By Patrick Garvey published July 6, 2016

How to Measure Performance to Improve Your Content Marketing

Performance-Improve-Content-Marketing

As organizations toy with various models to create and distribute content effectively, two questions commonly arise:

  • How do we know which type of content is the right content for our audience?
  • How can we determine the success of this content?

If you are struggling to generate an effective content marketing plan, one that uses measurement and analytics to drive optimization and conversion, you are not alone.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • Why measurement planning is important
  • A two-pronged approach to measure the impact of your content marketing
  • Simple scenarios that illustrate this plan

Why measurement?

Measuring the performance of content helps maximize sales leads, conversions, and return on investment. Integrating measurement into your content marketing strategy seems like an easy win. After all, measurement allows you to:

Measuring #content performance maximizes sales leads, conversions, & #ROI says @patrickadgarvey Click To Tweet
  • Understand how individual assets are performing
  • Learn which pieces of content naturally relate to one another
  • Test and validate where content should be placed in the buyer’s journey
  • Determine which metrics gauge the most accurate performance of content
  • Understand all possible paths to ROI/conversion to inform future content marketing plans

While knowing the benefits of a measurement plan is important, the power of optimization is realized in its approach.

Two-pronged measurement

To effectively create and deliver content, you need to design a plan that generates visibility into how content types perform within specific segments, channels, and positions in the buyer’s journey. We have chosen to break this plan into two parts.

First, determine the most relevant metrics for each piece of content, establish benchmarks/goals, and continuously measure performance against these marks — this allows you to understand the impact of each asset (as shown in “a”).

You also should look at your aggregate assets in each phase of the buyer’s journey (as shown in “b”). This data helps identify a return on your efforts by journey phase.

Aggregate-Assets-Buyer's-Journey

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Second, understand an asset’s impact on conversion. Measure whether a specific piece of content leads audiences to the next phase of the buyer’s journey — the journey oath analysis (as shown in label “a” in the chart below).

While blind spots always exist in this analysis, creating a baseline understanding of how users progress from one asset to another helps you determine which content might align best with the buyer’s journey.

Another important type of conversion impact understanding is entry point analysis, (label “b” in chart below), which helps you understand which first touch is the most promising.

In the example shown, the majority of traffic is sent to the interactive infographic, but that does not necessarily mean the infographic is the most valuable first touch in driving conversion. It may play out that the overview video produces the highest number of people that complete the journey.

These two types of analyses help you measure journey progression, and will allow you to deliver content in a way that generates the largest number of quality leads that your sales team can then effectively nurture and convert.

Entry-Point-Analysis

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Measuring individual assets and journey progression creates a window into the overall effectiveness of your content marketing programs. These analyses set the basis needed to monitor and manage each segment’s performance, and allow you to support/drive your decision-making process. To help illustrate what I mean, let’s review a few simple scenarios.

Simple scenarios

In this sample content map, arrowed lines represent possible user paths based on planning and assumptions.

Centerline_Campaign-Measurement-Sample-Map v3

Click to enlarge

In the discovery phase, measurement of the overview video typically would focus on traffic and engagement. Common metrics of an overview video to measure traffic would be impressions, clicks, and click-through rate. Measuring engagement would involve play rate, watch time, and inbound links.

However, these metrics are nearly meaningless without a benchmark or goal. To establish a goal, use an existing benchmark as a starting point. If you do not have a benchmark, make an estimate and make this a benchmarking moment. Conduct ongoing measurement to evaluate performance against your goals and benchmarks.

I should note that not all metrics for an asset have to be the same even if they are the same type of content (i.e., videos). You may find different metrics help evaluate success better than others, across different channels.

For each asset in the content map, you should define metrics that allow you to gauge its own performance as well as how well it drives customers to the next phase of the buyer’s journey.

In the close-up version of the sample content map below, you can see which paths provide the greatest performance and customer conversion. With this knowledge, you can drive a larger portion of a target segment through the most desirable path.

In this case, video viewers in the buy stage have a higher journey completion rate than the presentation viewers. With this knowledge, the content marketing strategy should be updated to funnel a larger number of people to the video series to drive an even higher conversion rate, increasing the ROI.

This example shows how content measurement can drive content marketing decisions.

Content-Measurement

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Conclusion

By integrating a measurement strategy into your content marketing efforts, you generate visibility through data to help facilitate content delivery in a way that generates the largest number of high-quality leads and empowers your sales team to effectively nurture them.

Ultimately, data will arm you with power — power to make and confirm the necessary marketing decisions, and power to take advantage of market opportunities before your competitors even notice them.

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Cover image by cohdra, Morguefile.com, via pixabay.com

Author: Patrick Garvey

As Director of Business Intelligence/Analytics at Centerline Digital, Patrick Garvey harnesses data to facilitate metric driven content strategies that allow organizations to optimize customer conversion and ROI. Patrick also specializes in designing/implementing big data environments to help streamline marketing and decision making processes. Check out articles or additional information on Patrick through Centerline Insights, LinkedIn, Medium or Twitter. Send him a message to spark conversation around data science and your marketing efforts.

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  • https://www.gmrtranscription.com/ Beth Worthy

    Effective content marketing is all about measuring content performance to maximize your sales, leads, conversions and ROI. You have a point, Patrick 🙂

    • Patrick Garvey

      Thanks for commenting Beth! Hopefully it’s a valid point 🙂

  • Doris Eichmeier

    Great post, thank you! It’s one of the heaviest challenges in contentmarketing: to build a usable measurement strategy for ALL content types, not just for single content bits (which ist no strategy).

    • Patrick Garvey

      Thanks for your comment Doris! I agree, and while difficult, it’s a challenge that is very possible.