If you’ve ever been to a casino, you’ll know that craps (like most games you’ll find in a casino) is a tough game to win. The odds of rolling a 7 or an 11 (winning first rolls, if you’re not a gambler) right off the bat are a meager 22%. On my first and last trip to Las Vegas, that 22% was not my friend. But why the heck am I talking about craps in a post about content marketing metrics?
Content Marketing Shouldn’t Be a Crap Shoot
Far too many content marketers tend to roll the dice with their content and hope that their content marketing metrics “come up 7s and 11s”. And far too often, content marketers are losing. In the age of big data, isn’t it time to stop gambling on whether your content marketing will work? It’s time to start making data-driven decisions about when, how, and why you produce content.
What are Content Marketing Metrics?
If content marketing is a game of craps, content marketing metrics are a pair of loaded dice. They represent the insights you can glean from the data you work hard to gather. Content marketing metrics can make the difference between a poor content strategy and a great one, and a core tool to help content marketers demonstrate their importance to the C-Suite.
As content marketing has grown in popularity, content marketers the world over have increasingly faced pressure to prove that they’re a valuable part of the business and not just a resource-sucking cost centre. But you’re dreaming if you think the C-Suite will blindly green light that budget without knowing it's going to good use.
Here at Uberflip, we think content marketing metrics tend to fall into one of two distinct categories: engagement metrics and growth metrics (keep reading for specifics).
But chances are you’ll need to track both, since engagement and growth tend to fall into different stages of the buying cycle (after all, you can’t really focus on conversion rates if no one knows who you are, what you do, or how you can help them).
Stay Focused on Your Goals
Now that we’ve explored the basics, let’s dive a little deeper into what really matters. Like anything in marketing, the metrics you use to make iterative decisions with your content creation will be relative to what you’re ultimately trying to achieve. If you want to “roll 7s and 11s” each and every time you publish something new, an important first step is to find and track the metrics that matter.
If you’re focused on elements consistent with the early stages of the buying cycle, such as building awareness or establishing your brand as a destination for information, you’re probably focused on the engagement side of things. To start the process of turning your data into action, you need to surface that data. Thus, your goals should be to continually track engagement metrics like:
- Average time on site
- Pages per visit
- Social shares
- Link and widget clicks
- Bounce rates
If you’re focused on later stages of the buying cycle, such as generating leads, converting your content into real-life customers, or getting more from your existing customers, you’re probably focused on the growth side of things. Growth metrics are what you ultimately need to track to find out how well your content is helping you add to your bottom line. Thus, your goals should be to continually track metrics like:
- Conversion rates for landing pages or CTAs
- Visitor-to-lead conversion rates
- Lead-to-customer conversion rates
- Cost per lead/customer
- Existing customer engagement
- Churn rate
It can be uber helpful at this stage to try to segment out your data by buyer persona and by stage of the buying cycle. This is certainly a bit more advanced, but if you can make it happen, it can pay huge dividends when it comes time to invest in more content.
Turning Content Marketing Data Into Action
Once you’ve built up a track record of customer data, mine it for insights (do it at the individual-piece-of-content-level if you can) and make sure your entire team has access to those insights. That way, when it comes time to sit around the boardroom table and swap content ideas for the next month or the next quarter, everyone on your team will know what content can best help you achieve your marketing goals, what mediums connect best with your buyer personas, how to structure the right content journeys, and which social media platforms offer the best bang for the buck.
Of course, the specifics will differ based on your goals, but I’ve outlined a few examples below to highlight how data can turn into action.
The Right Content
Finding out which content is best connecting with your buyer personas is a process that should start with looking at which individual pieces of gated content, such as whitepapers, eBooks, and webinar recordings, have high conversion rates among prospects and customers over time. Right off the bat, you’ll know that these pieces of content are connecting with your buyer personas (conversion = interest), but it’s key to do some research to find out why.
Was it a catchy title or an attention-grabbing image that drove conversions?
Was it the content’s topic, theme, or category?
Is that topic, theme, or category doing a good job at driving conversions amongst your buyer personas based on where they are in their buyer journey?
Where does that traffic to that content come from and how does that source affect the above metrics?
For example, in the Uberflip Hub our conversion rate metrics let us know that one of our buyer personas is obviously interested in learning more about the importance of content marketing metrics (the 41.7% conversion rate is a very good indicator).
The Right Mediums
When you know how your buyer personas like to consume content (e.g. blog posts, long-form content, PDFs, videos, or presentations), you can ensure you speak their language moving forwards.
Ask yourself, what medium that you publish with accounts for the bulk of your pageviews, highest average time on page, the most number of social shares, or the highest conversion rates?
How does this differ based on referral source?
How are people engaging with your long-form content, such as eBook and whitepaper PDFs? If you’re unsure, you’re missing a gigantic opportunity. Uberflip’s Flipbooks tool can help.
The Right Social Platforms
Last but not least, you can use your content marketing metrics to find the right social media platforms to invest in.
Ask yourself, what social media platform accounts for the bulk of social shares of your content?
What social media platform accounts for the majority of website referrals?
How does your social activity differ by platform based on your goals (engagement vs. lead generation)?
For example, based on the below report from the Uberflip Hub, we’re able to see that our buyer personas are very active on both Twitter and LinkedIn and these two tools account for approximately 65% of our content’s social shares on a monthly basis. Using that knowledge, we can make sure that moving forward, we create content that is specifically tailored towards those platforms to make sure we’re maximizing engagement and lead generation.
Use Tools to Track Your Efforts
It’s never been easier to climb the big data mountain than it is today. However, unless you’re a data geek, finding and compiling the data can be a burden. Make sure that you’re using tools that allow you to easily track the metrics that matter and map the effectiveness of your content. This should definitely start with basic, yet powerful tools like Google Analytics, but it should also extend to powerful analytical tools like KISSmetrics and Uberflip.
With Uberflip’s Content Scores and suite of metrics, you'll take the guesswork (and a lot of the manual effort!) out of the process of understanding which content and content mediums work and why. As you can see from the below screenshot, we’ve got at-your-fingertips insights into how well each piece of content we produce is generating both engagement and growth.
If you have a clear understanding of your goals, access to data, the ability to put that data into the proper context, and the tools you need to interpret and test that data, you’ll be able to stop rolling the dice with your content marketing strategy.
It’s time to stop gambling. At least when it comes to your content.
About the Author
As Uberflip's VP of Strategic Partnerships, Sam is focused on helping customers amplify their content marketing to tell better stories and generate more leads.Follow on Google Plus Follow on Twitter More Content by Sam Brennand