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Content Marketing Measurement: A Necessary Evil? Part One

I stared at the web page my Analytics coach had asked me to pull up and I felt like my eyes were going to roll right out of my head. The word “Analytics” didn’t help – I’m a word gal, not a numbers gal – but none of the data I was looking at actually meant anything to me. Which is why I had hired a coach. I needed to learn more about marketing measurement.

It’s all well and good to develop a fancy-schmancy content marketing program that has your competitors gnashing their teeth and crying into their pillows at night, but how do you know if it’s actually working? The short answer is, “You measure it.” The longer answer is much more complicated than that. Marketing measurement is an important part of your content marketing program but there are many different ways to measure your content marketing initiatives; the problem, as I see it, is that you could invest an enormous amount of company time, energy and money in a marketing measurement program and totally miss the fact that your program is actually working. At least in some areas.

A recent content marketing talk I attended made it clear that measurement is a bit of a dance. You have to measure something! But what should that be? There are helpful statistics and vanity statistics. Navigating through the differences can be tricky.

Marketing generally is sometimes considered a bit of a mystery zone. While the folks in the sales department can point to hard numbers that relate to their effort and their results, the marketing people can’t always pin down which of their many channels convinced someone to come to your website and take a look. Someone might link to the home page of your website directly from your Twitter channel and then go straight to your “Contact Us” page to get in touch. But maybe they had also already:

  • seen your company’s booth at a tradeshow a few years ago
  • begun receiving your e-newsletter a year-and-a-half ago
  • been watching your activity on LinkedIn for six months
  • participated in one of your free webinars
  • followed your company on LinkedIn and
  • noticed that you showed up on Page 2 of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) when they were looking for something related to what you sell

Which marketing channel gets to take credit for starting the conversation that might lead to a sale? We might be tempted to give it to the Twitter feed. But is that fair? it’s been said for years, decades even, that it takes a good seven exposures to your brand before someone who needs what you offer will take action to get in touch. Of course, the point at which they get in touch depends on where they are in the sales cycle – have they only recently become aware of their need or are they actively researching options to fulfill it? Perhaps they’ve narrowed the choice of supplier down to three companies. People can circle around a company’s online presence for a l-o-n-g time before they do anything that will bring them closer. So the marketing people can capture a certain amount of information related to their numbers, but not always all of it; accuracy can be elusive.

Meanwhile, the sales people know that they placed 200 calls, connected with 40 people, booked nine visits and made four sales that brought the company $20,000. The sale involved four lunches, $85 in gas money and the cost of a $35 book a prospect was interested in reading that the salesperson bought as a gift. Add to that the portion of the salesperson’s hourly wage that went into landing the deal and you have a full set of pretty numbers that tell the whole story. Calculating a return on investment (ROI) in sales is a comparatively simple and easily quantifiable effort, and we will discuss that in the next blog in this series on content marketing measurement.

Stay tuned! Or contact me and my team to discuss how we can put our knowledge to work for your content marketing program!


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