What is the Difference between Content Metrics and KPIs?

When we analyze some of the foundational concepts of communication, one of the core factors is the shared understanding of the definition of words. Misunderstandings happen every day between people who assume that all parties understand what a particular word means. Take, for example, the widely used marketing term, “campaign”. Not only does the dictionary provide multiple meanings for this word, but there are multiple other contexts of that word within the marketing world.

For an email marketer, a campaign typically refers to a single email that is being sent to a list. For someone working in demand generation, a campaign might be a larger initiative with many content assets developed to promote an eBook or industry report. Even marketing software companies (Divvy included) will have a specific, functional meaning for what a campaign entails.

They key point here is that a MAJOR RULE of clear communication is defining the terms you are using so that everyone in your audience is on the same page. So, today we’re talking about content metrics vs. KPIs – two terms that marketers throw around on a daily basis. Do we really know the difference between them, or do we say them mindlessly, thinking that they make us word nerds sound like numbers people?

Let’s dig in.

What Is a Content Metric?

One of the clearest definitions I’ve heard comes from Agency Analytics’ Agota Bialobzeskyte. She defines a content metric as “a category of quantifiable data.” In enterprise content marketing, these categories might include things like:

  • ROI
  • Web traffic
  • Conversion rates
  • Social shares

The key here is the word “category”. This is because a category of metrics includes many individual metrics that are all related. Take the web traffic category for example. Google Analytics provides many individual metrics that all revolve around reporting on the traffic that is coming to a website. Such metrics as sessions, pageviews, and traffic source are all part of that category.

What About KPIs?

KPIs are metrics that relate specifically to your company’s business goals. For example, your content marketing ROI is relevant to your company’s broader goals of driving revenue higher and cutting costs. Similarly, your conversion rate has a direct relationship with your content marketing ROI.

Strategic vs. Tactical Objectives

Dell’s Richard Hatheway unpacks the difference between these two sets of numbers: “KPIs are strategic and metrics are tactical.” In other words, using content marketing terms, KPIs are the numerical goals you want your content to achieve, while your metrics are the quantifiable components of the steps you take to achieve those goals.

Factor these definitions into your day-to-day content workflow. If you don’t relate your metrics to your departmental and corporate KPIs, you’re bound to fail. As Sun Tzu, an ancient military strategist put it, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” That goes double for enterprise content strategy, where you need to show your results every time you meet with the suits in the C-suite.

Define and Align

With that goal in mind, let’s look at ways to align your metrics with corporate KPIs, giving us the shortest route to victory. Choose metrics that support your KPIs, and your content marketing campaigns will help your company meet its overall goals.

Start with your C-suite

Since your company’s executives set your overall corporate goals, meet with them to learn what those goals are and the timeline for achieving them. List them in order of their priority. Get firm numbers on their KPIs so that you and your leadership team can see at a glance whether you’re on track for doing your part.

Translate your company’s numbers into departmental goals

Next, meet with your content leadership team to translate your company’s overall objectives into KPIs specific to content production. For instance, let’s say that one of your company’s overall goals is to increase revenue (duh!). If your current content analytics show a direct relationship between social shares and new paying customers, social shares might become one of your content KPIs.

Similarly, if a corporate KPI is to expand reach into the Canadian market by a given percentage, building brand awareness in that country might be a goal you should shoot for. Measure that brand awareness by the amount of web traffic on your static pages and blog posts coming directly from Canadian IP addresses. In addition, you might also monitor and measure the number of subscribers to your corporate newsletter that live in Canada.

These are obviously just fictional examples of a company’s KPIs. Yours will vary by your company’s goals.

But you’re not done yet. Break your KPIs down into the kinds of metrics that will drive those numbers upward.

Here’s how it breaks down in the above example:

  • Social shares: What metrics give rise to increased social shares? Do more paid blog post promotions cause a rise in social shares, or do informative blog posts on solving business problems cause an increase? Look at all the factors that impact social shares, set a numerical goal for each of those factors, and start measuring them.
  • Web traffic: What are the greatest drivers of your web traffic? Organic search and paid search? Are social shares a major factor? Set your goals and measure them going forward.
  • Newsletter subscribers: What situations cause a rise in newsletter subscriptions? Do you find that offering ebooks, white papers, or other resources results in a subscriber increase? Do clickthroughs to your blog from social media posts increase subscriptions? What kinds of blog posts tend to drive conversions?

Once you’ve uncovered the metrics that impact your departmental KPIs, content measurement comes into play. In addition to your KPIs, set your analytics tool to measure the internal metrics that drive your KPIs.

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Look through your past content for inspiration and repurposing

A thorough content audit can turn up content pieces that perform well for your target metrics and KPIs. Once you’ve identified them, use them as inspiration during the content planning process.

  • Take a fresh perspective on an ongoing issue: If industry changes have provided a better way to handle a problem common to your customers, update old content to reflect those changes. Or, present an alternate solution so that your audience can read both the older and newer pieces, and choose the solution that best fits their situation.
  • Repurpose past content in a new form: Pieces that have produced positive results with your designated KPIs and metrics can reach new audiences if you package them in new ways. Blog posts can become videos or podcast topics, or you can expand them into white papers and ebooks. Turn statistics from written pieces into infographics and then post them on social media. The only limit is your teams’ collective imagination.
  • Create new content around the same topic: If the topic still remains relevant, a new piece on the same topic can attract people who have joined your audience since you published the original content. According to a Databox survey, the percentage of new audience members visiting your blog is around 68 percent. Chances are, that topic will perform as well with them as it did with its original audience, so long as the topic is still relevant.
  • Update older content: When you have a piece of content that has performed well in the past, but it contains statistics or events that are no longer relevant, update it to reflect current developments. For example, a piece on adapting a business model to the changes the COVID-19 pandemic brought, could get a fresh coat of verbal paint as an article that shows how to adapt to any crisis.
  • Translate the content into a new language: If you’re entering a market in another nation, as in our example about a company entering the Canadian market, it pays to translate your posts into the language(s) spoken there. In Canada’s case, translating at least your most popular posts into Quebec’s native French, would be a wise move.
  • Update the wording to reflect current usage: Similarly, English-language content that has some age on it could probably use some revamping to reflect current terminology as new words enter your audience’s vocabulary. For example, an older post about infection reduction could probably use a facelift with the phrases “social distancing” and “mask up.”
  • Create content that addresses new customer concerns: As Adelle Revella points out, effective content “directly address[es] a question or concern that matters to your buyers.” If you discover that your past content gave short shrift to a common area of concern, shore up that area to see if you drive up shares and conversions.

Once you have a handle on the metrics vs. KPIs that you and your teams need to strive for, it simplifies everything else from planning to publication. It’s a lot easier to hit the mark if you have a well-outlined target – your teams’ metrics and KPIs.

To make content production and audits super-simple, you need a content marketing platform that allows you to plan, collaborate, create, edit, publish and analyze your content all in one place. That’s exactly what you’ll get with DivvyHQ.

It gets even better. You can try it for 14 days for FREE. Sign up for your company’s DivvyHQ trial today!