How to effectively evaluate your content marketing strategy
Creating an effective content marketing campaign is only half the battle. The biggest challenge teams face is measuring the effectiveness of pieces that are being sent out. This article helps you evaluate your content marketing strategy to ensure the highest ROI from your efforts.
Content has firmly earned its place in the modern marketer’s toolkit. It helps generate leads, create a level of authority within your field and build trust with prospects.
However, producing high quality content is only half the battle. Being able to measure its effectiveness, from creation to distribution, is often the biggest hurdle to overcome. In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute, 63% of businesses struggle to evaluate their content marketing.
Evaluating your content marketing should not only incorporate your objectives and deliverables but also how you intend to measure those efforts against your ROI (return on investment) and eventual sales.
Are you part of the 63% who’re clueless about gauging your content’s effectiveness? If so, what kind of metrics will you need to consider? Here are six to get you started, focusing on the consideration and decision stages of the sales journey.
Measuring Content in the Consideration Phase
The consideration stage of the sales funnel is when potential buyers are researching which product or service is a good fit for them - they want the right solution to their problem and therefore explore several business offerings.
The types of content at the consideration stage includes case studies, eBooks, and whitepapers. Any content that can get prospective clients to pin point your product as a solution to their pain points and become further entrenched with your brand.
By identifying your effective middle-of-the-funnel content, you will be able to evaluate how many people are reading your content, but also how it’s enabling them to move on to the next stage of their buyer’s journey. Some mid-funnel content metrics to consider are:
1. Increased Total Pageviews
This metric is a sign that visitors, or potential clients, are not only reading your blog, but they’re exploring other parts of the website to learn more about specific service offerings.
Measuring pageviews provides you with a basic understanding of which pieces of content are performing the best compared to others. Remember, at this stage customers are looking for answers, so if you have a particular piece of content converting leads more than others, it’s obvious this needs to be on-hand for your sales teams to utilise.
Pageviews can also indicate which topics attract the most attention from your audience. This information can be fed back to marketing teams so they can create content based on what’s proving popular.
You can find pageview metrics in Google Analytics under Behaviour > Site content > All Pages tab.
2. Time on Page
This metric measures the average time a user has spent on a piece of content. During this stage consumers are conducting research, with your content being a default choice. If your time on page numbers are low, it means users are clicking or visiting your content - probably because they found the headline interesting - but they’re not actually finding the content engaging.
However, it’s worth remembering that there’s no strict time to measure here, it all depends on your content’s format and subject. For example, if you have a 3,000-word blog post that’s got an average time of less than a minute, your prospects probably aren’t reading it.
Calculate the average time spent on each of your content pages to gain actionable insights from this metric. This way, you can pinpoint which pieces of content prospects have spent the most and least time on. What do high engagement pieces have in common? What can you learn from them?
3. New vs. Returning Visitors
It’s all very well generating tonnes of visitors to your website, but there’s no guarantee all of them will return and take further action. To know which prospects stand a higher chance of converting, you need to measure your new vs returning visitors for your content.
If you’ve got a prospect who’s regularly returning a specific piece of content, it’s a good indication they’re interested in your offering. This is a crucial metric for leads in the consideration stage, as sales reps can follow up with them to act quickly and close the sale.
4. Content Downloads
Generating leads isn’t as easy. The internet is filled with clickbait, poor content and sales pitch nonsense. If someone is downloading your content, it’s a positive sign that they’ve found the information on your blog invaluable and they’re willing to submit their email address to get even more insight. This is a huge signal to push your sales team into action.
Measuring Content in the Decision Stage
This is the stage where prospects will make their final decision. They know exactly what solutions are out there and which is best for them, they just need to choose the provider.
The ultimate end goal of your content marketing strategy should be to turn website visitors into motivated, engaged customers. Your content strategy, integrated with your wider marketing tactics should guide your prospects down the sales funnel to complete an action.
For opportunities that are closer to the point of sale, you’ll need to be utilising and analysing your sales management tools to see how content is performing and ensure you target individuals with the right content at the right time.
Sales enablement technology from providers such as Data Dwell, shortens the time to send out well planned and effective content, and measures the ROI of that content inside one integrate platform. A good quality sales enablement platform should equip your sales and marketing teams with everything they need to engage and convert prospective buyers.
Conversions is the ultimate metric for discovering whether a piece of content has actually helped a turn a prospect in your pipeline into a sale.
The more conversions, the better success rate your content has had. However, if you have a piece in the decision stage that hasn’t resulted in a conversion, you’ll know it’s missed the mark.
Of course, simply calculating total conversions isn’t enough, so measure their quality when filtering leads through your pipeline.
You can set up Goal Completions in Google Analytics to measure how your content has met your target audience’s needs. Use reverse-goal patch to view which pages a prospect visited before they converted.
2. Replies to marketing or sales emails
Standing out in that white noise of sales can be difficult, having a well designed and written piece of content that is built upon excellent data sets will help that no end. Having the understanding that your client has seen and remembered you in amongst that miasma of emails if important and proves that what you are doing is effective.
3. Increase MQLs and SQLs
Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs) are often two very different things. Having an increase in both is considered healthy, but both have different requirements for determining whether a sales opportunity actually exists:
When a prospective lead has engaged enough for marketing teams to believe a sale potential exists. Once identified, a marketing qualified lead will be passed onto sales departments for future follow-up.
Content in these initial stages should confirm a consumer’s problem is valid and needs remedying; whilst intriguing them enough to move onto the next stage of the buying process. This can be achieved through informative blog posts, social media posts and webinars.
For marketing teams to identify whether content is driving MQLs, they should measure the following metrics:
- Emails - have they requested a demo or signed up for a free trial?
- Social media engagement - are they commenting on your posts or sending private messages?
- Viewing blog content - have they clicked links that follow back to the site?
If your marketing team’s content isn’t driving enough MQLs, it’s clear it needs to be reviewed to ensure enough MQLs are being passed through to your sales team.
A SQL is when a salesperson believes a lead will turn into a viable business opportunity. This might be qualified by interest (how invested a prospect is moving forward with your company’s offering) and fit (how much a lead matches your company’s ideal buyer persona).
For sales teams to turn these qualified leads into a purchase, they need to make them feel comfortable in the purchasing process and make it as straightforward as possible. This can be done through:
- Sending case studies
- Adding content to checkout pages
- Creating decks that explain what happens after a purchase is complete
Measure how many sales have been generated off the back of these pieces of content. If you find opportunities are dropping off at this point, it’s clear your content hasn’t provided enough information to ease their purchasing decision.
Sadly, not everyone who makes it through the first few stages of your sales funnel will be a good fit. For example, they might drop out halfway because they don’t have the funding available to complete the purchase. Or, one lead might seem enthusiastic about your product or service, but they’re not a key decision-maker in their organisation.
Alternatively, if sales teams are finding that leads passed on from marketing teams aren’t matching the ideal buyer persona, it’s clear your marketing content in the initial sales funnel stages isn’t targeting the right audience or answering the right questions. This information can be fed back to marketing teams so their lead generation content can be improved.
Although content marketing is a go-to business strategy, this doesn’t mean its success is being measured properly. By tracking the right metrics, you’ll know exactly how successful your content strategy has been throughout your pipeline to ensure marketing and sales teams are armed with the best resources to generate leads and close sales.