Where to Begin With Measurement — and Why You Should Never Finish

During the Q&A portion of a recent webinar we held on the content marketing process, we received a question about where to even begin with measurement.

This isn’t a surprise, as measurement may be the hardest and least understood part of content marketing. One could try to avoid measurement, but it’s critical for understanding how your content marketing is (or isn’t) working over time, what content is and isn’t working and what tactics are most successful.

Measuring intelligently and effectively allows you to:

1. Make better and quicker adjustments to content creation and tactical strategies that aren’t working.

2. Identify content creation and tactical strategies that are working, so you will be sure to continue or expand them.

Due to these benefits, we consider measurement an essential part of the content marketing process. To learn more about measurement and the content marketing process, check out our recorded webinar and our article “Content Marketing: The Best Way to Influence and Reach HR.”

Measurement questions can be grouped into two broader questions:

1. What should I be measuring?

2. What tools should I use?

Let’s take these two questions one at a time. 

What should I be measuring?

The short answer: Measure outcomes against goals, and only measure information that is actionable.

The detailed answer: 

Visier Chief Strategy Officer Dave Weisbeck was our webinar’s expert panelist on measurement, and one of his main points was content marketers should measure outcomes, not tasks. In other words, measure the end results against your goals, which might be more sales leads, more web traffic, more engagement, etc. 

Dave provided a few examples of things Visier, a workforce analytics and planning company, measures. One was visits to Visier’s website over time. This helps Visier see if content is driving people to its site. Another is the lead conversion rate. A third is which activities and strategies (such as particular content pieces and landing page practices) are the most successful in converting leads.

That’s just a small sample of what Visier measures, and really there are so many things content marketers can measure. And there is no one-size-fits-all list of what to measure because companies approach content marketing differently.

It’s important, also, that when content marketers determine what measurements make sense for them to use given their desired outcomes, to remember another point Dave made: measurements are always somewhat of an approximation. Don’t get too wrapped up in minor changes, but do pay attention to trends.

What tools should I use?

If you have the budget for them, the marketing automation systems Hubspot and Marketo have analytics built into them, and both are oriented toward content, meaning that they are ideal for content marketers. They allow you to determine how content pieces (blog posts, white papers, webinars) are resulting in activities, such as website traffic, lead capture and ultimately sales.

For those who don’t have the budget, we suggest Google Analytics, which provides reports on website traffic, how that traffic got to your site, time on site by country, social activity and other measures.

Also, many social media sites have measurements that can help you beyond just how many likes, friends and followers you have. For example, Facebook offers Facebook Insights, Twitter offers Twitter Analytics and Pinterest offers Pinterest Web Analytics.

Most blog platforms also offer some degree of analytics, and there are also many third-party solutions.

Be a scientist

As marketers, we are like scientists. We need to hypothesize and experiment. Can you imagine good scientists not measuring their results? We need to measure our results, too. By measuring, we can evaluate our results, and get data that can help us generate new hypotheses. Then we test and measure again.

Content marketing is an ongoing process of creation and experimentation. And effective measurement is critical for making it work.

Post written by HRmarketer / SocialEars HR team member Eric Anderson.

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