Content marketing metrics businesses should be looking at



Content strategies continue to evolve as they become more solidified as a key component of marketing strategies. Most marketers know content matters. The bigger challenge many are facing is how to measure whether or not their efforts are paying off.

Did you know while the majority of marketers say they value content marketing, only approximately 30 percent have a formal documented strategy in place? Roughly 40 to 50 percent say they have an undocumented strategy in place. Source: Content Marketing Institute [PDF]).

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If a content strategy is not formally in place, if statistics are any indicator, this makes it more difficult to track ROI considering even those that do document admit they struggle. Ongoing distribution of content takes time and money and marketers want to make sure their resources will gain an ROI.

Content marketing structure matters

Many B2B decision makers turn to the Web to do their research. In fact, according to some numbers, 76 percent of B2B buyers use at least three channels to conduct their research and 82 percent turn to search engines to find ways to interact with a company before making a purchase, reports Komarketing Associates in an Oct. 2015 report. Buyers are also looking at brand websites and online customer reviews. In a nutshell, an organization’s content has got to grab attention if it wants to make a conversion.

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Pinpointing ROI of content marketing is tricky

Figuring out the ROI of content marketing is not an easy thing. According to a survey conducted by the LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community, just a small percentage of marketers consider themselves "very successful" or "extremely successful" at tracking content marketing ROI. Thirty-nine percent say they are "somewhat successful."

The problem with determining ROI of content marketing is there is no one-size-fits-all answer for organizations to use. Each company has to evaluate its own goals, costs and content strategy. But there are several metrics they can look at to try and ascertain what works and what doesn’t.

Website metrics

A lot of investment goes into a website and businesses want to make sure it is stellar. After all, a home page is the virtual front door to the company. But while the home page must look good, additional pages should shine as well, else people will bounce off the page and possibly right to a competitor. That being the case, businesses should consider:
  • Are visitors staying on the site and navigating to other pages? What’s the bounce rate?
  • How much organic traffic is being generated?
  • Are other quality websites are linking back to content? Are other businesses citing as a source?
  • How many unique visits are occurring? When are visits most prominent?
  • How many people make a purchase or fill out a lead form after seeing the content (courtesy Convince and Convert)
Many of these numbers can be found with free or low-cost tools, but all are important because if, for instance the site’s bounce rates are high, clearly some changes need to be made to reduce this number. If purchases are made after viewing the content, this would illustrate whatever page(s) are generating the conversions display the right stuff.

Social media

In addition to tracking how many followers or fans a business has, there are many other numbers the brand should examine. For instance:
  • How many times particular types of content has been shared? Look at blog posts, videos, infographics, etc. to see if some content formats gain more traction than others.
  • How many people comment on the content? Also take a look at who has been doing the commenting. Does a certain demographic stand out?
  • Is the company actively engaging with its audience to encourage higher levels of interaction?
  • What days and times of day get the most engagement?
Having a big social media audience is great, but realistically engagement is what truly matters. Pay close attention to how people are interacting with the content on social media.

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Email marketing

If an organization is using email as a marketing channel, either through personal (mass) emails or a newsletter, how are recipients interacting with it?
  • How often was the content forwarded to others?
  • Did recipients click through on links to website from blog posts?
  • How many visitors navigated to sales pages?
  • Were there many deletions or non-opened?
  • Is the email list growing or are people unsubscribing? Where are people signing up from?
  • Are emails resulting in sales?
Many email distribution services offer metrics with their packages. This is a relatively inexpensive way to monitor what recipients are doing with emails.

Many companies track these metrics themselves, however, others look to third parties to analyze the data. Whatever approach is taken, organizations need to see if the engagements they do get are leading to sales. If not, then it might be time to go back to the drawing table and see why conversions aren’t happening. Tweaks may need to be changed in when a company promotes, what type of content they are distributing or how they are approaching social media. Maybe a different social media strategy, or new network, needs to be explored.

Increased page views are great, but these do not necessarily provide the full picture. Marketers often need to dig beyond and see where their successes and failures are within the metrics. Then factor in how much it costs them to create and distribute content. Once these are identified, businesses can work to improve their numbers and increase their ROI.

It is important to keep in mind that most companies won’t see immediate ROI, it does take time. But in the long run, these efforts are more likely to see a payoff.

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