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June 29, 2017
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How Is That Content Marketing Thing Working For Your Business?

A lot of business and brand owners ‘get’ that content marketing delivers useful, relevant content designed to move prospective customers closer to purchase.

When pressed, though, a recent survey of B2B marketers from Hubspot recently found that those same business leaders may confess that their own companies aren’t especially successful with content marketing. They may even admit that they’re not sure what success looks like in that realm.

Hubspot also found that:

  1. B2B marketers, on average, commit almost one-third of their budgets to content marketing.
  2. Only 30% of those marketers feel their content marketing is “effective.” That’s down from 38% the previous year.
  3. Only 32% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.
  4. More than half (55%) say they “are unclear on what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like.

Oh dear.

How To Succeed Without Goals. 

That’s a misleading sub-hed. You can’t, in any long-lasting way. If you do in the short term, way to go. It’s a fluke. Set some goals.

Being unclear on what success looks like is an inescapable consequence of not documenting (or having) a clear strategy. In content marketing, as with any other endeavour, achieving success is a function of having clearly articulated goals.

If you’re publishing content now, but—like so many other business owners—aren’t sure how well that content is performing for you, start here: be honest about the one main thing you’re trying to achieve, then identify no more than three ways to measure how well you’re doing at that thing. Make progress on that thing. Then grow your measurement systems from there.

If, for example, your Marketing Manager were to tell you breathlessly that the lead-generation content you created just produced 50 click-throughs, is that a successful result? It may be thrillingly successful to a company who’d struggled to get 3 clickthroughs the month prior; but a dismal failure to a company targeting not just click-throughs but promising leads. Success to you is not success to all. You must know what results matter most to you, uniquely.

Identifying your goals is also critical–and this can’t be overstated–to the people who are managing your content marketing efforts. Without knowing what you, as the business owner, hope to achieve from a business perspective, they’ll simply be throwing spaghetti, in the form of content, against a wall and hoping something sticks.

It works sometimes, but it’s not sustainable, smart or terribly rewarding for anyone.

Use Metrics That Align With Your Goals

So. The answer to the question, “What metrics should I use to measure success?” is always going to be subjective, in that you’ll be identifying metrics according to what’s most important to you.

As a general guide, though, I’ve collected some of the most commonly used metrics that are used for lead generation, sales enablement and brand awareness.

How to Measure Lead Generation Success

Lead generation is the top priority for about 85% of content marketers. To assess the success of your lead-generation content, you’d do well to start by measuring:

Click-throughs: First, and before measuring at all, please be sure to include a clear call-to-action (CTA) in every blog or article you publish. If it’s published on one of your social channels or on someone else’s site, your CTA should, ideally, link back to your website. If it’s a post on your own site, consider either driving to more content and measuring pages viewed, or pull the visitor in further to your funnel and recommend a download that they need to sign up for. Then measure downloads of gated content.

Conversions: You’ll likely want to measure not only how many new leads your content generates, but also how many of those people become qualified leads, which can be seen if they, for example, take any additional actions (like, say, downloading that gated content mentioned above) that demonstrate their readiness to become buying customers. You might even aggregate those actions into a lead scoring system to supply your sales team with your most sales-ready leads.

How to Measure Sales Enablement Success

The purpose of lead generation is, ultimately, to boost sales, or drive the readers who like your content to take further action with your brand. For many businesses, this is the heart of measuring content marketing ROI (but it’s not everything). To measure how well you content is supporting your sales enablement efforts, start by measuring:

Sales conversion rates: The purpose of much brand content is to convert ‘window shoppers’ into buying customers. It makes sense, then, that measuring your sales conversion rate provides a window into just how well your content is addressing customer pain points, answering their questions, and engendering loyalty to your brand … all ultimately to boost sales.

Average length of sales cycle: If your content is doing its job, you should see the a decrease in the amount of time necessary to close sales. Make it a priority to identify a benchmark when you start your content marketing campaign, then, and measure this regularly throughout your campaign. If you’ve done your job, it’s a nice one to report on, at the campaign’s close.

How to Measure Brand Awareness Success

This one’s much trickier to measure. Increasing brand awareness is a top priority for 77% of marketers, though, so you’ll need a few tools in your belt. You can start to understand how well your content is helping your brand by measuring:

Social shares: Begin by measuring average social shares per article, and note the types of content (as well as what times of day and days of the week) resonate most with your target audience.

Article views: Measuring the number of article views is challenging when those articles appear on external media. You can, however, monitor article views for owned media with your own analytics. An increase in article views indicates improved awareness of your brand.

The Takeaway: 

More ain’t better. And it’s simpler than you think to be better.

If you’re publishing content now, but—like so many other business owners—aren’t sure how well that content is performing for you, start here: be honest about the one main thing you’re trying to achieve, then identify no more than three ways to measure how well you’re doing at that thing. Make progress on that thing. Then grow your measurement systems from there.

To learn more about the ways we can help you grow your business with a smart content marketing strategy, get in touch today.

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