July 22, 2017

Measure and Optimize Your Content Marketing Performance

The obstacle in front of most large, or mature companies of any size when it comes to digital and content marketing, is the battle with status quo. From strategy to tactics and especially measurement, change is often seen as interruptive and risky vs. adaptive. But without adaptation, we can hardly evolve, can we?

As Tom Fishburne implies in the cartoon above, change isn’t risky, safe is risky.

Companies evolving from Stasis to Production and into Utility and Storytelling modes ofcontent marketing maturity begin to broaden the scope of what business goals content can deliver for a company.

Because content touches all aspects of business communications, measurement amongst channels, between departments and across target audiences can get complex and even confusing. Part of my job is to simplify the explanation of the chaos that is digital and content marketing, so our readers that are in the midst of evolving their content marketing efforts from quantity to quality to creating better content experiences, might appreciate an easy to understand and impactful mode for keeping content marketing accountable and measurable.

Heck, if Justin Cutroni, Analytics Evangelist at Google, likes it, it must be good right?

Usually with content marketing, you get goals and measurement lists like this:


  • Brand awareness
  • Engagement
  • Lead Generation
  • Lead Nurturing
  • Sales
  • Customer Retention & Loyalty
  • Customer Evangelism
  • Upsell and Cross-Sell


  • Benchmark lift of company awareness
  • Benchmark lift of product/service awareness
  • Cost savings
  • Higher conversion rates
  • Inbound links
  • Customer renewal rates
  • Qualitative feedback from customers
  • Sales
  • Sales lead quality (e.g., sales accepted leads)
  • Sales lead quantity
  • SEO ranking
  • Subscriber growth
  • Time spent on website
  • Website traffic

These are great and certainly better than not know exactly what you’re trying to achieve with content marketing efforts beyond just making more content to see what sticks. The thing about lists like those above is that they are not really organized according to the experience most companies are trying to create in combination with how buyers discover, consume and act on digital content.

It’s not really a right or wrong thing, but I think organizing measurement closer to the activities that best represent buyer and brand interactions through content will help us better measure content performance, but also to keep content accountable and especially to reveal performance indicators that allow us to optimize performance at any given time.

Attract Engage Convert - TopRank Marketing

That model is Attract, Engage Convert. It’s like a simplified sales cycle really, because there are three essential questions that need to be answered whenever content is created with marketing intentions.

  1. How will our marketing attract the right audience, right time, right place?
  2. How will we engage members of that audience with the right message, right types of content, media, channels and devices as well as to interact and share?
  3. How will we convert engaged members of that audience to the next stage in the buying cycle, to a lead, a customer, an advocate?

I believe the simple answer is by organizing content marketing programs to be accountable through an Attract, Engage, Convert model.

Attract: Any discovery touchpoint: search ranking, search referred traffic, social mentions, topic affinity with social references (concur + expense software or just “concur”), social referred traffic, direct link traffic, mentions on blogs, mentions on media, share of voice for target topics on search and social.

Engage: Content consumption & interaction: page views, media views (image, video, audio), content of a certain type viewed, views of content segmented by topic, number of pages viewed, time on site, return visitors, comments on blog posts, social shares.

Convert: Subscriptions, Sign ups, trials, inquiries – any micro conversion or explicit conversion involving a form that captures information.

By organizing measurement of content marketing performance in this way, there’s a level of accountability and increased contribution that emerges – things that often get lost with content marketing operations with numerous moving parts, stakeholders and objectives.

How are you organizing your content marketing performance? How far have you evolved through the content marketing maturity model?

Content Marketing Maturity

TopRank’s Content Marketing Maturity Model


About Lee Odden 41 Articles
Lee Odden is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a provider of innovative Internet marketing consulting for progressive B2B companies ranging from Marketo to PRWeb to McKesson. Odden has been recognized for his expertise with enterprise social media, SEO and content marketing strategies by The Economist, Advertising Age and Mashable. He writes a monthly column called Social Media Smarts for ClickZ and his blog at TopRankBlog.com has an active community with over 46,000 subscribers, 12,000 Facebook Fans and has been rated the #1 Content Marketing blog 3 times by Junta42. He is also the Author of "Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing" published by Wiley.