Starting at the very beginning isn’t such a great idea when it comes to strategic content marketing. For the best chance of success, you’d be wise to start with the end in mind.
As we established in our last blog on user metrics, your ultimate aim is to boost your bottom line, which means converting your target buyers into paying customers. But what are the “micro goals” that will help track your progress and collectively propel your target through the buyer’s journey?
In this week’s blog, we’ll explore how to set content marketing goals and measure them.
Asking the right questions
If you don’t already know, a good first step is to ask yourself why you’re embarking on a content program in the first place. Perhaps you’re keen to spread the word about your brand or change negative perceptions, or maybe it’s all about leads, leads and more leads. In most cases you’ll arrive at a set of objectives that reflect your company’s conversion funnel.
From there, the next question to ask is how you’ll measure these milestones. As you’ll no doubt find, there is a potentially mindboggling array of metrics to choose from – and Google Analytics is always adding to its available measurement features and functionality. Before you know it you could be drowning in data, so it’s worth being picky with your KPIs.
Connecting the dots
To give you a better idea, let’s look at some of the core content marketing objectives and the corresponding metrics that will enable you to track how well your content is delivering on each one.
Reach, brand awareness:
Are you raising awareness of your brand? Is your content ranking well in search? Are your target buyers sharing your content organically?
Corresponding metrics: Consumption/user metrics such as page views (or growth in traffic), bounce rates, time spent and social shares (see User metrics: The key to moving towards your end goals for more details).
Is your audience becoming warmer towards your brand? Are your messages resonating with your potential customers and creating the right persona for your brand?
Corresponding metrics: Qualitative metrics. For instance, focus groups, surveys, questionnaires and feedback forms.
Does your audience see you as a trusted source of information? Are they opting in to receive your e-newsletter or weekly blog? Are they sharing your content with their networks?
Corresponding metrics: Return visits, subscriptions, social media shares across multiple platforms.
Are your prospects giving you permission to market to them? Is your content helping them move through your sales funnel? Are they interested in doing business with you?
Corresponding metrics: Form completions, content downloads (e.g. white papers, e-books), subscriptions, comparative growth of leads.
By setting clear goals at the very start of your content program and aligning them with specific KPIs, you’ll be well placed to determine exactly what’s working down the track. And if the numbers aren’t stacking up, you can optimise accordingly.
From there you’ll be able to focus more attention on the pointy end of your conversion funnel – in other words, measuring how well your content is driving sales and revenue, and whether you’re successfully retaining the customers you’ve acquired and earning their advocacy.
To this end, in addition to the above metrics, you’ll be tracking conversion rates, online and offline sales, recurring revenue, as well as opt-ins and subscriptions. With all this valuable data on hand, that once-elusive return on investment (ROI) will be well within your grasp.
Of course, accurately capturing ROI is an art in itself. But keep checking back and you’ll soon be able to download our e-book on the subject. Filled with tips and advice on calculating content marketing ROI, it’ll have you working the numbers in no time.
Jo Sharp and Kye Mackey