Now that you've picked the right content marketing tools, set up your content team structure and smoothed out your workflow, it's time to create a content marketing metrics dashboard that will serve as your command center. The days of creating content in the dark are about to be over.
Did you know that over 90% of all organizations now use some form of content marketing? It's no wonder: content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing and generates 3X more leads. Plus, 80% of consumers appreciate learning about brands through content.
But I don't have to tell you that. That's preaching to the choir.
You're a content marketer. You know that content delivers leads and pre-sells prospects.
The real problem is that content works in mysterious ways. It's notoriously hard to attribute conversions to content marketing since most blog readers don't convert on their first interaction with the brand. And as for sales calls, we often don't know how much content a prospect has read before getting on the phone with an account representative.
While some of these conversion attribution challenges aren't going away any time soon, one thing is for certain: not measuring your content marketing isn't the answer.
That's why we're covering everything you need to know about setting up a content marketing metrics dashboard you will actually use, regardless of your company size, your available IT resources, and your OKR-tracking prowess.
Table of contents:
- Why you need a content marketing metrics dashboard
- Intro to KPIs and OKRs
- What metrics to monitor
- Choosing the right platform
- Integrating multiple data sources in a single dashboard
- Setting up your content marketing metrics dashboard
- How often to review your metrics
- When to review & when to change your dashboard
Why you need a content marketing metrics dashboard
Let's make this crystal clear: if you don't have a process for tracking your content metrics, you will fall behind on monitoring your content marketing efforts, and you'll lack decision making insights.
Here are the problems with not having a dashboard:
- You won't check your metrics as often - Without an easy place to login and review your metrics, you might go weeks or even months before you check the success of your content
- You likely won't check the same metrics and measure the changes - A dashboard shows you the same metrics every time you log in. Without one, you might check things out randomly and you won't detect important trends as quickly or as easily.
- Reporting on metrics will be time-consuming - Every time you need to report on content marketing, you will need to login to multiple platforms and run multiple reports. You won't have a single dashboard to download one report from.
Obviously, setting up your content marketing metrics dashboard initially is going to require a small time commitment. But that investment will easily pay off in the long run.
Intro to KPIs and OKRs
(Feel free to skip this part if you used to spout these acronyms as a wee tot.)
Ready for some definitions?
A KPI is a measurement that stands for a key performance indicator.
An OKR is a goal-setting process that measures objectives and key results.
Now, let's all put our dictionaries away. Both units of measurement can essentially measure anything under the sun. A KPI could be the number of impressions for a blog post or the number of reads.
An OKR, however, gets a teensy bit more complicated because you have to tie what you are measuring to an objective and they also require that you set targets.
For example, an objective could be to increase brand awareness among content marketers. A key result might be 8 Twitter shout-outs per month from content marketers and 5,000 content impressions per month.
Inside of StoryChief or whichever content metrics dashboard you choose, you can review recent impressions and other stats for your stories. The number of impressions can be measured as a KPI, or as one key result as a part of a larger OKR.
What metrics to monitor
So what metrics should you monitor?
First, you need to establish target KPIs and OKRs for content by working together with your senior leadership team (maybe the VP of marketing, the CMO and/or the CEO). Once you know what larger goals you want to achieve (such as 100 free trial signups per quarter coming from content, for example), it can be easier to know what you should measure regularly.
That said, there are absolutely some things to measure that can help virtually every content marketing manager:
- Total social impressions for recent posts
- Total views for recent posts
- Total conversions for recent posts (email subscribers, free trial sign-ups, purchases, tc.)
- Number of social media shares for recent posts
- Changes in read time versus the previous time period
- Changes in bounce rate versus the previous time period
- Top 20 posts with the highest views
- Top 20 posts with the highest read time
- Top 20 posts with the highest conversions (email subscribers, free trial sign-ups, purchases, etc.)
- Top referring sites
- Number of active email subscribers versus the previous time period
Here's an example inside of Google Analytics of top pages based on time on the page. Many content marketers measure the number of views and impressions but forget about read time, which can provide a very different point of view into the best-performing content.
Pieces that have a high amount of engagement and low bounces can be used in other parts of your nurturing funnel, can be boosted on social media, and can also serve as inspiration for future content.
Choosing the right platform
All of those above metrics aren't going to be available in one place. That's why you need a single content marketing metrics dashboard to bring all of that data in one roof so you can check it in a snap.
We've selected the top dashboards for you, based on your needs and skill level.
