5 Tricks to Prove Your Content Is Working
As content marketers, we need to know whether our content is performing. Ideally, we want to be able to draw a direct line between content we’ve published and a closed sale. Unfortunately, that line isn’t always direct, and it isn’t always easy to draw.
Knowing that, it’s helpful to have proxy metrics by which we can measure the effectiveness of our content. Let’s look at a few.
1. Your Content Gets Shared
If your content is being shared by visitors either on a personal level (with colleagues, for example) or more broadly via social media, that’s a good sign. It lets you know not only that your audience has consumed your content, but that hour audience views the content as valuable enough to stake some small bit of their reputation on by sharing it with others.
(There’s value in the increased exposure as well, though that’s really a separate discussion.)
As you’d imagine, this is rarely going to be a perfect measure of your content’s value. There will almost always be things outside of your control that effect how accurate a proxy metric is. With sharing, how easy it is for visitors to share your content will, naturally, have an effect on how often it is shared.
2. Your Content Creates Engagement
Comments, sharing, liking, downloads — all are forms of engagement and all are excellent measures of a performance. The more engagement a piece of content creates, the more valuable that content is to your marketing efforts.
You should be tracking this over time and via broad content categories, like topic, delivery format, delivery channel, and so on. Track these to see where your engagement is highest and do some A/B and multi-variate testing.
3. Your Content Creates Fans, Friends and Followers
An even deeper level of engagement than that discussed above, the ability to create a following is typically related more to creating a steady stream of valued content than any individual piece of content. Any metric that points to you having proven to an audience that you provide worthwhile information on a regular basis is an excellent measure of your content’s effectiveness.
4. Improved Search Ranking
Google and it’s competitors are paying attention to the content that gets the most clicks, likes, links, and love. If you create content that creates engagement, you’re likely to see your search ranking improve.
This is an excellent reason to focus on content hubs. If you can create a page on your website that concentrates on a particular topic, you’re more likely to get the search engines’ attention for that topic.
Finally, even though your sales team will be quick to point out (correctly) that inquiries aren’t sales, inquiries that you can trace back through a particular piece of content are perhaps the strongest proxy for closed sales on this list. You should be working with your technology team to ensure that your analytics package is set up to allow you to track the path folks take to an inquiry form.
There’s no question that each of these metrics has its blind spots and that your picture will therefore be incomplete. But even in our highly tracked, digital age, a complete picture is nearly impossible to come by regardless of the metrics you can track.
Still, the more detail with which we can paint that picture, the more we will know about how our content is performing — and how we can fine tune it to perform better.
Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured?
A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms encourage audience engagement through solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either.
His work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components, and he has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events. His writing appears in various online and print publications.
Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")