more mature content marketing program.

For tracking performance, we recommend using key performance indicators.

KPIs are short-term metrics that help you chart progress toward long-term goals. You don’t create key performance indicators—rather, you choose existing metrics to serve as your KPIs.

And, as the name suggests, you choose a given metric for your KPI because it’s the most significant (a.k.a. ‘key’) indicator of how well you’re performing in light of specific goals.

It’s a simple format that’s adaptable to most any department. A sales team might choose metrics like ‘new clients’ and ‘total revenue’ as their KPIs. A customer support hotline might choose KPIs like ‘number of complete service tickets’ and ‘average time on hold.’

Similarly, a content marketer will choose a few existing metrics to be their key performance indicators. Clicks, conversions, organic search metrics… these are a few metrics that you might choose for KPIs.

KPIs are important to your content strategy for a few big reasons:

  • To make strategic decisions. Boosting organic traffic is a great goal. Improving conversion rates is another great goal. But each one requires a different plan of action.
  • To gauge success. You need to know what to measure in order to know if it’s working.
  • To maintain alignment with your team. You need to get agreement from other people on what you’re actually aiming for. Otherwise, your bosses might incorrectly assess your performance.

In this lesson, we’ll explain…

  • Common content KPIs and what they mean
  • Which KPIs you should choose in which situations
  • How to get KPI data so you can report on what’s happening with your content program

By the end of this lesson, you’ll have…

  • A set of KPIs to track your content performance
  • A table that’ll help you get in the habit of tracking your KPIs over time

Choosing KPIs

You can get really deep and nuanced with KPI strategy if you’d like. And for huge corporations with a long track record and lots of existing data to analyze, the KPI cultivation process is necessarily complex and time-intensive.

For a small marketing team, the process doesn’t have to be so grand.

For your strategy, we’ve simplified the process by pre-selecting a few basic, reliable metrics for you to choose from.

Which KPIs are best for your marketing program?

You can make a KPI out of any quantifiable goal. For content marketing in particular, we could spend all day thinking up KPIs.

But you can't do everything at once! Prioritizing your KPIs is essential.

A quick way to pare down the list of potential KPIs is to consider how mature your marketing program is.

Early-stage marketing programs (Top-funnel KPIs)
Mid-stage marketing programs (Mid-funnel KPIs)
Full-speed marketing programs (Bottom-funnel KPIs)
• Impressions • Click-through rate • Organic search performance • Subscribers • Social media followers
• Clicks • Page engagement stats • Targeted keyword ranking
• Goal completion • Conversion rate

For example, early-stage marketing programs will see more success by aiming for attainable KPIs that are higher in the sales funnel.

If you are building a content program from scratch (or rebooting your existing content program), we recommend focusing on stuff that’s more top of the funnel. These metrics will change sooner, so you’ll know sooner if you’re having an impact.

Top-of-funnel goals require little commitment from your audience—which is useful because you’re still in the early stages of building an audience.

But these KPIs are not successful on their own. They are indicators that your early-stage content program is starting to work.

Top of the funnel

These are great for early-stage marketing programs.


Impressions, for our purposes, are how often your content shows up in organic search. A couple of things to keep in mind about impressions:

  • Impressions just mean how often your content shows up as something for people to click on. That could mean in a social feed, but we usually pay the most attention to impressions in organic search.
  • This is a good measure to use for things like blog posts that are themselves relatively top-of-funnel. It’s less useful for something like a case study – no matter how hard you try, it’s hard to get those to rank.

What tool do you use to measure it?

Google Search Console


What it shows you:

  • How many people are seeing your page links
  • How popular the topic is

How to improve your performance:

  • Promoting your content on social
  • Sending it out in an email
  • Getting somebody else to talk about it
  • Optimizing things like titles and descriptions


If your page impressions metric is 4, then hardly anyone is seeing your page. In order for anyone to see it, you better start telling the world that it exists.

Click-through rate

When somebody sees an ad for your page, or a listing via organic search, how often do they actually click the link? That’s what this metric shows.

What tool do you use to measure it?

Google Search Console


What it shows you:

  • Is the content compelling to the people it’s finding?
  • Did you promote it in an effective way via ads and search engine listings?

How to boost this metric:

  • Optimize for SEO (title, tags, descriptions)
  • Target messaging for audience


If you’re working on a blog post about email marketing, how can its title best resonate with your target audience? Will it be a post about “How to improve open rates for marketing emails”? Or, “Common email marketing mistakes”? These decisions will influence your click-through rate.

Organic search performance

Is your page ranking for any search terms in Google at all?

What tool do you use to measure it?

Common tools include SEMrush, Moz, Ahrefs, Google Search Console


What it shows:

  • If Google finds your content valuable at all
  • If Google can even find your page

How to improve it:

  • Optimize for SEO
  • Revise for readability, utility, relevance
  • Expand distribution

ExampleIf you're writing a blog about lead generation strategies for family physicians, you might find that you rank for a handful of keyword phrases, some of them relevant (eg. “healthcare provider blog marketing”) and some of them not at all relevant (eg. “healthcare marketing convention party 1999”).

