Engaging customers through content marketing just makes sense. But doing so the right way is good business. Understanding the effectiveness of your efforts isn’t difficult, it simply takes a judicious application of knowledge, temperance, and context. In this post, we’re outlining seven ways to evaluate the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy.
Ask Your Readers
Ultimately, readership is where the rubber meets the road and since perception is the name of the game, gleaning customer insight is a key step in determining marketing effectiveness. The caveat is that soliciting feedback is likely to be the least voluminous analytical method, so methods of collection will need to be thorough and effective.
Fortunately, the means by which feedback can be obtained are bountiful in the age of the Internet. Services like PollDaddy lay on the less formal end of the spectrum with quick responses and rapid litmus tests of reader sentiment. More robust solutions like SurveyMonkey offer extensive customization options including answer randomization and multiple responses. But the first step is simply to query your customers. Asking is essential when few customers are forthcoming outside of negative circumstances.
Look at Links
Content marketing is created with one thing in mind: currying of positive brand association through quality, shared pieces. What’s integral to this picture is the sharing aspect. Content that goes un-spread through cyberspace lives in an echo chamber. For this reason, paying attention to volumes of inbound links can help gage content effectiveness. The added bonus? Inbound linking improves search engine rankings, which increases visibility and penetration.
Look for the Right Combination
It could be argued that, “you know (good marketing) when you see it.” Good content combines a number of features that, in aggregate, create an “it” factor of sorts. Tim Riches at Futurebrand coined this confluence of aspects the “Golden Thread”. Involving a connection of business objective, consumer insight, marketing strategy, creativity, execution, and results, the combination speaks to an understanding of reader wishes and effective branding in a way that carries effectiveness.
With the dawn of Big Data, analytics are reaching into business practices in new ways. Marketing, on the other hand, has made use of this kind of statistical intelligence for quite some time. The difference is that now, more robust metrics offer greater and more useful insights.
Obtaining this data can come in many forms. Using Buffer to publish on social media collects records of interaction activity. Google Analytics has a suite of numbers, including click-through, bounce rate, average duration of visit, and goal conversion. In the process, however, avoid “vanity metrics” like Twitter followers and Facebook likes. These numbers may look rosy, but social media users are capable of astounding passivity in their “activity”.
It’s essential to remember the circumstances of your business. At any given time, your content, social media channels, products, and ROI are subject to forces beyond your control. When looking at your data, temper your excitement or disappointment with knowledge of your operating environment. Doing so can keep you from pushing content that happened to hit a fad until the wheels fall off and will save the baby from the bathwater when chucking “failed” efforts.
Reactions to your content are likely to be varied, but understanding your goals and basing your expectations on that basis is essential to content creation efforts. When attempting to garner positive brand sentiment, Facebook likes and Instagram approval represent effective engagement. This is because content tailored toward this goal should espouse the values your organization wishes to be associated with, which means a little positive feedback is enough. For content designed to build customer perception, shares should be your goal. This is because users are more likely to share pieces that share their personal values. Gaging reaction is essential, but gaging reaction in the context of goals is paramount.
Observe Your Timeline
With newer business blogs or less developed brands, effective content marketing takes time to gain traction. Blogs in particular rely on organic traffic that is built on a combination of volume and inbound links. Each of these take time to build and expecting more than you should may misdirect your efforts. Simply observe the little victories and set reasonable standards for growth over time in order to effectively craft your marketing material.
The “magic” of content marketing lies in its ability to engage customers in new and dynamic ways, but understanding the effectiveness of your efforts is simple sense. Query your readers and pay attention to community responses to tailor content. Use your analytics and keep those numbers in the context of your business circumstances. Understand reactions to your content, especially on social media, and keep reasonable expectations for growth over time. Doing these things will not only give meaning to the garbled picture of feedback, but also provide a rudder for uncharted waters.