Marketers are overwhelmed with data. But ask the marketers if they measure the right things and most of the answers are closer to "cursed if I know" than "lost." So, what can be done when big data takes over you?
In May, I judged a category in the 2018 Content Marketing Awards. I was particularly interested to see how the entries indicated success indicators. I've been more than disappointed to see many entries relying on the same ubiquitous (and often pointless) measures that everyone is touting, regardless of the nature of the content or the business goals that they are having. He is supposed to reach. Even when people clearly defined their goals for the project – and not everyone did it – there was a striking gap between the goals and the way they claimed to demonstrate their success.
Rand Fishkin observes the same behavior. The founder of SparkToro and Moz and author of Lost and Founder: an extremely honest field guide to the world of startups, has spent his career helping marketers reach their target audiences. Rand told me about the extent of an episode of the podcast Brand Newsroom.
"I think one of the biggest problems I'm seeing in measurement and reporting is that the marketing metrics we use are disconnected from what actually affects the business purpose. ", did he declare.
He thinks business is about autopilot when it comes to reporting, designating preconceived ideas as a culprit. "I think it happens because marketers are used to certain parameters. Their managers, their marketing directors and even their managers are used to certain parameters. they are used to reporting in a certain way, "explains Rand.
"You know that web analytics are used to giving certain types of outputs, so you get that bias."
When he is in a hurry to give his best indicators, Rand says that a one-size-fits-all mindset is the wrong way of thinking about the extent. "We should ask ourselves:" In this particular situation, where we are trying to accomplish x, what are the parameters we should use to measure if we did x? ""
Rand says that content marketers encounter problems when they assume that some measures are good and others are bad. "We have to do everything specific to the situation and link the indicators to the company's goals," he said.
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Path to Content Marketing Success
Let's be clear: the path to successful content marketing is simple to define but hard to reach. It looks like this:
Define the objectives of the company.
Develop a content marketing strategy with defined marketing goals and success indicators.
Produce an original content of high quality corresponding to these objectives.
Post on the online and offline channels identified in your strategy.
Distribute the content via your email database, social media, and public relations.
Boost your content by using SEO and SEM to find the ones you do not know or do not know about you.
Measure the results against the objectives of the company.
Refine the strategy to improve results.
Rand is right. What you measure should be related to the first thing in the cycle – your business goals. Yet most content marketers focus on the success of distribution and amplification efforts. This results in a general lack of accountability to the company.
Before demonstrating, remember the title of this article. It's not about social media measures or SEO. It's about whether content marketers are measuring the right things. According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing aims to "generate profitable actions for customers".
It's easy to get distracted by the content marketing process because data is a great way to see the results. It's exciting to adjust a project and see the stats change, the ranking change or the number of followers to increase. The gamification of social media has turned us into a tracker industry – while distracting too many of us from commercial results that we should try to obtain.
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Popular metrics are not necessarily useful metrics
In my opinion, some popular measures provide really useless measures to determine the success of a content marketing initiative. We need to better demonstrate the ability of the content to influence the goals of the company. Statistics and numbers are easy to communicate, especially when the data is down, but none of these parameters is useful for calculating a return on investment:
Activity Measures: Numerous statistics, including impressions, scope, views, sessions, and commitments, are reported for websites, social media, and online advertising covering organic traffic and paid traffic. Significant activity numbers may seem interesting, but they do not necessarily determine whether you are achieving your business goals. It's a bit hypocritical to pay Google to promote your content or website, then turn around and claim success.
High-activity metrics do not determine if you are achieving your business goals, says @SarahMitchellOz. #ROI Click to Tweet
Time Spent: Is more attention being paid to Facebook, YouTube, Pandora and any other online channel or platform being converted into more activities? Too many marketers are pivoting into content designed solely to entertain for the sole purpose of holding attention longer. Will this compilation of 1980s classified ads prompt someone to make a purchase? Will these so smart memes lead to more newsletter subscriptions? Will people notice or worry about the company's page or the account from where the content comes from?
Sentiment scores: These may reveal what people think about your content, but do they affect your results? Feeling can help you set the right tone, but it is still far from proving the effectiveness of your content.
