Forget soft metrics - content marketing can deliver ROI

Stephen Hobbs

Strategy & Planning Director

Content Marketing

Many content teams hide behind broad-brush metrics like ‘reach’ or ‘engagement’. But what do these numbers really mean?

Vague measurement can be born out of a fear of failure, which doesn’t allow for improvement. That’s why we encourage organisations to make the cultural leap to embracing failure as a crucial, educational step towards success. This unleashes the creativity of your entire organisation, rather than being the burden of just a few…

Give every piece of content a purpose

Every piece of content you produce should have a purpose (measured by its Context KPIs), and this should be designed to drive customer action. This provides a stepping-stone on the customer journey towards an outcome (Outcome KPIs) that aligns with your top-level business objectives. And all of this should be defined in your content brief before your creative minds set to work.

The purpose of individual pieces of content is to develop a deeper understanding of your audience – even if they never become a loyal customer. For example, consider a seemingly inconsequential piece of content like a behind-the-scenes video clip on Facebook. If a user stops scrolling to watch, they are showing interest. They can then be added into an audience segment and retargeted with bespoke messaging and a strong call to action; the broader objective doesn’t stop at engagement.

Build a measurement framework and dashboard

Once you know your most relevant content marketing metrics, work out how to gather insight from them. Create a measurement framework that maps content goals to stages of the customer journey for each customer segment, with macro-level Outcome KPIs and micro-Context KPIs. This relies on content marketers at the coalface closely examining analytics and consulting industry benchmarks, allowing you to discern behavioural patterns that reveal barriers and opportunities within customer journeys.

But this level of granular detail will be of little use to the C-Suite. You'll also a dashboard that shows top-level trends and progress towards key business objectives. This will allow you to demonstrate a return on investment for content marketing. It also gives leaders the confidence to pilot test tactics that may have the power to move the dial significantly.

Run growth experiments

An analytical approach to content marketing enables brands to identify problems on customer journeys that can be developed into hypotheses. These can be prioritised based on a simple cost/benefit calculation.

The next step is to form them into experiments. For example, using a landing page builder to display content about how to choose the right colour to a subset of your Pinterest traffic, monitoring whether it reduces the exit rate. Each experiment will uncover new opportunities, meaning even unsuccessful hypotheses will be valuable.

Experiments like this will not, on their own, lead to significant growth. But they provide important testing ground that will identify tactical changes – from messaging to user interface tweaks – that, together, can make a significant difference.

For example, we worked with European furniture retailer, Sofa.com, taking an experimental approach to digital marketing tactics with the aim of quickly increasing sales. Within two weeks of a discovery workshop and rapid data analysis, we were running experiment sprints to test our hypothesis. By making on- and off-site content shoppable, we successfully moved customers through the funnel, increasing product views, sample orders and sales.

Conversion rate increased 45% year on year, leading to a 73% rise in e-commerce revenues – and a successful sale of the business.

Attribute value to your content

As the changes from growth experiments are implemented into day-to-day activities, you’ll be able to measure their impact. Begin by combining first-click, last-click and assisted-sales data to create a reporting dashboard.

As you proceed through experiments, you can plug in other data sources (such as Google Ads data) to understand each channel’s role in the funnel.

This allows you to begin to attribute value to different types of customers landing on your site from a variety of off-site content, and you can adjust your spending to target the most effective channels.

We can help

Call +44 (0)20 3176 2632 or email Stephen Hobbs to find out more.

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