Parts one and two of this content marketing series discussed the importance of creating great B2B content and putting that content in front of people who will one day become your clients. Now we've arrived at the next critical step: measuring the content’s success.
The measurement part of the process makes some creatives want to hide out in the office bathroom until the boss comes knocking, or, at least, take their paid sick days. And sometimes the anxiety about metrics is well-founded. At many agencies, measuring earned media is a dark art. Many complex platforms and analytic tools are out there, many of which are designed to help B2C marketers calculate impressive (and inflated) earned media figures. I once witnessed agency pros telling clients—with a straight face—that a Facebook post seen by 7,000 people generated $150,000 in “earned media.”
B2B marketers have no reason to shy away from reliable metrics. They can ignore most of the nonsense and take a much simpler approach. In all likelihood, you have a singular goal as a B2B content marketer—to drive sales. Therefore, you want to focus on and measure how the content you’re creating is impacting each level of the sales funnel, so that you can optimize your efforts. Let’s take a look at how to do that simply and easily.
As a B2B marketer, one of your biggest challenges is ensuring that potential clients know about your company and its services. Unlike B2C marketing, it’s usually not terribly effective to air a commercial for a mass audience or launch a widespread display campaign. But if you’re executing an effective content marketing strategy, you can spread awareness of your services to millions of potential clients in a meaningful way.
To measure the reach of your content marketing, first look at the total visitors to your company’s blog. This number will probably be relatively small, but if you’re executing a smart strategy, you’re also publishing guest articles as often as possible on online industry trade Web sites, and this is where you’ll generate the most awareness. Ask the editor you’re working with for the average traffic to a guest post, and use this as a rough indicator to estimate your awareness reach.
In addition, if you’re spreading your work through a paid content distribution platform, you’ll be provided with robust analytics that detail the reach of your work. Taken together, these measurements can create a comprehensive picture of your content marketing campaign’s top-of-funnel effect—potentially one where you’re reaching millions of new people.
Once you've created your content and sent it out into the world, you need to know how it's performing—not just how many people read it, but also how many people took a demonstrable action, like commenting or sharing. After all, this indicates that your content seriously piqued their interest. When sharing links from your own blog on Facebook and Twitter, use a link shortener, which will allow you to track how the link moves through the Internet as it’s shared. Virtually all industry publications should display social share numbers on their article pages, letting you know how many people shared your piece on each platform.
In addition, search the article’s unique share link on Twitter so that you can see who specifically is sharing your piece and what they’re saying about it. Then, don’t be afraid to engage those individuals by thanking them for sharing and starting a conversation. You’ll have some new clients before you know it.
At Chango, through the referral data in our CRM system, we track how many prospects interacted with our content before heading to our site to learn more. More than comments or shares, this is the best indication of a high-value prospect.
In addition, this allows us to see which industry publications drive the most prospects to our site, allowing us to double down on our efforts to publish in the publications that deliver the most leads.
Finally, since we have a closed-loop CRM system, we can track what articles end up driving specific revenue. Taken together, all of these data points allow us to paint a picture of how our content marketing is performing, and tailor our strategy and resource investments accordingly. Content marketing measurement isn’t a perfect science, but it can deliver an ROI that will make you dizzy with glee. As a B2B marketer, what’s more important than that?