Measuring the Effectiveness of Content Marketing

May 2017

Source: Thinkstock

“It’s the most downloaded asset on our organization’s website,” our client proudly stated. He was referencing a membership magazine we create for (ISC)2, the Clearwater, Fla.-based global information security professional organization with almost 125,000 members. The bi-monthly magazine, InfoSecurity Professional, is published digitally and, occasionally, as a print version, and has held this prestigious “most downloaded asset” status for several years. In the most recent membership survey conducted by (ISC)2, the magazine was lauded with pages of positive comments. Additionally, members regularly request permission to distribute the publication to their security teams or classrooms.

InfoSecurity Professional magazine plays an important role in meeting some of (ISC)2’s mission to create a more safe and secure cyber world. We help by increasing the organization’s influence and brand awareness, aiding in member acquisition, increasing brand engagement and loyalty, and…well, pretty much everything on the list outlined below.

What’s your business objective for content?

Establishing your business objective first will influence your marketing strategy and the content pieces you create to support it. Here are the top eight functions of content to consider:

1. Acquire new customers/members.
2. Increase brand relevance/influence.
3. Increase brand engagement.
4. Improve brand perception.
5. Improve brand awareness.
6. Establish brand as thought leader.
7. Move people along sales funnel.
8. Increase loyalty.

What’s your content medium?

Content solutions are vast in category—from magazines to blog posts such as our own Tiger Tales.

A membership publication, such as InfoSecurity Professional, is custom content—content meant to build an affinity with an existing audience. This type of content reinforces a brand, communicates the value of products or services and creates new opportunities. It’s branded content and it’s used to maintain engagement with existing customers.

White papers, blog posts and social media are examples of outward-facing content marketing that’s created to attract and acquire new customers. It can be branded content, but it can also be simply brand-relevant content.

Whether it’s custom content or content marketing, it’s the steady stream of content skillfully tied to your company’s products and services mixed with an emotional connection that engages self-educating buyers and business partners, which eventually leads to profitable customer action. But sales results take time. And, original content is the holy grail of any content marketing strategy.

Let’s remember that communicating is more art than science. It’s practiced by talented writers, designers and marketers with the intention to capture how a brand looks, sounds, thinks, performs and—ultimately—is. This process must begin with a deep understanding of a brand, its business objectives and its target customers.

Consider the following process when filling your content pipeline:

1. Set your business objective.
2. Establish your buyer personas.
3. Identify the stage in a sales funnel you want to affect.
4. Determine your medium.

Measuring stick(s)

The effectiveness of InfoSecurity Professional has been measured by our client through bi-annual surveys and tracking monthly downloads and open rates. The magazine has been published for 10 years, so it’s reaping the benefits of its organic growth.

With multiple business objectives and so many content types, how do you measure whether or not your content is driving profitable consumer action?

To answer this question, many marketers think it’s best to hire an expert with extensive analytical experience to measure your content’s effectiveness. Analytic tools abound with lots of players in the marketplace delivering services intended to measure the success of your content marketing in any of these categories: website analytics, social media analytics, funnel analytics, web analytics and SEO analytics.

I’m not certain there’s a formula for figuring ROI on evergreen content creation that remains useful long term. Some marketing and sales strategists, like David Meerman Scott, say original content will have value for many years after it has been paid for. Focusing your metrics on behavior is as important as racking up numbers on page views. (Did somebody open your e-newsletter and then purchase your product or service?)

Here are four common content marketing metrics to track:

1. Consumption metrics (How many viewed, downloaded, listened or follow?)
2. Sharing metrics (How often is your content shared with others?)
3. Lead generation metrics (How often does content creation result in a lead?)
4. Sales metrics (Did we make money because of this content?)

Content marketing solutions are always evolving—it may be that an e-book you created has fallen flat, but a case study continues to generate leads and you now see the need for more of them. Analytics assist in monitoring progress and indicate where the best opportunities are to improve your efforts.