Ask a content marketer: which metrics should I use for TOFU, MOFU, BOFU?

Part of being a good marketer is knowing which marketing metrics measure which specific goals. This is content marketing metrics 101. But what’s less obvious is how the content marketing funnel affects which marketing metrics you should be using. Once you add top-of-funnel (TOFU), middle-of-funnel (MOFU), and bottom-of-funnel (BOFU) content into the mix, are you still measuring the right metrics for the right goal? It’s very possible that you aren’t, and that can misinform your content marketing efforts for the future.

It’s just as important to match content marketing metrics to the right stage of the funnel as it is to understand which marketing metrics measure what. That’s why we’ve created a handy overview of which metrics you should use to track the performance of TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU content.

TOFU metrics

The goal for top-of-funnel TOFU content is to increase reach and build awareness of your brand in the right pool of customers. This is sometimes referred to as “aided awareness,” and in more traditional terms is often measured by impressions or gross rating points. In order to build awareness, marketers produce TOFU content that provides value to consumers at the earliest stages of their customer journey. For example, a B2B company may design evergreen or how-to pieces for the web to capture search intent, while a B2C brand may run sponsored posts on Instagram to get in front of consumers who are not already aware of them.

So how do we measure this kind of content? The best TOFU metrics must examine how many potential customers are learning about your company for the first time. And while these metrics don’t necessarily imply purchase intent, they can capture search intent. If you can understand what people are searching for, you can build your content strategy around that. These metrics include:

  • Reach metrics
    • e.g. impressions by channel
  • Engagement metrics
    • e.g. how many people interacted with your post, or better yet, clicked through to read it (which leads us to the next metric)
  • Consumption metrics
    • e.g. pageviews/unique pageviews
  • Retention metrics
    • e.g. time on site
  • Brand recall
    • Many brands commission primary research studies from companies like Nielsen to help measure what consumers are seeing in the market. (Quietly is lucky enough to have clients who commission similar studies, which make our strategies even more sound.) Additionally, social networks like Facebook and Instagram let you optimize your paid campaigns for brand awareness, where they’ll automatically report on metrics like lift in ad recall. Essentially, brands now have the ability to measure this without needing to formally commission a study.

The examples above may seem a bit abstract, so let’s give you some Quietly client examples. On the B2C side, MEC, Canada’s leading outdoor gear and adventure brand, may create a lifestyle-themed post for their social channels to promote the benefits of biking. The objective is to raise awareness for the brand and get people thinking about biking, so we would measure how the content is performing via those metrics: reach, engagement, consumption, and retention in particular.

On the B2B side, we work with OfficeSpace, a software company that builds strategic tools for facility managers to better track and allocate company workspaces and resources. Through blog posts on office technology and move management, OfficeSpace seeks to become a leading authority on workplace and facility management.

They are looking to use search engines like Google as a means of raising awareness by producing blog posts that answer common search queries about the office logistics space. Quietly then measures how the content is performing in a similar fashion as the B2C example (reach, engagement, consumption, and retention), but in this case, we’re also looking at more specific metrics around capturing search intent (e.g. within pageviews, looking at referral traffic coming from Google).

MOFU metrics

A quick refresher: the goal of middle-of-funnel content is to continue to educate your audience with relevant information they are searching for, but also to start positioning your brand as the solution to your customers’ needs. This moves your audience from the awareness stage and closer to conversion. This is also referred to as “driving consideration.” MOFU content is positioned for the audience to make actions to connect further with a company and, in the case of B2B, is often presented as e-books, whitepapers, webinars, and newsletters.

MOFU metrics must help quantify the amount of purchase intent in your funnel. This intent could be calling a company, or signing up for a newsletter or webinar. Thus, the best MOFU metrics include:

  • Engagement metrics
    • e.g. new vs. returning visitors, referral traffic, social metrics
  • Consumption metrics
    • e.g. bounce rate, exit rate, click-through rate (CTR)
  • Lead metrics
    • e.g. email sign ups, whitepaper downloads, webinar participants, etc.

Again, let’s move this away from the abstract and continue with our B2C and B2B examples. Following along our MEC biking example, they may post an article on their blog about the different types of biking (road cycling, mountain biking, urban commuting, etc.) and how readers can decide which one to try. This content is clearly geared (pun intended) towards people who are already aware of the brand and biking, but want to learn more. Quietly then measures engagement, consumption, and lead metrics to gauge how well the audience is driving consideration.

Elsewhere, the B2B brand OfficeSpace posts an article to their blog that highlights seven things people should consider when choosing software to help design their workspace environment. Again, readers are likely to be familiar with the brand, but want to learn more as they consider their purchase. From there, Quietly measures engagement and consumption metrics such as bounce and exit rates to see how many readers moved on to an additional page on the site after reading the article, in addition to lead metrics like how many newsletter sign ups can be directly attributed to that article.

BOFU metrics

Last but not least, the goal of bottom-of-funnel content is to get your audience to convert. That could mean a purchase, an acquisition, or a sign up for an email list. BOFU metrics measures an audience who are in the decision stage: to purchase or not to purchase. (This only applies to prospects that are ready to purchase belong in the bottom section of the funnel.) This is also referred to as “driving conversions” and for simplicity’s sake, we’ll avoid getting into the difference between MQLs and SQLs.

The BOFU metrics must look at actions that signal impending purchases or conversions, and include:

  • Lead metrics
    • e.g. whitepaper downloads, lead generation forms
  • Demo requests
    • e.g. ratio of demo requests to customers, demo conversions
  • Sales metrics
    • e.g. sales conversion rate, transactions

And finally, let’s follow through with our B2C and B2B examples. In this case, MEC can create a piece of content on their site that talks about the best components to buy for a certain type of biking, with the goal of driving CTRs to corresponding product pages on the online store. Quietly then measures click throughs from the blog to the e-commerce page, and of course, resulting sales metrics.

On the other hand, OfficeSpace creates a gated e-book/whitepaper that contains stats and trends on workspace planning and how software makes a positive impact, with the goal of obtaining sales leads for demos. This content is suited at arming prospective customers with info so they can effectively sell back inside to other executive stakeholders. Quietly then measures the lead and sales metrics to see how successful their demos are.

Content marketing metrics are straightforward. The content marketing funnel is straightforward. But so often, when you put the two together—content marketing funnel metrics—marketers make the honest mistake of using the wrong metrics in the wrong places. It’s understandable—identifying, measuring, and isolating data to understand how your content marketing efforts are performing is difficult when there are so many moving parts. That’s where a content marketing partner can come in handy.

Image: jdwfoto/Shutterstock

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