Setup Your Team for Higher Content Performance
While content marketing has grown to be one of marketers’ main go-to strategies for driving brand awareness and leads, most of us are still struggling with actually sizing up the content performance. In fact, according to recent research by content marketing institute and marketingprofs, 72% of marketers say they are currently battling the challenge of measuring content marketing performance.
Want to learn how to measure your content performance, how to identify to right metrics to track and how to set proper KPIs for each metric? Read through this post.
Process Metrics vs. Outcome Metrics
When measuring content performance, it’s best to ensure that your team narrows the focus in order to see the big picture. There’s a difference between positive metrics that correlate with high-performing content and those which cause it. For instance, marketers often misevaluate content success by relying heavily on what’s called “vanity metrics“: measurements that reflect high engagement yet lack definite correlation with driving leads or sales. Social shares and comments are examples for such vanity metrics.
Vanity metrics are a brand of “process metrics,” which highlight the engagement with your content. Engagement is a good sign indeed, but have you ever cashed engagement in the bank? No – your company depends on your content to make revenue. This is why you need to shift the focus to “outcome metrics,” which signal an increase in revenue. In order to direct your team towards scalable performance measures, you need to introduce strategic ways to scale the causes of high-performing, actionable content outcomes.
Define The Holy Grail
To make sure everyone in your team is on the same page, you need to first choose which metrics you want to track and then set proper KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for each. KPIs are necessary for translating data to insight into your content’s degree of success. In other words, if your team relies on the performance of each metric, there will be just a pile of data, which can’t possibly frame an analytical lens into your content.
KPIs create benchmarks that segment the important measures of your content, so that the analytical focus can be narrow and comprehensive. Take, for example, a handful of metrics for any given piece of content: clicks, traffic volume, pageviews, social shares, likes, leads generated, conversions, comments. If your brand’s KPIs don’t zero in on only a few of the whole lot, there will be no frame of reference and thus, no insight into content performance. However, if your team singles out the highest-ranking metrics from their most standout pieces of content, they can set a clearly-defined standard for their subsequent posts based on those results. In short, once they scale past accomplishments, they’ll be better directed for what to scale in the future.
Luckily, there’s a method to this madness. It’s important to determine KPIs according to each standard you’re setting for your team’s content (as opposed to each piece of content). In terms of quantifying content performance standards, it’s best to stick to 2-3 verticals out of the following: traffic volume, interaction, lead generation, and revenue. By analyzing these verticals via their monetary results as opposed to their vanity results, you’ll be able to size up your content. Here’s a rundown of the most important aspects to evaluate when determining your brand’s metrics and KPIs and leading your team accordingly:
Metric 1: Traffic
You know how it goes: a new post is published on your company blog and all eyes turn to Google Analytics to watch the visitors pour in. It’s not uncommon for marketers to assume high traffic equals content success. But how many of those visits actually resulted in leads, sales, or revenue?
While traffic volume cannot directly indicate conversion rate or revenue projections, if no one reads your content then there’s really no chance for anyone to convert or bring you revenue either. Therefore, measuring how many people actually read your content should be a good place to start.
If you decided that traffic is one of the metrics you wish to track, you need to set a clear KPI to go along with it. Here are a few possible KPIs to consider:
- Visits – this is simple: how many visits in total did your content generate?
- Unique visits – how many people were exposed to your brand via your content?
- Visits from search traffic – putting aside paid traffic, how many people arrived at your content organically?
- New visitors – how many new people were exposed to your brand following the content published?
- Returning visitors – indicates that your content is compelling enough for people to visit consistently
- Visits from a specific region – if your product is local or you are targeting a specific area, you might want to measure success by the number of visitors that came from that area
Metric 2: Interaction
A click into your content is the first step, but did the click-er actually spend any time engaging with the content? Content interaction KPIs can be based on time spent metrics and on bounce rate percentage. While these measurements have an invisible hand in the overall interactive performance level of content, they do not paint the whole picture – as these are mostly passive.
The heavy weighing actions are the ones readers need to consciously choose to take. Actions speak louder than words, but some actions make stronger indicators than others. For example, if readers download a white paper, they’re showing a level of interest that weighs much more heavily on content performance than say, liking your content on Facebook or favoriting a tweet.
