Setting Content Marketing Goals: The Essentials

Content Marketing

One of the biggest things people new to content marketing struggle with is goal setting. Without knowing what you’re aiming for it’s impossible to gauge success properly. Are you doing better than expected? Or do you need to shake things up a bit?

Here’s how to find out.

Where’s Your Business At?

While the end goals of any marketing campaign are more leads, more customers, and more growth – there are different ways of meeting them depending on the maturity of your business.

For example, let’s imagine Sam owns a new business – Sam’s Salads. Sam has just launched the latest and greatest salad dressing and needs to set a goal for his content marketing


At first, Sam is probably most concerned about exposure, he wants as many people as possible to learn about his exciting new venture and would use that as his goal. Sam’s content would be informative, highly shareable, and geared towards social engagement and organic traffic from Google instead of conversions.


A year down the line Sam’s Salads is doing well and people know about his brand. Sam feels he’s got enough awareness and a decent amount of traffic – he now wants to build some social proof. He sets a new content marketing goal to reflect this. Now he’s creating content that is designed to generate referral traffic from other websites in the industry, gain comments/feedback, and keep people on his site for as long as possible.


Let’s imagine that Sam’s Salads has survived the first few years and is now producing a healthy revenue stream. Sam is probably much less worried about exposure now he is established and focuses on sales at every opportunity instead. Sam’s content would be conversion optimized to explain the benefits of his awesome salad dressing (instead of focusing on social shares and traction).

Measuring Success

As you can see, here are three different goals that can all be achieved via content marketing – yet they all have very different outcomes.

Here are the metrics that should be used to measure success for the three different goals we’ve mentioned above.

Awareness Metrics

  • Search engine traffic
  • Keyword rankings

Engagement Metrics

  • Referral traffic
  • Post comments
  • Time on page

Conversion Metrics

  • Conversion rates
  • Sales

So How Do You Know Which Goal To Pick?

  • Does your website have a decent amount of traffic already? If not, you should make awareness your goal.
  • If you’ve got traffic, then find out if your website has high engagement metrics… Are visitors consuming several pieces of content and staying a long time? If not focus on engagement.
  • Do you have a lot of traffic and a great amount of engagement? If so, then it’s time to focus on conversions.

It’s worth mentioning that the benefits of the three goals above are not mutually exclusive to one another.

For example, by providing more traffic and focusing on awareness you’re still probably going to increase sales. Similarly, conversion optimized pieces will still increase exposure and awareness if shared on social media (despite being aimed at closing a sale).

The Final Word

Before embarking on any content marketing campaign it’s imperative to have your goals clearly defined so you can measure success.

By using the information above you should be able to figure out where your business is at in terms of marketing (and what goal it would benefit the most from).

Pick one, stick to it, and don’t pay any attention to the other metrics until you’ve reached your goal.