Once you’ve figured out what type of content drives your audience to take action, you need to start measuring the success of your content marketing strategies. However, that’s easier said than done, because there is no single metric to satisfactorily and accurately measure the impact of content, and a mix of several strategies must be employed to tell whether you’re on the right track.
Measuring Your Content’s Effectiveness & Impact: Relevant Criteria
1. Website traffic. Page views and downloads are, for 62 percent of small businesses, the most commonly used measurement criterion when it comes to their content marketing campaign. And it makes sense, because the only reason to create high-quality content is to share it with your audience and get traffic back to your website. Measuring page views, downloads, and other elements of organic traffic from search engines is an effective method of determining whether your content marketing efforts are paying off – and your audience is pleased with the content you’re producing.
Increased traffic on your website can also reveal what content is most appreciated by your target audience. It’s worth taking into consideration non-branded organic traffic as this indicates how many users end up on your web properties upon searching for the products and services you offer (rather than searching for the name of your brand).
Question to ask yourself: How many people accessed and consumed my content, measured in page views and downloads?
2. Sales lead quality & quality. 53 percent of small businesses take note of sales leads when measuring the efficacy of their content marketing campaigns, and they look not so much at the quantity of leads generated (48 percent), but at the quality (53 percent).
Leads come in a great variety: there are bad ones, mediocre ones, and the types that your company’s sales team dreams about. Although definitions vary greatly, the quality of a lead is confirmed if:
- The prospect’s profile is complete
- The prospect is looking for a solution to an already identified problem
- There is available budget to make a purchase
- There is a known timeframe for the purchase
Of course, qualified leads are the closest to customer acquisition, but small business marketers also look at the amount of leads generated (qualified or not) when determining the effectiveness of their content marketing strategies.
Question to ask yourself: Is your content turning visitors into customers?
3. Social media sharing. The more shared your content, the valuable it is, right? This is exactly what nearly 50 percent of small businesses do: they count Facebook likes, tweets, LinkedIn shares, Google + shares, diggs, and others to determine whether their content is successful or needs more work.
The golden rule of effective marketing is that the content should be conceived based on what your audience needs and wants, providing the exact information they want to share with friends in their circles. As a marketer, you must identify the places where your target public spends their time and ensure your content reaches those locations, whether we’re talking about social media, blogs, news websites, or email. Next off, check the shares of your content on social networks, the open rate of your emails, and click-backs from guest posts and other materials you’re distributing across the web. Knowing what your audience prefers will allow you to produce more of it.
Question to ask yourself: How often is your content shared across social media?
4. SEO ranking. 47 percent of small businesses look at their Google rankings to tell whether they’re getting their content right. Solid content is the foundation that supports most of your SEO efforts, and in producing it, there are certain aspects to consider:
- Quality: It goes without saying that quality is a must – not only in the aftermath of the infamous Google algorithms, but also in a time and age when readers value good info more than anything else. The universal principle of producing quality content that speaks to an audience encourages marketers to focus less on their business needs and more on the customers’. With content nowadays, the focus has shifted from “Our product can do this and that, so you should buy it” to “Our product can help you solve this problem you have, so you should buy it.”
- Keyword Research: There’s no point in producing the highest-quality content if your audience can’t find it, right? Keyword research is the second-most important part of your content marketing strategy when it comes to SEO: you want to create valuable content that answers to the queries of your customers, written in the exact language they use in search engines.
- Engagement: Valuable content can only go so far in keeping your audience interested – you need to engage them in a way that makes it seem like they are having an actual interaction with your company – and an exciting one. To this purpose, you need to focus on implementing several social calls in your content and ask for input such as shares, comments, questions, and the like. You can also facilitate the connection between them and your company by building a community around your brand and turning customers into loyal followers.
Question to ask yourself: Is your content easily accessible through search engines?
In the next and final part of this series, we’ll talk about how to deal with some of the most common content marketing challenges small businesses face and stay ahead of your competition.