How can you measure the success of your content marketing?
We’ve talked previously about what content marketing is and why it matters, as well as thinking about what engagement looks like. “Great,” you think, “now I know what to aim for. I can make a start on my content strategy.” You’ve agreed your audience research, messaging and the substance of the content itself, channel plans and editorial calendar. But there’s one very big thing missing…how do you actually measure if your content marketing is working?
Why is measurement important?
Put simply, measurement allows you to keep track of what is and isn’t working. It can provide real-time information on what content is creating the most engagement, reaching the right audiences and making them take action – whether that’s visiting your website, getting in touch with you, or becoming a customer, donor or supporter.
Measurement can also help you to explain why you need a content marketing strategy in the first place, and the benefit that it is having to your bottom line. When you’re in front of a room full of senior management, or sat with your boss over a coffee, some cold, hard statistics can go a long way in making the case for more time or resources for your content marketing.
An effective strategy won’t prove itself overnight. The best tactics often take time to have an impact – better to have gradual, sustainable success than a quick, short-lived burst. However, we all face pressure to show our colleagues and clients the numbers on a regular basis (especially if they’re the ones footing the bill!). So what are the useful metrics to measure success in content marketing?
Take aim, but keep it simple
Firstly, you must establish what the business objectives are. Is it about increasing the number of customers? Hitting an income or sales target? Or raising awareness of your business, brand or organisation? Retweets, likes and comments won’t mean much to your senior management team if it doesn’t translate into cash. Base your measurement around the priorities for your company or organisation.
For example, track how many direct enquiries a blog or social media post prompted by asking people how they heard about you. If particular themes or subjects are leading to a spike in enquiries, capitalise on it by making it a focus of your strategy.
It can be tempting to measure everything all the time, especially if your content is really taking off, but resist the urge to bombard everyone with information. Measure what’s right for you and your business or organisation. This comes back to business objectives – what do people really want to see, and why will it matter to them? Keep this front of mind when designing your measurement and evaluation process.
Advocacy can be a marketer’s best friend. Getting more people to talk about you in positive terms, sharing your content and encouraging others to get to know you is a hugely powerful way to expand the reach of your business or organisation. Measure this by listening to what people are saying about you online, or logging follower and visitor numbers.
But don’t ignore anecdotal feedback, which can often speak louder than just numbers. Don’t be afraid to actually ask your customers what they really think about you (good or bad), and use this to shape the way you talk to and work with your audiences. Take screen grabs of the things that they say about you online (and offline) and be sure to use them in your performance reports and presentations back to senior managers. Keep a record of your most enthusiastic advocates, and strongest critics.
Learn from it
Statistics can be comforting, but just because the numbers look good doesn’t mean you should rest on your laurels. 1,000 retweets sounds wonderful, but if they don’t lead to more sales or greater support, then something’s not working if these things were the objective of your content strategy. Measurement is about more than ‘proving’ what is and isn’t working. It’s about finding the insights you need to refine your strategy, to not be afraid to try something new.
A good content marketing strategy is never set in stone; use your measurement to show that this is a constantly evolving process, that you and your team are learning new insights all the time, and that you’re putting them into practice.
Got a question about measurement? Drop us a line!