WriterAccess Webinar Archive

ROI Measurement

Monday, November 30, 2009 – 1:00 PM ET

More than 500 people registered for last month's “Content Marketing: Competitive Intelligence” webinar. This month, we're focused on the seemingly impossible task of Tracking Content ROI. Learn how to measure the impact of content assets you deploy on your website and how to optimize content to win the war of words on the web. Take a peek into the secret content console we've developed to track the impact of content assets we create and deploy for clients.

Slidedeck Download

The slidedeck from this webinar is available for download.

Video Transcription

Byron: I'm going to begin now. Thank you everyone for joining. This is our monthly content marketing webinar here at ideaLaunch. We're happy today to be joined by Carol Leeman, the CEO of PostRank.

I'm going to burn through this first section of the content marketing webinar and just acclimate everybody to the science of content marketing and how we approach it and view it here at ideaLaunch. I think you'll find it interesting, and then we're going to dive right into creating a content marketing plan and really fleshing out some of the details that will set us up for tracking content marketing ROI.

We're going to have a fun twist from Carol on social engagement, and she's going to guide us through some of her technology that helps track the ROI and the impact in measuring social engagement, which will be really exciting.

First, a little bit about the revolution that we're all a part of. What is content marketing? It's really the art of listening to your customers' wants and needs and doing that in really creative ways. Like, not just looking at your search box, but looking at what's going on in the social media space—looking at your analytics, what pages people look at, looking at things like popularity. But it really is an art. It's an art to really listen to what the wants and needs are, especially when we're faced now with so many choices on how to do that. There's also a science to content marketing that I thoroughly believe in, and that's delivering content in a compelling way.

We're really seeing a whole new wave of content assets being delivered these days and there's a high level of expectation that we reach. The marketplace has moved well beyond the print collateral and advertising marketplace to more exciting vehicles to express what we're doing and to help people make their life better. It's also constantly testing campaigns with AB testing and multi-variant testing. I like telling people, if you're not testing your landing pages, you're living in the dinosaur age.

Your website really can become a market research vehicle for you to accelerate your business at a fast pace, and all through the advent of free technology like Google, Google Website Optimizer. It's simple tests—AB testing. Two versions of a single page begin to tell you what resonates best and what performs best with readers and prospect customers.

We're also beginning to measure engagement much more intelligently and people's desire for more. We can look at the most popular pages on our website, we can look at the most popular downloads. We can look at what people seem to gravitate towards and create more of it and more creative ideas around those ideas that people seem to want. We also need to catch people that are orbiting at high speeds with apps and desktop downloads and mobile feeds and all the other vehicles, so it's just really getting interesting out there now.

As Seth Godin says, the only marketing left is content marketing, and we're really beginning to see that now. Content is the centerpiece of it all.

What we're also seeing is a great degree of sophistication in using content as a pipeline to both educate and drive sales. The smart companies out there are looking at interaction and engagement of content assets on their website or in promotions they're sending out and they're scoring their customer prospect database based on that engagement, which is helping their sales reps reach the right people at the right time that are most interested in what your offering. Which isn't just a spiel on your benefits and features pushed out in the old style way. Scoring content engagement has really become the center piece of why we're doing all this to try to learn what's happening out there.

It really begins, at least for us, and probably for most all of us on the line here today, with a plan. The plan needs to scope out what you're going to accomplish. You need to survey the competition. You need to look super closely at your customers' wants and needs and perform some research there. You, of course, need to do extensive keyword research, and finally you can create an SEO plan, a content plan, and even a performance plan. I'm going to go over this quickly with you now.

Some of my favorite research tools, which is really where I begin, are HubSpot, Website Rater—there are some fabulous tools that I have listed on here. By the way, this slide deck will be available on SlideShare and we can get a copy out to everyone as well in PDF form after the presentation. We're also going to be sending you a couple links to free tools and Carol has prepared a free demo for you of her technology platform, so lucky you for listening in. In addition to, of course, the fabulous free 101 Content Marketing Tips book offer.

Back to tools. Tools are fantastic. There are so many of them out there. I encourage you to play with all of these and many others to really dig down under the skin of your competition to see what's working and what isn't working for both you and your competition. I like putting together what I like calling a scorecard—a report card, if you will, where you intelligently rank how your site is both performing and producing content in relation to the competition. I think it's a healthy exercise. It doesn't take a long time to do this and it's a great starting point to see what exactly you need to do to change your plan.

