Content marketing has become a buzz term in the last few years. It’s a digital marketing niche focused on crafting quality, relevant, and useful content, regularly publishing it on a company’s website, and efficiently disbursing it through social media and other means to reach a targeted online audience.
The result of effective content marketing is relatively self-explanatory: a documented, tangible increase in the number of viewers or readers consuming said content — many of whom then pass the information on to others who will use it or, themselves, convert and become long-time clients — leading to an increase in sales.
In theory, the premise sounds fantastic: have a writer write content, disseminate that content in relevant places, gain new customers, and improve your overall bottom line. In practice, though, the process becomes a bit more convoluted.
There are several items to consider when determining how effective your content is in driving conversions, meaning tracking progress can be a little murky without proper knowledge.
So, how does a company know if the content marketing efforts in which it is investing are producing the promised or intended results? This quick guide will help you understand how to rack and measure your firm’s content marketing ROI.
Knowing Your Audience
Crafting written or visual content without knowing to whom it should be directed is a sure sign that your content marketing ROI probably won’t have the intended results. Imagine hopping in the car in an unfamiliar area hoping to magically run into your favorite small retailer’s brick-and-mortar shop, or blindly choosing herbs to season food if you’ve never cooked before.
Content without a well-defined audience is the same. You could be driving it in the entirely wrong direction, or spicing it up with knowledge that will be completely wrong for your clients’ tastes.
The way to solve this is by clearly defining who you are trying to reach. Sit down with your team and think of your ideal client, as that type of person will also be your ideal reader. Define age, gender, employment and marital statuses, hobbies, kids versus no kids, pets versus no pets, and what he or she needs when reaching out to your company. There might be more than one profile that could use your products or services, so you might end up with multiple personas by the end of the process.
Then, tailor your content to your defined audience(s). Otherwise, you’re wasting valuable time and money on materials that don’t have an impact.
Have Clear Goals
The next step after you know your audience is to create clear goals for your content. You can’t see whether it’s working if you don’t know which elements you’re tracking, after all. What do you hope to achieve through your content marketing efforts? Do you want to double your readership? Would you prefer a 10 percent increase in sales? Are you most interested in higher engagement on social media?
What you track depends on your company and the products or services it provides. Key performance indicators often include:
- Average order value (AOV)
- Customer lifetime value (CLV)
- Cost per acquisition (CPA)
- Cost per click (CPC)
- Cost per lead (CPL)
- Cost per thousand impressions (CPM)
- Overall leads
- Page metrics: views, clicks, downloads, bounce rates, time on pages, interactions, etc.
- Social media metrics: likes, followers, comments, subscribers, shares, views, etc.
- Time to close
Whatever your company needs, write it down, along with a timeframe in which to achieve said goals. You might hope to see 25 percent higher readership by the end of the quarter, or a set number of additional sales by the end of November.
Lastly, know your baseline. The current totals for whichever metrics you’re hoping to improve should be written down at the onset of the content marketing campaign. This will allow you to see where you started and where your efforts got you by the end. This also allows you to make changes to the process to improve less-than-exciting results.
Defining Quality Content
Quality content encourages loyal readership. The more professional, insightful, and useful your written content, the more likely your readers are to consume it. Here are a few tips to ensure your content is providing readers with something that’s actually helpful:
Know your audience.
Write for the personas you’re most hoping to attract to your brand, and include that persona when targeting digital advertising efforts, as well. Well-crafted content can easily draw in readers, but great content tailored to an audience can be an absolute game changer.
Brevity is your friend.
Be clear and concise while still offering valuable information. Your readers do not want you to ramble while trying to get to a point, but they also don’t want to see a bulleted list without any insights. Use an engaging tone, trim unnecessary words, and offer an easy-to-follow structure.
Bonus tip: A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you would feel the content was engaging and helpful, then focus on providing something you’d also like to read.
Structure for scanning.
Most readers do not have time to sit down and read in-depth articles these days. Provide engaging, bolded bullet point titles that act as topic sentences, then provide additional information beneath to expand on your points. This allows readers to cherry pick the parts that most pertain to them.
Provide something new.
Information regurgitated without any thought leadership does not offer your readers value. Give them information that includes a point of view, something different than they’re reading elsewhere, and that also provides usable, actionable information.
Cite valid sources, provide additional information from reputable firms, and demonstrate authority wherever possible. In addition, edit to avoid typos and maintain credibility. Nothing diminishes trust as quickly as typos or misused facts.
Where to Turn for Advice
If you’re concerned about your company’s digital and content marketing efforts, or if you want to learn more about how to make them as effective as possible, call a trusted digital marketing partner like Direction. Our team would be happy to walk you through what is working, what isn’t working, and all the ways we can help you achieve the digital and content marketing results you are looking for.
President, Direction Inc.