How to Define The Content Marketing Metrics that Matter

Create more content. Create better content. Create visual content. Create content that is so good your customers would pay for it. Do a better job distributing your content. These are the common refrains heard at every marketing conference and around the table in any marketing department that has adopted a content strategy. No matter whose voice is the loudest, when it comes down to it, you need to measure what really matters to determine your success.

Paul Roetzer of PR 20/20 presented a session on this very topic at Content Marketing World. He provided a simple framework for thinking about content marketing metrics. The challenge is that we are inundated with data, and unless we can determine insights from all that data, and create actionable outcomes, it is all just noise.

1. Align Content Marketing Goals with Business Goals

This is the basis for all marketing. If your content efforts don’t support your business goals, no one else in the organization, but especially in the C-Suite, will care what you are doing. Views, clicks, downloads are simple metrics that you need to track, but they are not goals. Make sure you establish SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) to help determine your success. Create content goals for each stage of the buyer’s process. For example, increase web visits by 20% in Q4 to address the top of the funnel and generate 50 marketing qualified leads in Q4 to address the middle of the funnel. And work with sales to create a bottom of the funnel goal.

2. Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

The key performance indicators are the metrics that you track at each stage of the funnel to track your success. If your goals in the examples above are to increase web visits or generate a certain number of leads, then those are the specific KPIs to track. Other examples of KPIs, which can be driven by certain content activities, are blog subscribers or increased social reach as created by blogging or social engagement. Lead nurturing activities can generate demos or free trials as you move into the middle of the funnel. As you track these metrics, create a basic dashboard, even a spreadsheet works, so you can see at a glance how your efforts are doing.

3. Track and Report at the Campaign Level

Every campaign is a series of projects that help you meet you goals. By tracking and reporting these activities separately, you will understand how each one impacts your results. No matter what program is at the heart of your analytics, whether it's marketing automation, CRM or Google Analytics, use the appropriate campaign codes to track attribution of each campaign. Every organization needs to agree upon an attribution model, whether it’s first touch, last touch or a blended model, to understand what is really driving success.

4. Train Your Team

Many marketers are just not properly trained in data analysis. Dumping data into a spreadsheet or making pretty charts in Powerpoint is not enough. Admit it. We've all done it. All members of your team need to be able to connect the dots to uncover anomalies, trends and opportunities. Strategies may need to be adjusted based what they uncover. Online resources abound. Besides blog posts, ebooks and webinars providing high level education, most vendors provide some sort of training to learn how to apply data analysis best practices within their own tool. It is this level of understanding and analysis that will let you tie activities to performance and bottom-line results.

5. Automate and Visualize Data

As you build analytics dashboards, look for ways to automate the entry process using APIs or other methods of pulling data from one program to another. After creating a standard report, set it up so the report is emailed to you on a daily or weekly basis. This saves you from having to remember to go pull the new report every day. You can also build higher level reports that go to your team on a monthly basis. But remember, the analysis is more important than the data, so don't email these report out and think your job is done. One way to help explain the data is to visualize it. Charts and graphs can help show the data, but you still have to tell the story of success.

With these thoughts about creating the right metrics for your content marketing efforts floating around your head, download The Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Content Marketing to get started turning prospects into customers.

Creative Commons Image from Flickr

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