We also have interesting reports that we generate here for clients with our proprietary tool set called WordVision that allows us to quickly capture market share. SpyFu has a great plug in here as well that allows you to see how you're performing organically and on a pay-per-click basis with regards to competitive analysis. So, here, for example, what we're doing is we're saying, "How does ideaLaunch compare to MarketingProfs.com?" We have some top listings that they don't, but they, of course, have top listings that we don't. We're quickly able to see where we're beating them and where they're beating us with regards to listing positions related to the keywords that we've loaded into our technology here.

Finally, we're going to create an SEO plan and it's going to have a number of different elements to it. Some of the elements are going to be putting together what we call a keyword universe, where we go out and research about 10,000 keywords for every domain name that we're going to create content for here at ideaLaunch. This allows us to have a super broad perspective of multiple ways that we can potentially achieve top listings in the search engines.

We want to look well beyond just the small group of keywords that we call golden keywords. Those are the phrases that a client is telling us that they want a top listing for. We're saying, wait a second, we're going to create a lot of content. There are many different categories of content we can create and silos of keywords we could optimize for within those categories. We want to broaden the sphere to see where we can have impact and where can move the needle and deliver some ROI performance, but it starts right at this SEO planning phase.

What our technology is doing is helping us track the pay-per-click price and the search volume of every single keyword that we're loading into our technology. And again, this is data that you can get for free on Google and other places. The important thing is to think broad when you're developing an SEO plan so your content can really find the best performance track based upon your past success and link popularity and all the other things combined. So, the next thing we like doing and we can do this really quickly and easily, and so can anybody on the line just by using some of these free tools.

We have something called a trend report where we can instantly click on this report and see what we call the low lying fruit. Namely, listing positions at Google for positions 11 through 50. For example, at the time of this report, ideaLaunch was position 33 back in November. I need to update this slide. I think we're down to 20-something now.

So, we can look closely at our listing position and find the keyword phrases that are in this low-lying fruit zone. If we create a lot of content or a little bit of content around these phrases, or if we build in a link strategy, we can have an impact. We can move these keyword listing positions into the top ten, where we all know 80 plus percent of the traffic really comes from.

Know that we're looking for a lot of different keyword phrases and really expanding our search deeply, because you never know where you're going to get some lift and get some performance. The golden keywords are another interesting strategy I'll share with you. We like to inform our clients that the best strategies for performance is to be realistic and assess and look at where you are right now in the search engines. Then, develop a content strategy that revolves around hyper focusing and targeting about 1/3 of your keywords to be in positions that are currently residing in positions 1 through 50. Then, create another group of 1/3 of your keywords that are in positions 50 through 100. And, certainly, another 1/3 of your keywords that aren't in the top 100.

Create a balanced portfolio where you're not giving a content producer like our company the impossible task of moving you from none of your keywords being in the top 100 to all of them being in the top 100 in a month. That's just not going to happen. Content marketing is a slow and steady process with regard to achieving top listings in the search engines, particularly with launches like Caffeine where we're seeing a lot of modulation and a lot of movement now. It seems to be fairly consistent, which in itself is changing the way we think about things.

Next, we want to create category maps. When we talk with a client, we'll certainly define the hot topics. But, once we find the hot topics, then we'll go out and do some primary keyword research and secondary research. Finding those hot topics is not necessarily a game of link popularity and pay-per-click price. It's a game of what are truly the hot topics in the social media sphere, in your search box, in speaking with your CSRs? We're really trying to find the hot topics that will engage readers and customers the best.

Next, we have a content marketing plan that involves selecting from a large portfolio of content assets that are now available to all of us that we should all be thinking about. On the lower end of the spectrum, there are certainly news and SEO articles that seem to have more of a purpose for the volume game of content. Premium articles and blog posts and newsletters are higher end content assets that are truly designed to engage readers. Tip and advice centers, particularly when they're crafted well, serve a very valuable purpose. Of course, I must say that I'm biased because I own a company named LifeTips that offers 120,000 tips to over a million monthly visitors. I love tips. Tips are, I think, built for the web. They're short and easy bursts of information that can truly make your life smarter, better, faster, and wiser. You also need to look at courseware, ebooks, and even printed books.

