Key KPIs That Your Content Writers Should Be Tracking
In mature organizations, everybody has KPIs that they are responsible for. A sales rep’s KPI is the number of deals they closed per month. Software developer’s work quality is measured by the number of bugs in their code. Project managers monitor the level of happiness in their client’s feedback.
And what KPIs are content writers responsible for? Um…A content writer’s job title doesn’t imply “numbers.” And…well…good writing is subjective. Right?
Let’s make it clear, we are not talking about marketing KPIs here. Your content writers are only a little guilty of that embarrassing number of leads you got last month. If you’re a marketing manager, you’re the one to blame. Not your content writers.
Content writers aren’t accountable for MQL, SQL, CPL, and website traffic. Do they need KPIs at all? They do. Here is why.
Why content writers also need KPIs
Are you skeptical about numbers? They are actually a lot more human than you may think! KPIs don’t only help you measure your content writers’ performance, they also help you strengthen their morale and foster their professional growth.
Here are three main benefits of setting KPIs for your content writers:
By tracking KPIs, you acknowledge your writers’ hard work and make them feel accountable and responsible for the success of your entire team’s content marketing efforts.
When writers hit the numbers you’ve set, they get a sense of ownership of their work and so they’re more willing to push harder.
Monitoring your writers’ performance against their KPIs creates an environment of learning. With clearly defined targets, writers know what they are supposed to achieve. And with every success and failure, they better understand how to achieve it.
To put it simply, KPIs create the space for growth for your content writers. What are these KPIs?
A writer’s key KPI? Quality of content!
Every marketer knows: “The more you tell, the more you sell.” This is especially true in the context of content marketing. The more content you publish, the more connections with your target audience you can generate.
But here comes a tricky question — does a ton of content on your website guarantee lead generation?
It doesn’t. A ton of well-written content, though, that hits on specific challenges that your audience has and stimulates the desired action from readers does.
Ann Handley, chief content officer of MarketingProfs said:
“The best marketing is more about brains than it is about budget. Really think through who you’re trying to attract, what value you can offer them, and how you can put your product or service in the context of their life.”
Poorly written content (even in tons) isn’t capable of turning readers into leads. Even worse, it’s a serious credibility killer.
Content writers are in charge of writing quality content. First and foremost. How do you measure quality?
Average time on page
This metric shows how much time readers spend on a page before they move on to the next page or leave the website. If the time is long, it means readers find your content engaging. What’s a good average time on page benchmark? It varies depending on the industry, audience, type of content, length, and more. But it’s safe to assume that if the average time on page for a lengthy blog post is only 10 seconds, most visitors aren’t actually reading the post.
In the software development industry, the average time on page should be at least 2-3 minutes. But you can always play with this metric. If people spend 2 minutes on average reading your blog post, you can set a target to increase the time on page to 3 minutes. To hit this target, you can start making adjustments to your content and measure how the average time on page changes with every new tweak (and if it does at all).
Scroll depth allows you to measure how far your visitors scroll down a page. It gives you insights into how long your content is holding the attention of your readers.
For example, when 20% of a page’s visitors scroll to the bottom of the content and more than 60% read half of it, you can rest assured that your content has all the goodies your audience wants. And when, on the other hand, 80% of a page’s visitors stop around the 50% mark, you can start thinking about what you can improve in your content.
Can you pull them further down by inserting some examples, an image, an interesting story? Or, can you insert a link to related content? How about a call to action?
Measuring scroll depth lets you decide where you need to put your call to action. A common-sense approach is to put a CTA where a prospect will be ready to take action. In other words, a CTA button should align with a user’s experience. For example, you want to put a “Free Trial” button in a spot where a user would find it after reading about your product, not before, as it would make no sense for a user to try a product they know nothing about. But what if the information about your product and the CTA are placed right at the bottom of the page, a place that 95% of your audience won’t even scroll to?
When you start measuring your scroll depth, I bet it will tell you that the important stuff has to be above the fold or people won’t see it. If they are going to stop reading anyway, you want your readers to move on to the next page on your website or do something valuable from the marketing perspective (subscribe to your email list, download your lead magnet, share something to Twitter).
My advice is to test CTA placements and experiment with how your content is presented to increase the average scroll depth.
Check out this guide on how to measure scroll depth in Google Data Studio.
Pages per session
The longer someone stays on your website, and the more pages they click through during their visit, the more they’ll get to know you and your business. You want to increase pages per session, the average number of pages that a website visitor views in a given session.
To make sure people are sticking around and learning about your company instead of immediately bouncing, your content needs to have clear calls to action, internal links to other relevant content on your website, a well-designed layout, and navigation, and a fixed menu. But most importantly, your content needs to be great to keep your readers wanting more.
When your content starts ranking at the top of Google search results, you need to make sure your click-through rates (CTR) on the organic SERPs are where they need to be.
A CTR is the ratio of users who click on a link in Google search results while searching for a particular keyword or keyword phrase to the number of total views that your page gets. Average click-through rates range between 3% to 5%. If you could do more, that can be considered as a good click-through rate. (To find your CTR, go to Google Search Console → Performance tab and click the Average CTR block.)
There are three things that impact your CTR the most: search intent, SEO titles, and meta descriptions.
One of the main reasons why content underperforms on Google is that there is a mismatch between your target keywords and the search intent. If you want to target a certain keyword but the information you provide doesn’t match the reader’s search intent, people will find your content irrelevant, and so they won’t click on it.
I’ve made a video about search intent for writers, you can check it out to learn more about the types of search intents, how to define a search intent for your target keyword, and how to pick out the right search term to target with your content.
The SEO title is the first thing that people read in the search results. You want it to be catchy and descriptive. It needs to stand out among other titles. Use power words, add an emotional feel with sensory words, include numbers – there are many methods you can experiment with to make your SEO titles irresistible. Сheck out this article on the Ahrefs’ blog to learn more about how to write SEO titles.
You need a compelling meta description that includes the keywords you’re targeting and tells people exactly what to expect from your content.
Of course! People subscribe to blogs that interest them. By tracking where people subscribe and how many of them do, you can define which content provides more value to readers.
We’re through with quality metrics. But there is one more KPI that you need in order to measure your content writer’s performance.
A measure of a writer’s performance? The number of content pieces!
Let’s assume that we’re talking only about the number of high-quality articles. The ones that get published.
To write high-quality content, a content writer needs to spend time. The more time they spend, the fewer articles you get. But let me ask you a question: If a content writer can write a well-thought-out piece of content without spending that much time on it, what does it say about their professional level? One thing — he or she is a good writer. And an excellent researcher, by the way.
How many pieces of high-quality content can you expect your content writers to write per month? From our experience in the software development industry, the maximum number of lengthy content pieces (anywhere between 1500 and 3000 words) that a good writer writes per month is eight. A more realistic number is six.
You might think that writing six long reads for an experienced writer is easy. But I wouldn’t say so. Writing in-depth content requires a lot of research. Thorough research takes time. But writing continually for a specific industry and business results in faster work (and better results) over time.
That’s why you need to hire in-house writers and not freelancers.
That’s it for now. Which important metrics have I missed?