So Much Vanity, So Little Time

The savvy tech content marketer constructs content marketing campaigns with the metrics in mind. These metrics not only measure success, but they help the marketer fine-tune their campaign as they roll it out. Meaningful metrics aren’t just end points, they are markers of the success of the campaign along the way. They should bring valuable data that helps inform decisions even as content is rolling out.

Yet, despite your savviness, do ever feel…

…cheated by your metrics?

If you do, you might be using vanity metrics that aren’t connected to a business goal. For example, lots of blog post traffic may feel great, until you discover that the audience reading your blog post isn’t comprised of customers or even influencers. When you uncover important details like this, even a “successful” content marketing campaign can feel like a failure.

Don’t let the story end there.

Look at the Trees and the Forest

It’s not impossible. The big picture, or forest, of the overall content marketing campaign is a business goal. Start by asking yourself, “What business goal is marketing helping achieve?” Then fill in the details down to the metrics, or trees.

This is both a big picture and detail question. Before embarking on a content marketing campaign, it should be clear what success looks like for your company if you are going to be able to measure success for your campaign. Common goals include:

  • Increased revenue
  • Decreased cost of customer acquisition
  • Increased number customers
  • Increased spend per customer
  • Reaching a new market
  • Reduced sales cycle time

If none of those sound like content marketing to you, think again.

Increased revenue is broad and often points to multiple campaigns that can include lead generation, brand awareness, and market education.

Decreased cost of customer acquisition often means decreasing the amount sales activities by driving more inbound traffic and inquiries through a website or landing page to decrease the cost per customer acquired.

Increasing the number of customers, reaching a new market, and reducing sales cycle time is code for increasing brand awareness.

And, increasing the spend per customer refers to increasing the amount of money a customer spends with your company. This is often a goal when a company has several products, but is known for mainly one.  It can point to a brand authority campaign coupled with a product launch or product awareness campaign (if the product is not new).

The business goals naturally drive the content marketing campaigns.This allows you to tailor the content marketing metrics you measure, the frequency you measure, and the timeline where you will expect to see results.

Long term campaigns

Timeframe: > 6 Months

On the longer end of the spectrum you see campaigns that are focused on brand awareness and brand authority. These could be linked to a thought leadership content marketing campaign. It will take time to see an impact. These are the questions you will want answered by your metrics.

  1. How many people are viewing the content? (Reach, traffic)
  2. How many people are interacting with the content? (Comments, likes, shares)
  3. Is the actual audience the target audience? (Audience data (lead gen), view time)
  4. Is your brand becoming more recognizable? (Audience data, net promoter score)
  5. Is your brand becoming known for what you want it to be known for? (Net promoter score)
  6. How does your brand’s content feature in the conversation that your audience is engaged in? (Share of voice/share of conversation)

However, provide that content too infrequently, and your audience will forget about you. How often do you need to publish a blog post to whet your audience’s appetite for more? Our experience says at least twice a week, but a recent study from Hubspot suggests more is MUCH better.

Metric monitoring: Weekly

Metric reporting: Monthly

Detail hacks: Once a month offer high value content behind an information gate to get a better idea of your audience composition and brand energy.

Medium Term Campaigns

Timeframe: 3-6 months

This might be to promote a product or drive inbound activity to reduce outbound investments. Your focus might be more on a specific call to action than on just the engagement with the content itself. This points to content that is more about education or driving decisions by product comparisons. And the questions you want to answer with your metrics are somewhat different.

  1. How many people are viewing the content? (Reach, audience)
  2. How many people are interacting with your call to action? (Click through rate, comments, shares, social engagement)
  3. Who are your prospects?(Lead gen)
  4. Are the leads and audience on target? (Market qualified leads)

Metric monitoring: Weekly

Metric reporting: Monthly

Detail hacks: Monitor developer community sites like Reddit and developer influencer sites like CodeProject, looking for discussions related to your tech content.

Short Term Campaigns

Timeframe: <3 months

Think of these campaigns as having very narrow and specific behavior goals. For example, sign up a certain number of users, download an API, hit a revenue target for the month or quarter. The content should be narrowly focused on the audience that is most likely to engage in that behavior, and, again, it should drive to a very narrow call to action within the content itself. For this you will still seek general audience information like reach and traffic, but your most specific metrics will be related to that call to action. Many of these calls to action are just lead gen in disguise.

Metric monitoring: Weekly

Metric reporting: Monthly

Detail hacks: If you are offering an API, make sure to promote the documentation as part of your campaign. Then, monitor the sentiment about your documentation. Adjust public documentation to respond to developer frustration, and publicize the heck out of your responsiveness.

Use All the Things

Starting with the larger business goals as the big picture means your campaigns are already heading to a successful place. Fill in the details with metrics that can drive success for those objectives that will help meet goals. If you want to avoid having campaigns fall off the cliff, don’t look in the mirror. The beauty of traffic and clicks and other vanity metrics may mislead you. Flesh out the details of your audience and their response. These are the metrics that will help your campaigns climb to the summit of success.