The principle rule of good content marketing is to analyze the performance of your content. However, analytic tools can be distracting if your team is not focused on the marketing metrics that matter: specifically the marketing ROI.
You may be pleased with your email open rate or the number of Facebook likes your most recent post received, but these numbers won’t impress your CEO. In fact, sharing these metrics with your CEO may demonstrate that you are out of touch with the true needs of the business. Using vanity metrics does not position you as a strategic player, but rather as a tactical marketer lacking a vision for how marketing can truly drive growth.
1. Number of sales-accepted leads
A sales-qualified lead (SQL) is a lead that your marketing efforts generated, and that the sales team has accepted as qualified. This metric is primarily applicable to B2B marketers using content to fuel their lead-generation strategy. “Sales accepted” usually means that a salesperson was able to set up a meeting with the prospect.
This metric speaks both to the quantity and quality of the leads you’re passing to the sales team. Simply telling your CEO that you produced 800 leads last month won’t cut it. You need to tie that number directly to its revenue potential. While you may have an average conversion rate for your leads, why rely on a calculation when you can simply provide a number that reaches further into the sales pipeline, and is therefore more reliable?
If you need to make the case for content marketing then you could go as far as tying SQLs to individual pieces of content. For example, let’s say your business sells recruiting software to human-resource professionals. If your CEO questions why you spent a quarter writing a thought-leadership piece on best practices for hiring top talent, determine the number of SQLs tied to the content, and then calculate the revenue potential. Better yet, provide your CEO with the actual revenue coming from SQLs generated by that specific piece of content. You could do this by tracking the content piece’s downloads in your sales-enablement software, such as HubSpot, and looking at the potential or actualized deal size of each prospect who downloaded that content.
2. Share of voice
Your share of voice is the percentage of the conversation about a particular topic that your business owns versus that of your competitors. Share of voice used to be a term that primarily applied to the public relations field, but now content marketers are driving these conversations. You can look at share of voice in terms of press hits/article mentions or shares of that content on social media.
For example, let’s say you have two major competitors. One of them is older and more established than your business and has more market share. The other is a start-up company creating a lot of buzz with its blog. Using a competitive analysis tool like TrackMaven, you can easily determine which company is dominating the online conversation about your solution and the problem it solves. The start-up company may be blogging like crazy, but are readers sharing its content? The older, more established competitor might not be investing in content marketing, so is the audience talking about it online?
Show your CEO how your business stacks up to the competition when it comes to the digital conversation. If your content is being shared more frequently than your competitors’ content, and if more articles are being written about you than about your competitors, then you have a solid KPI that may suggest future growth.
3. Branded search
As a marketer, you are no stranger to SEO. But what about the people who come to your website by typing in your company’s name? You may not think that your content marketing has generated these website visits, and you disregard them when looking at your content marketing metrics. But these visitors are arguably at a later stage in the buying cycle (perhaps they are already customers), which makes them extremely valuable.
Monitor your branded search and direct traffic stats over time. This is a KPI for “word of mouth” and as these numbers grow, your business likely will too. While you cannot attribute this website traffic directly to your content marketing efforts, there is likely a correlation – particularly if your share of voice is also growing. Use this metric in combination with share of voice to paint a picture of growth for your CEO.
4. Customer sentiment
Customer sentiment is a measure of how customers (and prospects) feel about the brand, or a particular interaction with that business. Most CEOs are interested in the customer experience at all stages of the buying journey – from awareness to purchase to the ongoing relationship. If you are delivering content to customers at each stage, then the CEO will likely need to know how that content is impacting overall customer satisfaction.
Consider this B2C example. A large food company places a video on Instagram that features a group of college students on a beach enjoying this company’s snack. The video is funny and engaging, and receives over 1,000 likes with 200 comments. As stated, providing the CEO with the vanity metric of likes is meaningless without context. Instead, the marketer analyzes the comment section via text analytics software that interprets context and emotion attached to certain words to identify the sentiments about the video and the brand overall, such as joy.
These types of insights are far more actionable than vanity metrics. They can help you – the marketer – understand what type of content is resonating with buyers. And they can help your CEO make customer-centric decisions.
Don’t waste your CEO’s precious time with metrics that are meaningless. Instead, deliver content marketing metrics that truly illustrate how your work is impacting the business. Provide metrics that truly demonstrate how the business’ investment in content marketing is driving growth. If you can’t demonstrate how your content marketing is driving growth, then perhaps it’s time to rethink your strategy. If you don’t have the tools to generate these metrics, then make the case to get budget for them. Otherwise you and your CEO are flying blind.