Simply put, if you’re not measuring, you’re not marketing.
In fact, if you’re whipping up blog posts and infographics without business objectives, you’re basically partaking in a very expensive version of arts and crafts.
Your job as a content marketer is to show your boss the money — not traffic, not links — mon-naay.
Let’s talk about how to get started effectively measuring your content marketing efforts.
Measurement separates digital marketing from traditional advertising
As a native Philadelphian (I live in Brooklyn now), I know a little too much about John Wanamaker.
Most people in marketing and advertising know him for this quote:
Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.
However, this sentiment does not hold true for digital marketing.
If an action happens online, it can likely be measured. You need a plan to effectively measure the tasks that impact your business goals.
If you do this right and pay attention, you’ll be able to identify content marketing tasks that aren’t benefitting your business goals.
Unfortunately, there are a good portion of people that appear to be asleep at the wheel.
According to a poll by Oracle Marketing Cloud, many in-house professionals believe that it’s difficult to measure your content marketing’s return on investment (ROI).
In fact, I’ve seen numerous studies make this declaration.
Let’s just be clear right now — that’s poppycock!
Vanity metrics don’t mean much
Instead of analyzing the true factors that affect your business, many people focus on vanity metrics when measuring content marketing effectiveness.
Here are some of those vanity metrics and a brief description of why they aren’t good measures of content marketing ROI by themselves:
- Traffic: Knowing the number of visitors that came to a website is not an indicator that you reached a business goal. For example, you could spend $1,000 on StumbleUpon Paid Discovery and get 10,000 people to visit your blog post in the next 30 minutes, but more than 90 percent of those people won’t read a single word beyond the headline. When someone excitedly announces, “We got more traffic this month!” the only response that makes sense is, “Cool. What did that traffic do for us?”
- Search rankings: It’s difficult to tell if search rankings drive traffic, and even if they do, once again you have to be able to quantify how the traffic actually helped your business goals.
- Social shares: Just because someone shared your content doesn’t mean that he actually visited the page or that any of his followers will visit the page.
- Impressions and reach: Similar to rankings, impressions and reach are indicators of possibility. They are not indications of whether or not people saw or consumed your content. It’s the equivalent of saying people in cars are carefully paying attention to the billboards they drive past and taking specific actions because of them.
- Page views: A page view doesn’t inherently mean the user took any action that benefits your business.
For most aspects of your business, these vanity metrics are simply indicators of possibility — not true indicators of action or even interest.
Business metrics vs. channel metrics
There are a number of great measurement frameworks out there.
At iPullRank, we typically refer to two distinct segments: business metrics and channel metrics.
Business metrics have a direct impact on the company’s performance. They are often referred to as a subset of “business intelligence.”
- Number of leads
- Amount of revenue generated
- Customer lifetime value
- Cost per acquisition
- Churn rate
Your content marketing efforts should impact these metrics.
They’re the metrics that get you your bonus! And they’re the metrics your boss cares about.
Channel metrics are the levers you directly control that impact those business metrics.
Examples of channel metrics are:
- Conversion rates per channel
- Personas visiting per channel
- Scroll depth of content per channel
- Traffic per channel
Ultimately, these are the metrics that you can impact through direct and specific on-site changes.
The process for measuring content marketing
Let’s walk through your first steps of measurement planning.
1. Determine your business goals
Are you looking to generate more leads, sell more products, or perhaps grow your email list? Knowing your business goals will help you determine conversion values.
Be careful with business goals, however. Although you may just be responsible for one certain channel, those channel metrics are not business goals. For example, “increase Facebook Likes” is not a business goal. Driving more conversions from Facebook traffic is a business goal.
2. Determine your audience
Who are you speaking to with your content? How do they align with what can be tracked by your current setup? What features make up an audience segment? These answers help you determine the value of your traffic.
You can specifically do this in Google Analytics by creating advanced segments leveraging data from Demographics and Interests reports.
3. Determine your channels
Where do you distribute your content? PPC? Social Media? Email? Display? Native Advertising? Each channel has its own measurable attributes.
4. Determine your tools
What tools do you have at your disposal for measurement? Google Analytics? Or other channel-specific analytics, as well?
5. Determine your key performance indicators (KPIs)
The combination of your channels and your tools determine your KPIs. Based on your goals and the data available to you, what will you use to determine the effectiveness of the effort? What is a conversion?
Once you’ve done all this, you’ll have several business metric KPIs that look like this:
Now you know what to focus on so you can start measuring your content marketing!
Content marketing measurement isn’t hard after all
Measurement requires deliberate thought and alignment of your efforts with your goals.
So let’s all stop doing arts and crafts.
Let’s illustrate how our content is truly making businesses mon-naay!
Ready to take your content marketing to the next level?
Mike King is among the powerhouse lineup of speakers who will be presenting at Authority Rainmaker May 13–15, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. Accelerate your business with integrated content, search, and social media marketing (plus invaluable networking).