I sometimes wonder why there isn’t as much buzz about content marketing as there is social media marketing. Especially, when content marketing is the foundation of all good online marketing. Content marketing may not be as sexy sounding as social media, but it is absolutely crucial. If you need some ideas for content marketing, I wrote a post a while back on 50 Ways to Serve Up Hot Juicy Content. This post is about how to measure the success of your content marketing.1) Opt-Ins – This is the #1 way to see if your content has traction. Do people subscribe to it? Are they willing to trade their email address for your webinar or eBook or mp3? Does it entice them enough to opt-in? It doesn’t matter how well the content is written, it has to grab people’s attention. Our 22 page online marketing plan has hundreds of opt-ins every week. That’s how we know it’s successful.2) Views & Comments – In other words, eyeballs. We could also look at this as “reader or viewer interaction.” But, how your audience interacts with your content is based strictly on your audience. Baby boomers are more likely to absorb information, but not necessarily leave comments or ask questions. Generation Y and Millennials on the other hand are going to be more inclined to comment, ask questions, and to make their presence known.3) Sharing & Referrals – This used to be harder to measure before the advent of Twitter and Facebook, and those glaring “share this” buttons. People could email your article to a hundred friends, and you would never know it. Today, this is very easy to track. Your job is to create compelling content, and then make it easy for your audience to share. One of my favorite tools for making it easy to share content is Wibiya. A simple to install toolbar that allows you to customize it using drag and drop technology.4) Leads – Content marketing, like all good marketing, should lead to leads. (Pun intended!). Be sure to track leads that come from online contact forms, as well as calls. Keep in mind that content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Can you get a great lead from one webinar? Of course! But, the more likely scenario is that a prospect probably read multiple articles, watched a few videos, and came back a few months later when budget time rolled around.5) Quality of Lead – The purpose of content marketing should be to educate and showcase expertise. The more educated your audience, the better prospects they make. Imagine if someone comes to you, and they already perceive you as an expert in your field. Better yet, they know exactly what you have to offer. They aren’t calling you for a “bid” but for your “expertise.”Oh, and by the way, content marketing isn’t just for B2B companies. There is a common misconception that only businesses with complex services or products need to educate their prospects. Today’s consumers are smarter than ever, and they love doing their research. It doesn’t matter if you are selling flowers or cookies or shoes. You have to educate your buyers. Just don’t forget to measure your efforts.Want to learn even more about content marketing? I highly recommend these two books: Get Content Get Customers: Turn Prospects into Buyers with Content Marketing, and Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business (New Rules Social Media Series).