As a discipline, content marketing has grown exponentially. Today, we see 85% of Australian marketers embracing content in their marketing mix. (ADMA / CMI Institute)
Despite this, only 40% of marketers are measuring the return on their content investment. (ADMA / CMI Institute)
Put simply, more brands are creating more content, but few are truly noting the value of it. This makes it tricky when content and social teams are justifying their place on a media plan.
Here we cover some of the common hurdles that may be standing in the way of your brand and content success and the steps you can take to mature your approach.
- Define your overarching objective
Something I see brands struggle with the most is clearly defining the role and objective of content within their business. It’s convoluted, as content can serve many purposes and sit across several touch points.
My advice: zero in on the lead objective that you need your content to deliver, rather than getting sidetracked by all of the things it could deliver. Remember that shares, comments and reactions don’t equate to lead business objectives. Are you creating content to increase SEO visibility? Perhaps you’re looking to build audience pools for remarketing? These are also great drivers and goals – but they are not lead objectives, they are secondary to a larger business goal.
You need to land and agree on that overarching, lead objective. From here, you can define the secondary objectives and content that needs to feed upward to achieve that.
These tiered objectives will also help you deliver more meaningful reports at different levels within your business. This leads me to…
- Delineate micro versus macro measurement
With assets sitting across various platforms and a plethora of vanity metrics available on each, it can be difficult to make sense of it all, to distil true ROI. It can be easy to get caught up segregating the performance of individual assets or campaigns and lose sight of measuring your overall content marketing effort.
This is why setting up your lead and secondary objectives up front is so important.
I strongly recommend defining a custom measurement framework that includes three levels of measurement:
- Macro Content Performance: Assessing the performance of a holistic content program (or sequence of assets) in delivering your lead objective. Eg. leads, conversions + ROI
- Middle Content Performance: Assessing the secondary indicators that feed macro performance. Eg. Assisted conversions, decreased CPL, organic rankings/uplift + value
- Micro-Content Performance: Assessing the performance of each asset in delivering the individual objectives it was created to serve. This tier of measurement includes standard user + content level metrics. Eg. Consumption, engagement
- You aren’t factoring in the cost of amplification
People, brands and publishers are creating more content than ever before. Paired with a continued drop in organic social reach, achieving content cut-through can be challenging. Despite this, so many brands dive head first into content planning and production, with amplification as an afterthought.
Production alone can be expensive and you can squander significant budget creating content that doesn’t even reach your target audience. If you want to set your content up for success, and truly understand its return, amplification needs to be considered up front. Define and commit to a minimum production versus amplification ratio, asset by asset.
Use your brand’s previous performance as a benchmark and understand the whole investment including both production and amplification. Re-calibrate your reports, inclusive of production costs, to get a clear idea of how much it is actually costing to reach, engage or convert users.
From here you can weigh up the value and cost of differing formats in achieving your objective, often allowing you to do less, better.
- Your teams are working in silo
It is so common for content and social teams to be siloed from performance marketing teams. These teams often deliver through different functions within the business frequently with separate budgets. If your lead objective is to leverage content to drive acquisition, it is absolutely crucial that content is aligned with your wider performance marketing effort. Content can be a great prospecting and qualifying tool. Every time a user interacts with your content, they are generating rich intent data that you can use to deliver effective, personalised performance activity.
At full scale, this can become the architecture of content that continues to build and nurture a broader audience, constantly feeding direct response and remarketing channels. When this ecosystem is established properly for a brand, measuring and optimising content towards increased ROI becomes much simpler.
After all, understanding exactly what is driving success within your wider content program is the only thing that will deliver continued improvement. It’s time to double down and hold your teams accountable for defining and measuring content performance.