Today’s Two for Tuesdays is really going to put you to work – it’s about measuring your content marketing.
While it is true that there’s a lot of subjectivity when it comes to content marketing, and that it’s not often easy to measure or track where business comes from ("I just *feel* like things are happening since I started blogging!"), there are some things you can do to keep an eye on your efforts and to see where your time is best invested.
Tip One: Identify Your Goals
It makes no sense to try to track any metrics before you identify what your goals are. What is it that you want to achieve with your content marketing? Start with a vague idea of what it is that you want, and then get very, very specific so that you have something that is measurable and actionable.
Some ideas for possible motivation behind content marketing include:
- Becoming better known as a thought leader in X specialty area.
- Bringing in new clients.
- Getting more speaking opportunities in a niche practice area.
- Bringing in more of a certain kind of work.
These goals will be very individual depending on what you want to achieve. Identify what that is, and then get very narrow – if you want more clients, how many more clients do you want? In what time frame? What kind of clients?
If you want to be a thought leader, what does that mean to you? Does it mean that you’re being quoted in trade publications? If so, which ones? How often? In what time frame? The more specific you can be with your goals, the easier it is to recognize whether you’re meeting them, and if your efforts are helping you to achieve them.
Tip Two: Bring in the Metrics
I’m not an expert, so I’ll share with you the list that Armando Roggio over at Practical ECommerce compiled for content marketing metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs). He brings together lists from experts like Jay Baer and NewsCred, including:
Consumption metrics. Page views for a blog post would be an example.
Sharing metrics. Like the number of tweets or Facebook shares an article gets.
Lead generation metrics. This might be whitepaper downloads or email newsletter subscriptions.
Sales metrics. Tracks the path from content to conversion.
Reach. Includes KPIs like impressions, traffic, subscriber count, or similar.
Engagement. Time on site, bounce rate, page views, return visits, referrals, and social sharing.
Conversions. For NewsCred, this includes improvements in brand perception, behavioral conversions, lead generation, and actual sales."
Don’t let all of the marketing speak in there intimidate you – just break it down by what you’re doing:
- Keep track of your article/blog or video posts and any shortened links (I use my editorial calendar spreadsheet to do this).
- Track link hits, social shares on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, etc.
- Track the number of comments and other engagement opportunities – the times when people used your post as an opportunity to ask you a question or share a comment with you.
- Track "likes" and "favorites" on various sites, hits on the blog itself, and whether you get new subscribers after each post.
- Definitely track whether a post results in someone asking you to discuss a potential matter with them.
- Similarly, track if it results in a publication wanting to republish it, an organization asking you to speak or present, or a publication asking you for a comment.
Some of the above will depend on what your goals are – if you want to be recognized as a thought leader in a particular niche area, then the majority of your content will be devoted to that area. In addition, the majority of your sharing of that content will be targeted in that area. You’ll then track specifically which audiences are sharing your content, which thought leaders are following you and retweeting/sharing your work, which trade publications you’re appearing in, which top conferences you’re being asked to speak at, etc.
Roggio says an important thing in his post:
remember the best marketers measure not to prove that one tactic is working while another tactic is failing, but rather to improve."
Content marketing, and measuring your content marketing efforts, is not something that you do once and is successful overnight. It’s something that you work at over time and constantly review and refine (like all marketing and business development tactics, by the way). So if it appears that something isn’t working for you, it may not be the right tactic or tool, or it may be that you’re not using it effectively yet, and it’s time to figure out how to do so.
That’s one of the reasons measurement and metrics are so important. As Roggio quips in the beginning of the post:
Nineteenth century American merchant and marketing pioneer John Wanamaker famously said, ‘Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.’
Without measuring, you may have a vague sense that something isn’t working for you, but you won’t know what or why. Yes, tracking is a time investment and a bit of a pain – but it’s worth it, because in the end, you’ll be investing your time only in the things that are working for you effectively and helping you to meet your goals instead of wondering why this "content marketing stuff" never seems to work for you.
What are your content marketing measurement success stories?