You’re not alone. According to a survey of 600 marketers performed last year, 65% of marketers believe that more resources equate to higher ROI and “brand lift.” More specifically, nearly 35% of marketers surveyed estimated they would see two to five times more brand lift with a bigger budget. While nearly 30% of those surveyed said that more resources would lead to two to five times the return on investment.
Done deal, right? Throw more money into the content marketing machine and watch the results pour out like you just hit the jackpot on a slot machine.
A Dash of Cognitive Dissonance
In that very same survey, marketers were asked if their key content metrics are effective in measuring business results. A whopping 90% said they were uncertain about the efficacy of their chosen metrics.
That’s right. The very same pool of marketers whose majority was certain that a budget increase would yield higher ROI and brand lift, don’t even know if they’re measuring their efforts correctly. Talk about conflicting ideas.
How can you drive two to five times more brand lift and ROI with an increased budget if you don’t even know if your current measurement metrics are valid? Furthermore, why on earth should the powers-that-be approve any budget increase if that is the case?
“Measure Twice, Cut Once”
In Junior High, we had to take wood shop. Now they didn’t call it “woodshop,” it was “applied practical arts.” A rose by any other name, right? Anyway, I digress. It was in this class that the concept of “measure twice, cut once” was hammered into my head.
The same concept continued to appear throughout the rest of my schooling into the University years. When synthesizing droves of data became paramount, and misinterpreting that data held the consequence of passing or failing.
In the business world, there is no omnipresent authority that will grade the key metrics you’ve found. If you incorrectly interpret the data from a content marketing campaign, it isn’t a letter grade that suffers, it’s your firm or your client. Making the concept of measuring and re-measuring before “cutting” your content marketing campaigns even more important.
Before You Demand More, Know What You Have
A large portion of the content marketers that aren’t sure if their content marketing metrics are an accurate reflection of results, may simply be impatient. Remember, there’s no such thing as a short-term content marketing campaign. If you believe your metrics aren’t effective because they’re low, you may just need to wait a few more weeks, or even months, to see the full results.
Rarely does a single metric tell you the entire story. With content marketing it’s no different. Many marketers focus solely on consumption. While that’s important, it’s not the end-goal of your content marketing efforts. Content marketing requires a measurement of how the customer is consuming your content, and a quantification of how that content consumer customer impacts sales. Ultimately, it’s a combination of measuring the customer sentiment as well as the cents that customer ends up spending.
Some of the brightest minds in content marketing, Jay Baer and Content Marketing Institute, reached a consensus on the four essential buckets of metrics you should be tracking. Two of these buckets are meant to convey your consumer’s sentiment towards the content. The other two buckets involve cold, hard cash.
Consumption metrics are things like page views, downloads, and similar measurements. Essentially, with consumption metrics you’re trying to figure out how many people actually read or viewed your content.
Sharing metrics are quite easy to find and aggregate. In this bucket you’ll find shares via every social network and content syndication platform. With this metric, you’re showing how many, and how much, your consumers are sharing your content with their networks.
Lead Generation Metrics
Several lead generation metrics require work to be done before you even launch a campaign. This is quite different than the sentiment metrics that all occur post-campaign. Whether that’s setting a cookie or specific campaign URL, you need a way to see if those consuming your content are transforming into leads. Post-campaign, you can look at consumers’ paths in Google Analytics to determine if a lead form was filled out after interacting with a piece of content.
Measuring sales metrics from content campaigns is arguably the most daunting part of all. However, if you’re utilizing a customer or prospect database, it becomes infinitely easier. Note the specific pieces of content that each customer has consumed, and attribute their spending across those particular pieces.
Still Want That Big Budget?
If you aren’t a member of the 90% of marketers that question their content marketing metrics, by all means, ask for that budget increase. But, if you are one of the 90%, you need to evaluate your measurements first.
Examine your past campaigns using each of the metrics above. What are typical results in the industry? Do your results fall below or exceed those averages? And most importantly, did the amount a customer provide a positive return on investment for the amount you spent creating and promoting the content? Only then can you determine if more budget will impact your efforts, or if you need to adjust your approach.
We’re conditioned for our entire lives to measure incessantly and then form concrete, powerful conclusions. Just like success in content marketing, the ability to measure twice and cut once does not appear overnight. It takes constant flexing of your analytical muscles to transform it into a habit.
The bottom line: make sure you’re measuring your content accurately BEFORE you throw more money into a campaign.