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How to Track Your Content Marketing Program’s Results

This post was first published by Blaise Lucey on March Communications’ blog PR Nonsense.

Tracking your content marketing program's results isn't hard, it just requires the right tools.B2B content marketers have come a long way. They’re not writing as much “selfie” content anymore and they’re not writing unhelpful stuff, either.

Sure, there might be a lot of repetitive articles for the sake of search engine optimization (SEO), but who’s not guilty of that?

The creation of content is no longer the biggest challenge faced by B2B content marketing. A lot of executives have heard that this thing called “content” is important for the business, so they’re willing to give it a try.Uberflip’s content marketing infographic shows that content marketers are creating 70 percent more content than they were a year ago, but only 35 percent have a documented strategy and just 21 percent are tracking ROI.

The last part is prettying stunning. Just over a fifth of content marketers are tracking whether or not all the content they’re making is actually doing something for the business. The rest… aren’t.

The Spooky Statistics

If this infographic had come out a few weeks ago, we could all have had a lot of fun about how this is a “spooky” lack of statistics. Or maybe had a fun graphic about “You know what really scares content marketers? Analytics.”

But Halloween is over and instead we’re left to wonder at what this statistic actually means. I tweeted this infographic. I’m writing about it. But it was created by UberFlip and shared on MarketingProfs. UberFlip didn’t do the research, UberFlip repurposed research from three other sources. Namely, the B2B Content Marketing 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America research from the penultimate source of content marketing thought leadership, The Content Marketing Institute. The research was sponsored by BrightCove and MarketingProfs, so it looks like we’ve come full circle.

Ironically, there’s no real indication of whether this infographic or the PDF from which much of it was derived is actually doing anything for BrightCove, UberFlip, MarketingProfs or the Content Marketing Institute. The infographics and PDFs don’t require an email address for access and, as far as I can tell, there’s no tracking code in place.

So all four of these organizations aren’t tracking the ROI from the research that says three-quarters of more than 5,000 marketers aren’t tracking ROI.

This, then, is the problem with content marketing: brand awareness is often the number one goal. As long as something gets a lot of traffics and social shares, we can consider the content a success.

But measuring your content by number of views is like measuring a sale team’s effectiveness by number of outbound calls. Sure, people are aware of the company, but does that mean they’re more likely to buy the solution?

The good news is that content marketers are starting to think a little more carefully about this. In fact, the research showed that the number one priority for content marketers in 2015 is tracking the effectiveness of content.

Staying On Track

So how can you make sure that your content marketing is providing great ROI? We’ve discussed great analytics tools before. When we create content marketing programs for clients, the Jetpack plugin for WordPress has proven invaluable in tracking user engagement across the website, offering a comprehensive performance breakdown of:

  • Posts
  • Pages
  • Clickthroughs
  • Referrers

If you aren’t using WordPress, Google Analytics and bit.ly can also help develop a clear view of what your blog is actually doing for your business.

Essentially, what you want to know is whether a blog post is driving traffic to another piece of collateral. So that means tracking top posts and top clickthroughs. If you posted a new piece of content and added a call-to-action to a webinar at the bottom of it – and see that your blog post was clicked 100 times and the webinar was clicked 10 times, that’s a pretty decent conversion rate.

If you capture email addresses as part of a collateral download or registration for a webinar or trial, then your content has generated a lead.

The ROI of Social & Syndication

The effectiveness of content on social media channels like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook can often be hard to track, too, but by using a bit.ly link and tracking referrers, brands can see the engagement rate for different types of content. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook also offer a built-in analytics dashboard, so you can monitor what kind of stuff really gets followers to click.

If you’ve launched a content marketing program and you’re starting to wonder what all that content is doing, it might be time to measure not just how often your content gets viewed, but whether it’s encouraging people to take the next step afterwards.

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