Content Marketing: Going Beyond Soft Metrics

By Liam Foy

We’ve already established 5 great reasons why your brand should be using content marketing. But just to re-cap, content marketing is the overarching term that defines the act of creating, curating and publishing business relevant communications combined with the science behind its impact on larger business goals. In an age where people are becoming increasingly nonchalant towards traditional forms of advertising (1 and 2), content marketing offers a ray of light towards giving brands some valuable substance online.

Although content has always formed a central part in many online initiatives, the decentralisation of the branded experience from websites towards Twitter, Facebook, RSS and other distribution channels, means there’s a growing emphasis on it’s importance. Research from renowned analysts Forrester claims:

‘owned social media assets (like internal blogs, community sites) are really the only emerging media getting traction in today’s economic climate.’

With the average person being exposed to about 5,000 advertisement messages per day, content is beginning to pave the way as an antidote to the obsolete model of interruption and instead offer consistent, helpful information and gain customers loyalty and purchase in the process. However, despite all of this, marketers still have a number of obstacles to clear before they get the green light to begin creating killer content.

The Problem

Despite there being no single industry reporting less than 78% adoption rate of content marketing, there’s still a confidence gap between the perceived effectiveness of individual tactics, distribution channels, and measurement techniques.

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We think this problem lays in the problem that’s plaguing online marketing – the relentless pursuit of soft and meaningless metrics. This is a problem that’s only accentuated when you consider that the budget for this type of marketing is being pulled from channels that have very clear, definite metrics of performance that tie directly into business success, to tracking things that have at most a questionable impact across the board.

Measurement

Susan Etlinger outlined a 4 step process for creating a fool proof social analytics framework:

Step 1 – Strategy – Where does social fit within my wider business objectives?

Whilst there’s no lack of excitement and enthusiasm for social media lead marketing initiatives there’s often a lack of focus on how they compliment your business on a strategic level. Focus is a key towards sustainable business success; don’t let worrying about keeping up with Jones’ relinquish this quality.

Step 2 – Metrics – How will I know if my content marketing is a success?

Choosing the right metrics to measure will not only help you see aspects such as financials, awareness and reputation going in the right direction, but it’ll also allow you to gain insight into what sort of content works best.

Some examples of low-level metric topics you might want to measure are:

  • Web Traffic and Page Views
  • Decrease in Bounce Rates
  • Tweets, Comments, Likes & Social Shares
  • Search Engine Rankings
  • Share of Voice for Industry Terms

More strategic indicators, the sort of stuff your CEO will want to know, are:

  • Leads
  • Sales
  • Cost Savings
  • Retention
  • Reduction in Sales Cycle
  • Increased Customer Awareness

Step 3 – Organization – Who is going to take care of all of this?

Whilst a lot of brands are all to keen to hand over any kind of experimental initiative over to the intern, handing over the reigns to someone who lacks the training, analytic and tool expertise to carry out the work effectively is one way to guarantee you’ll fall at the first hurdle.  Assess your resources carefully.

Step 4 – Technology – Now that you know what you’re doing, how you’re measuring it and who is looking after it, what will technology do they need to execute all of this?

The subject of social analytics technologies is one worthy of an entirely different blog post altogether but be warned – this is a fairly new industry. There are many tools out there that are both useful and useless, take the time to experiment with free trials and find what works best for you.

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Still not convinced this matters?

If you’re an agency, you need to be asking yourself whether you can afford to send your clients into executive level meetings quoting the amount of likes you have on Facebook, especially when their next agency review comes up.

If you’re a client, ask yourself what legacy you’d like to leave on your organisation: are you the person who jumped on the hot new thing or someone who’s focus, knowledge and understanding of wider objectives helped their business to new avenues of leads, sales and awareness. Or even better, drop us an email and we’ll help you!

This post was written by Liam Foy

As Head of Client Services, Liam ensures that all of his clients’ strategies are on track, delivering ROI and coming up with new ideas to drive them forward. Beer makes him tick, reading, learning and drinking it.