February 16, 2016
Metrics that Matter
Thoughts on some measurements worth measuring

Thomas Jefferson once quipped: “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” Growing relationships and building a business with marketing may look like random luck, but in truth it requires the hard work and devotion Jefferson embodied. At the end of the day, delivering ROI isn’t like winning the lottery; it’s a matter of doing the daily work to ensure your messages are being heard and getting the response you’re hoping for. And that leads us to metrics.

So this week, we want to share some info on metrics that matter. While marketers recognize that ROI is the metric that matters most, we consistently measure other KPIs (key performance indicators) designed to track the health of campaigns as we drive towards ROI.

Here are some metrics marketers track to indicate whether or not digital marketing collateral is on track to grow relationships and deliver real ROI...

Readers/Unique visitors: Let’s start with the most basic of metrics, because it’s essential to know how many people you’re reaching.

But reader experience is even more telling. So we also track various metrics that illuminate behavior...

Total attention time and average attention time: Understanding whether or not your online assets are getting attention and, even more importantly, how much attention a piece of content is receiving, is a must. How much time did readers spend with a story, clicking or highlighting or scrolling? If a reader spends over three minutes with a story, there’s a 50% chance they’ll return again in the next week. That’s an early conversion indicator.

Repeat visitors: Reoccurring traffic is a very good thing — it means people find your site or story worthwhile enough to come back. You’re elevating your brand and growing relationships!

Engagement rate: Measuring what percentage of readers stay for at least 15 seconds is a great way to catch problems early. If the engagement rate is low, it’s probably due to poor design, a bad headline, a buried lead, perhaps a weak paid traffic source or simply an uninteresting topic. Time to revisit—that content won’t deliver ROI unless it’s fixed.

Bounce rate: If folks visit your site or landing page then jump right back out, without interacting, that’s a bad sign--your site needs more engaging content.

Average finish: What percentage of your readership finished the story? If most drop out in the first third, that’s a problem that needs attention. If most make it through the story, it’s probably a compelling piece that is successfully moving readers deeper into the sales funnel.

Social actions & newsletter subscribers: If people take action to share your content online or add themselves to your list, you’re getting brand lift and more leads from the content.

Conversions: Driving towards ROI requires converting visitors online. A conversion can be anything, including the subscribing or sharing mentioned above, but also requesting a sales call, downloading a doc, or completing any other action you want them to take.

Ultimately, as in traditional sales, you’re trying to convert folks to actions that lead them deeper down the sales funnel.

You need to understand what is driving a higher rate of return on investment in order to optimize future efforts, grow relationships, and build a successful business. The metrics outlined above are a great start in gaining this understanding.
Most B-2-B decision makers consume 8-12 pieces of a brand’s content before deciding to do business with the brand.

—The Grande Guide to B2B Content Marketing
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