Content marketing is one of those trendy buzzwords floating around the marketing world right now. No matter what magazine you pick up or newsletter you’re subscribed to, content marketing is the “in” way of gaining new customers. So you hire someone to do it for you.
That’s the part many businesses miss.
On the surface, content marketing makes sense. Sort of. You create a bunch of content and throw it out online, hoping someone sees it and follows it back to you.
But if you’re doing this “just because”, you’re missing the most important part.
The very first question you should ask yourself before you begin is: Why am I creating this content?
You should never create a piece of content without setting a few objectives first. Without them, you’ll have no idea how it works.
- Why are you creating content?
- Is it to increase brand awareness?
- Is it for lead generation?
- Is it for customer retention?
- Is it to upsell your existing customers?
Whatever the reason, defining your goals from the onset gives you true purpose for the content you write. And once you have that in place, you can use metrics to determine how effective the process is.
Even though close to 90 percent of B2B brands state they are using content marketing as a strategy, only about 30 percent of them say they are effective. More than 55 percent are unclear or unsure on what their success or effectiveness looks like.
That means a lot of businesses are playing the “throw the content out there and hope it does some good” game.
How can you change that?
A lot of business owners aren’t masters of measurement. They may understand the need to measure data, but feel completely overwhelmed when an analytics dashboard pops up in front of them. The more details it provides, the more “deer in the headlights” they become.
Consumption metrics are your starting point. They deal with how many people have viewed or accessed your content. They deal with the most fundamental content questions and provide you with an overview of how your content is performing.
Google provides a wealth of information on how well your data is performing, and they do it all for free. Three key metrics you should look at are:
Users – this is your total number of unique visitors to individual pages on your websites.
Pageviews – this is to total number of times a particular page is viewed.
Unique pageviews – this combines pageviews generated by the same user in the same session. It tells how many times a page is viewed in individual sessions.
Source – this tells you what channels were used to consume your content. It can provide insight as to what other channels may be of benefit.
Mobile – this tells you what devices are used to consume your content. It tells you if long form content works for you or if people prefer quick, easy bites of information more accessible on mobile platforms.
While some people may tell you email is dying, it comes down to knowing your customers. Many consumers love email. And if you have fans that still check email regularly, sending a newsletter with your content can increase brand awareness and increase spending exponentially.
If you use a third party email marketing platform like Constant Contact, (and you should if you’re sending out emails regularly to your customer base), they provide a wealth of information on the effectiveness of your content.
Opens – this tells you the number of people that opened your email campaigns.
Clicks – this provides you with information on how many people clicked on links within your sent emails.
These third party programs give you lots of tools to test your content in different ways to find out what works best.
We live in a world that loves to share. By keeping a close eye on your content that is being shared the most, you’ll learn more about relevancy in your customer’s’ eyes. It’s also important to track how and where your content is being shared so you can utilize those tools in different ways.
Most social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter give you access to some basic analytics. There are also third party platforms for all major social sites that can track your metrics more in-depth. These tools allow you to watch your top performing content and set benchmarks for every piece of content you produce. That way you can tweak the little things to turn underperforming posts, articles, and news into content that is fresher, more exciting, and more shareable.
Content used to bring in future business should be tracked for its effectiveness. Does it bring in leads at an acceptable rate? What can you do to tweak it to bring in more?
Forms, coupon redemption, registration, free trials, demos, signups for free reports or whitepapers are all great ways of getting prospects to take the next step. And with every offer you make, ensure you have a system in place to track who is signing up.
Don’t ask for more information than is necessary to complete the connection. If all you need is an email address, start there. The more your viewers trust you, the more willing they are going to be to part with their information. That’s why savvy marketers have multiple systems in place, guiding a prospect along using different tools. Then they track their performance along the path.
Your sales metrics look at how well your content is contributing to your bottom line. How is your content impacting the results of your sales funnel every step of the way?
Many business owners lump all of their online content into one category and don’t worry about the individual steps. But the more you track each step, the more you can see patterns along the way. Do you see trends in abandonment of your sales process at certain levels? Now you have insight into the perfect place to spend some time and refine the process.
Using CRM tools like Salesforce, you can create individual campaigns for each piece of content you use. As customers access different pieces of content along a path, your CRM system will track the results. Now you can look at how much it cost to produce each piece and put your money into the areas that see the best results.
How are you holding onto your customers after they connect with you? Are you connecting with them after the sale to turn one sale into two?
Studies show that people are more likely to do business with companies that stay fresh in their minds. That only makes sense, right? That’s where brand awareness comes into play.
When you develop a pattern of creating content and sharing with your entire customer base, you’re more likely to retain them as customers. But what do you customers want the most?
Use your analytics to look at how many people return and read after they consume your content. Learn their interests by offering them more content. Drill down and go deeper into your products and services, building on things you know they’ll need, given their history. If they buy an oil change from you, more than likely they’ll need a new battery too.
Growth is a good thing across all platforms. What are you doing to attract new followers to your social accounts? Is your email subscriber list going up? Keep in mind that signing up is only the first step in the process. Helping them engage is your endpoint. It’s what you should strive to do by giving people what they want: great content.
You’ll notice the difference when you do.