Content marketing is increasingly becoming an imperative part of every marketer’s strategy. In fact, according to the “2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America” report by the Content Marketing Institute, 32 percent of B2C marketers are allocating a higher portion of their budget to content marketing this year, up from 25 percent last year.
This comes as no surprise. As more and more consumers are in charge of the content they see – through ad blockers, on-demand TV and video, satellite radio and other technologies – traditional, interruptive advertising becomes less and less effective.
Instead, marketers need to connect with and engage their customers by providing valuable and relevant content.
I recently attended the Digiday Content Marketing Summit in Park City, UT. Major brands were represented from Coca Cola, United Airlines, GoldieBlox, LEGOLAND, US Bank and a slew of others. We were all content marketing professionals there to learn about best practices in storytelling, publishing, building a newsroom team, influencer engagement and measurement.
Measurement, in particular, was at the top of everyone’s minds. Regardless of where a brand is in its content strategy journey, measurement and ROI seem to be elusive to marketers.
The content marketing measurement challenge
In fact, according to the same Content Marketing Institute report:
- 50% of B2C content marketers say measuring content effectiveness is their top challenge
- 58% say better understanding what content is effective is one of their top priorities.
When considering content marketing measurement, questions that arise are:
- Which metrics are the best indicator of performance?
- What are the performance benchmarks?
- How can you test the performance of the combination of content, channel and message?
- How do you know you’re reaching the right audience with the right message?
Measurement is so important. Indeed, it’s needed to make the case for your content marketing strategy to your leadership team, justifying your budget and resources. But ultimately, marketers need to know their efforts are engaging their intended audiences and achieving their end goal – driving people to act.
So what is the ultimate measurement of content effectiveness? “Shareability.” This is what we heard time and again at the Content Marketing Summit.
“If no one shared, no one cared.”
– Doug Busk, Global Group Director, Digital Communications & Social Media, Coca-Cola
Content marketing measurement
To dive further into shareability, here are some of the metrics we heard about at the Content Marketing Summit:
Read time, or engagement time, is a consumption metric much like page views and bounce rate. But the difference here is that read time is an indication of how your audience is engaging with the content. The more time someone spends on your content, the more they are consuming it and the greater interest they have.
Shares & Comments
Engagement metrics such as social shares, comments, retweets and likes speak directly to shareability. If the content is engaging, interesting or relevant enough, it will compel your audience to express their approval and share it. Sharing is vital to your content’s reach. You can only drive so much traffic by your owned channels. Sharing by your audience is the real key to amplification.
“I wouldn’t publish anything that I wouldn’t share myself”
-Heather Green, Editor in Chief & Director of Content, Caesar’s Entertainment
Third Party Pick-Ups
Third party pick-ups is a metric you don’t often hear cited among measurement and ROI metrics. However, when I asked one digital marketing strategist how she was able to demonstrate the effectiveness of her content strategy, this was her answer. When you think about it, a third-party pick up is the epitome of sharing. It’s sharing on the scale of a publisher’s network with the credibility of the publisher’s name behind it. Every marketer should create content with the goal of third-party pick-ups in mind.
I would be remiss to not mention conversation rate, a lead generation metric, as a key metric of content strategy. Measure conversions via a download, a sale, a phone call or however you get people to act. That is the end goal, isn’t it?
Focus on engagement
The net, net is to focus on engagement, not views. When engagement, or shareability, is a priority in your content strategy, the amplification and reach will follow.