Marketing is an integral part of running a business, and if you’re a small shop, you’re often doing the sales, marketing, promotion, and administration on your own or with a small team.
In terms of promotion and marketing, you need to do what’s most effective, as you often don’t have time to experiment and try different techniques.
As more businesses start to experiment with content marketing, the more they realize they’re facing the same problem – finding the content that is most effective for their bottom line.
How do you find the content that is most effective for your business? You release content based on your industry knowledge, and then you measure the outcome from that content.
The Content Marketing Institute reported the top obstacles in content marketing for both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-community (B2C) businesses. Measuring the effectiveness of content made it to the top of the list, with 51 percent of B2Cs and 49 percent of B2B admitting to a struggle with this process.
Analytics and performance measurement is challenging for businesses who have no standard through which to compare – if you’re striving to measure content for the first time, you might have a hard time measuring the effectiveness of that content the first time.
Business owners and marketers find content so hard to measure because they don’t know what they’re measuring – they haven’t set the proper goals and expectations for their content.
Measuring the effectiveness of content is hard because businesses don’t often know why they’re using it.
Content is king. It helps bring in leads for business on the web in ways that other marketing tactics can’t, but it spans a huge variety of marketing tactics.
So how are you supposed to figure out exactly what kind of content your customers want? You’re not alone if you don’t know the answer.
Business2Community reported a significant disconnect between the content buyers want and the content marketers are creating.
75% of global business leaders say they turn to content to research complex business ideas (peer practices, business strategies) within their industries. But 93% of marketers connect their content directly to a product or service.
While content marketing needs to directly connect to your sales, you’re not aiming to bombard your audience with information. You’re producing content to tell them a story about themselves (like how awesome their next New Year’s party will go if they buy your dress), or solve a problem for them (such as finding loopholes in their upcoming court case).
The number one problem marketers have with content, and therefore, with measuring its effectiveness, is assuming that they’ll be writing about themselves and their product – this is a mistake.
Whatever it may be, these problems and emotions are often directly linked to a customer’s decision to buy. Linking your content’s goals directly to the sales cycle will make measurement easier when projected performance metrics are clear.
According to IDC, more than 40% of marketing materials are not used by sales teams. (e-Strategy Trends)
A lot of businesses – 40 percent – aren’t taking advantage of the emotional process that customers and clients go through during the sales cycle. These emotions and processes will help you define your goals, and how to measure them.
Once you know what your goals are for content marketing, you can measure them successfully.
If your calendar is stretched a little thin, you may have time to work on only one or two goals a month. Below are my suggestions for B2C and B2B focus, as well as suggestions for tools to track them.
B2C businesses should be measuring content’s impact on SEO.
The buying cycle for B2C businesses is often shorter than for B2B. While a services business might take over a year to close a sale, it’s common for B2C businesses to close a sale in a day or less, often with the help of nothing but a simple Google search.
The nature of e-commerce, digital buying trends, and the B2C sales cycle make search engine optimization (SEO) the number one most important performance metric for B2C content marketing efforts.
Measure the success of your B2C content marketing efforts with SEO – is your content providing you more visibility in search engines, more traffic to your website, and more overall conversions?
The success of your content can be measured based on your SEO impact, and with the help of the following tools, can be optimized to keep your business growing.
Google Adwords: Keywords
SEO always starts with thinking about what your customers will be searching for on the web in order to find your products or services – in other words, the keywords you want to rank for.
The Google keyword planner helps you build search network campaigns, ad group ideas, and historical statistics to give you the best idea of what will perform the best for your organization. You can keep these keywords in groups and lists, and stay competitive by tracking your Google budgets against them.
While there are a ton of applications out there to track the traffic and acquisition of various pieces of content on your website, Google Analytics is the most robust and commonly used tool for doing so.
Use Google Analytics to see which channels are best for content promotion, which pieces of content are driving the most amount of traffic to your website, which keywords your website ranks for the best, and more.
SEMrush is a powerful SEO tool to utilize if you want to determine whether or not you’re running a healthy website. If you’re hoping to drive more traffic to your site, you can always start with SEMrush to see how many keywords your site currently ranks for in Google.
You can also use it as part of your keyword research. You can run a competitive analysis to see what other sites rank for keywords that you want to target, then continue on to see what other keywords those competitors rank for.
While BuzzSumo is often thought of as a social media tool, it’s also a powerful tool to use for SEO. If you need ideas for content – and content that will rank well for certain keywords – try diving into BuzzSumo.
You can see how popular content is shared around the web, what content is the most popular amongst certain keywords, tags, and categories, and take a look at the types of audience sharing that content.
This is the best SEO tool for spying on your competitors and placing yourself in the best position possible for competing for rankings. If you’re hoping to analyze your competitor strategy, you can do so for both organic and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns with Spyfu.
One of the most powerful tools in the platform is their history capability – you can see snapshots of old campaigns and advertisements your competitors have run on the web to see where you stand with the competition.
B2B businesses should be measuring content’s impact on lead generation.
When it comes to driving sales, B2B business owners and marketers focus on lead generation first. While content isn’t usually a mechanized way to close a sale in B2B, it plays the most important role in generating leads for the business.
When it comes to measuring the success of your B2B content, you’ll want to focus on lead generation and conversions through web forms.
While marketing automation tools are the most common for lead generation tracking, there are some other tools you can use to focus on one aspect of your content. Some of my favorites are below.
Mention is great for tracking two aspects of lead generation – it will show you the people talking about your brand (and the ones sharing your content), and identify the people and audiences talking about the problem that your brand solves.
From a lead generation perspective, this is information is Gold, and is often the best place to start. You’ll want to find not only your web audience but the members of your audience who are already talking about the problems that your solution solves.
This tool focuses on the in-house amplification of your content through social media. Here you’ll be able to take a deeper dive into social media audiences, and see exactly what social media posts are performing best for conversions and driving leads.
If you choose, this tool will also take you through a deeper dive into how social media helps to drive leads for your business by showing you the best times, places, and media types to post on your social feeds for optimal success.
Moz is an online marketing tool that helps you track several different aspects of your content’s performance, as well as other aspects of your digital marketing strategy.
You can use Moz to track a full suite of your digital marketing efforts when it comes to lead generation, or you can focus locally if that applies to your business, ensuring that your content is reaching the right eyes at the right time to drive leads.
Previously known as Referral Snip, this tool is a unique way to track referrals, and how exactly your content is performing by way of word of mouth on the internet from other players in the industry (or customers!).
This tool lets you create a referral link to be passed on (and to hopefully create a snowball effect of sales) driving more leads to any of the pages through which you convert.
HubSpot is a full marketing automation suite that tracks your lead generation journey from start to finish. You can use the tool to host a variety of types of content and manage all aspects of marketing such as email, blogging, resources, social media, and more.
The tool really shines when it comes to managing and nurturing the leads after they’ve been generated. With a powerful list tool, you can automate workflows that will follow up with your leads and move them down the funnel.
Bonus: the most successful content marketing metric tool
The most important tool for measuring the success of your content marketing strategy is the people that are driving the content. While metrics, data, and analysis are important, the one thing to remember is that the people on the front lines promoting and creating content are the ones that know the most about its performance and successes.
If you don’t have the personnel in-house to drive a content marketing effort, consider working with a local agency to help manage some of the creation and metrics. Whether or not you’re a B2C or B2B business, content can help drive your sales numbers up and get your business growing.
Here at Creative Click Media, we specialize in improving small businesses with better content marketing. If you’re interested in talking about how an SEO and content strategy can help grow your business, contact us.