What Makes Content Marketing ROI Work Live

by leah.betancourt
Measuring how effective content is for meeting business goals is difficult because there is not one clear-cut way to do it. Several factors, when combined, work to determine whether content is ultimately adding to a company’s bottom line.

We asked
 Jeff Marcoux, CMO Lead, Worldwide Enterprise Marketing at Microsoft and board member of the Internet Marketing Association; Michele Linn, Content Development Director at the Content Marketing Institute; and Milena Regos, Principal at Out&About Marketing; to talk about metrics and offer insights into content marketing measurement.

Goals Guide Measurement

Setting goals is the most basic part of measuring effectiveness. They are the groundwork to build upon. Work backward from the goal to define what should be measured, what the content should be to fulfill those goals. 

"I think it starts with what are the objectives of the content: Customer & Prospect engagement, awareness, customer loyalty, increased leads, increased revenues, thought leadership, other. Each of these have different key metrics you would want to measure. So it is important to start with what are your goals and objectives,” said Jeff Marcoux. 

“I tend to lean toward lead generation and ideally revenue attribution as my key metrics! When I can create content that generates leads or accelerates deals for my sellers. If those deals close, I can then associate revenue back to the content pieces that touched that deal, thus giving me great insight into true content ROI,” said Jeff Marcoux

"I agree with Jeff that it all comes does to your specific business goals -- and then you need to create the metrics from there.
 Your organization's team members need to be on the same page of what is important and then track to those metrics," 
Michele Linn

Once the goals have been established, the next step is to determine how you know when you have met them. Metrics help show performance, but the data does not mean anything without context behind it. How do the numbers fit in with the goals? A solid framework of clear-cut benchmarks must be in place to measure the gray area of content pieces themselves. 

Make Metrics Meaningful

“I think if I had to pick one metric to start with it would be lead generation. This is the most tangible and easy to measure metric for marketers to show bottom line impact. If your strategy is in question, this will show ‘results’,” said Jeff Marcoux. 

“We pay attention to reach for brand awareness.
 After that is sharing metrics, ideally we get to leads,” said 
Milena Regos.

“The metrics that matter most are the ones that are tied to your business goals, so that will vary from company to company.
 What does management care about the most?” said 
Michele Linn.

When the goals and measurement of their effectiveness are in place, it’s possible to develop ways to make the content even more effective. Take value-added content one step further by addressing what it does: Does it spark action, engagement or vitality? The actions are taken with content -- such as views, clicks, shares, likes -- are tangible ways to measure impactful content. 

The WHY Behind the Content 

“Every piece of content should have a goal.
 That goal will be to drive to a next action, next piece of content, or something else. Those goals should be your KPIs because there isn't just one thing or one goal. With customers over 57% of the way through the buying cycle, marketing's job is now more important than ever before and you have to reach customers with content where they are in that journey,” said 
Jeff Marcoux.

“Measurement is an evolving process, so I think companies are always refining how they are measuring and reporting ROI,” said
 Michele Linn. 

“One of the big things we are looking at is path to goal/objective.
 So what streams of content are driving to conversions. To mean, it is never ONE piece or type of content that works but rather how do they flow together to advance the individual forward,” said 
Jeff Marcoux

“Most marketers will increase their 2014 content marketing investment, without a doubt (71% to be exact); however, only a select number of them will succeed as a result of putting in the hard work needed to build the team and process elements for an effective content marketing strategy,” said 
Milena Regos.

"HOWEVER, that said, not all content does nor should it lead to lead generation! What are your goals for the content, how does it fit into a broader strategy.
 I am a big fan of a new emerging concept I learned about from a friend at LinkedIn called Big Rock content,” said 
Jeff Marcoux. 

“KPIs should how you are tracking against your metrics (for instance, how many leads or email subscribers you have).
 But, they don't shed any insight into WHY things are (or are not) working. Analyzing your content effectiveness provides this kind of insight,” said 
Michele Linn

"If effective content is important that should be a KPI,” said 
Milena Regos 

Goals are the central determinant of effective content.
 The role of metrics is to help shape content decisions. Drilling down with the numbers to get details about the targeted audience is just one way that can help guide content decisions. That gives content value. 

Dangers of Too Much Measurement? 

"There's way too much measurements and data, but little analysis of the data. Focus on what matters,” said 
Milena Regos. 

"I agree with Milena.
 Only measure what you are going to take action on. Focus on INSIGHTS. Don't measure for the sake of having the metrics,” said 
Michele Linn. 

"I couldn't agree more that you can get too caught up in historical measurement.
 There are some amazing startups out there that are helping marketers connect the dots between their content. IE: What touchpoints lead to the desired conversions/goals. It is key for companies to have easy to use insights tools to enable marketers to mash data together to glean insights from it,” said 
Jeff Marcoux. 

“Furthermore, I did say historical measurement :) I think that we are headed towards a future where predictive analytics helps to select next best piece of content for each individual,” said Jeff Marcoux.

“We have so much data, I would argue that it is our most precious natural resource.
 The question is how to we find significance in the data we have to drive personalization. Predictive content marketing is simply serving up the best next piece of content to each individual based on their previous behavior,” said 
Jeff Marcoux

Be open to changing the content plan to meet changing goals or if the measurement efforts simply are not working, you will need to change how you measure the content. Remember that goals help determine success or failure.  

Adjust Content Measurement Plan As Needed 

“One thing I will say, sometimes it is good to start from the ground up again with measurement. This is because constantly trying to bend/adapt existing systems can become much more difficult than starting with a goal and enabling your team to find the right way to get there and measure it,” said 
Jeff Marcoux. 

"I see companies wanting to create content that is their own and not open up the funnel.
 Marketers need to also curate content and spend time marketing what they already have. Quality over quantity,” said 
Milena Regos. 

“I have learned a lot of things over the years.
 One thing that has been coming up a lot on this chat -- but it's so important that it bears repeating -- is that you need to understand what you are trying to achieve. What needle do you want your content marketing to move?” said 
Michele Linn.


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