It’s no longer about whether or not you should have a content marketing strategy (because you absolutely, 110% should). These days, success in digital marketing hinges on the effectiveness of your content marketing campaigns.
In our digital world, content is produced and consumed at alarming rates—to the point where content shock is becoming a known challenge marketers need to overcome.
To make matters worse, according to the Content Marketing Institute in 2015, 55% of B2B marketers admitted they are unclear on what content marketing success or effectiveness even looks like. This is a major problem. Not only do you need to have a solid content marketing strategy in place, it’s imperative to know what’s working and what’s not.
The changing state of content marketing
Change happens in nanoseconds these days. Something hits the Internet and in a matter of moments it goes viral and it can affect our customers, companies, and even personal lives. Because of this, content marketing should always be in a constant and continuous state of motion. You need to be able to pivot and change direction as quickly as your audience or prospects needs or desires change.
The way to know how and when to pivot should come from how you measure the success or failures of your content marketing campaigns. If something worked well in the past, you can adjust your upcoming campaigns accordingly. And if a campaign tanked, now you know what to avoid moving forward.
Measuring campaigns in the Digital Age
As we move deeper into the Digital Age, we’re presented with an even more complexity to online content marketing campaigns that wasn’t possible ten, five, or even two years ago. A company’s presence can now be found on a number of digital channels—apps, social media pages, search engines, paid influencer advertisements, vlogs, blogs, websites, or video games. And all of these digital channels allow companies to cast a wider net in terms of customer touch points. The companies that closely monitor these touchpoints can better assess their overall campaign effectiveness.
So, your first step to measuring the Return on Investment (ROI) for your content marketing campaigns is by defining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Fortunately for use Digital Age marketers, data of is highly trackable and can be used (even in real time in some cases) to analyze the amount of money, traffic, and conversions you may expect from your investments.
But before we get too far into the weeds of what and how to track your KPIs, let’s go over the steps needed to successfully measure your next content marketing campaign:
- Have a clear content marketing strategy in place
Not having a clear content marketing strategy with well-defined target markets is as effective as throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing if something sticks. This is your first priority and will inform the types of campaigns you create and the types of analytics you’ll need to measure them.
- Identify the results you expect from a specific campaign
This is like having a hypothesis for your science project. Your expected outcomes are what you will use to validate the entire campaign. It also helps keep everyone who is involved in the campaign on the same page.
- Establish the KPIs on the campaign before you begin
It’s important to determine how you will measure performance before the campaign begins. If the campaign will have a social component, what analytics are available to monitor? Shares? Likes? Comments? If you’re having trouble figuring out what data to look at, imagine what success would look like and work backwards from there.
- Track and analyze the data throughout the lifespan of the campaign
Monitoring end results is important, but you’ll also want to keep an eye on trends and data throughout the campaign’s lifespan. Why? Because if something is not working, it’s better to pull the plug than continue to invest in it. Or, if a campaign is doing incredibly well, you might be able to create a spin off campaign and capitalize on it.
- At the end of the campaign, revisit initial expectations
This is a vital part of determining what worked, what didn’t, and why. The results and analysis you walk away with will help steer your future campaigns into the right direction.
So now that we’ve gone over a quick run through of the important steps to measuring campaign success, let’s discuss the types of KPIs you’ll want to consider for your next campaign.
Remember, a KPI is only representative of the value it inspires from real action in regards to your marketing objectives. Additionally, your KPIs must be continually monitored and reported on for it to be of any use. For example, if you have determined that one of your KPI’s is your cost-per-lead rate, then you want to be sure this is an accurate measure of your marketing campaign success and that it’s up-to-date. Succinct, clear, and relevant information regarding your KPIs can make or break your content marketing campaign(s).
When it comes to determining which KPIs are right for your content, it may be easier to think the following five distinct categories:
When it comes to measuring lead generation pay off (in terms of content marketing campaigns), you can monitor the cost-effectiveness of your channels and customer acquisition by a variety of lead-oriented metrics. This type of KPI will allow you to track your monthly leads and prospects and could lead to more qualified lead generation in the future.
An example of a popular lead generation KPI is the cost-per-lead metric. This marketing metric shows the cost of acquiring a new prospect. To measure effectively, you want to add up the time, resources, and money you have spent on content marketing activities and compare your results to your number of monthly leads.
Other lead-generation metrics might focus on:
- Average time of conversion
- Retention rate
Website and traffic metrics
In the content marketing world, it’s no surprise that compelling content attracts an engaged audience. Although once your audience starts to grow, you’ll need the right metrics to track, retain, and get to know your audience.
Google Analytics, for example, is a great marketing tool for measuring the number of visits to your website and its respective web pages. By measuring the percentage of your returning visitors, you can see the level of your audience’s engagement with your content. If you notice a low return or bounce rate on a blog page or video, then that might be an indication that the content isn’t compelling enough for people to come back for more.
The use of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most profitable types of lead channels for digital marketers. By measuring SEO marketing practices, you can monitor the number of monthly new leads that found your brand through a quick and free search engine query.
The number of new leads generated by that search would then indicate the performance measure of your SEO. In order to improve that number, you could rank certain keywords that are most related to your specific service or brand and see if leads increase. As a rule, the more high-ranking keywords you have, the more traffic you are likely to expect.
Another metric associated with this type of marketing category may be SEO tools that monitor page authority—aka, the likelihood of your content or landing page performing well in search engine results. If your content is mostly video, the volume or traffic from your video content may also be measured with SEO tools as videos are much more likely to show up on search engine results.
Paid online advertising
If you decide to incorporate paid advertising as a part of your content marketing campaign strategy, then it’s important to monitor the number of your monthly leads and conversions from cost-per-click advertising as a percentage of your overall results. This will provide you with an overview of non-paid content marketing performance.
Some of the most popular forms of paid advertising are offered via social media platforms. Overall, you might want to consider the following:
- Facebook’s paid content promotion is used by digital marketers quite regularly in order to drive traffic to content.
- Instagram offers a unique opportunity for content marketers to reach their target audiences through a paid ad campaign that looks almost identical to regular Instagram posts, making it seem less invasive than other paid ads.
- For a reasonable price, Google’s Adwords (which works with Google+) is equipped to help you to promote your content regularly, and its pays off if you strategize effectively.
Social media tracking
When measuring your social media leverage as a whole, it’s best to monitor traffic, the level of audience engagement, reach, and conversion rates. To measure your social media engagement and the number of people who actually liked, shared, or commented on your content, you can measure it against the percentage of your followers via marketing tools and metrics. You’ll also want to track direct mentions or how often your brand or company was talked about on a certain type of social media platform.
While many content marketers focus on social media as a brand-building tool, many do not realize how well it may be used to generate lead generation and customer retention. By monitoring the number of your leads and conversions generated from social media efforts, you’ll be in a better position to increase effectiveness of your content marketing campaigns.
When it boils down to measuring the success of your content marketing campaigns, having a well-defined strategy and corresponding KPIs is essential. Marketing metrics and tools exist to meet the demands of the content you work hard to produce and manage.
As the technology advances, marketing metrics will only continue to become more sophisticated, enabling content marketing professionals to get even more granular when it comes to measuring the performance of a campaign in real-time across numerous digital channels and platforms. With a well-informed content marketing strategy and well-defined measurements of success, you’ll be efficiently prepared to make the most crucial decisions regarding your evolving business and brand.