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Measuring the performance of your sales team is simple. You see how much they sold, and then you check it off against their sales targets. It’s easy-to-grasp data that nobody can dispute.

For content marketing, measuring performance is a bit trickier. For marketers trying to justify their budgets to the suits upstairs, that can be a challenge—especially if the return-on-investment (ROI) is not immediately clear.

According to a recent CMO survey, almost two-thirds of marketers are unable to quantitatively demonstrate the impact of their marketing.

So how can marketing teams keep tabs on the success of their content marketing campaigns and ensure that management recognise the value those campaigns are bringing to the wider business?

Setting your goals

The first step is to make sure you have clear objectives about what your campaign is trying to achieve. While the goal of all marketing is to grow revenue, not all content marketing will have a direct and immediate impact on the bottom line. Let’s take a brand awareness campaign as an example. The goal here is to expand your pool of potential customers as a way to increase future sales, so actual revenue generation is probably somewhere off in the distance. That would be very different than a campaign that is targeting existing customers and encouraging them to sign up to a new service right now, where the ROI is immediate and very tangible (how many people actually signed up). By clearly outlining your goals—and most importantly, ensuring management are on the same page—it will be easier to judge the success of your results later.

Setting your KPIs

So you know what you are looking to achieve, now you need to know what to measure your performance against. Let’s go back to the example of brand awareness. Perhaps you’ve written a white paper and you’ve posted a link to it on your social media accounts. How do you know if it has been a success? You might think this is obvious—just count the number of downloads. But you also want to know if that content has made a lasting impression (ie. are they interested in more content from you in the future). Likes and shares might be encouraging to see (and shares could potentially further your reach), but that isn’t going to tell you if it has actually increased your brand awareness (hence why they are often disparagingly referred to as vanity metrics). Instead, you need to pick a metric that measures long-term interest in your content, such as your audience growth rate—the increase in net new followers over a given period (in this case, from the moment your white paper was published). Whatever metrics you choose, make sure they allow you to draw clear conclusions about whether or not your campaigns are working.

Be patient

So you’ve convinced your FD to allocate more cash to your budget for content marketing, and naturally they are eager to see results. While in some instances those results can be swift, in most cases content marketing campaigns should be seen as a long-term investment. There is no magic timeline—some people suggest you should see results in about six months—but it really depends on the nature of your campaign and what your objectives are. If you are seeking to establish your business as an industry thought leader, just releasing one report and expecting the market to immediately laud you as such is probably wishful thinking. It will certainly attract some attention, but to grow your reputation and become established as the go-to voice in your market will take time and sustained effort (and will also hinge on your existing profile/where you are starting from). Whatever your content marketing campaign entails, it is vital to remain patient. We’ve seen results take anywhere from a matter of months to almost a year later. Don’t panic if you’re not seeing results straightaway. 

Temper your expectations

Just as it’s important to be patient, it’s also important to set realistic expectations about your content marketing campaigns—particularly when it comes to the numbers. Creating insightful and engaging content that people will want to consume is only one part of the process—just as critical is how you distribute it and ensure the right people are reading it. The scale of that distribution will be dictated by how large your promotion budget is, and again that will depend on the nature of your campaign and what your objectives are. If you’re looking to increase your brand awareness but you have very little promotion budget for your content, then adjust your expectations accordingly. It’s also important to note that in many campaigns quality will always trump quantity. So even if the number of downloads of, say, a white paper, is lower than you had expected, one download from a decision-maker who can follow your call to action is far more valuable from an ROI-perspective than 100 downloads from people who aren’t qualified to make decisions.

Next steps…

Looking for ways to improve the ROI of your content marketing efforts? From strategy to copywriting and everything in between, we can help you plan and execute impactful campaigns that will engage your target market and deliver the results you need. Speak to Pensar Media today and find out how we can help you achieve all your content marketing goals.