What challenges lie in measuring content and analysing its success?
When discussing the KPIs of a content marketing strategy in the early stages, there are typically three challenges many organisations face.
First, spending an inordinate amount of time and money looking for a ‘silver bullet’ solution in the form of a very sophisticated content publishing system that will take care of everything, including measurements.
Second, approaching content marketing like ‘advertising’s new clothes’, and therefore applying the same expectations in terms of the content produced, and expected returns. Finally, focusing exclusively on traffic and site analytics.
Content marketing requires significant paid media investments to break through the noise.
The last point is the most counterintuitive because we have been conditioned, ever since the first banner ad appeared at the turn of the century, to look at the website as a funnel with the ultimate objective of driving the visitor to the check-out page. That makes plenty of sense if your content marketing strategy is pegged to your ecommerce strategy.
But content marketing to promote a company, product or service calls for an extrovert strategy rather than an introvert drive-to-my-site approach. It sounds obvious today, as all the major publishers are now flocking to host their content outside of their own site on the main social networks but it is still a challenge to adopt this approach.
How do you measure the success of your content marketing?
We were one of the first brands to experiment with Facebook Instant Articles, whereby Journey content is read on Facebook, shared on Facebook, without visiting the Coca-Cola Journey content site. We like to claim that Coca-Cola Journey should not be the destination but the starting point for the content we produce, across owned, earned, shared and paid media.
Based on [this] approach we make sure to measure the success of our content marketing efforts beyond just traffic data and site analytics. We use tracking URLs for all the content we syndicate to other sites or social channels to track off-site impressions and social engagement.
We also experimented this year with a new research protocol to measure the actual impact of the Journey programme on our company’s reputation indicators. We have also been able to assess the effectiveness of our Journey content consumed off-site, be it on Facebook or YouTube. These are becoming key performance indicators, beside and beyond standard traffic and impressions data.
Is there a need for content measurement to relate to hard metrics such as sales, over engagement metrics?
There definitely needs to be a link to hard metrics. Content marketing is at the heart of the owned media strategy and now requires significant paid media investments to break through the noise. The inherent quality of the content is no longer sufficient to spread organically.
In the content marketing space, you’re not just competing against your industry peers and competitors, you’re competing for attention, which means you’re actually competing against every other item in your audience’s newsfeed and in this game the algorithms are definitely not on your side.
What advice would you give others looking at how to measure content?
If you’re in an ecommerce situation or trying to drum up leads through a contact form, it’s very easy to set up a conversion funnel from the initial piece of content consumed to the submit button.
One useful but often overlooked proxy for content marketing performance is SEO data.
If not, you will need to gather hard and qualitative data and agree early on about the objectives based on these metrics. Over time, you should be able to correlate these metrics with your commercial metrics.
One useful but often overlooked proxy for content marketing performance is SEO data. While traffic data and engagement can often seem quite soft from commercial objectives, SEO performance measurement and improvement is a direct and quantifiable byproduct of a successful content marketing strategy.
Without good content marketing SEO will falter and vice-versa. SEO is a highly valued metric by any self-respecting marketer, it’s like securing the best spot in the virtual shelf space and it is eminently measurable and optimisable through good content marketing.