I recently witnessed the following dialogue (true story):
Queen of Marketing (QoM): “Mirror, mirror on the wall, is my metric the most beautiful metric of them all?”
Mirror: “Alas, my queen, there may be one prettier still. But, beware, the metric you seek could be a vanity metric.”
QoM: “What?…What? Aren’t their magical marketing metrics that are always related to the bottom line? Can’t you give me a metric that will never steer me wrong?”
Mirror: “Um, no.”
The truth is, any metric can become a vanity metric, depending on the relationship between what it measures, your content marketing, and your business goals.
Yes, even our beloved share of voice (SOV) and conversation share of voice (CSOV) could steer you wrong if those metrics are not connected to your business goals. Below are tips to help make sure that your SOV and CSOV numbers are worthy of influencing your strategy and decisions, rather than just reinforcing your already (possibly unreasonably) high opinion of your product (and your influencer content marketing strategy).
Connect your influencer content marketing strategy to business goals
Do you have a business strategy that includes measurable goals? Did you (or someone in your company) develop a content marketing and PR strategy to help achieve these goals?
If the answer is yes, then there is a good chance your metric is a keeper. If not, all is not lost. You don’t have to go back to the drawing board. Just make two columns. Even if you haven’t done a formal planning exercise, you quite possibly have both a business strategy and a marketing strategy. All you need to do to test it is to play a simple matching game.
Take a piece of paper/blank screen/napkin. Create two parallel columns. On the first half, write your current business goals as a list. There are probably only three or four goals, and they should be specific:
- Increase revenue by X%
- Increase profit margin by Y%
- Increase users/customers by Z%
Then, in the second half, write down your current content marketing strategy/plan as a bulleted list. This may be longer, and might look like this:
- Use influencer-generated content to increase social engagement (Channel, A% increase)
- Create blog posts to attract B-type of customers
- Create brand awareness via advertising on C-channel
Next, connect the items on your Content Marketing Strategy list to your Business Goals list. Great! Now you have a shot at determining which metrics matter.
Create measurable objectives
You now can see which marketing goals connect to your business goals. Next, take a look at these marketing goals and figure out what number (if any) you are measuring to determine if a marketing activity supporting a goal (an objective) is working. If you haven’t already done so, just quickly assign some objectives that support each goal, and make sure each objective has something that marks success. This is probably a metric.
If any of your goals are related to branding or thought leadership, chances are HIGH that you will need to measure brand recognition. There are many ways to do this, including surveys, SOV, and conversation SOV. Of these, SOV and CSOV are probably going to be the easiest to measure. It is a best practice to measure all three.
Measure at least twice
So….If you don’t know where you are starting from, you can’t interpret your metrics. Do you know what your SOV is today? Great. Then measuring it again after a content marketing or PR campaign (which may be one and the same) will be valuable.
Did you decide to measure CSOV after entering a particular conversation, but forgot to measure it before? If you know your original SOV and only targeted one conversation to influence, and you measure your SOV again and it goes up, down or stays the same, then you can use the SOV metric to determine the success of that campaign.
However, a much stronger approach would be to measure your initial SOV and the initial CSOV for each conversation you plan to start or enter. Then, when you measure SOV and CSOV again, you can determine which conversation or conversations are the strongest contributors to your SOV, and ultimately figure out what contributes to the awareness and recognition of your brand.
How meaningful are your results? Test how predictive and meaningful they are by running experiments. Do you think one conversation resonates more with your target market? Extrapolate your campaign to deepen that market penetration. Heres how:
- Buy ads to promote successful content in front of more of your target audience.
- Keep writing about topics related to successful conversations.
- Introduce more information from a more persuasive source (not you, possibly an influencer, or even a neutral information source).
- Keep an eye on your SOV and CSOV metrics to assess each experiment.
Then, don’t forget to tie it back to your business objectives. If you need to increase revenue, did your revenue increase after you saw increased CSOV? How much time did it take? Can it be repeated?
A likely relationship would be as follows:
As CSOV and SOV increase, you see an uptick in click throughs, social shares, etc., followed by an increase in website visitors, followed by an increase in organic search, with ultimately an increase in leads and revenue.
What if brand recognition is going up, but leads and customers are not? Many things could explain this result. Here are just a few possibilities:
- Your product doesn’t have what people want.
- Your product is too expensive.
- Your product doesn’t work very well.
- It’s hard to purchase your product.
- Your buying cycle is longer than the timespan you measured.
- It’s hard to contact someone about your product.
- You are appealing to a market segment that can’t or won’t purchase your product.
If other metrics that should go up with CSOV and SOV aren’t moving, then it’s time to do some digging to systematically address the above, and any other possible causes. Then, fix whatever needs fixing, adjust your assumptions, or both, and try again.
How meaningful are your results? Look at SOV and CSOV as leading indicators. That should tell you early on if you are addressing a topic area persuasively. However, SOV and CSOV won’t stand alone forever.
You should see marketing objectives AND business objectives met if CSOV and SOV are more than vanity metrics. If not, it’s time to do some investigating. These may not be the metrics you are looking for (i.e., they may be vanity metrics).
If they are, abandon them. However, if CSOV and SOV are leading indicators and are the impetus to discovering incorrect assumptions or problems with your product or other parts of your buyer’s journey, they just may be the most beautiful metrics of them all.