Be the content tortoise, not the hare

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We all know the age-old fable of the tortoise and the hare. The confident mammal rushes rapidly ahead of his reptilian opponent, only to lose out to the dogged resilience of the tortoise in the long run.

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Content marketing is similar to this old tale in a number of respects. Due to the nature of business, many seek to achieve “quick wins” through their marketing strategies straight away. However, content marketing’s success relies on a well-thought-out, long-term strategy.

At the end of 2014, 55% of B2B marketers said they would be increasing their content marketing spend in 2015 , according to the Content Marketing Institute. This figure obviously demonstrates the growing influence of the marketing technique, but if businesses are not careful, they can end up creating content for content’s sake, which is detrimental to both company budgets and the wider industry of content marketing.

Once a business has set out the long-term goals it wants to achieve from its content strategy, it can use a number of helpful metrics to make sure it is working well.

In his book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help not Hype, Jay Baer outlines the four key metrics that businesses need to monitor when it comes to their strategy. These are consumption metrics, sharing metrics, lead generation metrics, and sales metrics.

Many experts in the industry widely agree with this breakdown, and some believe a fifth should also be included, namely content marketing ROI.

So what do these metrics mean and how can they be used to measure the success of a long-term strategy?

Consumption

Basically, how many people have taken notice of your content through reading it or viewing it? Is your target audience taking the time to digest your content or are they leaving immediately?

Within this idea, metrics such as page views and bounce rate can be monitored with tools like Google Analytics, giving you in-depth insight into your website’s content strategy.

Sharing

Shares on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook do not generate direct revenue, but they do indicate how relevant your content is for your target audience. You can track your share metrics with public visuals for each social media platform, which most sites now feature – in fact, if you scroll up you will see ours!

This reveals how engaged your audience is at an early stage. If no one finds your content relevant enough to share with their friends or followers, it could be that you aren’t targeting the right people and that you need to address this aspect of your strategy.

Lead generation

Particularly important for the B2B sector is the lead generation metric. How many people are directly engaging with your content to the point where they have enquired about your business or service?

This metric can be monitored by the amount of people who have filled out contact forms, subscribed or registered to your newsletter and those who have commented on your blogs or social media profiles – engaging in a dialogue with an individual is often a good way to identify a potential lead.

Sales impact

Tracking the metric depends upon the individual organisation and the way it transforms marketing into sales.

In his blog, Jay Baer suggests that businesses use a customer and prospect database to help track this metric. By making note of which piece of content a potential customer consumed in the prospect record, you can “determine the projected revenue and profit (lifetime value if you can) of that customer, and assign it to the content pieces,” once the sale has gone through.

Calculating ROI

This is it, the business end of your content marketing strategy. This metric is crucial and will show whether or not your strategy is working.

First you must calculate your investment costs: what have you put into your content marketing strategy overall in terms of finances?

Once you have worked this out, you can calculate the ROI of your content. This is likely to be calculated as an average, taking into account each part of your strategy.

For example, if one of your blogs has generated four new clients, each of which spend an average of X amount, you can calculate the cost of the blog versus its average returns.

Overall, it is important to remember that each metric and KPI must be measured against your long-term business goals

Learn more about measuring success