Now that you’ve set your goals, it’s time to determine the KPIs you need to evaluate whether your content actually hits those goals. There’s no single magic metric that will give you a complete picture of your content success, but a combination of benchmarks can be useful to assess performance. Here’s a guide for choosing the right KPIs according to your goals:
Founder and CEO Clay Collins knew they had to be scrappy to be able to compete against VC-funded giants like Hubspot and Infusionsoft, given LeadPages were a bootstrapped company since inception. Instead of spending $10,000 on customer acquisition as some of their competitors did, Collins developed a growth hypothesis based on the idea that “a content team of four people could outperform an 80+ person sales team at most companies.”

First Round Review, the branded publication from venture capital firm First Round Capital, has made a name for itself with exceptional long-form content. With a captive audience of startup founders and business leaders, its content addresses common pain points and shares in-depth strategies from successful executives. The content hub is comprised of nine digital magazines that zone in on a specific aspect of business growth, from product to engineering to fundraising.
Content marketing is an umbrella term. This means that it can be used for numerous reasons and can mean many things to many people. It’s less tangible than search engine marketing, for instance. This is exactly the reason why you need to think about the strategic role of content marketing within your organization and its ecosystem. Without a content marketing strategy, you risk focusing on the content – and content strategy – too much and not seeing the overall goals anymore. In fact, this is one of the most crucial and deadly mistakes in content marketing. Unfortunately, this disconnected view on content marketing happens very often and leads to a focus on the wrong things.
A content marketer’s work is never done. We’re constantly updating and optimizing our strategies based on our latest learnings, observations, insights, and technology. At NewsCred, this is one of the reasons we find our work so exciting. We’ve been in business for nearly a decade and it’s been gratifying and fascinating to evolve with the space. In keeping with our annual tradition, we’ve taken a look at the state of the content marketing industry, plus our strategy and learnings, and put together a case study on ourselves. Here, our best practices for using content to drive business results.
If you’ve ever seen a growth marketer on the heels of a successful optimization experiment, you know that her energy is electric. Unbounce, a landing page software company based in Vancouver, understands that excitement and decided to leverage it to create an engaging microsite, Page Fights, in collaboration with optimization company Conversion XL.
The purpose of content marketing is to show customers how your product or service can be used in their lives. Think about a time that you visited the website of your favorite clothing store and saw an article or blog post that listed the current trends. Did you notice that many of the items mentioned were available for purchase on their website? This is one example of how a company would use content marketing.
Xerox is the world’s leading photocopying company. While that sounds like something to brag about, it has, ironically, created some branding problems for the company. Since Xerox is so widely known for its photocopiers, many customers don’t know anything about its other services, such as IT outsourcing. Xerox solved this problem by rebranding itself with content, which played a huge role in boosting business in its other verticals.
7. New York Times: Journalism virtual reality. If you’ve followed journalism at all over the past five or ten years, you know the news industry is constantly looking to revolutionize itself to stay relevant and, of course, profitable. (Watch the movie Page One if this interests you.) NYT experimented with virtual reality (VR) in 2015, launching an app you can use on Google cardboard (ideally) or your smartphone. The app fully immerses you in news stories like never before. I recommend you check it out and ponder the implications for all-immersive content marketing in 2016.
28. Home Depot: Spreading seasonal knowledge. Home Depot shares excellent content year-round, but I especially admire how their content is hyper-focused on what’s top-of-mind for customers in the changing seasons. Energy-efficiency during the holidays, selecting a Christmas tree, and how to create a wreath were all recent articles as I wrote this post in late December. To ensure timeliness, Home Depot is always thinking ahead to the next few seasons and anticipating customers’ future needs — a great reminder for all brands who create content.
We believe one of the causes for content marketing’s lack of effectiveness is because everyone means something different when talking about it. There are so many different definitions going around people are bound to miscommunicate. If you don’t agree on what “content marketing” means for your organization, it is impossible to agree on whether it was effective or not.
Live Person is an online voice and chat solutions provider that also uses content marketing to connect with new customers. The company is currently pioneering the realm of digital engagement, which is helping them to rapidly grow their brand. Their new technology has also inspired some remarkably innovative content, which is accelerating their growth even further.
During the baby boom era, Kellogg’s began selling sugary cereal to children. With this change in business model came sociable animal mascots, lively animated commercials and the back of the cereal box as a form of targeted content marketing. Infographics were born in this era. This represented a new approach to make a brand memorable with the audience.
The supply chain of digital content marketing mainly consists of commercial stakeholders and end-user stakeholders which represent content providers and distributors and customers separately.[37] In this process, distributors manage the interface between the publisher and the consumer, then distributors could identify the content that consumers need through external channels and implement marketing strategies. For instance, Library and document supply agencies as intermediaries can deliver the digital content of e-books, and e-journal articles to the users according to their search results through the electronic channels. Another example is when consumers pay for the acquisition of some MP3 downloads, search engines can be used to identify different music providers and smart agents can be used by consumers to search for multiple music provider sites. In a word, the digital content marketing process needs to be conducted at the business level and service experience level because when consumers are accessing digital content, their own experience depends on the complex network of relationships in the content marketing channels such as websites and videos. The consumers interact directly with distributors in the big supply chain through various digital products which have an important role in meeting the requirements of the consumers. The design and user experience of these channels directly decides the success of digital content marketing.[28]
Now that you understand your main audience, place yourself in their shoes. What are they searching for when they need your product or service? Make a list of basic keywords surrounding your brand, as well as any variations (‘New York painters’ and ‘New York painting,’ for example.) You know your niche well, so draw from all possible terms used for what you have to offer. Once you have these keywords, integrate them into your content. There are a few reasons why:
The Burberry Kisses campaign was a fun and innovative idea that consumers took to. It captured their audience’s love of mobile technology and interactive experiences to deliver a unique content marketing campaign. By appealing to the audience’s emotions and desire to connect, they captured their target consumers’ attention, making sure that the Burberry brand would be in the back of their mind next time they wanted to purchase cosmetics.
"From a marketing standpoint and strategy, it is absolutely a content-first one…We want people to learn and engage through storytelling – and branded content is a big piece of that, both from the original branded content that we are creating, and the ones where we are partnering with publishers to do it in a native format," says Liz Matthews, Senior Vice President of Global Brand and Creative at Dell Technologies.
9. For Dummies: The ubiquitous yellow books go B2B. The For Dummies brand is recognized the world over, so Wiley’s marketers and product team capitalized on that with a new content marketing venture. Dummies’ B2B offering gives companies the chance to craft their own branded Dummies content, and from the looks of the case studies, it seems to be working. For example, Glassdoor used the Dummies solution to create a custom “Employer Branding For Dummies” piece.