What is your goal? What does profitable customer action look like? What can be measured to ensure that your efforts are valued and rewarded by the support of your company? A profitable customer action most closely resembles the growth of the company.
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Warning regarding Unique Users
One of the most misunderstood indicators is that of unique user views. Reaching 100% of your audience is difficult, if not impossible, so act with caution before reporting that you have reached everyone. Before claiming victory to your management team, it's helpful to know how unique users work.
Unique user views are designed to count visitors to your website, but it's not an exact science. In simple terms, a new user is counted during the first visit to a website. If a person uses multiple browsers, such as Safari and Chrome, the user is counted twice. Or, if cookies are in play and the user clears their cookies or if cookies are reset, the same person may be counted more than once during a given period.
Improvements are constantly being made and rules defining unique users are constantly changing. Lately, Google has started trying to predict and filter duplicates for people visiting your website from multiple devices.
Good Things to Measure
It's essential to set business goals in your content marketing strategy, as well as how you plan to measure the achievement of your goals. This creates a good opportunity to gain buy-in from other areas of the business, as important metrics will not come from Google Analytics. You will need help from different departments to get help with reporting.
It helps to openly explain how you want to generate growth with content marketing. Although a single content rarely generates a direct conversion, your overall strategy must make a measurable contribution to growth. Remember to include some or all of these measures in your strategy:
Sales data is the common thread for all measures. If you can prove that content marketing is affecting results, you will have no trouble getting more budget for future efforts.
The new customers are another critical measure. Identifying the influence of content on customer acquisition – and you should consider ways to capture that information – shows the value of content marketing.
The average lifetime value of customers shows how content marketing facilitates cross-selling and cross-selling opportunities. Compare this number and follow it in your management reports.
The reduction in the cost of acquiring customers shows that content marketing can reduce spending in other areas of the business, including advertising, traditional marketing and advertising. sales.
Customer Loyalty and Retention demonstrate the value of content marketing because it is cheaper to retain a customer than to find a new customer.
Leads Generated measure the number of potential revenue opportunities created for your business by following leads resulting directly from your content.
Email subscribers rank at the top of the subscriber hierarchy, according to Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose in their book Killing Marketing : Innovative companies convert marketing costs in Profit costs. Indeed, the public is not only interested in your content but has specifically requested more. When someone wants your content, it is much easier to convert that person into a paying customer.
The #Email subscriber metric shows the audience if interested in your # content that they want more. @SarahMitchellOz Click to Tweet
The attainment of goals to Google Analytics depends on the goals set by your SEO team and can help you control the effectiveness of your content and l & # 39; efficiency of your calls to action.
The above objectives measure the cost-effective customer action. At the same time, other indicators provide advanced indicators useful for analyzing the operation of your content marketing initiative and identifying areas of weakness or opportunities for improvement.
e-mail opening rates indicate whether your titles or topics are echoed by your audience.
Click-through rates (CTR) for the website and e-mail indicate a willingness to respond to calls to action or to seek additional information. It's important to understand how customers move in your content – where they enter and settle – but high CTRs do not necessarily translate to conversion.
The time passed shows that your content is interesting, but does not indicate whether it meets the objectives of the company. Nevertheless, if the figures of the time spent change, it is necessary to examine why.
Invitations to Contribute to events in person, in writing or by appearances on videos or podcasts indicate that your content positions you or your company as experts in the field. material.
The results of research and investigations concerning your company provide a set of information to follow over time. Depending on the questions asked, you can check if your content efforts are having a positive impact on your business.
Rand explains how web analytics can distort marketing expectations. Consecutive monthly reports of increased activity, time spent, and improved self-confidence create a false sense of security. Because content marketing is known to take the time it takes to create momentum and produce results – six, twelve, or even eighteen months – focusing on bad measures creates a difficult situation if the company n & # 39; 39 has not changed despite all reports reporting good news for months.
The less marketers and managers understand analytics and metrics, the more likely it is that levels of frustration will increase until a growing sense of "content marketing does not work" slips into the world. spirit of the enterprise. This is exactly what is happening in this era of too much information.
The shift to commercial metrics to measure and report on the effectiveness of content marketing requires a change of mindset. Content marketers who report on the impact of content on the business are in a better position to influence their organization.
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Cover image of Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute