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How to measure content marketing effectiveness

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This post is by Darren Woolley, Founder of TrinityP3. With his background as analytical scientist and creative problem solver, Darren brings unique insights and learnings to the marketing process. He is considered a global thought leader on agency remuneration, search and selection and relationship optimisation.

While content marketing is definitely a hot topic for marketers, both marketers and their agencies struggle with measuring the effectiveness of their content marketing.

Mind you some marketers struggle with measuring the effectiveness with a lot of their marketing. But it is a particular issue for content marketing, because rather than being campaign focused (like a media campaign, both traditional and digital) it is an engagement strategy executed over a period of time requiring an investment in money and resources.

This is the second of a series of posts based on the transcript from the video – How to overcome the challenges of content marketing – from the May 2014 seminar, How to be an Effective Content Marketer. You can read the first one here.

Featuring a number of brand marketers who have established successful content marketing processes, this panel will discuss the challenges associated with content marketing and share strategies to overcome them.

MC:

Featured panellists:

In the previous post the panel discussed the reasons why businesses were spending money on content marketing without a strategy in place.

Today, the marketing panel share their insights into measuring the ROI on content marketing investment.

People don’t know how to measure content marketing effectiveness

Ed:
Moving on from lack of strategy and then there’s also a lack of confidence in terms of effectiveness, where’s the lack of effectiveness, the lack of confidence and effectiveness coming from, do we think?

Skye:
I think people don’t know how to measure it. They’re a bit scared. Because it’s so new, they’re not sure how to show ROI particularly if they don’t have executive buy-in which I think is very important.

I know at Robert Half, that was one thing from the very beginning, we spent a lot of time educating our executives on why we were doing it. And that helps if they can push it down to the rest of the organisation and you actually get involvement from your people not just the marketing team.

I think that’s where the effectiveness can come, particularly from our situation.

Ed:
When it comes to measurement then, you guys are all experienced content marketers, what tips can you provide the audience in terms of measurement?

Todd:
I’m thinking primarily from a B2B standpoint but we’ve applied the same principles in the B2C side. Essentially, people usually talk about four buckets of measures that you would apply for content and that’s typically as well as how actually you produce the content in the first place, it’s all about the consumption metrics then it’s the sharing metrics and then it’s lead gen and sales and what people really struggle with is communicating beyond the first two.

The first two, it’s easy and to be honest, maybe following on from your point, your bosses don’t necessarily know that you know, social for many has got away with just focusing on the first two and now the reality is coming home for that space.

The promise of content marketing is actually being able to tie right through to the sale and that technology wise, we’re still in the early days of people being able to knit together many tools to be able to pull that story together.

Ed:
Yeah it’s linking the engagement through to a commercial aspect.

Todd:
And our content piece through to a sale. Who can really say this content piece attracted this person who bought this?

Luana:
Yeah I couldn’t agree more with that. I think that again, I’m coming from a B2B sort of perspective and it’s very very important for us in order to continue to have the executive buy-in, to showcase that tie in.

We’re in the very beginning of the journey so all we can actually point to now is you know, how much more traffic we’ve got, how many sign-ups to newsletters and you know, the engagement piece and social shares and all of that.

But really where we’re spending a lot of our time now, which is thinking through, is how to showcase the ROI or the tie in to the lead generation and it’s really about having the objectives in place and knowing what you’re trying to do with each piece of content and then the systems in place to measure.

So you’ve got your marketing automation piece talking to your website and they all connect and then through the end of that fun we can actually hopefully show that you know, that a sale over here was initiated with that download of a white paper or the view of a blog post.

Ed:
Okay so quite interesting, your hard business metric is lead gen.

Luana:
Yes.

Ed:
The number of leads.

Luana:
Yes, so the number of leads then contributes in sales pipelines so, not just how many leads we generated but how good they were. So, you know, the size of the deal and all of that.

For you to be able to measure all that, you need to have the systems in place and you need to have the processes in place and it kind of really does take a little bit of time. But I believe that it can be done.

How difficult is it to make that case for content marketing?

Ed:
And how difficult is it within client organisations to make that case for something that’s quite so new and untested as such?

Luana:
I think it’s more about moving the budget rather than creating new budget. So if there’s a pocket of money there that can be used for experimentation, and maybe the right way to go about this is, what is the budget that was not really tied into ROI where you could demonstrate the ROI as effectively so advertising, DM, the classic cases where it’s a bit difficult to measure.

Maybe you can divert a little bit and get the buy-in for that money to be spent on content, content marketing, and then really think about your strategy. Really think about the framework and the approach and then commit to it and then hopefully you’ll be able to demonstrate and get more on top of that.

Ed:
Skye, any perspectives on making a case for content marketing internally?

Skye:
Yeah, I think there’s been a couple of things that we’ve looked at and one of the things as an organisation we’ve been really focused on and we still are is SEO. And Google is changing their algorithms all the time. The one thing that we know at the moment is that they love good quality content.

So I think to be able to go to our management team and say, “well this is also going to help us with our search rankings”, that gets a lot of buy-in as well as I know we’ve touched on that as well.

But I think one stat that we talk about a lot in our organisation is the fact that I think it’s a marketing leadership council stat, that about 70% of consumers research a product or service before they go through the buying process.

So if we think about it from that perspective, we’ve got to get content out there so that people can learn about us, they can engage with that brand before they even sort of pick up the phone or submit their CV or whatever they do to go down that life cycle with us.

Where does the budget come from?

Anton:
Can I just throw another perspective on budget setting. What I see, it’s a question of where the budget comes from. I’m not sure where you all put your content marketing budget but traditionally, the marketing director doesn’t have a content marketing line item.

So I’m seeing a lot of discussion of, “does it come out of the digital budget?”. The digital budget traditionally was 10%, 15% of a budget, now it’s around 40 or plus so does it come out of brand awareness? Does it come out of direct marketing, CRM?

I’m not sure, some are nodding heads and some aren’t, but I think it’s a question of where you’re going to put CM in your budget. It does as you said cross a lot of awareness through to engagement through to sales and retention and advocacy areas.

Todd:
I think that the most common angle in B2B in the last couple of years has definitely been its lead gen, the justification for lead gen that’s driving it.

So, the old methods weren’t working, search has changed, the marketplace has changed and there’s a pain point where people are saying, “we need to do something else too”, because there’s a starving need for volume from the sales organisation.

So I think a lot of companies get dragged into it or don’t get the choice taken away from them.

Look out for the 3rd part of this series – coming soon.

You can read the first part here

Video production by Hunting With Pixels 

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Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com

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