Web hosting is one of the most competitive sectors in the technology industry. There are hundreds of companies trying to reach the same customers, many of whom aren’t that tech-savvy. Not only that, many compete on price, rather than features or quality. Competing on price lowers the margins of the industry as a whole and makes the competition play hard in acquiring each customer.


Electronic services refer to interactive network services.[38] In the electronic service, the interaction between the customer and the organizations mainly through the network technology, such as using E-mail, telephone, online chat windows for communication. Electronic services are different from traditional services and they are not affected by distance restrictions and opening hours. Digital content marketing through electronic service is usually served together with other channels to achieve marketing purposes including face-to-face, postal, and other remote services. Information companies provide different messages and documents to customers who use multiple search engines on different sites and set up access rights for business groups. These are some channels of digital content marketing.[28]
7. New York Times: Journalism virtual reality. If you’ve followed journalism at all over the past five or ten years, you know the news industry is constantly looking to revolutionize itself to stay relevant and, of course, profitable. (Watch the movie Page One if this interests you.) NYT experimented with virtual reality (VR) in 2015, launching an app you can use on Google cardboard (ideally) or your smartphone. The app fully immerses you in news stories like never before. I recommend you check it out and ponder the implications for all-immersive content marketing in 2016.
Deloitte is a professional services company specializing in consulting, tech, auditing, and more. It works with a massive cross-section of industries, from government agencies to life sciences -- and that broad range of knowledge is a major selling point. That’s why creating informed, useful content for individual, specialized audiences is core to its marketing strategy.
If you thought a company like Twitter doesn’t need content marketing, think again. The social media giant has been building up its Twitter Business Outlook blog with original and licensed content centered on how-tos and best practices for advertising on the platform. After all, while countless other websites and agencies counsel on how to tweet to your fullest potential, where better to hear it than straight from the source?
James tells stories for a living. Sometimes they are true. Always they are crafted to help brands delight, educate and funny-bone-tickle their audiences into coming back for more. He’s super passionate (read: obsessive) about ecommerce content marketing. James is dedicated to teaching ecommerce brands how to create their own repeat-customer-generating media empire. Keep an eye out for his online ramblings - you can expect a generous helping of lightbulb moments and cheeky guffaws.
Traditional marketers have long used content to disseminate information about a brand and build a brand's reputation. Taking advantage of technological advances in transportation and communication, business owners started to apply content marketing techniques in the late 19th century. They also attempted to build connections with their customers. For example:

