Content marketing is not new; the Michelin guides were first printed more than a century ago as a way of encouraging motorists to drive to new restaurants and, consequently, need new tyres more often. But today, with some research suggesting 90 per cent of B2C companies use content marketing in one form or another, the need for understanding has never been more critical.
What qualifies as success? Tecmark search director Stacey MacNaught, an established figure on the global speaking circuit, has identified four key metrics.
“Most people involved in content marketing will be tracking the number of visits they drive to content in their campaigns,” says MacNaught.
However, she recommends a deeper analysis in order to fully understand the impact your campaign is creating.
“Specifically track new visits, giving you a figure for people reached who’d never previously been on your site and could therefore reasonably be considered as a new audience.
“If your goals are in any way centred around new audience acquisition, then splitting new and returning visitors in your analysis is vital.”
While content marketing isn’t new, social media – in real terms – is still in its infancy. Marketers are still trying to quantify the value of a tweet or a like, but MacNaught believes they are worth recording.
She says: “Some see no value in social engagement, while others argue there’s a value – from an SEO perspective – to social metrics.
“I certainly see correlation (although that’s not to be mistaken with causation) between sites with large, engaged social audiences and organic search visibility.
“So while I struggle to put a value on social interaction, it’s difficult to ignore the growing role of social in driving customers and influencers. You certainly have to pay attention to anything that correlates with increased search visibility.
“Sites like BuzzSumo (www.buzzsumo.com) and ShareTally (www.sharetally.co) are great for tracking these metrics.”
Those from an SEO background will invariably want to see evidence of inbound links from any content campaign. “There’s absolutely no doubt that Google still cares about links your content generates,” says MacNaught.
“Despite the algorithm updates of recent years, links remain an important SEO visibility factor. All that’s changed is how you should get them. Great content, specifically designed to bait links, is an effective tactic – when executed well.
“I use Majestic (www.majestic.com) to measure inbound links on most projects I work on.”
Conversions and assisted conversions
If your content is designed to drive sign-ups or sales, or any other goals that may be assigned, then measuring conversions will be central to your reporting.
But conversions are another area that contains complexity that needs to be monitored.
MacNaught says: “If someone visits a piece of content, but then leaves your site without signing up, that isn’t the end. What if they return later on and sign up? Or if they come back later through searching for your brand?
“In the latter case, Google Analytics will show the sign-up/conversion as attributed to organic search where a user landed on the homepage. But the piece of content you created had a role to play, and it’s important in designing future content strategies that you know this. Google Analytics has a feature that lets you see this.”
To read more digital marketing insight, visit www.tecmark.co.uk/blog.
Neil Barraclough, Brand Communications Manager, Tecmark
Tel: 0161 266 4450