So you're blogging, podcasting, tweeting and snapping with the best of them. You're even starting to get the hang of this Facebook Live malarky. You feel like a content marketing god!
...But how do your know if your content marketing is working?
Back in my old job, I had a real love-hate relationship with reporting and analytics. For the most part, it went over my head. There were just so many facts, figures and acronyms flying around that I couldn't keep up. However, when I came across a metric that could show me whether the work I'd been doing was having an impact, suddenly I lit up. I became obsessed, constantly checking - way more than I needed to.
It was even more the case when I started blogging. I would click to check my views dozens of times per day. Sometimes just sitting and watching them to see if they went up! Oh dear...
The thing is, if you want to know if your content marketing is working, then metrics ARE important. They're how we can tell if we're on the right track or whether we need to go back to the drawing board and try something new. They're how we can assess if we're spending our time valuably. How we learn and improve. They're all of these things IF we're measuring the right stuff. If we're not, then they're just another big waste of our already scarce time.
Some things are pretty straight forward to measure - if you sell boxes of biscuits then you can tell if you're successful by checking the number of boxes you've sold... Content Marketing can feel a bit more fluffy and hard to define. What do you measure? The number of emails you've sent and blog posts you've written. Nah. The number of emails that have been opened and the number of views of your post? Actually, probably not that either...
So what DO you need to be checking to make sure your content marketing is working the way it should?
The Foundations - What You Need To Know Before You Even Create Your Content
1) What is Your Content Goal?
Every time you write a piece of content for your business, whether it be a Facebook post, a customer email or a full blown white paper, you should have a very clear goal in mind for what you want to achieve with that content. It may be that you want people to check out your latest blog post or to take advantage of an offer you've got on or perhaps you're looking to build a sense of community or increase your thought leadership in a particular niche. Without having a goal in mind, the time you spend carefully crafting your content is pretty much wasted. And I don't know about you, but I don't have that kind of time to spare.
TOP TIP- Don't forget; not only do YOU need to be really clear on what your content goal is, but you need to make sure your audience is too - otherwise what's the point right? Clear calls to action will let your readers know what it is you expect of them so there's no confusion.
2) Does Your Content Goal Relate to Your Content Marketing Strategy?
When we're caught up in the everyday hustle and bustle of business then sometimes we can be so focused on the details that we forget to take a step back. When you look at a piece of content, having a clear content goal is great - but it isn't necessarily enough. That goal MUST relate to your content strategy or again, it's just wasted energy for you and probably a bit confusing for your customers. With each bit of content you should be leading them towards a specific goal. It may be to sign up for your course, to subscribe for your newsletter or perhaps just to take a survey. Whatever that goal is, there needs to be a point to it - a specific goal that's outlined in your strategy. Let's face it - there's no point in encouraging people to subscribe to your email list if email marketing isn't part of your plan. (PS it really SHOULD be part of your plan though! 😉 )
3) Does Your Content Marketing Strategy Bring You Closer to Your Mission Statement?
While you're taking a step back, you may as well head on back to your original business plan and your mission statement. What is it you're trying to achieve with your business? What is your overall dream? That should feed into your Content Marketing Strategy which will in turn feed into your content goals. Everything should align. If it doesn't, how can you expect to get the results that you're looking for?
Phase 2 - What to look for once your content is out there
4) Are you using the right metrics?
Metrics can be sneaky - there are SO many things that you can measure and it's all too easy to focus on things which actually have little or no impact on your business mission. Vanity metrics can lure in the best of us - how many views? how many followers? How POPULAR am I? But how do your views equate to your end goal?
Here's an example. Let's say you're a fitness coach. You provide personal training plans to people who are looking to lose a few inches and get into shape. So your mission statement would be something along the lines of helping as many people as possible to reach their target weight through your personal training plans. Your content marketing strategy would therefore need to involve seeking out your ideal customers (folks who want to lose some weight) and essentially getting them to like, know and trust you enough to buy one of your plans.
So you set up a blog, you start creating some great stuff which tells people the importance of daily exercise and good diet, you post videos which instruct them on how to do the most effective exercises and you show impressive before and after photos of people who have already done your plans. You're building a bigger and bigger community of followers and your monthly views are going through the roof!
Does this mean your content marketing has been successful?
I mean it's clear you're popular and that people love the content you're putting out there - but that wasn't your goal was it? Your goal was to help people lose weight with your fitness plans. So HOW do you know if your content has been successful? Have people been buying your plans?
Because at the end of the day, if you created content to get people to buy a fitness plan, it doesn't matter how much it gets liked and shared - if people don't take that final step and buy, then your content hasn't done its job and you need to go back to the drawing board.
5) What do your customers think?
One final and very important factor in measuring the success of your content marketing, is to ask your customers. It sounds pretty obvious when you just come out and say it - but how many of us are actually doing it?
In fact - we shouldn't just be checking in with our customers AFTER they've consumed our content but in fact, BEFORE. This is how we can ensure that our content will be effective. We seek out our ideal customers, we get to the bottom of the problems they're facing, their frustrations and their wishes - and then we base our content around that.
Doesn't it sound so much easier to find some potential customers and then create the content they've told us they want than to create a random piece of content and then go out looking for people who might find it useful?
So go forth and create! Create great content and get it out there - but never forget what you're doing it for in the first place 😉
What's the Purpose of THIS Content?
Great question! Cos you better believe if I've written a post telling people to always have a purpose when they create content, I'm gonna have a purpse too....
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