Identify where target audiences are spending their time online, and where relevant conversations are already taking place. For retail companies, maybe it’s Instagram and Pinterest. For B2B, it might be Twitter and LinkedIn. Instead of wasting time and resources on social media that won’t deliver, focus on the right channels with the biggest payoffs...
"In the past, we tried to serve all target audiences through content marketing, from investors to journalists, employees, and potential candidates," says Frank Thomas, Adidas’ Director of Content Strategy and Content Marketing, in NewsCred Insights. "But we realized we were all over the place. We rethought the entire setup and who we needed to address, and decided it is the employees, potential candidates, and, in general, like-minded people who can become advocates for the brand."
Webpages. What’s the difference between a normal webpage and a webpage that is content marketing? Consider The Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz, a provider of SEO related tools and resources. This resource, offered for free, has been viewed millions of times, bringing in countless customers who otherwise might never have stumbled across Moz and the services they offer. Or take a look at a case study from the design firm Teehan+Lax. Most case studies are boring. Their case studies are fascinating. That’s the difference between simply putting content on your website, and content marketing.
Post consistently. Just like with your blog, it isn’t enough to post a few sporadic tweets, nor do you want to blast followers with a bunch of posts all at once. Post consistently and at effective times. We’ve found that posting early in the morning or after 5 p.m. earns the most engagement, but you can play around with timing to see what’s best for you and your audience.
While this is certainly the case (and no one ever claimed content marketing was now) and while Joe Pulizzi picked the term ‘content marketing’ among several others he launched, deciding to use the term that worked best, the definition debate overlooked what distinguished content marketing – no matter how it can be called tomorrow. One of the pioneers in content marketing, Doug Kessler, expressed this very well in an interview.
While the goal on social media sites like Instagram or Snapchat is to connect more intimately with your audience, your goal on platforms like Facebook and Twitter is to expand that audience, drive traffic toward your website, and start conversations in your industry. Do some basic market research to discover which platforms your buyers are on, and mold your content to their expectations.
Identify where target audiences are spending their time online, and where relevant conversations are already taking place. For retail companies, maybe it’s Instagram and Pinterest. For B2B, it might be Twitter and LinkedIn. Instead of wasting time and resources on social media that won’t deliver, focus on the right channels with the biggest payoffs...
"The other guy is doing it" seems like a terrible rationale, except that showing off the shares and attention a competitor is getting for their content can really help prove your point with someone who still doesn't see the value in content marketing. Just be ready for what sometimes comes next - "Do exactly what they're doing" - which is not the way to win at content marketing.
If you choose the content marketing approach, you could create a blog post or video that showcases the product and its various functions. Content marketing takes a more organic approach to reach customers and is created to showcase how the product, business or service can be useful. It gives the consumer the power, and ultimately the choice, to purchase. Examples of content marketing include:

19. American Express: Departures. Departures is a content brand that encompasses travel, fashion, shopping, arts, and culture advice for American Express cardholders. It’s available in both print and digital formats. I personally enjoy receiving the print version every season; it’s a photogenic taste of what’s of the moment around the world, and it gives me aspirational ideas of where I’d like to visit.
How will we structure the internal organization – or better: how will we make sure that all content marketing related processes and flows are properly organized, in correlation with other marketing processes and/or teams? Often, content marketing thinkers advice to build teams that are more or less dedicated to content marketing. In practice, this seldom happens (except in some major firms) and teams better focus on the tasks and goals than the exact roles, realizing each company is different.
To make sure content (yep, even that top-of-funnel stuff) gets the credit it deserves, use multichannel tracking (also called attribution modeling). That's a way to set up your analytics platform so it allocates a part of each conversion to each of the channels touched by the customer on their happy path to conversion. For example, at Moz, we find the average relationship has seven to eight customer touchpoints before conversion.

Big, consumer-focused brands aren’t the only ones providing great inspiration in the form of best content marketing examples. The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a non-profit organization that puts together unique and special experiences for children who suffer from life-threatening conditions like cancer. Even non-profit organizations have to promote their work in compelling ways to get the attention of donors, volunteers, and other individuals who can support their cause.
Acorns Investment is a popular investing app that helps you round-up your spare change from debit card purchases and invest these small amounts of money over time. This approach to investing is ideal for anyone who doesn’t feel like they have enough money or time to invest, but they still want to be work toward building wealth. Their blog called Grow from Acorns, is just of the best content marketing examples of an effective blog.

To maximize the visibility into and reporting of ROI, every deliverable must be tracked from conception to creation to conversion. From there, you’re able to assign a specific dollar amount to each line of copy and every strategic decision. In this sense, executives will likely be grading content marketing on granularity: They need more data, more details and more reason to further invest in future campaigns.


"Our ambition is fairly massive," says Jay Curley, now Ben & Jerry’s Global Head of Integrated Marketing, in New York Magazine. "We're trying to create a new model for how businesses can use their voice to have an impact on important social movements, and show that you can do that and it doesn’t hurt your business. As a matter of fact, it may help."
When you begin to brainstorm and map out ideas for content, ask yourself, “Do I really understand my audience?” If you have any doubts as to how the idea will benefit or be useful to your audience, the answer might be “no” -- and that’s okay. Like everything else, audiences (and people) evolve, so it’s okay to go back to the drawing board in instances like these for a refresh.
19. American Express: Departures. Departures is a content brand that encompasses travel, fashion, shopping, arts, and culture advice for American Express cardholders. It’s available in both print and digital formats. I personally enjoy receiving the print version every season; it’s a photogenic taste of what’s of the moment around the world, and it gives me aspirational ideas of where I’d like to visit.
You may want to be super-professional, very casual, or something in between. And you’ll have to manage the balance between showing your expertise and not patronising your audience. Here’s Sprout Social’s advice on creating consistency with your brand voice, and keep in mind important SEO ranking factors to optimize your content. Take a look at these successful content marketing examples for inspiration.
According to Content Marketing Institute, 65 percent of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy. A simple content marketing assessment can help companies identify their primary goal and design a successful content strategy to meet it. As strategy becomes more important, companies will need the right tools to align priorities and document their plans.
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