You need to turn your content marketing objectives into quantifiable metrics. Once you establish those metrics, it’s easy to quickly assess whether your content marketing program has achieved success or if needs deep re-work.
While it sounds like an easy proposition to measure success, most B2B companies find it daunting. This article is going to specifically focus on B2B companies. Most B2B companies typically have an online component to their goals as well as an offline component.
Your online metrics should closely resemble a sales funnel. A customer acquisition sales funnel has several stages. The most common are:
Let’s focus on the first two stages and typical measurement metrics used online.
For this stage, you’re measuring how many prospects enter your funnel and their initial engagement with your company. Basic awareness, or topic funnel metrics, include:
Each one determines how well you’re doing when it comes to attracting the right people to your site. It also assesses if your website is helping those people engage with your site and brand.
The second set of measurements relate to the middle of the sale funnel. Here, you’ll measure prospects’ engagement and interest. The metrics will answer the following questions:
At this funnel stage, the specific metrics you’ll measure include:
Ultimately, most B2B companies collect and use these different interaction date points to calculate a propensity-to-buy calculation. This is a formalized way of determining how “hot” or likely a prospect is to buy.
Let’s use an example. Suppose that I place a value of one point for every page that the person visits. If that person now goes to specific pages, such as the case study page, I’m going to assign a value of 10 points to each case study read.
If the prospect registers for the company’s newsletter, I may give them an additional 25 points. I then add all the prospect’s accumulated points to give a propensity-to-buy score. If that score is large enough (based on the company’s internal threshold levels), then I would consider them as a hot prospect. I can also tag them as someone who would require immediate contact by a member of my sales team.
Other B2B companies aren’t focused on trying to drive sales leads. While that may be an indirect result of what they do, these companies may be more focused on developing their brand awareness and thought leadership. In this case, you will need to use a different set of metrics to measure success.
Here, you will need measure success based on:
When you combine these metrics, you’ll have a pretty comprehensive view of how your brand is performing.
Recently, since COVID-19 has disrupted the economy, many B2B companies have overlooked brand awareness and thought leadership in favor of lead generation. However, when a company successfully executes a good brand awareness and thought leadership program, it ends up improving all your lead generation marketing programs.
Let’s use an example to explain this further. Company X spends money on Google AdWords. They try to get people to visit their website and download an e-guide. Their click-to-conversion rate is 2%. The company then starts a brand awareness campaign. Over time, their visibility rises. As it does, the company is likely to see a higher percentage of people clicking on their Google AdWords ads. This happens because searchers have more brand recall.
Beyond Google Analytics, B2B companies can choose among a large variety of content and web analytics providers who complement the reports found in Google Analytics.
For brand awareness tracking, you’ll want to use Google Trends. This excellent tool allows you to query up to 10 years’ worth of data. This will be great for seeing how your brand performs over time.
LinkedIn has recently released a new version of its analytics solution. While it is specific to LinkedIn activity, it is still valuable information. With this tool, you can see not only the number of visitors but also the change in your followers. You can also determine the engagement rates associated with your LinkedIn posts.
Twitter also has an excellent program called Twitter Analytics. This is beyond the advertising analytics. It is specifically focused on organic social performance associated with your company’s Twitter account. It also analyzes impressions and engagement levels, among other things.
Alexa is a subsidiary of Amazon. Unlike the personal device that helps you manage your life, this is a web analytics solution that helps measure how company performance over time. They do have a free version. When you type in your website URL in Alexa, it’ll provide you with some basic information. They also have an impressive paid professional version.
When measuring social media performance, there are several aspects that you’ll want to measure, including:
The next area is return on investment (ROI). Now that you’re measuring your content marketing program’s performance, you will begin to understand the “what,” “where,” and “when” of your program. From there, you can now determine your program’s ROI. Marketers sometimes make the mistake that ROI can only be associated with media buys. This is not the case.
With your content marketing program, you can allocate numerous hard and soft costs, including:
You need to count all three of them to arrive at a total cost. Once you have your total program costs, divide it against the number of actions (conversions) generated. The result is your cost per action (conversion). You can then assign a value to the action.
For example, let’s say you’re measuring leads. It takes 10 leads to generate a $10,000 sale. Then, your revenue per lead is
This is your assigned value for the action. Now, let’s assume that it costs your company $250 to generate one lead (action). Your ROI is then
The same math can be applied for other actions further up the sales funnel such as email registrations. The number of email registrations divided by your cost equals your cost per registration. Continuing the example above, if it takes 10 email registrations to generate one lead, then your revenue per email registration is
If your costs exceed $25, then you’re losing money. If they stay below $25, then you are making money.
Remember that you need a long and open-ended period to generate a successful content marketing program. This is compared to a traditional media buy that’s generated over a short and defined period.
A banner ad campaign runs from a specific start and end date. Majority of your results will be derived within that period. A content marketing program will have a significantly longer and open-ended period. This assumes that you’re creating evergreen content (or content that is not timely).
When marketers measure their content marketing program’s performance, they tend to focus on a hard ROI. While this is incredibly important, it doesn’t tell the whole performance picture. Marketers often fail to measure return on time (ROT). They also don’t measure the opportunity cost of investing in one marketing program over another.
If it takes your internal team several hours to implement, manage and analyze a marketing program, those are real costs, too. If there are solutions that can make a content marketing program more efficient and require less internal time, you should also measure that important metric.
To ensure success for your content marketing program, you need to take these critical steps:
Measuring your content marketing program’s success is more complex than a media buy. Properly incorporating the right inputs makes all the difference in accurately assessing program performance.
If you do that, it’s going to be very easy to identify what works and what doesn’t. You can also determine where you’ll need to optimize your content marketing program. That’s the secret to making your content marketing program a success.