About 70% of B2B and B2C marketers expect to produce more content this year than they did last year according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America B2C and B2B reports.
Yet despite the increasing importance of content marketing for businesses and agencies of all sizes, many marketers are still having trouble measuring content performance – and even knowing which metrics they should be measuring.
In fact, among those who reported “stagnancy” in their marketing success last year, about a third of B2B marketers and a quarter of B2C marketers said challenges in performance measurement played a role.
So what should you be measuring? This is one area of content marketing where there are plenty of varying opinions, yet no simple, one-size-fits-all solutions.
The CMI reports do offer some interesting insight into what B2C and B2B marketers think is important when measuring performance.
When asked which metrics they measure, here’s what survey respondents said:
- Website traffic: B2C – 73%, B2B – 78%
- Social media sharing: B2C – 66%, B2B – 57%
- Time spent on website: B2C – 53%, B2B – 54%
- Conversion rates: B2C – 50%, B2B – 51%
- SEO ranking: B2C – 50%, B2B – 51%
- Sales: B2C – 53%, B2B – 50%
- Subscriber/community growth: B2C – 43%, B2B – 43%
During the past few years, there’s been a lot of talk about vanity metrics. Factors like shares and likes or page views that some marketing experts say can give a false impression of the popularity of specific types of content.
And there’s been some discussion on how and if these metrics should be measured.
Other vanity metrics like page views, have largely been supplanted by time spent on a page or even scrolling depth to determine marketing ROI for a given piece of content.
But instead of entirely discounting vanity metrics, a better approach may be to view them within the broader context of content performance.
Even better, to see how accurate these (and other) metrics are in helping you meet your specific marketing goals for any given client.
Clients can have very different products or services, different demographics and different marketing objectives; and that means you may need to customize the metrics you’re using, just as you tailor the voice of your content.
To sum it up: When it comes to deciding which factors are most important for measuring content performance, there is no simple answer.
Changes in the marketplace, audience demographics, distribution channels, and even the economy all can play a role in how well your content performs, and that means the measurements you’re tracking can change too.
Changes in tracking technology have also played a role, and they’ll continue to influence the number of tools that can help marketers drill down to even greater depth when analyzing content performance.
The important thing is to see if what you’re doing now is working and to incorporate one or two new metrics to see how they compare.
In the end: you must determine if the content you’re producing and the way you’re distributing it is helpful in achieving your specific end goals, because that’s really the only metric that matters.
Being flexible, responsive and open to exploring new metrics and new tools is perhaps the best way to ensure your efforts stay focused on your end goals and your content remains optimized for your audience and your ROI.
Karen Z is a freelance writer at WriterAccess who is both flexible and responsive (in addition to being well versed in Marketing!)
See how she, and a number of other U.S. based freelance writers, editors, content strategists, and even translators can help you create the content your target audience is craving.