target content marketing effectively

Top 100 Content Marketing Question: How important is tracking content marketing analytics to success?

Build a simple dashboard for tracking content marketing analytics.

Tracking content marketing analytics is vital to success

Three reasons why:

  • Marketing needs to know exactly what’s working and what’s not.
  • Analytics enable you to track buyers from content to conversion.
  • Analytics help you demonstrate content marketing results to higher-ups.

What’s working? What’s not?

By measuring content marketing continuously, you learn from results to improve the mix, so content produces more revenue and customers over time.

That’s why tracking content marketing analytics is crucial.

Gather all your analytics at least once a month. Track them on 24-month fever charts so you can see this year’s results compared with last year’s.

Make sure everyone in the Marketing Department views the results together. Ask marketers to pose a hypothesis – why did results go up or down this month? Was it:

  • New content?
  • Evergreen content?
  • A trade show, speech or other event?
  • A product launch?
  • Seasonality?
create a test and learn environment
To get better at content marketing, start tracking content marketing analytics. Find new ideas, then experiment!

Gather various hypotheses. Once you develop competing hypotheses, use A/B tests to drive changes to your content. By doing so, you learn over time how to do more and more of what works.

Measure all measurable customer touch points

Look at marketing results as a system. Avoid measuring each marketing function separately in its own silo.

Tracking content marketing analytics enables you to connect the dots among disparate marketing activities.

If all measurements are done separately, it can lead to multiple marketing functions all taking credit for the same growth. If 3 or 4 groups each claim to have generated the same $100,000 in additional profit, you face the problem called “attribution error.”

John Wanamaker's quote
John Wanamaker’s question applies even to tracking content marketing analytics.

Marketing pioneer John Wanamaker said a century ago, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Attribution error means knowing that $100,000 in additional profit was generated, without knowing exactly which marketing activities led to that growth. To work around the attribution problem:

  • Some companies attribute results to the “first touch,” the first proven touch point where a customer interacted with the company (such as an email or web page).
  • Other companies attribute results to the “last touch,” the last thing a customer did before making a purchase (such as a white paper download).
  • But neither the first touch nor the last touch tells the whole story since each marketing and sales touch point helps move the customer forward to a purchase.
  • Key touch points such as word of mouth and forwarded emails are invisible to marketers. There’s no good way to measure them.

It’s rarely possible to attribute success to any one touch point

Attributing sales to only the last touch point is like giving all the credit to a basketball player who scores a basket, without taking into account the other players, the offense’s execution or the great pass that made a basket possible.

You may not always be able to explain exactly which part of marketing produced a given sale.

But remember, the point of measurement is not a perfect explanation. The point is to learn how to grow sales profitably over time.

target content marketing effectively
Tracking content marketing analytics helps you hit the target.

Tracking content marketing analytics calls for granular marketing measurements:

  • Website and SEO metrics such as: search rank, keywords, website traffic, time on a webpage, bounce rate, conversion path. See “Content Marketing Metrics: 10 Easy Ways to Measure Effectiveness,” a blog by Andy Crestodina.
  • Email metrics such as subscribers, deliveries, open rates, click-through rates. See “Email Analytics, The 6 Email Marketing Metrics and KPIs You Should Be Tracking,” a blog by Lindsay Kolowich.
  • PR metrics such as share of desirable coverage, conversions, cost-effectiveness. See “Katie Payne’s 5 Data Points You Need in Your PR Dashboard,” a blog by Steve Goldstein.
  • Event metrics such as new leads, social media reach, new customers, customers reached with product demonstrations. See “The 4 Most Important Metrics for Measuring Your Trade Show Marketing ROI,” a blog by Rachel Sprung.
  • Social media metrics such as followers, likes, shares, user-generated content. See “7 Social Media Metrics that Really Matter – and How to Track Them,” a blog by Sarah Dawley.
  • Brand value, as calculated under UK accounting rules. See “Brand Valuation – What It Means and Why it Matters,” a white paper from Brand Finance.

Certain touch points create value you can’t measure

Why? Because they occur out of your line of sight – for example, customer-to-customer conversations and emails people forward internally with a note to a friend.

Other measures are expensive to execute (such as surveys on print publication readership), so first measure things that are most worth measuring. Don’t spend too much pursuing perfect measures.

Track buyers from content to conversion

From Google Analytics, you find out the paths that visitors most often take through your website. You learn which pages are likeliest to make buyers exit your website, too.

Once buyers register to subscribe to a blog, download a lead magnet or attend a webinar, you capture their email addresses. Using cookies, you can trace the buyers’ content usage going forward.

With marketing automation in place, you learn which content draws buyers in, which content they use as the buyers’ journey progresses, and which calls to action best converted content users into customers.

Tracking content marketing analytics is key to success.

Demonstrate success with the right measures

Executives highly value measurements such as marketing-qualified leads, sales-qualified leads, sales pipeline, revenue and customers won.

Don’t expect executives to understand all the metrics you track to make marketing operate better. Focus on what they care about most.

When you can connect the dots from content to customers, calculate return on marketing investment (ROMI). Present these metrics as evidence to executives.

Make the results quick: boil them down to a dashboard, a 1-page report or 1 slide that builds.

Avoid three traps in content marketing measurement:

  1. Don’t measure just for the sake of measurement. Don’t blindly measure what everyone else measures. Look for measures that matter, track them faithfully over time, adjust the mix, and become even more successful.
  2. Don’t hold content marketing to a higher standard than other marketing activities. All marketing activities should be held to similar measurement standards.
  3. Don’t worry about what you can’t measure. There’s plenty you can measure and learn from.

Tracking content marketing analytics is crucial to content marketing success because:

  • Marketing needs to know exactly what’s working and what’s not.
  • Analytics enable you to track buyers from content to conversion.
  • Analytics help you demonstrate content marketing results to higher-ups.
Top 100 content marketing questions
Many of marketers’ Top 100 Questions about content marketing concern measurement. Here are the answers.

“How important is tracking analytics to success?” is one of marketers’ Top 100 Questions about #contentmarketing. Here are the answers.