One reason why content marketing continues to be so crucial to B2B success? The B2B buying cycle has gotten longer—a lot longer. A recent study found 74.6% of B2B sales to new customers take four months or longer to close. That’s a long time to nurture a lead.
When done well, content marketing allows prospects to guide their own journey by exploring topics and resources that matter to them.
The problem is, not all content marketing is effective, and many businesses get so caught up in creating content that they fail to track the content marketing metrics that actually help them see what works—and what doesn’t.
What Is B2B Content Marketing?
B2B content marketing can be defined as the strategy business to business marketers use for developing the breadth of assets and communication used to engage prospective buyers, customers, and stakeholders, associated with an organization’s business objectives. B2B content marketing goes beyond copy on a web page, and includes audio and video, social media communication, and the vast array of assets used for demand generation.
Importance of Tracking Content Marketing Metrics for B2B Marketers
The most important reason to track content marketing metrics is to understand what types of content your users actually respond to. Tracking metrics like traffic and engagement, provides insights into what topics and formats your prospects prefer.
But, tracking metrics can do a lot more than tell you what topics to cover in your content. Other benefits include:
- Understand what content high-revenue leads want, so you can increase lead quality, not just quantity.
- Track how SEO efforts impact your website, leads, and overall revenue.
- Better attribute ROI of campaigns by tracking how users navigate your site.
- Find areas for improvement, for example, if content is not bringing in leads or if traffic to a previously popular post has fallen, it might be time to revise it.
Tracking the right content marketing metrics provides a bird’s eye view of the success of your entire marketing strategy. But what metrics are the most important to track?
16 B2B Content Marketing Metrics To Track
If you’re not sure which B2B content marketing metrics to track, start with your goals and work backwards. For example, if your goal is brand building, then metrics related to SEO and engagement are more important than MQL to SQL conversions.
Let’s look at the most important B2B content marketing metrics and how to track them.
On-page optimization and website SEO helps your content show up for relevant searches. But is it working? These metrics will show you whether or not your SEO strategy is driving traffic.
- Search ranking: This metric tells you where specific pages land in the search results for important keywords. Use an SEO tool like Ahrefs to track it.
- Backlinks: The number of external sites that link to your content is a major ranking factor. Track backlinks using Moz’s Link Explorer.
- Traffic: Overall traffic to your website helps you see if users are finding your website. You can also drill down to see traffic to specific pieces of content. Find this metric in Google Analytics.
- Traffic sources: See how SEO and paid campaigns impact traffic by paying attention to how users find your content. View traffic source in Google Analytics under Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium.
Engagement is one of the most essential B2B content marketing metrics to track. According to B2B Content Marketing Insights for 2022 from Content Marketing Institute, website engagement offers the most insights into B2B Content Marketing Performance.
To track engagement, pay attention to metrics like:
5. Social shares / mentions / comments: Tracking Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn comments, reactions, and mentions will show what content people like on social media. Use each platform’s insight dashboard to see what content drives the most engagement.
6. Time on page: This metric tells you whether or not people are actually consuming your content. Track time on page in Google Analytics under Behavior > Site Content > All Pages > Avg. Time On Page.
7. Engagement rate: You can also calculate your own engagement rate by dividing your total site traffic by the content a specific page gets, then multiplying it by 100. This is how most social platforms calculate engagement rates, but it works for website traffic as well.
Lead generation is one of the top goals of B2B content marketing. How do you tell if your content is improving your lead gen process or holding it back? You need to track the top lead generation metrics:
- Quality of leads: The quality of leads matters more than the quantity, so make sure to track how many leads you get are well qualified. This can be tracked in sales or lead generation software, such as HubSpot.
- Number of leads: Although quality of leads is more important, you’ll still want to track the number of leads you get. This metric might include tracking form fills, demo sign-ups, email registrations, or downloads.
- MQL to SQL: This is another way to track quality of leads. How many marketing qualified leads turn into sales qualified leads? If a large percentage of leads don’t move from MQL to SQL, you might need to rethink your content strategy.
Conversions / Direct Sales
Content marketing impacts the entire sales funnel—which means you should be tracking conversions as well. But not just direct conversions. Keep an eye on these other metrics that impact conversion rates in B2B, such as:
- Return Rate: How often do users return your products or try to cut a contract short? High return rate could mean your content (such as product pages) aren’t accurately explaining benefits or features. This metric is generally tracked in ecommerce platforms.
- Retention vs Churn: What rate do customers stay on or leave your company? These metrics are essential for SaaS, but can impact ecommerce as well. If churn rates are high, look for ways content can offer more support and resources. Track this metric in your ecommerce platform.
- Returning Visitors: How often do the same visitors return to your site? This will tell you whether or not users find your content useful. View this data in Google Analytics under Audience > Behavior > New vs Returning.
Email Marketing Metrics
Email subscribers tend to be more engaged—and closer to conversion. Which means tracking the impact of your email marketing is crucial to making sure your content marketing strategy is actually working.
Beyond tracking the number of subscribers, keep an eye on metrics like:
- Open Rate: How often do users open your emails? If open rates go down, try testing new titles or cleaning up your email list.
- CTR: Click-through rate tells you how many people read your content and then want to learn more. Whether you’re sharing blog posts or products, pay attention to what content earns more clicks.
- Unsubscribe rate: How many people unsubscribe from your emails a week or per campaign? Pay special attention to the type of messages you send before an uptick. Keep in mind that not all unsubscribes are bad—it can save you from wasting time on someone who won’t covert. If your email tracking allows you to see why users unsubscribed, pay attention to the reasons given and see if there are trends.
Email metrics are tracked in your email marketing platform of choice.
How B2B Marketers Can Improve Content Marketing Metrics
Tracking metrics is the first step to improving B2B content marketing performance. When you see metrics sliding or if content isn’t impacting conversions the way you’d hoped, it’s time to take action. Here are a few tips to improve your content marketing metrics.
Optimize Your Blog for SEO
Optimizing for Google’s algorithm is one of the most effective ways to improve traffic, engagement, and conversions. Have an SEO audit performed on your site, then look for ways to optimize pages by adding keywords to headings, editing for flow, and including internal links. This HubSpot guide is a fantastic resource for improving on-page SEO.
Search for Keyword Gaps and Fill Them
Even if you have a ton of content, there’s a good chance your users have questions you aren’t answering. Generate a new keyword list, paying special attention to those with high search volume and low competition. Look at “People also Ask” questions in Google for long-tail keyword ideas as well.
Create detailed content that covers these important topics, then use social and email to reach a wider base.
Leverage Visual Content
Visual content earns more engagement than any other type of content, yet many B2B marketers shy away from it. Test new visual content formats, such as charts and graphs, user-generated content, and micro-infographic to grab attention and engage your audience.
Perform a Content Audit
A content audit takes a deep look at the content you have to see what’s working—and what doesn’t. This looks at every piece of content, from blog posts to landing pages, to see what steps you need to take to improve your content marketing metrics. Start by outlining your overall goals, then pull an inventory of content. Analyze metrics and make recommendations for improving lack-luster content. Then, outline an improvement plan.
Final Thoughts on Tracking B2B Content Marketing Metrics
Tracking your content marketing metrics is crucial to understanding what works and what doesn’t for your specific audience. While there are plenty of content marketing tips and best practices, only data from your site can tell you which strategies are most effective.
Want to learn more about how to measure content marketing effectiveness? Check out our study with Ascend2 Measuring Content Marketing Performance: A B2B Marketer’s Perspective.