content marketing measurement

You’ve reached the end of another financial year – hopefully with a smile on your face – so what better time to evaluate your content marketing efforts than now?

At the end of the financial year, traditional offline marketers will be relying almost solely on their profit-and-loss statements to determine whether anything in their communications strategy actually worked. Content marketers, on the other hand, can measure success via all sorts of tools and techniques – provided of course they laid the groundwork.

As we’ve already mentioned in this measurement series, one of the best ways to determine exactly what’s working down the track is to set clear goals and align them with specific KPIs at the outset of your content program. Let’s assume you did this, in which case it’s a good idea to revisit each of them.

Goals and KPIs

If you’re in the early stages of your campaign, you’ll no doubt still be primarily focused on how many people are consuming your content and how often they’re sharing it, as a measure of reach and brand awareness. To help you determine how well you’re progressing in this area, you’ll need to analyse your user metrics, such as page views (or growth in traffic), bounce rates and social shares.

In contrast, if your strategy has been up and running long enough to gain real traction, you’ll probably be looking more closely at specific business goals in terms of leads and conversion rates to see whether your content efforts are paying off financially. Here, it’s your marketing metrics like form completions, content downloads and subscriptions that will give you a good indication of performance.

Ultimately, you should be aiming for a holistic measurement system that takes both user and marketing metrics into account. As content marketing guru Jay Baer, says, “There isn’t one single metric or measurement that will give you the full picture, it takes a combination.” And while it’s tempting to focus on consumption alone, there will come a time when you’ll need to demonstrate ROI.

Identifying trends

Provided you have a minimum of six months of data to work with, you should be able to glean some useful insights into audience behaviour and the effectiveness of your campaign. You’ll also find there are patterns and trends emerging, which you can use to inform your decisions going forward.

For instance, over time your standard KPIs will reveal the kinds of topics your customers are engaging with, their preferred formats and the time of day they’re most likely to interact. These learnings can all be fed back into your content plan and, indeed, they should – it’s important to act on what your data is telling you.

Filling the gaps

By analysing your results, you’ll also determine where your content efforts are falling short and what you can do to remedy the situation. Perhaps you’re disappointed by the number of social shares you’re getting. In which case, Baer says, “You can impact this metric considerably by making social sharing easier and more obvious for your readers and watchers.”

You may also find that there are gaps in your analytics, and you can then work on ways to plug them. For instance, you may already be tracking how many people completed lead forms on your site immediately after consuming your content. But, as Baer suggests, “You can also set up a browser cookie and track when someone fills out that lead form after viewing your content, even if there is a 30 or 60-day interval between those events.”

There are numerous other benefits to be had from a thorough review of your content marketing efforts. Using this EOFY as an opportunity to assess both past successes and failures will ensure 2014-15 brings only bigger and better results.