Content Marketing: How to satisfy the direct marketing need for measurement

Content Marketing

Many of us direct marketers have been struggling with content marketing – the creation and publishing of information presented in a variety of formats, video, white papers, blog posts, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles and more.

While we recognize that this information can be an important marketing strategy and is helpful in building a brand’s identity, we struggle with measuring the return on the investment (ROI) of content marketing. Measuring effectiveness is our expectation of every marketing program.

We understand the content creation needs to informative and not promotional, or it will quickly loose credibility with our audience. Carefully crafted content can be informative while subtly driving a desired action without appearing promotional.

Once you have the proper content, you can start measuring effectiveness.

Content should not be measured with a single metric, because no one data point can satisfactorily tell you whether your program is working. Instead, you need to measure on several of metrics:

1. Consumption

How many from your target audience opened and read your content measured as page views, downloads, or views?  This is the most fundamental type of content metric, and is unfortunately also the place where many programs both start and end. It’s an important piece of data, and is generally easy to derive through Google Analytics, YouTube insights, or similar analytics programs. The key is to not stop your measuring with consumption data.

2. Sharing

How often did your target audience feel the content was worthy to share with others? Here we’re measuring how successful your content is in getting consumers to share it with others, as determined by tweets, likes, LinkedIn shares, Google + shares, and others.  By sharing your content your primary target audience is endorsing the content and extending the content’s reach.

You’ll want to make it easy for your audience to share your content by placing links to the top social media sites within your content.  There are several analytics packages than can help to determine sharing volume.

3. Lead Generation

How many of the target audience turn into leads? Now we’re just counting viewers/readers, and are getting the interest of direct marketers,. Whether you require registration before allowing people to read/watch/download your content, or whether you’re measuring leads generated after content is consumed, this is where we start determining whether the content marketing effort is making financial sense.

If you have an online lead form on your site, you can measure leads by determining how many people went to the lead form immediately after consuming your content. You can also set a browser cookie and track when someone fills out that lead form after viewing your content. If your leads are handled via phone, you can install a simple script that shows a different (trackable) phone number when people have first watched a video, downloaded a presentation, etc.

4. Sales

How often do content viewers turn into customers? Using your customer and prospect database, note in the prospect record that the potential customer consumed content pieces X, Y, and Z. Then, when the sales development team turns that prospect into a sale, determine the projected revenue and profit (lifetime value) of that customer, and assign it to the content pieces.

Content marketing is not just about consumption. Measuring all four content marketing metrics will provide important direction for planning the efficient expansion of your campaign.