Beginner option for solopreneurs: Sunrise KPI
Sunrise KPI is a super simple dashboard that is best for small business owners or marketers who have limited resources. You don't have the time to set up something complicated and you just want to get in the habit of reviewing your most important metrics. This platform is as pain-free as possible.
With Sunrise KPI, you can connect popular tools like Google Analytics, Instagram, ConvertKit, and Drip to instantly view your traffic, your following, and your subscribers. It's best features are its simplicity and the fact that you can measure change. Plus, they have a free version that lets you pull in 3 data sources.
Beginner option for content & editorial teams: StoryChief Analytics
If content is king and distribution is queen, then measuring performance is your kingdom! Stats are important so you can track your efforts and see what works best.
Total views, total impressions, average read time, total shares...these are the metrics of content and editorial teams' dreams.
Within the StoryChief report dashboard, you can check all the stats for each channel within any time-spanning of your choosing. Oh, and we made the reports printable and shareable so you can easily show the performance to your clients, colleagues or your manager.
Best of all, because StoryChief is a multichannel platform, you get to easily collect your content stats across every content marketing channel. When you use StoryChief for content publishing and promotion, then the metrics dashboard setup is instantaneous! Woo hoo!
Klipfolio is a really great product that is still very affordable for most businesses (even if there's no free version). The coolest thing about Klipfolio is all of the pre-made dashboards, including buyer's cycle web metrics, social media metrics, and the Google Analytics daily overview, which pulls reports from GA in a much more user-friendly way. Essentially, Klipfolio allows you to create really advanced dashboards almost automatically. You can use pre-made dashboards or link pre-made metrics to your own custom dashboard.
If you're ready to invest a little time and money into doing this right, we recommend Klipfolio, as you'll get insights that Sunrise KPI isn't built to provide.
Now onto our power users! If you're ready to set up a content marketing metrics dashboard that can do more than measure your efforts, then Tray.io is most likely the best choice for you. This platform can not only pull data from hundreds of sources, but it can also power your automation. You can add email subscribers to your CRM for manual follow up, segment leads based on company size and nurture them accordingly, and achieve tons of other automations, particularly between marketing and sales.
This is absolutely an enterprise-level solution. If you're working on improving your automated sequences, you can kill two birds with one stone by using Tray.io as your metrics dashboard and your API integration platform.
Integrating multiple data sources into a single dashboard
Fortunately, this part of the process should be relatively simple. Depending on how many systems you are integrating and which platform you choose, the integration step can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several days.
For most integrations, you'll need to just provide your login details. For some, like Google Analytics, you'll need to provide additional information, such as the View ID for the account.
With Zapier, you can pull in your metrics from StoryChief or a different email marketing tool if you don't use Drip, Mailchimp or Convertkit.
Because Tray.io works for automations and integrations across multiple departments (not just marketing), the product has a TON of "connectors." This is just the list for A's and B's. 😮
Setting up your content marketing metrics dashboard
With Sunrise KPI, the setup is as simple as the integration. Once that's done, you're done! Just login and review your metrics across all of the apps and systems you use for content marketing.
However, you might be setting something up that's a bit more insightful and complex, like the Klipfolio buyer's cycle web metrics dashboard.
When using one of their pre-made dashboards, the setup steps are:
- Link all apps and systems relevant to that dashboard (for content marketing, this is typically Google Analytics, all social media profiles, your email marketing tool, and conversion stats like number of demos or sales revenue)
- Customize the top and middle of funnel metrics, such as setting the measurement of engagement to time-on-page instead of social sharing
- Review conversion metrics and fix any errors - Are the units of measurement correct for what you're measuring? For example, if you're measuring the number of demo requests, you'll want to include view statistics for the demo request page, number of submitted forms, as well as the number of completed calls, if you can pull that number from sales.
When to review & when to change your dashboard
How often should you review your new dashboard? After you've just set it up, you should absolutely review it daily, and set up email notifications if possible.
Why daily in the beginning?
- You familiarize yourself with your new dashboard
- You establish benchmarks
- You notice elements of your dashboard that you want to improve
After a few weeks or a month of daily reviewing, you can taper down to a weekly review process.
Initially, you should make changes to your dashboard whenever you spot an issue. Even if you dedicate a few hours to the setup process, there will be some tweaking to make in those first couple weeks. Then, you should plan on making updates to it every quarter.
The final word? Your dashboard should always reflect your goals, and as we know, goals adapt and change over time.