Content marketing is an “in” trend right now. Ask any marketing professional and they’ll agree that content is crucial to today’s marketing efforts. Yet ask the same marketers if they have a content strategy in place and defined metrics for measuring its success, and more than half will answer “no.” Content marketing is a valuable tool, and one that many companies are dedicating a significant budget toward – yet most of us don’t know how to prove its ROI to the CEOs and top executives at our company.
A great content marketing campaign includes a diversity of content tailored to different audiences in different stages of the lead funnel. The success of your campaign will depend on which stage of that funnel you are trying to target. For example, the number of new leads generated is a valuable metric, but if you’re using it measure the value of content whose purpose is to build awareness, you’re setting yourself up for failure. To truly measure the success of your content marketing campaign, you will need to map your business goals to different key performance indicators (KPIs) for different stages of each step of the funnel.
Let’s dive in.
Business Goal: Building Awareness (Top of the Funnel)
The heart of content marketing is about reaching your customers through education. Instead of pushing your message out to an unresponsive audience, content marketing draws potential customers in, answers their questions and builds your reputation as an authority in your field. Types of content within this segment usually include blog posts, short-form articles, whitepapers, ebooks and videos (among other formats). This type of content usually takes an educational approach, focusing more on addressing customer’s concerns or answering questions, and less on the actual services or products your company offers.
KPIs for Awareness Generation: Consumption Metrics and Sharing Metrics
The goal of awareness-oriented content is to get in front of as many eyes as possible. When looking at the success of this type of content, you’ll want to ask, “Are users reading my content?” Part of the goal of awareness-oriented content is also to create posts that inspire social sharing – which raises the question “Are users sharing my content?” To answer these two questions, we’ll want to look at two types of KPIs: consumption metrics and sharing metrics.
Consumption Metrics: how many people are reading your content?
- Time on page
- Bounce rate
- Video views
Sharing Metrics: how many people are sharing your content?
- Facebook likes and shares
- Tweets and Retweets
- Inbound links
Business Goal: Building Interest in Your Brand (Middle of the Funnel)
Although building awareness is an important step in the content marketing process, if you never move beyond that, your campaign will dead-end. You’ve created awareness of your brand – now create interest for your brand. This type of content focuses more on your company and its competitive edge. Tell your readers what sets you apart from others in your field, and how your products and services can provide a solution to their problems. Types of content in this segment often include case studies, FAQ pages, brochures and catalogs, webinars and more.
KPIs for Interest Generation: Lead Generation Metrics
The goal of content in this segment is to move potential customers up from being passively involved with your brand to actively engaging with it. To measure success in this arena, look at KPIs such as:
Lead Generation Metrics
- Contact Us and Request More Information form submissions
- Newsletter subscriptions
- Event registrations
- RSS subscribers
- Blog comments
- Social media activity and comments
Goal: Building Customer Base (Bottom of the Funnel)
Closing a deal, gaining a new customer: these are the big sells, where the dollars come from – and the bottom line that most CEOs and executives use to measure marketing success. Although content marketing is just one tool in the arsenal for building a customer base – and shouldn’t be the “end all, be all” metric used to measure a campaign’s success – it is still an important metric that deserves attention. If a campaign is set up correctly, you should be able to see how your content marketing efforts are affecting sales and new customer growth. Harder to measure, though equally important, is the effect content marketing has on retaining current customers and finding new areas of opportunity with them.
The Value of Content Marketing
A lot of the real success of content marketing can’t be measured in statistics though. Content marketing brings a certain value to the table that doesn’t always correlate with pageviews, social shares or form submissions. To understand the real value of content marketing, we have to adjust our perceptions and think long-term.
Content marketing provides intrinsic benefits for SEO. Ever since the Panda update, Google pays attention to the quality of the content on your website. If you’re creating content that appeals to readers, this content will also appeal to the search engines, helping you perform better in search results.
Content marketing produces long-term results. One of the biggest struggles with measuring the success of content marketing is the time frame in which we evaluate it. Content marketing is a long-term process. It can take months to see results. When compared to paid efforts over the same amount of time, content marketing certainly looks less flashy. But consider the long-term: once live, a piece of content will live permanently on the Internet. With a strategy that calls for consistent posting month after month, you will eventually build up an arsenal of quality content that you can continue to bring traffic to your site for years to come.
Content never goes out of style. Platforms come and go, and social networks rise and wane in popularity. Content stands strong against these ebbs and flows. Although your strategy may adjust depending on changes in the digital arena, the need for content remains constant.
If your current digital strategy doesn’t involve content marketing, give it some real thought! Contact our full-service agency to learn more about our content marketing services and receive a free assessment.