Can you imagine hiring a sales rep and not measuring his or her performance? If you don’t, how do you know whether the sales rep is succeeding or failing?
The same reliance on measurement should be applied to content marketing. But, sadly, that’s not always the case.
Some marketers don’t measure up
A new survey by Skyword, a provider of content marketing software and services, found that 18 percent of marketers don’t measure a single thing about the content they produce and publish. Not traffic. Not engagement. Not conversions. Nothing.
(Full disclosure: I’ve done freelance work for clients of Skyword.)
If you’re not measuring how your content is performing, then you may as well be burning the money you’re spending on that content.
Without measurement, how do you know what’s working and what’s not? Without measurement, your content is pointless and your content marketing strategy is rudderless.
Monitoring the analytics
When I was an in-house content marketer, we tracked organic search activity, web traffic, social media engagement and other metrics at all three of the companies where I worked. I can’t imagine us not having kept an eye on at least the most basic statistics through Google Analytics and complementary platforms.
You can’t make well-thought-out decisions about content marketing strategy without some performance data in hand. Smart organizations realize that.
“We watch our analytics very carefully every day and are always making small tweaks and adjustments to performance,” Chris Mumford, PR content manager at Western Governors University (WGU), told Skyword.
WGU has got it right: Monitor your analytics and make adjustments based on performance.
The importance of engagement
But, as Skyword points out, it goes deeper than that. Top-tier content marketers, identified by Skyword as “visionaries,” pay the least amount of attention to traffic and the most amount of attention to audience growth and content value.
“They want to know if the audience is engaging with their content, not just finding it online,” Skyword says. “And they track issues like subscription rates and download forms — all signs that someone is interested enough in your content to seek it out again in the future.”
In other words, these visionaries want to keep content consumers coming back for more.
Are you experimenting and adapting?
Visionaries and another category of top performers, “leaders,” measure more of everything compared with average marketers, according to Skyword.
“The key,” Skyword says, “is to experiment and adapt.”
At SpareFoot, one of the companies where I worked in content marketing, a core value was failing quickly. Translation: It’s perfectly acceptable to try new things, but make sure you don’t let a bad experiment drag on forever. SpareFoot’s content marketing team embraced that philosophy, which should be applied to every content marketing strategy, no matter the size of the organization that’s executing the strategy.
As pointed out by Skyword, leaders and visionaries in content marketing “constantly test what types of content gain traction and how to exploit marketing science to gain an edge.”
ADP, a provider of HR, payroll and tax software and services, definitely stays abreast of what types of content gain traction.
Keeping an eye on KPIs
Stacy Landis, ADP’s vice president of content marketing, told Skyword that the company has identified growth-oriented KPIs for content marketing related to audience acquisition, engagement and conversion. The content marketing team provides monthly, quarterly and annual reports on content performance.
Among ADP’s benchmarks for content marketing success are average session duration, pages per session, scroll depth and bounce rate. Thankfully, ADP’s metrics extend far beyond traffic.
“As our audience has grown, we’ve set our sights on conversion. Are we persuading our readers to take action? Opt-in subscriptions to our digests are an important opportunity to nurture our readers and drive return visits,” Landis says.
Take a page from ADP’s playbook and closely measure the performance of your content. Otherwise, you’re bound to repeat your content marketing mistakes, and you’ll fall short of attracting and retaining consumers. And you’ll probably never improve your content marketing strategy.