How Leading Brands Measure Their Content Marketing Success

Aug 15, 2019

With as much time and money as your business pours into content marketing, it would be a shame to miss out on value simply because you don’t have access to the right insights. However, this is the very problem most small and medium-sized businesses have. And if you aren’t aware that the problem exists, you’ll have a hard time addressing it with the necessary vigor and conviction.

The Purpose of Content Marketing

It sounds like a very elementary inquisition, but have you ever paused to consider the purpose of content marketing for your brand? While you may think you have a clear understanding of your purpose, most businesses are actually slightly disengaged on this front. As a result, they compromise their execution and don’t know how to properly measure their results. 

If you think your content marketing is about sales, conversions, traffic, or SEO, you’d be wrong. While it does influence each of these areas, it’s ultimately about creating value for individual readers by closing a knowledge gap. Content is the bridge that leads people from the shadows and into enlightenment. 

Now, it doesn’t stop there. If that was all content marketing was good for, businesses wouldn’t invest thousands of dollars into creating and optimizing powerful content strategies. From a business perspective, the benefit of content marketing – i.e. the benefit of educating people – is rooted in the trust factor. When you take the time to educate someone without directly asking for something in return, the person on the other end of the relationship is much more likely to reciprocate with a purchase. When content continues to deliver value and products meet/exceed expectations, brand loyalty ensues. 

Why are we talking about the underlying purpose of content marketing, you ask? Because people who don’t understand the purpose of what they’re doing are unlikely to track the correct metrics. On the other hand, businesses that recognize the bigger picture are able to gather the appropriate insights needed to make smart, forward-thinking decisions. These latter businesses understand that sales revenue and email opt-ins aren’t the end-all-be-all of content marketing. Instead, they look for the more subtle metrics that indicate they’re on the correct long-term trajectory. 

Measuring Content Marketing Success

If your business is like most, you find yourself swimming in data. The question is, what do you do with the data? And how can you refine it in such a way that it produces valuable insights?

To get an idea of what it looks like to track content marketing KPIs, you’ll want to see what others are doing. Additionally, focus on the following concepts:

  • Discoverability—You can assemble the best team of copywriters in the world and choose the perfect topics for your target audience, but if your content isn’t discoverable, it doesn’t matter. Undiscoverable content hurts you in two different ways. First off, it limits the overall efficacy of the content by limiting your reach. Secondly, in order to account for the lack of reach, most businesses will be forced to invest a chunk of money into promoting the content. This drives up costs and further inhibits the ROI. You can measure the discoverability of your content by looking at metrics like impressions, clicks, click-through rate, and referral traffic sources. 
  • Engagement—Once people discover your content, you want to find out if they’re engaging with it. In other words, are they being educated and influenced? A low bounce rate or minuscule “average time on page” metric will tell you engagement isn’t where it needs to be. A solid click-through rate and the high volume of social shares communicate that you’re doing just fine. 
  • MQL to SQL Rate— Almost every marketing department is going to be tracking marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs), but sometimes the most valuable insight comes from the relationship between these two metrics. Specifically, try calculating the MQL-to-SQL ratio. “Ideally, this number is high. The conversion rate from MQL to SQL (sales qualified leads) shows both the success of your lead generation efforts and the cohesion of the marketing and sales team,” marketer Emily Culclasure explains. “Put simply: if the sales team deems your lead ‘worth pursuing,’ you did your job correctly.”

Closing Thoughts

It takes a village to develop and execute a successful content marketing strategy. Some people are delegated with focusing on very specific tasks like copywriting and visuals. Others are responsible for the big-picture overview. You need people on both ends of the spectrum – and at every point in between – to have success. Make sure you’re cultivating a well-rounded team of individuals to handle all sides. In doing so, you’ll find it easier to accomplish the underlying purpose of your content marketing endeavors and enlighten your audience in a manner that builds trust and feeds loyalty.

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