by Jayson DeMers

According to the 2012 B2B Content Marketing: Benchmarks,
Budgets and Trends
report
by the Content Marketing Institute, “nine out of ten Business to Business
marketers are using content marketing to grow their businesses.” Ninety percent
is a pretty big number to prove that content marketing is without a doubt the
most important marketing strategy of the near future.

But like any other type of marketing technique, many people
say they have a content marketing strategy, yet actually have a hard time
defining the term in-depth. Some might kick back a definition they found on the
web, like the one from the Content
Marketing Institute
that states,

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating
and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage
a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of
driving profitable customer action.”

Now ask them how they are measuring the success of their
content marketing efforts, and most won’t have a clear answer. This is often because
they don’t fully understand what they want content to actually do for them.

Decide Where You Are
Going

Before you begin to think about what makes content marketing
successful, you have to determine what you want your content to do for you. Are
you looking for it to:

  • Help you build your brand’s reputation?
  • Increase traffic?
  • Build a social presence?
  • Increase sales and conversions?

When you what you need your content to do, you can start
thinking more about measuring its effectiveness.

Measuring success can run the spectrum of complexity. You
can simply say you want traffic to increase 30 percent within three months of
starting your company blog. There you have a measurable goal in a defined time
period spelled out in easy terms. But what if you want more? Do you know what
other metrics can be used to see how well your content is working for you?

Conversion Rates

In order to increase revenue, your business needs to
increase conversions. But to look at conversions as sales alone is too narrow.
Conversions can be sales, but they can also be defined as lead captures,
Facebook likes, and much more. To increase conversions, you have to convince people
to take some sort of action.

Content can be used to convince people to take an action.
Trading an e-book or a white paper for contact information is an example of a
successful conversion. Someone wants that information and they are willing to
pay, by giving their email address, for it. This is an example of successful
content marketing.

Decide how you want your content to work to increase
conversions. Set measureable and realistic goals and then test to see which
types of content and which landing pages produce the best results.

Search Engine Success

Everyone who has a website wants to rank well in the search
engine results pages. Time and time again, Google has stated that the way to
improve rankings is to simply publish high-quality content.

On their blog, Salesforce
noted
that blogs result in websites having 434% more indexed pages. So,
companies that blog regularly have a much wider net, as far as the search
engines are concerned, since each indexed page provides for one more
opportunity to rank on the coveted first page.

But this isn’t limited to blogs. Any type of content that
readers find valuable will help increase your search engine visibility. Spend
some time looking at your rankings and see how well your blog posts do compared
to your home page. Look for which content gives you the best results and work
to create more of it.

Content that doesn’t rank well can be a useful measurement
tool as well. See what’s causing the poor rankings by testing that content.
Make changes until you get it right and when you find what makes it a success
remember that adjustment in the future.

Social Metrics

With so many social sites, marketers can easily be overtaken
by an avalanche of data from measuring likes, favorites, shares, mentions, Google
+1′s, etc. While overwhelming, these metrics can measure how effective your
content is in the social space.

However, taking this measurement one step further can really
give you insight into how well your content is performing. Instead of looking
at only the numbers, look at the quality of shares you are getting. What type
of people are sharing your content and with whom? And most importantly, are
these people converting?

Some types of content will typically find its way to more
people. List posts and infographics are generally more popular, and receive
more social chatter (which translates to improved
rankings via social signals
) than most other types of content. However
stack this against something like a white paper that may receive less social
traction, but increase conversions and bring in more qualified leads. In this
instance, which would you rather have?

Expenses

The last metric you should consider is how much your content
marketing strategy
is costing you. If you’re doing everything in house, take
into account the time your employees or staff are spending on creating content
and getting it in front of readers. If you’re outsourcing your content, tally
up the dollars spent to see what the real numbers are.

Success is often measured by how much more revenue you bring
in as a result of content marketing, compared to how much you spend (ROI). But
with a content marketing campaign, it can be difficult to draw specific
conclusions or insight. This is because content marketing results in more than
just direct revenue; it also builds your brand credibility, trustworthiness,
and loyalty. All these things are a sort of business equity that can’t directly
be measured in dollars.

Seeing the end results of your content marketing campaign
will take months or even years. How long depends on variables such as your
industry, the amount of time and money spent on your content marketing campaign,
your content marketing strategy, how well the strategy was executed, your
social media presence and integration
with your content strategy
, and of course the quality of the content you
produce.

But just because it takes time to see the end results, it
doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep a vigilant eye on these metrics throughout
the course of your campaign. Test the effectiveness of your content against
other mediums to see which ones will help you reach your end goals. Create what
works for you and fix that which isn’t getting any traction.

Conclusion

In the years to come, content is going to continue to be at
the front and center of the marketing world. Build a foundation today so you
won’t find yourself playing catch up tomorrow. 

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How to Measure the Success of Your Content Marketing Campaign

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