Content marketing is bullsh*t.
It’s not, I assure you. But while looking for the author of a quote I had intended to use in this post, I typed content marketing is into Google, and that was the first suggestion the auto-complete feature offered — followed immediately by Content marketing is dead.
Surely the fact that those two words are what Google thinks I’m most likely to search for in connection to content marketing is a clear sign that inbound marketing is not all it’s cracked up to be? Not so. The theory behind content marketing is sound. The problem is in the implementation. Too many organizations aren’t using content in an effective, sustainable way. And the solution to that problem is simple: content marketing success metrics.
Do You Need Content Marketing Success Metrics?
A growing number of MSPs and hosting providers are turning to content marketing as a way to increase qualified leads and differentiate from the competition. But if you’re among them, you’re probably also wary — what does success look like? How will you measure it? I’d like to share three areas where content marketing success metrics will not only demonstrate the success of your efforts, but that will also help you refine your strategy to achieve maximum ROI:
- Production cycle health
- Consumption and sharing
- Conversion rates
By tracking and measuring metrics in each of these three areas, you can be assured that, with a little time and effort, you’ll create an effective, sustainable content marketing strategy. Let’s get started.
Monitor the Health of Content Production
In-house content creation and social media marketing can be an invaluable, low-cost tool to help increase your company’s visibility. But this type of marketing is a marathon; not a sprint.
If you’re exhausting yourself or your team trying to push out new content or keep your social media presence fresh, you’ll find it a struggle to sustain your efforts long enough to see a return on your investment. Worse still, you could see a loss — Kapost purports that marketing inefficiencies cost medium and large companies a staggering $958 million each year.
Metrics You Should Monitor:
- Average production time. Knowing how long it takes to produce quality content on a regular basis can allow you to create a production calendar, and will allow you to maintain regularly publish dates, whether they are daily, weekly, or monthly. When readers or followers see can see a pattern in the frequency of your blog posts or social media posts, it will increase their trust in your brand.
- Deadline accountability. Do certain pieces routinely get published late? Does your content always get delayed at a specific production stage? Monitoring adherence to deadlines throughout the production process can help identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies — a key contributor to the multi-million dollar figure we cited above.
- Coverage. You’re likely targeting more than one buyer persona, and your buyers are definitely in various stages of the buyer’s journey, so you need to create content that’s relevant to each persona in various stages of their journey. Use a table like this to ensure total coverage — fit existing content into the table based on who it targets and create content to fill any gaps.
|Go-Getter Gary||Blog Post 1||Webinar 1||Datasheet|
|Problem Peter||Blog Post 3||Blog Post 2||Case Study|
|Loyal Lewis||eBook 1||Blog Post 2||Blog Post 4|
Measure Reach To Ensure You’re Being Seen
The most brilliant, compelling, informative content is utterly useless if your audience isn’t reading. Putting your efforts into creating great content that doesn’t get consumed is just like writing a prize-winning novel and turning down your publishing deal.
It’s easy to glance at your website traffic numbers and reassure yourself that things are working — but not everyone who visits your site consumes your content, and most of them don’t share it. Of course, promotional efforts on your part will help boost these content marketing success metrics — make sure you’re sharing your content everywhere your audience is.
Metrics You Should Monitor:
- Pages per session. How much content are your website visitors consuming? Are they just skimming the front page or are they reading through your entire catalog of blog posts? The more pages per session your average visitor checks out, the more engaged they are with what you’re saying.
- Time on page. A visit of under ten seconds means that reader thought you had something they wanted to read, and decided otherwise when they got to your site. If your average time on page is low, consider both your content and how you’re promoting it. Is your copy providing the value your site visitors expected? Is the way you’re promoting it misleading?
- Shares or email forwards. The ultimate mark of quality content is when your readers want to share it with their friends and coworkers. Keep an eye on how often your content is shared, and look for common themes among frequently shared pieces to identify what your readers value.
- Source. How are readers finding your content? Is your nurturing email campaign driving scores of prospects to download your PDFs or did your last blog post go viral on Twitter? It’s important to measure where your traffic is coming from (organic search results, paid ads, email campaigns, social media activity) so you can focus your efforts on channels that your audience responds to.
Measuring Conversions for a Clear ROI
All content is not created equal. While it’s important to keep producing new copy regularly to provide fresh content for both your readers and search engine spiders, it’s likely that some pieces of your content are outperforming others in converting visitors to leads and leads to customers.
Identifying which content is converting consumers is critical: if you know what’s moving your readers down the funnel, you can produce more useful content. So how can you measure what pops and what flops? Content scoring is one of the most important content marketing success metrics for measuring the ROI of your efforts.
Here’s how it works:
- List all the pieces your prospect has touched, in chronological order.
- Assign the first piece (the one that attracted them to you in the first place) and the last piece (the one that prompted them to convert from lead to customer) values of 25 each.
- Assign all the pieces in between an equal value so that their total value adds up to 50.
|Blog: Outsourcing IT For Cost Savings||25|
|Checklist: Does Your MSP Measure Up?||16.6|
|Webinar: 5 Ways Managed Services Give SMBs a Competitive Edge||16.6|
|Blog: Is Your Business Prepared for the Worst?||16.6|
|Case Study: How We Saved Client X More Than $10,000/Year||25|
Repeat this process for every customer (many marketing software programs will allow you to automate this process, for obvious reasons) and add up the scores of each piece. Higher scoring pieces either appear in your buyers’ journeys more frequently, or consistently convert them (from visitors to leads, or from leads to customers).
Metrics You Should Monitor:
Look at your highest-scoring content. Watch for patterns in any of the following to identify areas you should be focusing on to reach your market:
- Subject matter. Are your most popular pieces of content all centered around the same subject? Chances are, that’s what your audience is looking for. Consider focusing more effort on this area.
- Content type. Do your webinars have virtual standing room only, while your white papers are largely ignored? Do readers frequently comment on blog posts, while ignoring eBooks? Your audience may favor certain delivery methods over others, and you can use that to your advantage.
- Persona. If all of your most-consumed content is targeting a single persona, that should tell you something. Is this persona a bigger part of your audience than you had calculated? Or are you not effectively reaching other personas?
Kickstart Your Content Marketing
At Total Product Marketing, we specialize in helping Cloud providers, hosting companies, and managed service providers use marketing to grow their businesses and expand their reach. If you’d like more information on content marketing success metrics, or want help getting your content marketing campaign started, our team of experts is here to help. Get in touch with us today.