Aberdeen’s Content Marketing & Management survey (238 responses through December 2013) indicated that 75% of B2B companies had an active content marketing initiative in place. I’ve seen other surveys putting this figure even higher — as high as 93% of firms. The exact percentage probably isn’t all that meaningful at this point beyond saying, categorically, that most of your competitors are doing content marketing. And what that fact means perhaps more than anything else is that the amount of content being produced is large and getting larger by the day. And while I don’t subscribe to a zero sum philosophy when it comes to content marketing, it’s an obvious point to make that the quantity of available content is surpassing the availability of attention to consume it.
The competition for content is leading smart companies to focus on the quality of content they’re publishing, as much as the quantity. In fact, when asked to rank the value of a variety of content marketing activities, producing high-quality content ranked highest, beating out quantity. Moreover, Best-in-Class companies are 34% more likely than All Others to be effective in producing high-quality content (78% of Best-in-Class ranked their executional effectiveness as a 4 or 5 on a 1-5 scale, compared with 58% of All Others). So yes, quality is job one when it comes to content marketing, but what does quality actually mean and how do you measure it? There are three factors to consider when it comes to content quality, what I call the 3 Fs:
- Findable: Findability isn’t strictly a measure of quality, but quality content tends to become more findable through search and social shares. Measuring inbound traffic generated from content is among the top three content marketing metrics tracked by respondents (along with search rank and content consumption/views);
- Fine: This is no time for schlocky looking content. The aesthetic quality of the content you publish is critical, but it might also be the easiest to control by finding a good designer or hiring a capable agency or freelancer; and
- Fit: Best-in-Class companies are consistently more likely to align content to the informational needs of buyers, whether that be from the perspective of their job role/persona, industry, or stage of the buyer’s journey.
How do you measure content quality based on the 3 Fs? One solution is emerging from LinkedIn, which is fast becoming a publishing platform of choice for business professionals. In March, LinkedIn rolled out a Content Score. LinkedIn’s Content Score provides a benchmark for measuring not only how content published on the LinkedIn network is performing, but additional insight about the profile of who it’s performing well with. This is a great step towards understanding what content is resonating, particularly as you get beyond the confines of your owned web properties. One way to think about this is like an early warning system to alert you to topics, messaging and headlines that work, and those that flop need more work. LinkedIn has smartly combined their content publishing and social platform with its rich profiles of business professionals to serve up killer social content metrics. However, it doesn’t tell the full story.
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This is where fit comes in. A content analytics strategy should consider the role of content in content performance management. The value of LinkedIn’s Content Score is limited to content consumption on the LinkedIn network (naturally), which means it’s limited to primarily top-of-funnel, buyer engagement content. Best-in-Class companies are more than twice as likely as All Others to track the performance of content across various channels, including owned channels. This is critical to understanding how specific content is performing deeper into the funnel (or further in the buyer’s journey), and thus its fit to the information needs of your buyers.
To learn more about aligning content marketing to the buyer’s journey, check out Aberdeen’s May 2014 report Content Marketing and The Road to Revenue: Answering the Questions.