Marketing Metrics in Motion

In the “Age of Everything Measurable”, where marketers are accountable and where Senior Management only rewards initiatives with a built-in ROI, metrics are quickly becoming the language in which successes are written.
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AJ Huisman

In this magazine, we asked our #CMFF friend and Content Marketing veteran Russell Sparkman to give us his take on success metrics. Russell is a front-runner in the field of purpose driven marketing and is an international authority on the subject. Purpose-driven is by no means fuzzy, hard metrics are the name of the game here. Let’s see what Russell’s thoughts are.

We also reached out to various Content Marketing experts in our international #CMFF network and asked them what they believe is either the most undervalued metric or the most overvalued metric in Content Marketing. It offers interesting insights, in which we also recognize the specific background of various experts (e.g. SEO and DM or journalism and creativity).

When we talk about metrics for Content Marketing, we cannot go forward without asking Jay Baer’s vision on the current state of metrics. He discusses organizational hurdles to get the right metrics-language within the organization and identifies trends for the most important metrics in the near future for organizations that seriously want to scale their Content Marketing efforts.

You know the adage: don’t bring an opinion to a data-driven discussion. This section will provide you with enough ammunition to be on top of this all-important business discussion.

Bert van Loon
THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN PURPOSE AND METRICS

Russell Sparkman
“WHICH METRICS ARE KEY TO TRACK THE EFFECTIVENESS OF A PURPOSE-FOCUSED CONTENT MARKETING APPROACH.” BY RUSSELL SPARKMAN

Purpose-focused Content Marketing is fundamentally about building engagement and driving business goals by creating content experiences that reflect the values of the brand and its prospects, employees and stakeholders.

As this relates to metrics, the beauty of a purpose-focused content marketing approach is that there are tangible as well as intangible approaches to analyzing its effectiveness.

Before I describe those approaches, let me point out something that is critical for understanding the power of purpose for designing content experiences.

A brand’s purpose is something that a brand lives, daily. It’s baked into the cultural DNA of the business. It’s why the business exists. Purpose is not about mission and goals, which is internally focused on how the business is managed and grows. Rather, purpose is outwardly focused on customers and the difference the company can make in people’s lives. It’s about building engagement through shared values.

This is why I say that the path to engagement is paved with purpose. By focusing upon its impact upon people’s lives, a brand’s values can be elegantly conveyed through purpose-focused content experiences.

So, how is all of this measured? Let me address the intangibles first.

On the other hand, “practical value” content (e.g., how-to videos, webinars, white papers, etc.) is usually designed for the purpose of being the most educational and instructional, and is most effective in the Consideration and Decision stages of the buyer’s journey.

Intangibles include the emotional connection customers and employees have for purpose-focused brands. The emotional connection both of these audiences have for a business contributes directly to the consumer’s brand affinity and to the employee’s sense of loyalty. While intangible, affinity and loyalty are eventually made tangible as measurements of brand equity, increases in market share and numbers of top talent employees hired and retained.

When it comes to measuring more tangible metrics of purpose-focused content, all the standard forms of measuring content marketing ROI apply. However, what’s more important than how or what to measure is the need to understand where purpose-focused content fits into the buyer’s journey.

Purpose-focused content can be categorized into two types: “greater good” and “practical value.”

What we call “greater good” content, which means content that touches upon a brand’s contribution to society, will be most effective in the Awareness, Consideration and Word-of-Mouth stages of the journey.

Therefore, whatever methods a company currently applies to measuring content marketing ROI through the different phases of the buyer’s journey applies to Purpose-focused Content Marketing, too. This means that standard metrics such as search engine rankings, growth of social media audiences, growth of subscriber databases and ultimately, of sales, all apply to purpose-focused content.

About Russell
Russell Sparkman is an award-winning, purpose-focused communications pioneer whose client list includes Toyota, Epson, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, American Liver Foundation, Florida Department of Environmental Protection as well as many smaller nonprofits and small to medium businesses.

From promoting consumer brand products to promoting causes ranging from environmental protection to protecting women and girls against violence, Sparkman’s projects have always been purpose-focused. Recognition and awards for this work have come from the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, the Webbys, W3Awards, Davey Awards as well as induction into the Computerworld Honors program (in partnership with the Smithsonian) for the use of information technology to address social issues.

Russell Sparkman
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Purpose-focused content can be categorized into two types: “greater good” and “practical value.”

“WHAT IS THE MOST UNDER-USED / OVER-USED METRIC IN CONTENT MARKETING AND WHY?”

In my opinion the most under-used Content Marketing metric – is it actually used at all? – is Email conversion rate. A hidden diamond. One of the best indicators of a great, valuable piece of content is when it immediately convinces the audience to sign up for the brand’s newsletter. We want more! We want more!

“WHAT IS THE MOST UNDER-USED / OVER-USED METRIC IN CONTENT MARKETING TODAY AND WHY?”

In many content marketing projects people involved settle for very soft and fuzzy KPIs. It is a lot of work but it is possible to show the ROI of content marketing projects. I think that if people involved are willing to go the extra mile and show that investments pay of well than the investments in content marketing will proliferate even more.

“WHAT IS THE MOST UNDER-USED / OVER-USED METRIC IN CONTENT MARKETING TODAY AND WHY?”

All data is useful… but content success is not about how many people you reach, it is about how many engage with your content and how mucContent Marketingh your content can drive business. The most under-used metrics are attention and monetization metrics. For example, engagement time or revenue influenced (by content). On the other side, the most over-used metrics are traffic metrics, for example impressions and views.

“WHAT IS THE MOST UNDER-USED / OVER-USED METRIC IN CONTENT MARKETING TODAY AND WHY?”

I’ve seen various surveys stating that “increased sales” is the most important KPI in content marketing. But when respondents are asked what is actually being measured, most say that it is “website traffic” or “number of followers”. Those metrics are highly overused, and this points to a huge missing link in content marketing today.

“WHAT IS THE MOST UNDER-USED / OVER-USED METRIC IN CONTENT MARKETING TODAY AND WHY?”

With a background in performance marketing I believe that if you spend money on content you also have to measure the value your content creates. Your exact OMTM (one metric that matters) depends on your business case. Many marketers still focus to much on reach related metrics.

“WHAT IS THE MOST UNDER-USED / OVER-USED METRIC IN CONTENT MARKETING TODAY AND WHY?”

What makes digital marketing („don’t do digital marketing, do marketing in a digital world“ – B. Solis!) so attractive is the ability to track & measure much more marketing accurately than before. However, this leads to two problems: we tend to become more and more focused on the short term and giving too much importance to what we can measure easily and too little on what’s more difficult to measure. Track everything you can while knowing that not everything can show up in data!

“WHAT IS THE MOST UNDER-USED / OVER-USED METRIC IN CONTENT MARKETING TODAY AND WHY?”

In the context of content driven websites, the most over-used metric is website traffic and the under-used metric is impact on sales. While more traffic is always good, it is simply not the only indicator to Content Marketing success. Any content that results in an increase in sales and/or impacts sales positively is what I regard as successful content. Did my content result in sales conversion? Did my content result in bringing SEO uplift? Did my content result in eliminating at least a few questions commonly asked to my sales folks? Did my content result in a contact with customer? Etc., are the kind of questions that I would like Content Marketing experts to ask as part of the content strategy instead of classical website performance KPIs such as traffic, unique visitors, time spent on site etc..

TILAK THIAGARAJAN, SENIOR DIGITAL MARKETING MANAGER INTERNATIONAL HENKEL (GERMANY)

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