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How to set KPIs and Marketing Objectives

Discover the best way to set your marketing objectives for the new year.

Sophie Thompson
7th January 2022

A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a metric used to measure performance. Content marketing KPIs, therefore, measure the success from content marketing campaigns and initiatives to analyze how well that content is performing.

Content marketing reports should be bursting with relevant content marketing results, using KPIs to make sense of what’s actually going on. Reporting on the right marketing numbers and ensuring they are aligned to wider business goals is a key differentiator between marketing leaders and mainstream marketers. 52% of marketing leaders have full content marketing buy-in from their senior board, as opposed to only 29% of mainstream marketers.

The first challenge: Setting those objectives!

If you're new to setting KPIs or marketing objectives, knowing where to begin can be tough, but it's actually the best time to set your goals as you have complete freedom over what to measure, and can of course iterate them as you gain more visibility of their relevance.

Why should you care about KPIs?

ContentCal partnered up with London Research to survey over 1500 marketers and found that 39% of marketing leaders set KPIs and activity, based on overall business goals as part of their strategic content marketing plan.

According to our content marketing maturity model, brands that align marketing KPIs to wider business objectives are higher up on the maturity scale and well on their way to becoming leaders in their space.

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Let's break it down.

Marketing objectives: What do you want to achieve from your content marketing campaign or overall marketing?

KPIs: Metrics that show the success of a campaign/department. These can include top-of-funnel metrics such as reach, or those further down the marketing funnel such as advocacy. KPIs should be influenced by your overall marketing objectives and previous benchmarks.

There are three core groups of KPIs:

Social engagement: relating to how your content performs on social media On-site metrics: outlining how content causes a website visitor to behave e.g. bounce rate. Conversion metrics: looking at how content turns leads into sales.

Within these groups are more specific KPIs you could also use:

Unique visits: This is a blunt measure of the number of visitors to your website, and is a key feature of most analytics tools, including ContentCal Analytics. It enables you to see how many people are viewing a piece of content, a specific page, or the site in general. The aim is to see your audience grow over time and spend more time on the site, visiting more pages each time. You'll also be able to see the type of content that works best for you.

Page views: Closely related are page views. This KPI doesn’t just tell you how many unique visitors to a particular page or site you are getting. They tell you how many pages those visitors look at. This is a good measure of how engaging your content is. The more page views, the more engaged the audience is. If one of your objectives is to provide informative or authoritative content, then this KPI is an important one.

Social media engagement: There are various KPIs that can be used as measures of social media engagement. Firstly, there are those which relate to your whole platform, e.g. audience growth rate. You can then look at individual pieces of content and measure things such as amplification rate and virality rate which measure shares, and metrics such as post reach.

Time on site: Time on site is another good indicator of engagement and how well the piece of content is meeting the needs of the audience. If you’re meeting their needs, they will hang around longer. The average time on site is only 15 seconds, which is worth remembering when deciding the order of your content!

Bounce rate: Bounce rate is linked to time-on-page. It’s the indicator that reveals if users ‘bounce’ off a page almost immediately after landing on it. If a user bounces, it means that they came expecting one thing and were instantly disappointed and clicked off. If you have one page with a low bounce rate (good) and one with a high bounce rate (bad) it's worth comparing them to see how you can adjust the one that people are leaving - it could be something as simple as the title not matching the content.

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How to set KPIs

Once you've decided what you want to measure, it's also worth checking in with senior stakeholders and other department leaders who will have an interest in marketing success, if you can ensure that you're measuring and sharing information that will also be relevant and helpful to that group - your marketing buy-in will skyrocket.

The next step is deciding how to measure it - there are some key factors to think about:

  • What time period will you measure these metrics across?
  • What's a reasonable growth rate?
  • How are you going to achieve your desired result?

We're using the KPI of social media follower growth (attributing to the marketing objective of brand awareness) as an example.

Firstly, look back at your social media analytics from the last few months and work out an average growth rate you had during that time. If you're growing by an average of 15% each month, your benchmark for three months' time could be a further 50%. The extra 5% may seem daunting, but it's a great incentive to push harder, and if you weren't previously using KPIs, you've already managed an impressive 45% increase over three months without even being measured!

So, how will you achieve your further 50% growth in three months?

  • Trial and test new types of content
  • Look at what's performed well previously and push more of that out
  • See how you can work with other teams in the business to achieve that goal
  • Understand what's working well for your competitors and see if you can take a similar approach

Finally, communicate KPIs clearly to everyone concerned. It makes planning activity and collaboration far easier because you're all working towards the same goals. It might be worth having weekly check-ins with your team on how the performance is going, and how you can adapt your strategy to get there within the timeframe.

Once those three months are up and you've achieved (or not) your KPI, you can revisit it and adapt according to your business's current needs, or how much further you've managed to grow during that time.

Keep all of your results in one central location (such as ContentCal) so people across your team and the wider business can refer back - your senior leaders will be super impressed by your data drive approach and pro-active communication!

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