How do you measure content’s impact on the bottom line? That’s the question on every manager’s mind during budgeting season. And for the content marketing directors of the world, this is one of the most challenging parts of the job.
“What metrics will matter to the C-Suite?” “How can I show the value of my content and get more budget to produce better assets?” There’s a reason why everyone asks these questions – and why they are so difficult to answer. Let’s dive in together to unpack them.
Why is it so difficult to measure the impact of content?
Chances are your boss doesn’t “get” content. They don’t truly understand why you can’t give them solid metrics to prove why content matters or what impact it has on your brand’s top and bottom lines. (If you’re in that boat right now, I feel for you, friend.)
Let’s break down why it’s so difficult to measure content’s impact on your business, even though we all know that content is key to a successful buyer’s journey. What content is most effective content may differ for B2B and B2C markets, but the concept remains the same: better information and branding attract more engagement, interaction, and buyers.
But determining just how much impact your content makes isn’t always as easy as measuring the effectiveness of a campaign.
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Why do people engage with some content pieces and not others? We’ve all seen it happen: A great piece of content with massive engagement doesn’t seem to result in new leads or new customers. And we’ve seen the opposite: A basic piece of content immediately converts a reader into a major customer. Why? We can’t always know. It’s psychology. (This is code for, “We haven’t fully figured out why humans do what they do.”)
That’s why metrics are so important. They help marketers unpack what content works, for whom, on what channels, and at what times. This data allows content marketers to target audiences more efficiently with campaigns that will engage a more qualified audience.
So, let’s get to the numbers – and why they should matter to both you and your boss.
What metrics are most valuable for content marketers?
It depends. I know that’s not a satisfying answer. But the truth is that the best metrics will vary. There’s no single right answer. It depends on your goals, industry, audience, company size, share of voice, competitive advantages, etc.
It’s all about building relationships, and we all know it takes some psychology (or therapy, depending on who you’ve dated). Engagement metrics are deep-rooted in neuroscience. That’s why they matter. And that’s why you must be prepared to communicate the nuances of context with your leaders.
Metrics for brand awareness and customer loyalty
Engagement is a thought leadership metric that measures brand awareness and share of voice in the marketplace. It’s also a relationship score, showcasing how close you are to your audience.
The following metrics are key indicators of your market position and should tell you whether a piece of content or a web page is performing as you intended. Awareness is about more than clicks, shares, likes, and comments. It’s about how long prospects are willing to engage with you.
Social engagement rate. If social media is part of your content distribution strategy, you already have metrics to monitor how your organic content performs and what ROI your paid ads generate. But what about engagement? Social engagement rate gauges the sentiment of your brand in the marketplace.
You can calculate engagement rate with the following formula:
Engagement Rate = Total # of interactions your content receives / Total number of followers (*) 100%
Customer engagement score (CES). This metric calculates how often your customers or users engage with your product or service. The score depends on the customer’s activity with your brand and use of your offerings. Each customer will score according to their actions on your website or with your product. A high score will indicate that your customer is happy, satisfied, and feels understood.
You will have to work closely with your revenue operations and marketing leaders to identify the specific parameters to use for event or action scoring. This is called behavioral lead scoring.
You can calculate CES with the following formula:
Customer Engagement Score (CES) = Total Event Value #1 + Total Event Value #2 + Total Event Value #3 + …
When building predictions on churn rate or identifying new upselling opportunities, the CES is by far the best metric you can use.
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Customer engagement scores operate on a scale of 1 to 100, and can even result in a negative number. Negative results could occur if a customer stops using your product or service, gives a bad review, or remains unresponsive to all of your outreach. Scores are typically calculated as follows:
- Negative scores indicate churn risk, while a score between 1-40 means “very disengaged.”
- Scores between 41-70 are “somewhat engaged.”
- Scores from 71 to 100 indicate users are “highly engaged.”
- Scores above 100 belong to your power users.
Other metrics to consider: Some of the more common user behavior, engagement, and SEO metrics also help determine comparative insights, such as which topics resonate most strongly with your audience. The most helpful metrics include unique page views, organic traffic, bounce rate, average time on page, and keyword rankings because you can use this information to power your content strategy.
