This is the final installment of a series of posts on creating a content marketing plan. The first installment, The One Stop, Five Step, Quick Start Content Marketing Plan, provided an overview of the process. The second installment covered “Establishing Content Marketing Goals”, the third in the series explored how to segment your audience and reach those prospects through the various media channels available, while the fourth I looked at the topics, formats and styles your content should take in order to engage your audience and this final post in the series will discuss the biggest question of all:
Measuring Content Marketing Success
How To Know If You Succeed
If you plan your evaluation right, all you’ll need to do at the end of your content marketing initiative is aggregate the data from the various metrics you’ve used, then spend a bit of time analyzing what it means. On one level this analysis will be relatively straightforward because you will be comparing results data against baselines and benchmarks that you identified at the beginning. But there’s a catch: you need to connect the results data to your content.
Connecting Content to Customer Behavior
Regardless of your results, good or bad, you need to know if they were influenced by your content marketing efforts. And the more time that elapses between posting content and seeing evidence of results, the more difficult it is to connect the two. Furthermore, the ability to chart connections depends a good deal on the kind of business you have and how closely the things you measure — clicks, likes and comments, for instance — are related to your marketing goals.
If your goal is to get more in-store traffic and you achieve it, how will you know that it is a result of the things you measured? Do more clicks translate into more in-store traffic?
The things that you measure are usually proxies for the things that you really want to achieve. If you’re looking to boost in-store traffic, then it doesn’t make much sense to measure online engagement (clicks, likes, etc.) Instead, ask yourself, “What kinds of things will indicate that I’m getting more in-store traffic?” If this is the goal you might simply choose to count the number of people who visit your store before, and then after, your content marketing campaign. To get a even better idea of where you in-store traffic is coming from include a discount code in your online content and then count the number of in-store customers who use the code. This will give you an idea of how many customers came to your store as a result of seeing the content on your website or social media.
If you have a different goal for content marketing, then you will have different measurement indicators. For example, the graphic designer (whom I’ve used as an example in earlier posts) wants to get clients for her website design business. Using free or low-cost analytics apps, she can track the numbers and demographics of people who viewed an article on her Facebook page and then clicked through to her website, where her portfolio is posted. She can also chart the progress of a given user to see if, after viewing her portfolio, if they completed a contact form and later, if they actually hired her. She can also identify which pieces of Facebook content were most effective in driving traffic to her site and then refine her social media content going forward.
Revising Your Goals
Like the business owner who wanted to increase in-store traffic mentioned above, you may get to the evaluation step and find that your proxy measurements are not congruent with your goals. In some instances, you may find that the goal you initially wrote is too big to be achieved in a single content marketing campaign. In that event, you will need to revise your goals to be more in line with the things that it is possible to measure.
The bottom line to all this is that goals, audience, content topics, channels and measurement indicators are all part of a circular planning process that, once mapped out, can be used repeatedly to cultivate new customers and deepen the loyalty of existing ones.
Unlike traditional marketing strategies, content marketing is best implemented as an ongoing process, with its results viewed as cumulative equity in your brand.
If for some reason you landed at the end of this post and haven’t read the four prior in the series, start here and work your way through them individually.