Content is one of those things that every marketer and brand manager worth their salt knows is important. They also know that it works. Unfortunately, the ‘how’ is where people start to get lost. Because content isn’t always related to direct sales, it can be difficult to measure whether a campaign has been successful, particularly when talking about your bottom line.
To help you out, we’ve created a list of ways to measure the success of your content marketing efforts.
One thing that marketers often forget to do is to set KPIs for their content. Not all content can accomplish everything. Do you want to sell in your content to press in order to gain backlinks? Do you want to create a buzz on social media? Or are you just interested in driving sales? Decide on what it is you want your content to achieve and set your KPIs around that before you start to measure its success.
STOP: before you scroll any further, be sure to read our blog on the ROI of Content Marketing.
Short term metrics
One of the biggest mistakes that brands make is having unrealistic expectations of their content. Keep in mind that effective content marketing is hard work, and often it can take a long time before you’ll reap the rewards. This said, there are a number of short term metrics you can use to determine the initial success of a content campaign.
The amount of initial engagement around a piece of content is often a good indicator of how well it is received. After all, the aim of this kind of marketing is to create content that is sharable and engaging.
How to Measure it
There are a number of metrics you can look at to measure engagement with a piece of content. Be sure to look at things like:
- Blog visits
- Unique visits
- Interactions on social media
TweetReach is a simple and free tool you can use to measure how far a piece of content has travelled on Twitter, by analysing particular hashtags and terms to see who is talking about your brand.
A lot of marketers are turning to paid options in order to promote their content. Putting some budget behind the promotion of content can help it soar. But simply throwing money at a project and hoping for the best isn’t the answer. After each project, measure its success and adapt your paid strategy accordingly.
How to Measure it
Before starting with paid promotion, be sure to add a unique tracking code to each of your sources in order to effectively gauge where your traffic is coming from. See this post from Econsultancy on How to use Google Analytic URL builder to track campaigns.
Once you have completed a paid social campaign, you can use the social analytics from each platform to measure how well each performed. Be sure to look at metrics such as:
- Click-through rate
- Engagement – retweets, shares, comments
For a more comprehensive tutorial, see How to Promote a Project or Brand on Social Media.
Important metrics to look at when measuring the success of your paid campaign is the bounce rate and average time on Google Analytics. It’s easy enough to get click throughs to a blog using a large budget, but if you have a 100% bounce rate and an average time of five seconds spent on your blog, then either your content is not very effective or you’re targeting the wrong audience.
Creating content specifically for the purpose of getting picked up and shared by the press is a content marketing technique that is becoming increasingly popular among digital marketers. It has massive potential to not only drive traffic to your site directly, but also to bolster your search visibility by creating a quality backlink profile.
How to Measure it
Once you have sold in your content, there are a few factors to look at when determining its success. These include:
- The number of titles that pick up your content piece
- The domain authority and link equity of each site
- The social following of each title
- The amount of referral traffic gained from each site over time
See our blog post on The Power of Digital PR for SEO for a full list of what makes a good content marketing hit.
Long term metrics
Often just looking at short term metrics doesn’t tell the whole story of your campaign and can leave you scratching your head over the true value of content. A more realistic way to measure how content marketing has impacted your brand is to look at the long term metrics and how it affects brand visibility overall.
‘Increase brand visibility’ is a phrase every marketer since the beginning of time has thrown around. But how do you actually define and measure the success of the mystical beast that is brand visibility? Content is an important weapon in the fight for getting your brand noticed. This said, measuring the visibility of your brand is not as easy as measuring the success of something like a paid campaign, for example.
How to Measure it
There are a few ways in which you can measure brand visibility. As Marketing Maven mentions in their post on Marketing Visibility, measuring your brand awareness comes down to the channels that you are using to market your brand. Brand visibility can take the form of many things, including:
- Increased media coverage
- Brand recognition
- Increased brand conversion
- Increased direct or referral traffic
As I mentioned before, not all content can do everything. Decide on a few key metrics and measure your brand visibility according to their growth over time. If you have too many facets you are just going to end up frazzled and vowing never to write another piece of content ever again.
When looking at your company on social media, there are a number of ways to measure your brand visibility. These include your number of followers, retweets or mentions. The more your audience engages with you, the more influence you have over them – simple.
Perhaps the most valuable tool to use when gauging your social authority though, is Klout. The tool gives you a Klout score out of 100, which is a measurement of your overall online influence through social. Klout uses over 35 variables across Twitter and Facebook to measure things such as amplification probability, true reach and network score.
Traffic to Your Site
An increase in traffic to your site over time is a key indicator of an increase in overall brand visibility. Things to monitor:
- Impressions – your content shows up in a search result or a social news feed. The more often you’re visible to users, the more familiar people will be with your brand.
- Paid vs. organic traffic – You can see how much of your traffic comes organically through search, versus paid promotion.
- Click-throughs – This shows direct interest in your company and the content you are offering.
- Non-brand organic traffic – Organic traffic that is coming from search terms not including your brand shows an increase in your market share.
- Organic search share of voice – The percentage of online conversations in your industry that include your brand. Compare yourself against competitors to see growth over time.
- New versus returning visitors – If the percentage of new visitors increases over time, it shows that the brand’s visibility is increasing.
For new brands, it can be difficult to get press to cover your stories because they don’t have anything to base your reputation on. As you become better known for creating quality content, the likelihood of press covering your brand will increase. An effective way to track these mentions is through the use of Google Alerts, which tells you when your company has been mentioned in news, blog posts and web pages.
Sales, Sales, Sales
When people click through to your blog, they are likely to have come from Twitter or Facebook. This means that they are in a browsing mindset, rather than a researching and buying one. It is highly unlikely that a new customer will read your blog and want to buy something from you. For this reason, the success of content should never be measured by direct sales alone.
This doesn’t mean that content shouldn’t influence your bottom line. One campaign might not have a direct influence on sales, but by using attribution modelling, you can assign credit to each channel, including content, and its effect on overall conversion and sales over time. See ‘What is Attribution modelling?’ for a full explanation. Content is a long-game, and should be analysed as one. Unless you have a £5 million budget to blow, the likelihood of one campaign instantly affecting your bottom line is slim. Instead of looking at sales over a one month period, set yourself a goal for the next year for conversions aided by content, and measure its contribution to the bottom line that way.
There’s no doubting that quantifying and analysing the success of content marketing is no easy feat. Remember, the value of content can often take a while to show, so don’t get disheartened if your first campaign isn’t making you millions off the bat. Want to find out more about integrated digital marketing? Then sign up to our newsletter and get our best blogs sent directly to your inbox.