Metrics for lead generation
These metrics require some collaboration with sales. Some organizations have revenue operations – a department responsible for lead qualification parameters, scoring, engagement, and nurturing. While content is a huge part of nurturing a prospect to buy, it is often the most difficult to map back to revenue.
Companies with specific lead parameters in place can set up qualification standards for each stage of the buyer’s journey. You can categorize leads as cold, warm, or hot based on their actions. Lead scoring helps content marketers identify where content makes an impact at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
The following metrics can help you qualify the impact of your content on lead generation.
Marketing-Qualified Leads (MQLs). MQLs are individuals who take an action or a series of actions that qualify them to move further into the sales funnel. The following are some of the most common MQL actions:
- Downloading a free gated e-book
- Submitting an email address for a newsletter or mailing list
- Adding items to the shopping cart
- Clicking on an ad to find your site
- Contacting you to request more information
Other information (behavioral lead scoring, ICP parameters, demographics, etc.) may impact an organization’s decision to qualify the lead as an MQL.
Sales-Qualified Leads (SQLs). SQLs are individuals who are ready to talk to the sales team. Once they’re an MQL, they’re handed to sales to qualify as an interested prospect. Some of the most common SQL criteria include:
- Booking a meeting with a sales team member
- Filling out a demo form
- Returning to a website a certain number of times
- Responding to an email
- Viewing a pricing page
Metrics for determining ROI
Content marketers can map revenue back to individual content pieces by tracking lead scores, analyzing buyer journey trends, and keeping an open line of communication with sales.
Lead scoring allows you to assign numerical values to prospects based on lead parameters and behavior, which helps content leaders understand which assets are making an impact on the sales pipeline at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
By tracking lead scores for each piece of content, marketers can gain insight into what is driving engagement and conversion and use it to inform content strategy. With these metrics, marketers can track how each piece of content impacts lead generation and other drivers of sales growth.
Here are the most common practices and metrics for calculating content ROI throughout the buyer’s journey:
- Multi-touch attribution. Content’s value changes at every stage in the buyer’s journey. It’s important to understand how your audience engages with your content, so you can attribute that engagement to actions they take throughout the buyer’s journey.
- Sales-accepted lead. Once sales has accepted a lead as a qualified prospect with confirmed interest, content leaders need to assess what content helped bring the prospect to that state. With the right tools, you can track their engagement with your content using UTM codes, heat maps, integrated CRMs and CMPs, and more.
- Conversion to customer. When a prospect converts to a customer directly from a content piece, you can use single-touch attribution. Single-touch attribution is an attribution model that gives 100% of the credit for a sale to a single marketing effort. In the graphic above, you can see an illustration that shows the path from first touch to becoming a lead, then a qualified lead, before reaching the last touch effort, which gets credit for driving the purchase. This is a home run for your content team! Always include UTM links for direct conversion CTAs within your content if you have a point-of-sale system on your website.
Improving your content with data
With the right tools and processes in place, content marketers are prepared to make a strong case for the value of content. When sales and marketing work together to utilize lead scoring and content ROI analysis, everyone gains valuable insight into how content impacts the bottom line.
Marketers can use this data to optimize current campaigns, improve lead nurture strategies, and identify new opportunities for content creation. Using these strategies, content leaders can tailor their messaging to maximize impact on lead conversion rates.
Contently is the only comprehensive content marketing platform (CMP), offering an end-to-end solution for content strategy, creation, optimization, distribution, and measurement. Our sophisticated technology, expert content strategists, and world-class creative network gives our clients everything they need to create content programs that build trust, increase engagement, and drive measurable results. Founded in 2010 by Joe Coleman, Dave Goldberg, and Shane Snow, Contently is currently a fully remote, female-led technology company, headquartered in New York City. We are proud to be the recipient of numerous honors, including G2’s #1 Enterprise Content Creation Platform and Gartner Peer Insights’ Customer Choice. To learn more about Contently, please visit our website.
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