Unfortunately, content marketing does not have clear KPIs, which justifiably begs the question — Why do it? Obviously, everyone at Fixate is huge fans of content marketing, above and beyond other marketing activities. But we understand that the benefits are not always clear, and sometimes long-tail. So let’s talk about the whys of content marketing and how to measure your content marketing.
I could easily provide the argument that you do content marketing because it’s a standard marketing activity — the same reason you do PR and advertising. If you have marketing in your title, it’s what you do. But this argument does not have a lot of meat.
The following are the six reasons you do content marketing. (For this discussion, we’ll be focusing on content marketing for high-tech companies.)
Because — blog: I hate to say it, but vendors without a blog raise a red flag these days. It seems ridiculous to not have a blog. But if you have a blog where you are publishing less than two times a week, give up. (It’s the same as not having one at all.) Without a steady posting volume, your blog won’t grow. Binge-posting is just as bad, because you’ll see a bump in traffic over a short period of time, then nothing at all. Holistically, your blog needs to be fresh to give the right impression. Otherwise, it’s obvious to everyone that it’s an afterthought.
Because — SEO: For your site to have good search engine optimization (SEO), it needs strong content in the form of blog posts, technical landing pages, and documentation that engines can crawl. Part of SEO is just keeping up with the average pace for publishing content in your market, but it’s also having content that is relevant to your offering.
Because you need relevance: In a fragmented market, show up. You show up by participating in conversations. There are two ways to do this: written content, or literally showing up in webinars, on podcasts, and at trade shows. Relevance is important, because it’s what tells techies that not only do you have a solution, but you also care about their use cases, and you’re willing to meet them where they are.
Because demand gen is nothing without it: Without a content pillar, there is no way to run a successful advertising or demand generation program like media syndication. Ads should not dictate content. Content should dictate ads.
Because social media is nothing without it: If you have no content, you have nothing to talk about. And because social is in real time, fresh content matters. Content allows you to participate in conversations and give something to someone who wants to amplify the points that you share.
Sales enablement: If you are going after enterprises, and you have an enterprise sales team, they need to have the ammunition to answer the hard questions, starting with assets. Strong white papers and eBooks give sales teams another foot in the door, and in-depth responses to common questions or concepts. Blogs are also timely things that salespeople can use to re-engage or reignite a relationship, and respond to specific questions that come up. They can also help salespeople address the challenge of not being technical themselves by offering the ability to provide a technical answer.
Content marketing is important, but it can be hard to measure. You’ll want to look at the following:
- Volume: To see the impact of content marketing, you have to be consistent in the volume of content you publish. At a minimum, organizations should hit two blog posts a week and one asset per quarter. This alone should be a metric, because without it, you can’t expect to build a base to grow upon to get additional metrics.
- Blog Traffic: This is simple. Is your blog traffic increasing month over month? Early on, is the rate of increase faster than before you took your content marketing seriously? (Twenty percent traffic growth month over month is good.)
- Blog-to-Site Referrals: In Google Analytics, track visit paths and see how many referrals from the blog to other pages on the site you have. This is a good measure of interest based on respect you have built from content on your blog.
- Social Shares: Retweets, likes, and shares are all good metrics, but be specific about what you will allow. (For example, for many tech companies, Facebook likes should not count, but LinkedIn likes should.)
- Share KPIs with Demand Gen: Some percent of the results from demand generation programs such as views on syndicated posts or clicks on an ad should be attributed to content marketing efforts.
- Share of Conversation/Voice: Regular and persistent practitioner content marketing should increase your share of conversation and voice, but don’t expect much here if you don’t socialize what you have published.
On that note, you have to publish. Getting content out the door is very difficult for some companies, out of an apparent fear of saying anything at all. It’s true that the more you say, the more potential opinions you will get back. But that is the only way to create strong conversations and build a relationship with the market, or get any value out of your content. Publish — and don’t overthink it.
All these metrics add up to determine the success of your content marketing efforts. Your large numbers and infrequent viral campaigns are exciting and a good thing. But they are not long-term indicators of the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts.
Operations-minded people get very frustrated by content marketing, because good results are not as clear. Technical founders are used to measuring progress by the number of tickets in a backlog. But much like application development, your process may be moving, and that’s great, but how do you know that what you are feeding it is the right thing? Your application might be lacking, no matter how many releases you do a week.
Big outcomes to campaigns only tell you your reach. They don’t indicate quality. Focusing on the overall picture is necessary when you’re thinking about the success of content marketing.