Sometimes, you want to eat dessert first.

Wait – who are we kidding? Eating dessert first always sounds like a good idea! Double chocolate cake with creamy peanut butter icing, please! But, if you’re always rushing to get to the good stuff, you’ll miss out on the healthier – and some would say, just as delicious – main course.

The same applies to content marketing and measuring key performance indicators (KPIs). How is that, you wonder? How is skipping the meal and heading right for dessert even remotely similar to content marketing and KPIs?

Let’s discuss eating dessert first (and the basic things you should know about measuring KPIs).

Perhaps one reason that hunk of double chocolate cake is so wonderful is because you know it’s coming at the end of the meal. Sometimes you even “save room” for it. Essentially, you plan for it.

TIP: Planning ahead is the first key ingredient for measuring KPIs.

When it comes to content marketing and measuring KPIs, the first thing you need to know is your audience. What do they want? What do they like?

Then, you can plan your strategy and set a program in motion. In other words, if your target audience doesn’t even like cake, you better plan on serving pie.

According to one study by the Content Marketing Institute, just 37% of companies have a clearly defined content marketing strategy. Is your company one of them? When you don’t plan ahead and develop a clearly defined strategy, you waste time and resources, and you don’t achieve your goals.

Starting with a well thought out plan can help you determine how you measure KPIs.

TIP: Deciding what and how to measure are the next key ingredients for measuring KPIs.

Since what and how you measure depends on your goals, you can use this formula to help you: Problem + Goal + Approach = KPI

Here’s an example:

Problem: People are leaving your site too quickly (bounce rate)

Goal: Get people to visit other pages on your site (decrease bounce rate; increase pages per visit)

Approach: Publish content your target audience wants or needs

In this scenario, you want to determine bounce rate, because the problem is that people are leaving your site too quickly and you need to understand why. Bounce rate calculates two clicks: when someone visits a page on your site (click one), then leaves the site from the same page (click two). That’s considered a “bounce” because they jumped in, then jumped right back out instead of visiting other pages on your site.

Ask yourself why this is happening. Do you need to change your strategy?

Since your goal is to decrease bounce rates and increase page visits, you can determine the best approach to doing that. If you decide it’s because you need to publish more valuable content, then you can create a content marketing plan to achieve those results.

Finally, you can measure those results by observing bounce rates and number of pages per visit. See how it’s all connected? Your measurable KPIs in this case are bounce rates and pages per visit. That little formula works pretty well, huh?

TIP: Measure often. Measure long-term.

These key ingredients of planning ahead, and determining your problem, your goal, and your approach, all help you track and analyze KPIs. For the best results, monitor these KPIs on a regular basis and revisit your goals periodically to make sure you are focused on an effective approach to solving your problem and achieving specific goals.

I know, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when measuring your content marketing efforts.

But it’s important to do so, because without KPIs, you could potentially be publishing blogs, or sending email campaigns, and putting content on social media to no avail, or worse – publishing content that is actually working against you. That’s not good for any business.

Taking some time to plan and set clearly defined goals will help you understand which of your marketing efforts performed well, and which did not. Once you understand what works and what doesn’t, you can do more (or less) of it. Then, think about measuring KPIs as a long-distance race instead of a sprint to the finish.

Besides, after eating all that chocolate cake, nobody’s sprinting anywhere.

If all this planning, strategizing, creating valuable marketing content for your target audience, and measuring KPIs still seems a bit overwhelming, we can help. Come say hi to learn more.

We’ve been doing all these things (and more!) for the past 11 years, to help businesses just like yours get measurable results.