What does content marketing mean to you? Whatever the answer might be, most will agree that it´s growing in popularity. Yet, even though nine out of ten marketers have adopted some form of content marketing strategy, and budgets for this area regularly increase, very few are any good at measuring its return on investment. Why do you think that is?
For some organisations, this inability to prove how effective it is can be an obstacle to them launching their own content strategy. Others who have implemented it might be under pressure to begin proving returns but simply do not know how. So, what do marketers need to take into consideration?
Content marketing is not advertising and should not be measured as such
At its most basic, content marketing is the art of communicating relevant and valuable content to your prospects without selling. Advertising, on the other hand, is telling or showing prospects how great your brand is.
With an immediate link to a product or service, advertising is direct in encouraging prospects to become customers. Content marketing is about useful content with the intention of changing consumer behaviour and encouraging them further down the sales funnel.
Content marketing means many micro conversions
Using traditional advertising models, a direct investment in a campaign is expected to yield a corresponding lift in sales, meaning it is very simple to measure ROI on these bottom of the funnel macro conversions.
Unfortunately, many corporate executives expect these same results from content marketing. Yet, with so many smaller engagements from the first point of contact until a sale, it is not quite so simple to measure.
True, both advertising and content marketing aim to increase sales, but content marketing is an attempt to access prospects earlier in the decision-making process – sometimes before they know that they need your product or service. Advertising, meanwhile, influences purchasing decisions from prospects that are ready to buy.
Content marketing presents a longer customer journey from the top of the sales funnel. In that time, this strategy presents more opportunities for micro conversions and engagement prior to a purchase and it is this activity that should be used to determine the success of a campaign rather than revenue.
Understand the consumption metrics and establish appropriate goals
Micro conversion metrics can – and should – be measured in terms of consumption, sharing, lead generation and sales. However, these sales (the macro versions) need to be linked back to the numerous micro conversions that encouraged the sale.
In order to establish how successful your marketing efforts were, you need to know the intent of each content asset and measure it appropriately. Consumption can be measured through traffic, pages viewed, bounce rate and time on page. Sharing can be monitored through tweets, likes, +1s, pins and inbound links. Finally, lead generation metrics include form submissions, email subscriptions and conversion rates.
Setting the appropriate micro conversion goals and metrics can make all the difference to how you perceive the success of a content marketing campaign. Is it time that you took a fresh look at what content marketing could achieve for you?