According to a recent survey by CMI and MarketingProfs, only 21% of content marketers are able to successfully measure their content marketing in terms of ROI. Seeing that stat was a big wake up call. In what other profession would that be ok?
Imagine a quarterback who practices and studies the game plan with coaches like any other player, but when it comes to actual games, he has no visibility as to what happens to his throws after the football leaves his hand. He doesn’t know if his passes are caught or if they hit the ground. A quarterback can’t make adjustments and improve if he doesn’t know the outcome of his efforts when it counts.
But that’s how it is for a lot of content marketing teams. Sure, they may know how many visits their post has (63% say that’s how they measure their content marketing efforts) or how many clicks it drives. But that’s like a quarterback knowing that he didn’t get sacked–it’s the bare minimum, a long ways from knowing if the play was successful at all, let alone if it resulted in a first down or a touchdown.
Meanwhile, the same survey also found that 70% of organizations are investing in creating ‘More’ or ‘Significantly More’ content than the year before. They’re throwing more, even though they can’t see whether their receivers are catching the ball. If you can’t confidently measure the ROI, how can you justify more investment? And how can you improve and get more from the investment if you don’t know what’s working and what isn’t?
At Bizible, we want to help marketers make every dollar profitable. We are also confident that we are able to measure the real success of our blog and other content marketing efforts (we’re able to see when our sales team catches the touchdown), and we as a team are able to get better and be more effective because of it.
So here are the five metrics that we use to measure our content marketing success:
1. Email Open Rate
This is our measure of a good headline, a key (but not the only) element of successful content. Even if you’ve written a fantastic 3,000 word comprehensive post, it will mean very little if nobody sees it. In the vast majority of cases, the headline is the gateway in.
So why email open rate? Because of the way we have set up our instant email subscription to our blog, the blog title is the same as the email headline. Essentially, the email open rate is the same thing as the headline open rate. We know we have written a good headline when it gets people to open up the email. It gives us a chance to provide value.
To use another sports analogy, writing a good headline and getting the reader to open it is like shooting on target. No matter how hard a person shoots, if it’s not on target, it can’t go in the goal. Likewise, no matter how good the content is, if the headline isn’t good, the reader will never see the content.
2. Social Shares
There is no point, however, in getting someone to open the email and click through to the blog post if they end up not finding any value in the content. That’s the root problem with clickbait and everybody hates clickbait. There’s not much in our digital world that is worse than being let down because the content doesn’t back up the promise of the headline.
A catchy headline, however, is just called a good headline if the content follows through.
So to measure whether our content follows through–that we’re providing value to our audience–we count how many times our content is shared on social media. If people like the content enough to share it in their networks, they’ve deemed it valuable. The content followed through on the promise of the headline.
3. Exit Rate
Creating valuable content for our readers is fantastic, but it really only matters if it’s relevant to our mission as a company. For example, we could write great content on trends in the craft beer industry that people find valuable and share on social channels (although to a different network of people), but it has absolutely nothing to do with B2B marketing attribution. Nothing else on our site is at all related to craft beer, so there would be nowhere for the reader to navigate to, nothing to engage with. After reading the blog post, they would have nowhere to go except leave.
Therefore, we use the exit rate as a measure of content relevance and user engagement. When we write high quality, relevant content, it leads to other content or other resources that we have on our website. At the same time, when we provide good content, the reader will be looking for more. Most of the time it’s an ebook or our product page–something deeper down the funnel.
To continue to engage and build a relationship, we want to keep people on our website, and the exit rate is a good measure of how well we are doing that.
4. Lead Conversion Rate
The next step down the line is converting blog (or other ungated content) readers into quality leads. As previously mentioned, when we write high quality blog posts that are also relevant, we want to continue the relationship. As B2B marketers, the most valuable way we can continue to build the relationship is when we have more information about our audience, and that happens through converting anonymous readers into leads.
When readers convert into leads we know that our content is so educational and relevant to their business needs that they are willing to give their contact information in exchange for our deeper, gated content.
5. Pipeline and Revenue Driven
The first four metrics, however, all measure the top and middle of the funnel. As pipeline marketers, we believe that marketing should impact the entire funnel, including the bottom.
That is why our ultimate measure of content marketing success is our impact on the bottom line. We want to know if our blog, ebooks, webinars, etc. are driving revenue. And we can only accurately measure that with marketing attribution, which connects our marketing data to our sales data. We could convert a million leads through our blog posts, but it would be meaningless if none of them became customers.
The purpose of content–and all marketing–is to drive business value, so it is imperative that we measure success based on how we are doing that.
If you’re one of the 79% of content marketers who aren’t able to successfully measure your efforts, or are just looking for more effective ways to measure your success, this is a great place to start.