If you don’t rank for any terms at all, this is a sign that the page is in trouble. Make sure that Google is indexing to begin with.

Subscribers and followers

How many people have signed up to receive updates from you on a social media platform? How many people are on your newsletter mailing list?

How many followers does your brand or maybe your CEO have on LinkedIn or Twitter or other channels that you care about?

What tool do you use to measure it?

Tools to measure followers and subscribers can be found within each platform.


What it shows:

  • Size of your audience in a given format
  • Audience growth over time
  • Audience growth relative to competitors
  • The effectiveness of your distribution strategy

How to improve it:

  • Publish more consistently
  • Target your audience
  • Actively engage your audience and community

As you start to see results in these KPIs, you can refine them for more granular performance data. And once you start performing well with these top-funnel goals, you’ll start to see results in lower-funnel goals as well.


If your marketing team already has a content program in place, then you can start to focus on KPIs that are more indicative of commitment from the right buyers and the potential for leads, opportunities, and revenue. This includes indicators like:

  • Clicks
  • Page engagement stats (bounce + exit rate)
  • Targeted keyword ranking

These mid-funnel KPIs require more commitment from your audience.


Clicks are simply how often people click on your page listing (math majors will note that the click metric is impressions multiplied by click-through rate).

What tool do you use to measure it?

Google Search Console


What it shows:

  • How visible your pages are on search
  • How compelling your ads and page titles are

How to improve it:

  • Improve your impression rate
  • Improve your click-through rate

Bounce rate and exit rate

Bounce rate shows how often people enter your page and immediately leave. Exit rate shows how often people make this the last page that they see in a session.

What tool do you use to measure it?

Google Analytics

What it shows:

  • How engaging (useful, readable, interesting) a page is for readers
  • How effective your calls to action are

How to improve it:

  • Revise structure for readability
  • Cut filler copy
  • Optimize calls to action

Targeted keyword rank

Where in the Google search results is your page appearing? More specifically, where is it showing up for search terms that are important to your brand?

What tool do you use to measure it?

Common tools include SEMrush, Moz, Ahrefs


What it shows:

  • How likely people are to find you via organic search
  • How popular your page is, compared to competitor pages

How to improve it:

  • Optimize for SEO
  • Revise for readability, utility, relevance
  • Expand distribution

Repeating: these KPIs still do not represent success on their own. They are indicators that your mid-stage content program is starting to work.


Eventually, where you want to get to is lead conversions, and, we hope, opportunities for your sales team (or actual sales, if you expect your buyer to buy right away). Then you can start to measure things like your conversion rate.

Conversion rate can technically measure a pretty broad range of activities—a “conversion” can be lots of things. But most of the time, when people talk about a conversion, they’re wondering how often someone:

  • Signs up for a demo
  • Signs up for a trial
  • Downloads a late-stage piece of content (e.g. a research report or buyer’s guide)

Or takes some other high-intent activity that gets their email address into your lead tracking system.

Once you have their email address, your sales rep can follow up about a deal, or you can market to them directly, or you can do other things that increase the likelihood of revenue.

There are lots of ways to measure the number of conversions a piece of content generates, but usually, we measure it:

  • In Google Analytics, using goal completions that are counted whenever your prospect completes one of these highly desirable actions
  • In your marketing automation platform (say, Hubspot), by counting how many leads are generated with that piece of content as part of the prospect’s journey

Here’s what goal completions look like in Google Analytics:


What tool do you use to measure it?

Google Analytics (or your marketing automation platform)

What it shows:

  • How effective your calls to action are
  • How compelling your content assets are

How to improve it:

  • Optimize your calls to action
  • Rewrite copy for assets

KPI Tracker Template

Dashboards, smashboards. Simplify your KPI tracking at the get go with a simple tracker.

Key Performance Indicator
Data Today’s date _________
Data KPI date _________

Populating the Template

  1. Choose two or three KPIs according to the maturity of your marketing program. Consider starting with top-of-funnel goals.
  2. Make sure you know how to collect this data! This is an important step that too often gets overlooked. If you need Google Analytics data, for example, make sure that you have the proper log-in access and know how to find the data you need.
  3. Discuss these KPIs with the rest of your marketing team, or the person who oversees your work, to make sure they’re in agreement.
  4. Add the KPIs to the tracker.
  5. Document your baselines for each metric. For example, if you choose ‘impressions on product demo page’ as a KPI, go into Google Search Console today and find the number of impressions for that page in the past month.
  6. Write down the date that you’ll review your KPI—we recommend choosing a date 3 months from today.
  7. Add a new column each time you review and document progress against your KPIs.

🏄‍♀️ 6: Measure Performance

Identify two or three KPIs you will track to gauge your content performance. Choose from our list of suggestions, or pick your own (just make sure you have the ability to measure them).

Next, document your baselines for each KPI and fill out the Performance Tracker Template.

Thankfully, that’s pretty easy when you have a predetermined list to choose from—and your template to keep track of them.

Head on over to your workbook to get crackin’.

What’s next?

Let’s make sure we’re keeping track of all the positive feedback we’ll get! Proceed to .

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