So you decided to start producing content. You put together a content calendar, your trigger finger is ready to press “publish” on your first blog post and you can’t wait to see new customers pouring in through your doors.
WAIT! Do you have a measurement plan in place?
Most business owners and marketers now understand the value of content – how many times have you heard the phrase “Content is King?” But are we doing a good job of measuring the impact of that content and using data to make it better?
EXPECTATION: Finds content > reads content > becomes customer.
REALITY: Reads content > likes you on social media > clicks on search ad > bookmarks blog > signs up for email > becomes customer (maybe)
Measuring the impact of content is difficult because it addresses people at every stage of the buying funnel and is often only one of many touchpoints. This means that customers could engage with your content six months before ever making a purchase. It could be a long time before you know the real ROI of your content marketing.
Content marketing is totally measurable, but it takes time to get real data.
“Content marketing is totally measurable, but it takes time to get real data.”
So how do you know if you are doing a good job one, two, or even three months in? How can you improve in the interim if the only metrics you look at are long-term metrics like sales, or worse, no metrics at all? We’re going to look at three different types of metrics that will help you measure success in the short- and long-term, and give you insight into the way your audience is consuming content so you can start optimizing NOW.
But first, let’s discuss objectives. Knowing your objectives will help you ask the right questions, set up correct tracking and reduce your time spent in analysis paralysis. What are your objectives?
- Build brand awareness
- Increase lead conversion
- Cold lead nurturing
- Additional subscribers to content
- Engage current audience
After you’ve defined your objectives, it’s time to consider three categories of metrics: Amplification, Engagement and Business. The specific metrics you choose for each category will depend on your objectives, but you need to measure all three if you want to make the most out of your content strategy. Amplification and Engagement metrics are ideal for measuring the short-term impact of individual content pieces, and Business metrics are great for getting a high-level view of the impact of your content marketing program as a whole. Let’s dig into each one.
Amplification Metrics (Are people seeing my content?)
You may have great content, but that means nothing if no one is reading it. Rather than looking at total visits, break it down by source (Facebook, organic, direct, email). If you want to increase your reach, you need to understand where your audience is coming from and identify new areas of opportunity. If most of your visits are coming from Facebook or email but organic traffic is zilch, write more content targeting long-tail keywords.
Reviewing traffic sources can also clue you into what stage of the buying funnel your audience is in. For example, the 60% of visitors that came from Google are probably people who are searching with intent and are closer to the buying stage vs. the 20% of traffic that came from Pinterest who have just entered the awareness stage. Look at which content performs better on different channels, compare it to your visitors buying funnel stage, and change your messaging,
Metrics: total visits, visits by source/medium
Engagement Metrics (Do people like my content?)
This is simple. You want to know whether the content you are creating addresses the questions and concerns of your target market. Do they “like” your content? A high engagement rate requires a deeper understanding of your audience. You have to know their triggers, their pain points, their questions, and their language. That is why I love this metric. It forces you to pay attention and create quality content.
Metrics: new vs. returning visitors, time on page, social metrics (likes, +1s, favorites, etc), email subscribers
Business Metrics (Do people buy?)
This is the holy grail of marketing metrics and the stuff that will earn you the love and gratitude of your company’s leadership. Eventually, you are going to have to quantify the economic value created through your content strategy.
You probably have goal tracking set up in Google Analytics. (If not, DO THAT NOW.) Guess what you can do with that? You can measure ROI, economic value, bottom-line business value of content. Will it be perfect? No. (Especially if you are a brick-and-mortar.) But it is your duty to try.
This is the most clear-cut way to measure content marketing ROI: Simply put, if you invest $5,000 into a content marketing strategy, and you value each new lead at $100, then you need 500 new leads from content to breakeven. Google Analytics traditionally attributes conversions to last touch, but you can use the attribution report to see whether content and social media play an assist role.
Metrics: total number of leads, sales, subscriptions
Amplification, Engagement and Business metrics. Select metrics for each category that you can measure against your objectives. Test new content and distribution strategies. Iterate often. That is the key to measuring and optimizing your content strategy.
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