How to Choose the Right Metrics For Your Content Distribution Strategy

by Katy French

Your marketing team puts a ton of work into creating great content, and it’s your job to make sure that content makes an impact. But how do you know it’s succeeding? How do you know your owned, earned, and paid strategies are working? One word: metrics.

Metrics are meant to help you connect the dots, track your success, and identify opportunities for improvement. Unfortunately, while many marketers are tracking metrics, they aren’t tracking the right ones. (And some aren’t tracking them at all—but we won’t go there.) That said, we know it can be tough to figure out which metrics matter most.

With so much data available, you can easily spend more time reporting than doing your job. But more data doesn’t necessarily mean more insight, so it’s in everyone’s interest to focus on what’s truly valuable. Luckily, we’re here to bring you clarity.

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How to Choose the Best Metrics for Your Content Distribution Strategy

Try this simple guide to choose the metrics that will make the most impact—and set your team up for success from the get go.

A note before we dive in, though. There is often confusion surrounding the terms KPI, metric, and benchmark. These are distinct elements, but they are all related to each other.  

  • KPI: Key Performance Indicators are used to measure success related to a business goal (e.g., an increase in revenue, click-through rate, cost per click, cost per impression).
  • Benchmark: A benchmark is a quantifiable reference point to compare your performance to others (e.g., your competition, industry, etc.) or to your previous performance. For example, a benchmark might be a 1.25% click-through rate (CTR) or getting your cost per click (CPC) below $2.00.
  • Metrics: A metric is a quantifiable measurement to track some aspect of your business (e.g., e-book downloads, number of followers gained last month), related to your KPI.

So, let’s say you want to gain more brand awareness in your industry by running some ads on social media. You would set a KPI of cost per impression (CPM) and use metrics like amount spent and total impressions to track it.

1) Consider Metrics from the Start

One of the most common mistakes content marketing teams make is thinking about content distribution and related metrics once content is already created (and sometimes distributed). This can cause trouble for several reasons.

  • Content may not be well-suited for certain channels. Some content types are better suited for certain platforms. For example, Instagram is great for video, whereas links are easier to share via Facebook. Channel doesn’t always dictate content, but it can affect a campaign’s success if the two aren’t compatible.
  • Teams need to know what “success” looks like before they distribute content. If you don’t have the right metrics, you won’t be able to know if your content is working, or how to improve in the future.
  • Tracking tools need to be ready to go at launch. There’s nothing more frustrating than missing out on tracking due to an unforeseen glitch. We recommend always heading to a platform’s help center (e.g., Facebook Ads Help Center or LinkedIn Ad Center) for the most up-to-date instructions on setting up tracking or conversion pixels.  

Before you dive into content, have a conversation about what you’ll be tracking and why (which we’ll cover in step 2), as well as how you plan to track it.

(Tip: You might also pre-coordinate your content distribution by teaming with an existing publication. For more on that, check out our guide to create publication-tailored content.)

2) Track and Report the Metrics That Support Your KPIs

This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole or get sidetracked by some new or novel data. To make sure you’re setting yourself up for success, identify your goals and designate your related KPIs beforehand. That way you know your metrics will give you the insight you need.

A few of the most common metrics for each stage of the buyer’s journey:


  • Reach:
    • Impressions
    • Views
    • Publication pickup
    • Social content metrics
    • Organic traffic (SEO)
  • Perception:
    • Brand indexes/surveys
    • Social sentiment


  • Engagement:
    • Traffic
    • Time on site
    • Lead gen rate
    • Leads (not yet qualified)


  • Conversions:
    • Leads
    • Qualified leads
      • MQLs
      • SALs


  • Satisfaction and advocacy:
    • Product usage
    • Customer review scores
    • Product registrations
    • Account renewals
    • Product return rate
    • Social fans/follows

You should also prioritize your metrics. As a rule of thumb, start with 2-3. If you’re not sure how to prioritize, go for metrics that will give you the most valuable insight and clarity.

3) Know Your Tools

There are tons of helpful platforms and tools to help you track metrics. However, even though they’re effective, they can also be confusing. (Don’t feel bad. We get tripped up, too.) Before you launch a content campaign, make sure your tools are setup and working.

Test everything from the buttons on your site, to URL tracking, to pixel installation in order to correctly measure conversions. Having a proper setup in place will help pave the way for a smooth launch for future campaigns.

4) Test Before You Go All In

In addition to testing your tools, run tests before you throw all your budget into a campaign. For example, we like to use a fraction of a campaign budget to test paid ads. Even a small test provides valuable insight without a huge investment, helping us see what’s working or how we can improve.

On that note, the metrics you track may change depending on your goals or strategy. Revisit your metrics every 6 months or so to make sure they’re still relevant and serving you.

5) Optimize Your Owned Properties

OK, so this step isn’t directly related to metrics, but it sure can have a huge effect on them. Hence, we think it’s worthwhile to help you avoid one of the most common mistakes in content distribution: a lack of optimization. Your owned properties (site, blog, social, etc.) are great SEO opportunities, so make sure you:

  • Optimize your blog and site to make it easier for people to find and share your content.
  • Optimize all content for SEO, including images, infographics, etc.

(For more tips on improving your traffic, check out our free e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Content Distribution.)

Remember: Metrics Are Just One Part of the Equation

There are many things that go into successful content marketing, from ideation to distribution. Make sure your team is up-to-date on best practices and supported with the resources, tools, and education they need. To help your team succeed:  

If you’re still stuck or need some help getting your content distribution strategy in shape, let’s figure it out together.

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