Since you cannot track every single actions people take with your content, choose 1 or 2 interaction KPIs that are most important to you.
- Social shares – while number of share does not correlate directly with leads or sales, the more people are willing to share your content the more it has a chance to reach a new audience outside your current reach.
- Comments – comments are strong indicators that your content manages to truly touch your audience
- Actions – how many actions did readers do while they reading your content? Did they move over to read the next post or subscribe to your newsletter? Did they download a white paper? Each action indicates a different level of interest and the more actions a user performs the more interested he is likely to be with your content.
- Mentions on social media discussions – this type of interactive activity is an indicator of thought leadership and another way for your to reach a new audience
- Links and mentions from other blogs – those have a long term impact not only on immediate traffic but also in terms of SEO.
Metric 3: Leads
Lead generation is almost always thought of as the goal of each piece of your content. However, not every lead is an indication of high-performing content. In other words, while some leads come from both interested and qualified prospects, others may prove to be , unqualified, or not mature enough to make a buying decision. Without assigning value to each type of lead, the overall number of leads generated from a piece of content will throw-off its resulting position on the scale.
- Conversion rate – measuring conversion rate has an advantage since it makes it really easy to compare the performance of different pieces of content. For example. if one post got 1000 visits and produced 50 leads, it has 5% conversion rate. Another post could have gotten 2000 visits but only 60 leads, equaling to 3% conversion. A conversion rate KPI puts both on the same scale to easily compare.
- Number of leads – while conversion rate is a scalable measurement that will help you compare which pieces of content best performed in relative to each other, your sales team needs as many leads as they can get. For them, that post that got them 60 leads is better than the one that got 50 – and they don’t care out of how many visits.
- Cost per lead– different types of content might vary in cost. A blog post is usually cheaper than producing a video or an infographic, and if your content requires extensive research or conducting a survey it will affect it’s cost. Therefore, you might want to measure what was the cost per lead, or in other words – what was the ROI of your content.
- Number of MQLs (marketing qualified leads) – MQLs are the leads that went through a qualification process and were found to be qualified enough to be contacted by sales and assigned to a sales representative. You might want to set your lead generation KPI to only those leads in order to avoid adding noise to the equation.
- Number of SQLs (sales qualified leads) – this is a bit of an extreme KPI on which to focus content performance measurements, but some marketers only take into account the leads that were defined as qualified by sales. This is relevant if you’re getting a high quantity of leads with a low quantity of sales quality leads. In that case you’d want to make sure content brings your salespeople only leads with which they’ll have a higher chance of closing a deal.
Metric 4: Revenue
Revenue is the obvious metric that scales content performance: the more money a piece of content brings in, the more successful it was for your brand. However, not all revenue is created equally. For instance, did this sales conversion result from a paid campaign? Does it show promising potential to stay onboard long-term? Did it contribute to an overall increase in ROI?
- Total revenue- How much revenue did you make from selling to leads who converted from your content?
- Number of sales – Some marketers take the number of sales a piece of content brought in, regardless of how much revenue they brought. This KPI might be right for your company if you are in a growth stage and need to acquire many new customers.
- ROI- The idea behind measuring ROI is similar to measuring cost per lead (see lead generation section above). Take the revenue produced from the content and deduct the cost of producing it, including overhead time.
- TROI – TROI is a relatively new concept, and it means Time to Return on Investment. Simply put: how much time did it take for the revenue generated by a piece of content to exceed to cost of producing it?
The Bottom Line
In building a scalable marketing strategy and setting up your team for higher content performance, you need to start from the bottom-up. In other words, every vital metric must be matched with pre-defined and pre-designed KPIs in order to deliver the best results for your content.
To drive this wheel, you need to first communicate with your team which metrics contribute to a truly high-performing piece of content. Beyond the metrics, discuss goals and set relevant KPIs so that the content produced will have not only measurable results but also a base for comparison with other pieces of content and will in turn into a scalable content strategy.
Over to you
How do you measure your content performance? Any KPIs that I missed?
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