Content marketing seems to be the buzzword of the digital marketing and SEO spheres at the moment.
The catchcry “content is king” is accompanied in every article detailing why businesses need to get on the content bandwagon.
There’s no doubt that content marketing is vital to business in 2015.
But is it a worthwhile strategy for a business?
And more importantly, how can a business measure the success of their content to determine if there is a return on investment.
What is content marketing?
Before determining the factors for success of content, it’s perhaps best to highlight what constitutes content.
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as:
“A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”
Content can be a variety of things – blog posts, email newsletters, podcasts, videos, infographics, mobile apps and eBooks.
Content is about creating something that will resonate with an audience, which educates them and builds a business’s reputation and expertise in a particular industry.
At the same time, it should inform the audience of the business’s products or services.
With consumers and decision makers researching and exploring their options before making a purchase, content is an effective method of cutting through to an audience in a personalised way that doesn’t draw the same scepticism as advertising.
While social media may seem like content marketing, and it does have many similarities and crossover, it’s shouldn’t be put in the same basket as content.
As social media and content strategist Jay Baer explains, “The goals of content are consumption, then behaviour. The goals of social are participation, then behaviour. Social media is the new telephone. Content marketing is the new brochure.”
What factors determine content success?
As there are many different forms of content, there are various ways of measuring the success of content.
However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be measured.
Google analytics is one of the primary and most effective methods to determine the success of content.
However, it takes education and knowledge to understand the vast amount of data.
Google analytics tracks the total amount of unique users reading a page, the average amount of time they spent on a page and the bounce rate (the amount of people who leave a site rather than viewing another page on the same site).
These are all useful indicators of whether the content that’s being produced is effective.
Sam Petulla, a Data visualization editor at MSNBC, wrote on Contently that two conclusions can be drawn from pieces of content that are attracting high numbers of readers who stay engaged with the content for long period:
- The content is building relationships by compelling readers to return.
- The content is creating an increase in brand lift by facilitating repeat exposures.
Similarly, by setting up conversion reports, it is also possible to see the path that a customer took on a website from entrance to making a purchase or becoming a lead.
This is significant as leads and purchases should be the primary goal of content marketing and seeing the way they got to that goal can help determine how to produce more content.
Another factor worth noting is how many contact forms have been filled out and whether there’s been an increase to newsletter subscriptions.
While social media and content marketing strategies should be developed in tandem but kept separate, social media is a good indicator of the success of content.
If a piece of content has high engagement such as comments, views, shares or Likes, it obviously resonates with the audience and can be deemed successful.
Similarly, setting up comments on a blog page can determine what readers think about the content.
Once all these metrics have been taken into account, figure out the time, effort and cost it takes to produce the content.
If the amount of business being produced as a result of producing content outweighs the time and cost of producing the content then it is worthwhile.
However, it’s important to remember that the success of content marketing can’t always be measured.
For example, a customer could be consuming content for a long time before making a decision at which point they may go straight to a service or purchase page.
While content marketing is about building authority, a reputation and trust with the audience, it is vital to focus on the main goal – generating leads and sales.
What success are you having with content marketing? Which forms of content are you finding the most useful?
And if you’re struggling to kick-start your content marketing campaign, please contact one of our Content Marketing experts.
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