That's another tip or secret for you. I really do believe that the quality assessment of content will quickly come into play as we see more and more content coming out on the web. That will be quite interesting when we begin looking at the correlation between companies or individuals within companies that have a ISBN number attached to their name and are associating their intelligence and their content and their leadership ability with the company's domain. What impact does that have for listing positions? I think there's a big future for that, and there's a seat for everybody.

I'll also note that publishing books has never been easier. Websites like Lulu can help with that; there are a number of other sites I can point you to. We actually have a book publishing division here at ideaLaunch where we can take a series of tips or articles that we've created for a client and roll them into an on-demand printed book that's registered at the Library of Congress. It has an ISBN associated with it, and it can be printed, shipped, and delivered on demand, so there isn't a tremendous expense in actually producing a book. It's very interesting.

Widgets are clearly coming at us. There's a great interview I did with the author of "Super Crunching" on the LifeTips show, and he really understands prediction and the importance of prediction in solving problems. We're seeing more and more widgets helping people solve problems and predict the future. Widgets are really exciting and interesting, as are apps.

There's a little bit too much time on that, but the bottom line is that there are lots of different content assets that you need to be thinking about in your portfolio. Hot topics, how to find them, and Carols' going to talk about measuring and monitoring conversations.

Scoring content is also a critical element. This is free tool that we have. You can type in pagestrengthtool.com or go to ideaLaunch and look at some of our free tools and you'll find this tool that will allow you to quickly score your site for SEO strength. The tool quickly analyzes your title tags, your meta descriptions, and meta keywords to determine whether that phrase that you're scoring is used in the meta strategy. It's also looking at the content on the page and how many times the phrase is used. It's like a keyword density tool, but it's also looking at your backlink popularity and your performance in the listing positions for that phrase. It's a neat little tool that takes a few seconds. It's free, it's easy. Our technology will queue up all the pages you've scored so it's really easy to use and you can log all the pages you want to score and access them anytime you want.

The next thing is infusing your brand. My book cover is on here for 101 Content Marketing Tips. You see we're beginning to extend the ideaLaunch brand into our content and it's beginning to find its way into doing more with the assets. The key aspect of ROI is right here. It is putting a time stamp and carefully calculating and documenting exactly when you publish content on your website. Most of my ROI tracking that I focus on centers around tracking ROI using the web and technology and it's critical and imperative to time stamp when content was published on your website.

From there, we can really move quickly into tracking the ROI and how we do it here and how you can do it on your own. Again, the key is documenting the content asset deployment dates, which you see on this first screen. This again is more technology from the WordVision technology that we use ourselves.

Moving along quickly, the easiest way to track content ROI that you would deploy on your website is to correlate improved listing positions in search engines with content that you've deployed. If you deployed more assets, you should expect greater improvement in those listing positions, particularly if you're scoring and optimizing that content for those phrases and those keyword silos and really being very granular and very scientific with how you're building content and scoring into the keyword silos.

Next, with improved listing positions, naturally, you should begin to see your traffic increase. That's another pure measurement. You can also look at repeat visitation on your website. How many people are coming back to your website in a certain period of time? Has the content you deployed had an impact on repeat visitation?

You can also look at time on site. Is your content sticky? Are people reading it? Are they engaging with it? Are they spending more time on the page?

You can also look at content testing. If you're deploying tests on your website—AB tests or multi-variant tests—you can immediately see improved conversion rates, which nets out to more conversion is more money typically even on a lead generation site.

We can look at increased interaction of content on the website. Here, you see a screen grab from SalesForce where we can actually go in and see a particular prospect customer that has actually downloaded content at ideaLaunch, and we can perceive that she is interested in our services. You can also attribute actual sales from people that may be attending this webinar in the future that like what we're saying here and choose to engage with us.

We can also look at another metric called decreased user acquisition cost, which is defined by your monthly market spend divided by the number of people that are taking action on your website. Whether it's an ecommerce transaction or a sign up for lead generation, when you do the math there, you're left with a defined user acquisition cost for that period of time. By adding more content and more value, you're doing several things. You could be improving your listings and increasing traffic, which could increase the number of people converting and signing up. You could also be turning more browsers into believers and making people convert because of the quality of your content. Regardless of which methodology you followed, the net result is a decrease in user acquisition cost.