Content, content, content!
Post by guest blogger: Lars von Sneidern//Analytics Director, Babcock & Jenkins
Every B2B marketer is now being forced into becoming a content marketer. Some marketers have been on the content bandwagon for years and understand its value for the brands they manage. However, many are still just dipping their toes into the content pool—reluctant to do so without a set of water wings. In other words, practicing safe content typically means implementing some form of measurement to prove its value.
”What exactly does measuring content entail?” the nascent content marketer might be asking. In most cases, it is assumed that measuring content is pretty much like measuring any other digital asset. But, while looking at web stats may be interesting, it doesn’t tell you much about how useful the content is and whether or not it is helping you achieve your marketing goals.
Who said anything about goals?!
Chances are, your marketing campaigns have goals. If not, stop reading this immediately and go set some! Hopefully your content is helping you reach those goals. That’s right, folks. Content is not just for content’s sake. It is being created to engage with current and future customers.
Ah, the magic word: engagement. What do we mean when we say it? Its definition varies by content type, but generally we want our target audience using our content to help them through the buyer’s journey. The assumption is that we are weaving ourselves into the process that happens before talking to sales. By the way, this is most of the process—70%, according to SiriusDecisions. Does that make engagement the goal of content? Possibly. But ultimately it’s a means to an end: higher quality, more qualified leads that feed directly into your bottom line.
1. Verify Your Goals:
This is good advice in general, but often it’s assumed that the goal of any marketing is to drive sales. And just as often this is an appropriate goal. Sometimes, however, marketing is either not responsible for or unable to effect sales. In these cases, more appropriate goals for content marketing would be something higher up the sales funnel, like SALs (Sales Accepted Leads), or some metrics having to do with sales enablement. If nothing else, content delivers information about what your leads are interested in. Given the proper technology and implementation (more on that in the following steps), you can give your sales team gift-wrapped leads—potential customers who already know all they need to know about your business and how your offerings can address their needs.
2. Analysis Plan:
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” ― Dwight D. Eisenhower
You need to have a plan on how you are going to measure your content. The plan itself can take any form you wish, but it should be on “paper” and approved by all invested parties. Generally, the plan will have the following elements:
- Goal definitions – (See above.)
- Responsibilities – Who is responsible what?
- Technology – What are we using to record engagement? How will data be collected? Where will the data live?
- Timeline – When will everything happen? When will results be ready?
- Specifications – How is “engagement” defined for each content type? How will the data be analyzed?
- Reporting – How will the data be reported?
3. Use the Right Technology:
There are three basic platforms of content engagement data recoding:
- Marketing automation (MA) tools
- Web analytics packages
- Content management systems (CMS)
If you have spent any time investigating your options for any of these platforms, you know the number of choices is vast, and growing every day. From a content measurement perspective, you want to have the ability to follow your contacts around and observe what they are engaging with, and then what they are doing after. Are certain content pieces correlating to conversion actions? Some tools can handle questions like this (after some coaxing), but most cannot. But here’s some good news: You may already have the tools required—you just don’t know it. Get smart with these tools, or hire someone who is.
4. Measure It!
Now you have the plan, the tools and the talent. The following is a sampling of what to measure:
- Percent Engagement:Among your leads, what percent are engaging (downloading, watching, clicking, etc.) individual content pieces?
- Pathing:Contrary to the traditional idea of pathing, you want to look at how well leads are sticking to the buyer’s journey you have laid out for them. Have you anticipated all their content needs? Are any gaps emerging? Are there points with significant drop-off? Is there a skipping phenomenon?
- Correlation to conversion:Is there a behavioral pattern emerging around certain content pieces that’s leading to conversion? This ties closely to the idea of lead scoring, in which you assume that some content has higher “value” than other. (For example, watching an entire video versus downloading a small PDF.)
5. Dive Deep, Dear Marketer:
You have engagement levels, hooray! But, don’t stop there. Try slicing and dicing by some established segments. For example, are certain verticals or job titles engaging with certain content types? What is the c-suite looking at? Are leads originating from different sources behaving differently? This will allow you to optimize continued content development for your specific audience.
You might be asked (or are asking), “How much engagement is enough?” There is no reliable benchmark for content engagement available, which is good because as is the case for all benchmarks, what’s “normal” is heavily dependent on your specific audience. To overcome this, you simply need to start measuring. Once you have some baseline engagement numbers, an index can be created and used as a comparison for future campaigns and new content. For example, if you have a series of webcasts or slideshares, measure what percent of your leads are engaging with them. Then as you create new similar materials, you have a baseline comparison.
Content is not the brave new world it once was, but measuring it definitely is. Just remember to focus on your bottom line, whatever that is, and how content is delivering it to you and your colleagues.
About the Author: Lars von Sneidern is Director of Analytics at Babcock & Jenkins. He is an expert market researcher with a specialty in traditional and digital media measurement, Lars integrates comprehensive lead tracking, website usage and social management into cutting-edge media optimization. Lars can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org on twitter @LarsvonS