After a long while cracking away at a content marketing campaign, it’s inevitable to wonder a few things.

Things like “Where are my weakest channels?” or “What can I do to increase conversions?” or “How can I improve content engagement?”

The easiest way to answer questions like that is through KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators, which are metrics that track various aspects of your content marketing strategy. Scrutinizing this data will help you figure out which parts of a strategy need tightening up, either to improve your ROI, boost your brand awareness, or simply determine what future goals you want to set for your company. For now, we’ll focus on content engagement.  

Here are some of the KPIs we use for measuring brand engagement in B2B brands:

Social Media Metrics

Social media analytics platforms offer a few quick and easy ways to measure content engagement. And while many B2B brands focus entirely on LinkedIn (an obvious choice for selling to other businesses), some B2B brands have visual-heavy products and services that still work well for Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms that are generally reserved for B2C brands.

Likes – While the number of likes on a post is a fairly high-level KPI, it can show you quickly and at a glance how popular one type of content is over another. If you consistently get more likes on videos than curated news links, you can easily gauge that video is a more engaging post type for that platform and revise your strategy accordingly.

Reactions – Facebook allows fans to post emoji-driven reactions to status updates and shared content, so while this isn’t a feature that’s heavily used by B2B brands, it’s still one that’s worth a look.

Shares – Shares is a much stronger showcase of social engagement for B2B brands, as content that is useful and very targeted will get shared more often. This KPI is great for looking at both Facebook and LinkedIn engagement, while similar KPIs for Twitter would be replies and retweets.

#Hashtag Usage – Hashtag usage on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can also give B2B brands a high-level view of how much and what types of conversations are going on around their brand and their products. Unless your B2B brand uses hashtags for specific product or service campaigns year round, this is something we see most B2B brands employ at conferences or in-person events, where they want to be able to quickly identify and engage with other attendees on the show floor.

Follower Count – Follower count isn’t a great metric for looking at engagement (especially with the proliferation of stories about fake followers). But it can still offer some basic insight into how well-known your brand is, and whether or not social awareness is growing or staying stagnant.  

Social may seem like a waste of time for B2B brands, but given that 79 percent of marketers said they saw increased traffic by investing in social media, there’s clearly a case for B2B social content. So if you don’t have a B2B social content strategy in place, it’s time to invest in one.

Email Marketing Metrics

Subscription numbers, open rates and CTRs (click through rates) can grant you a good amount of insight into how many people are engaging with newsletter content. Here’s how you should be using these KPIs.

Subscriptions  – A steadily growing subscriber count can tell you whether or not your email sign up efforts are working, but it doesn’t tell you much about how subscribers are engaging with your content. Aside from just looking at the average growth trend for subscribers, keep an eye on any abnormal dips or increases and try to tie them to an event. Did you see a large increase after a conference? If so, find more ways to boost email signups at in-person events. Was there a large unsubcribe after a specific newsletter? That could indicate that the email content wasn’t targeted well to the subscriber base, or that subscribers found it unhelpful or spammy.

Also, consider the number of images you use in emails; too many, and you may turn off readers. Also make certain emails appear correctly on mobile devices, which is how most people read them nowadays.

Open rate – Open rates aren’t the best KPI for engagement metrics, but they do tell you if your content topics and titles are hitting the mark with your current audience. Open rate standards can vary greatly between industries. For instance, customers who sign up for an e-commerce email newsletter are usually more motivated to open and click on potential products. For B2B companies that are using email marketing to point to thought leadership content or share company news, opens and clicks may be lower. According to MailChimp’s research, the overall average for open rates is 21%. But each industry is different, and they can range from 18% average open for pharmaceuticals to 26% for arts focused emails.

Click through rate (CTRs) – The same industry-dependent range comes into play when you’re talking about click through rates as well. The same MailChimp study says that the average email marketing campaign CTR is 2.6%, but that also varies widely when you’re talking about different industries and their target audiences. Marketing and Ad agencies get a dismal 1.7% CTR (I guess no one wants to hear what we have to say?), while media and publishing industries get a whopping 4.55% average CTR.

Website Traffic Metrics

Analyzing website traffic can be confusing if you’re not sure what KPIs are important to your company’s bottom line. But ultimately, if you aren’t looking at your website analytics (and you’d be surprised how many companies – even large ones – aren’t doing this), you are missing some very valuable insight into your audience’s behaviors that could help you create better content and engagement with prospects and current customers.

Bounce Rate – or the number of visitors who visit your site and then leave immediately after, could mean you’re losing eyeballs due to a poorly optimized user experience (or plain ugly design—ditch those flashing ad banners). Or it could mean that your site is well-optimized, but not providing the content that the user was expecting or needed. It could also mean that your content is great, but you’re targeting the entirely wrong keywords.

Unique Visitors – Unique visitors is a useful KPI, but not the be-all-end-all for measuring B2B brand engagement. What it can tell you is whether or not your content is moving in the right direction – ie being shared with more visitors, ranking better in organic search results, and generally moving in a steady, upward trajectory.

Referral Channels – Understanding which referral channels are sending visitors to your website and individual content pages can help brands tailor their content distribution strategy and increase B2B content engagement. Look at referral channels on a monthly basis to see where the majority of visitors are coming from, and then use that insight to see where you can leverage those referral relationships even more. For instance, if an industry publication is sending strong referral visitors, it might be worthwhile to consider advertising on their channel or submitting a more thorough op-ed that can further engage their audience.

New Visitors vs Returning Visitors – Along with referral channels and unique visitors, B2B brands should also closely monitor the percentage of new visitors versus returning visitors to see how often visitors are coming back. Ideally, if your content marketing is doing what it should be doing, you should see the overall numbers for new visitors and return visitors increasing month over month. This means that while the percentage of return visitors might generally stay on par month after month, the increase in overall traffic and new visitors is driving additional return visitors. Some companies, however, might be focused more on getting more engagement from their current web visitors, in which case overall traffic increases wouldn’t be as big of a focus, and seeing strong and consistent increases in the percentage of return visitors would be more important. Ultimately, it’s a balance of content exposure vs content engagement, and you want to see both of those numbers increase each month. What you don’t want to see is a decrease in returning visitors.

Time on Page – Time on page is an important metric because the more time someone spends on your site, the more time they’re spending reading your content, understanding your company’s services, and interacting with your brand. Time on page will vary depending on where visitors are landing when they arrive to your site (are they coming in through a blog post or straight to the home page?), but ultimately you want to make sure visitors are sticking around long enough to consume your content. And while time on page can vary depending on the type of site and the industry, if visitors are spending 10 seconds on a 1200 word blog post, you can pretty much deduce that your content is not resonating with your audience and should be revisited.

Content Pages per Visit – And finally, we get to content pages per visit. Which is sort of a given. It’s also a little bit of a hybrid that we created, since the more common KPI is “pages per visit”. But since we’re focusing on B2B content engagement, we want to focus on how many content-heavy pages visitors are spending time on, versus just product pages or Contact pages. When we say “content pages”, we mean educational static website content pages, individual blog posts, landing pages with white paper, ebook, or report downloads, etc. Obviously if visitors are visiting a few pages each time they come to your website, they’re spending time reading about your brand, getting to know your products and processes, or learning more about your industry, which is a good sign that your content is providing helpful, useful information that will ultimately drive their decision making.

Still confused about B2B content marketing and engagement KPIs? Need a few more answers? Then keep a lookout on this space for more articles about brand engagement and content marketing. Or if you want to talk about starting a content marketing campaign of your own, shoot us an email to get a conversation started.

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