“I don’t see how this kind of content is helping us sell more products. Why are we spending money on this?”

That’s a concern you’ve probably heard from business execs and CEOs at some point in your career when discussing top-of-funnel marketing. 

And it’s true: it’s hard to figure out exactly how much revenue each piece of content in the upper funnel phase will generate.

marketing funnel

However, the goal is not to convert leads into sales right away —instead, content should educate potential customers about the problem your business can solve so that they think of your company when they decide to buy something in the future.

That means you won’t be able to track bottom-funnel metrics like conversion rate or cost per lead (CPL).

This is where upper funnel metrics come into play!

upper funnel metrics

What are top-of-funnel marketing goals?

The whole idea of upper funnel content is to reach prospective customers when they are still in the information-gathering stage and haven’t yet made a firm decision to buy your company’s product.

This means you have two main goals:

Create brand awareness

Your content needs to educate your target audience on how your product can solve their problems and help them reach their goals. Consider metrics like share of voice (SOV) to measure your business’s visibility against competitors.

Generate leads 

You need to build trust with potential customers so they’ll be willing to share their contact information or visit your company’s store or site.

So, it’s simple: if your top-of-funnel content doesn’t bring sales or sign-ups, the problem is likely rooted in these goals.  

For example, your piece might fail to convey how great the product or service is, or it may not properly explain how well the product or service solves a problem for your prospects, which leads to a lack of trust.

That’s why simply asking, “How can I measure my content to tell if it’s performing well?” is wrong.

What you should be asking instead is, “How can I track and measure KPIs with my content, given my constraints and the goals I have in mind?” 

The answer to that question is much more specific and actionable.

1) Website Traffic

Website traffic is one of the most common metrics for measuring the effectiveness of your upper funnel marketing strategy, and it’s great to get an overview of how what articles generate the most visitors and how this changes over time

google analytics website traffic

How to measure

If you’re looking for an easy way to track this, you can use tools like Google Analytics, Hotjar, or Semrush.

For instance, with Google Analytics metrics, you can monitor just about every aspect of your website traffic —from the number of users and sessions to the length spent on each page and the bounce rate.

When to use

These numbers can be helpful in analyzing how people are engaging with your content and determining whether your upper funnel marketing strategy for bringing new visitors to your site is working (brand awareness).

Many of these metrics can be broken down even further by using Google Analytics filters.

For example, you can set up a filter to see how many users visited your site from a certain source over a certain period of time —or which pages they clicked on— to help reveal what content on your site resonates best with them.

The tricky part, though, is that it’s hard to attribute all that traffic to your specific upper funnel strategy.

Visitors can come from a direct response campaign referred by another website, or they may have found you through a combination of online advertising (PPC) and overall brand exposure

UTM Tracking

Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) codes are a way to help make the distinction. They are little bits of text that can be placed in links and URLs to track the source of visitors when they land on your site. 

This can show exactly which strategy is bringing in what traffic and give you a more accurate picture of your overall marketing strategy.

2) Click-through Rate (CTR)

CTR is a percentage that represents the number of people who clicked on a call-to-action within your post or ad, divided by the number of people who saw it (impressions).

In other words, if you have an ad campaign where 1,000 people see your content, and 100 of them click through, then your CTR would be 10%.

How to measure 

When it comes to reporting on your CTR, you can use Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and other similar analytics software, there are a lot of tools you can use.

When to use 

If you want to improve brand awareness, this metric can be very helpful in determining whether or not your content is resonating with your audience. 

A high click-through rate means that people are clicking on your links and finding the information they want.

A low click-through rate means that people aren’t clicking your CTAs or finding the information they want, so you might want to tweak your content to make it more engaging and relevant.

3) Impressions

You can think of impressions as a measure of exposure. 

In short, impressions are how many times your target audience saw your content, not because they clicked on it, but because it was shown to users by other sites like Facebook, YouTube, or Google.

How to measure 

You can track impressions in Google Analytics by navigating to Behavior > Events > Top Events. If you want to measure your impressions on a blog post, you can use built-in analytics tools like Hotjar or a WordPress plugin.  

When to use 

This metric can be a good indicator of how your content is performing and whether it’s getting noticed or not, which means impressions are tightly related to brand awareness —the more people who see your content, the more people will be aware of your brand.

After all, you can’t gain traffic without impressions, and ultimately, impressions lead to link clicks, which are what we’re all striving for.

That’s why it’s also a key metric for measuring your SEO efforts.

If your impressions on SERPs are low, that’s a good sign that either your content isn’t strong and optimized enough or the way it’s being displayed isn’t as user-friendly as possible, which means it needs some tweaking.

4) Time on Page

Another important metric to track in your upper funnel marketing strategy is the time that website visitors spend on the page. 

How to measure 

In your Google Analytics account, you can see what percentage of people leave each page of your website through the “% Exit” rate and track how long a user spends on a specific page.

When to use 

This is a direct measure to track how engaged they are with your content, which will directly correlate with how likely they are to take the next step (which could mean buying a product or filling out a lead capture form).

Longer time on the page generally means that people are finding value in what you’ve written and want to keep reading it. But if they don’t spend enough time on your site, then it indicates something’s wrong with your content.

You’ll want to find out why and improve it so that it works better for your audience (e.g. greater clarity and interest in the benefits of your product or service, more relevant information, engaging content, etc)

But what’s a good time on page rate? 

The truth is that there is no one answer that fits all upper-funnel strategies. 

For example, a conversion-focused website might see a lower time-on-page rate because visitors are quickly moving along the top of the funnel to take the call to action. 

On the other hand, an information-based website might be looking for visitors who spend much more time with their content. 

Each website has its own purpose, content, and audience, so you’ll be the one determining that.

5) Bounce Rate

The Bounce Rate metric tells you how many of the visitors to your site ended up leaving (bouncing) before taking any action at all, like reading another page or downloading a lead magnet.

If you have a bounce rate of 60%, that means only 40% of the people who visit your site engage with it in some way.

How to measure 

In Google Analytics, this is referred to as a single-page session ratio. It’s measured by dividing the number of single-page user sessions by the total number of sessions.

When to use 

Bounce rate can be useful if you’re trying to understand how well your content is performing in attracting visitors who are likely to go on to read more of your content

A high bounce rate can be a sign that there is something about your website that makes it hard for visitors to find what they want, or it could mean that they aren’t finding enough information once they do get there.

The first step in reducing your bounce rate is to figure out exactly what’s making people leave. 

Look at your website analytics to see if there are any pages that are driving people away quickly. If so, analyze each of these pages individually, looking for things like broken links, confusing calls-to-action, missing information, or anything else that might be turning off visitors. 

Funnel your metrics toward the right goals

Upper funnel content is more about the journey than it is about the destination, and it has two main goals: increasing the brand’s visibility and generating leads. 

To achieve this, you’ll want to use metrics that measure those two things —and nothing else. 

Don’t get hung up on vanity metrics like page views or shares (although don’t underestimate the power of content sharing!). 

Instead, focus on metrics that will help you understand which content is really creating brand exposure and whether or not people are clicking through to the site, signing up for your newsletter, or filling out a form on the landing page.

That way, you’ll get a clear picture of what’s working and what isn’t so you can tailor your next top-of-funnel marketing efforts accordingly.

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