87 percent of B2B marketers say they use analytics tools to manage their content marketing efforts, but only 35 percent say they measure content marketing return-on-investment (ROI).
That’s a pretty big disconnect.
If we have the tools, why aren’t we measuring the value of the content that we’re spending time, resources, and energy on creating?
This data comes from the 2018 B2B Content Marketing report from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. In this benchmark survey of over 2,000 B2B marketers, only 19 percent of B2B marketers say that they “rate alignment of metrics and content marketing goals as excellent/very good.”
Yikes. If less than one-fifth of B2B marketers believe their content is achieving their goals well, we are in trouble. How can we justify spending money on a practice that we can’t align with results? B2B marketers need to be more deliberate in (a) setting metrics to align with business goals and (b) creating content that’s designed to convert for these purposes.
Don’t Just Pay Lip Service to Analytics
In this report, 54 percent of B2B marketers rate their organizations’ overall content marketing approach as “moderately successful,” and 20 percent rate it as “very successful.” But if they’re not measuring, how do they know? And more importantly, how do they continue to improve?
As a senior strategist for Convince & Convert and co-lead of our consulting practice, I advise clients in a wide variety of verticals, many of whom are B2B. We have these conversations every day, and we tell our clients to focus on the efficacy of their content through a robust, analysis-driven approach. This means clearly defined KPIs based on business goals, consistent measurement every month, and interpretation and action based on those findings.
Analytics aren’t a “nice to have” in digital marketing; they are the backbone of how we validate our planning and optimization process.
An Analytics Mindset Has to Come from the Top-Down
The data shows that B2B content marketing teams are often small and (of course) wear many hats. As a part of a small, nimble team, I know what that’s like. However, implementing consistent measurement shouldn’t be a “nice to have” part of your marketing program.
In the survey, 47 percent of B2B marketers say their organization doesn’t measure ROI on content marketing efforts, and 18 percent are unsure.
Why don’t they do it? Look at this breakdown. More than a third of those surveyed say that there is no formal justification required for content marketing ROI. More than a quarter don’t know how to do it.
Companies must not only set expectations to measure, but also provide the resources (education, tools, support) to content marketers to do so.
For instance, outsourcing could be one solution: The report indicated that only 11 percent of those surveyed are outsourcing their analytics, but this is actually a functionality that can be well suited to outside support, since outside services can provide more expertise and a more objective point of view on companies’ content marketing efforts.
Furthermore, access to more consistent or automated reporting tools can help. Whether you implement Google Data Studio and Microsoft Power BI or you add tools like RivalIQ and Funnel to your arsenal, companies must evaluate the tools they’re using and make sure they align with their needs and their teams’ capabilities.
Test Your Assumptions and Kill Your Darlings
In order to focus on doing what’s effective, you have to understand what content produces the results you want.
- Which types of content help generate affinity for and recognition of your brand?
- What content informs potential clients, instill authority, and showcase expertise?
- What content helps build ongoing relationships?
- If you don’t know what your content is designed to achieve, how will you measure its purpose?
One of my favorite case studies is from Sprout Content, in which they reviewed their content (most of which was gated) and found that only 12 percent of the people filling out their lead-generation forms were considered MQLs. The others were a waste of their sales’ team’s time.
Sprout Content also found that 90 percent of the organic visitors who became clients had never downloaded a piece of content. This led them to change their content marketing approach and un-gate their top-of-funnel content.
It’s this kind of purposeful analysis of data that helps companies create a better experience for their audiences and also bring in more qualified leads for their teams. More importantly, it also guides their teams in creating more relevant content and more effective content, not just more content.
It’s this thoughtful approach to content development that we are bringing to the Convince & Convert site as we move into 2018.
Your Content Marketing Doesn’t Measure Itself
I started this article with this statistic from the B2B Content Marketing report: 87 percent say they use analytics tools to manage their content marketing efforts. This made analytics tools the number one type of tool used among B2B marketers.
Furthermore, the top six types of content for B2B marketers are social media posts (94 percent), case studies (73 percent), pre-produced videos (72 percent), ebooks/white papers (71 percent), infographics (65 percent), and illustrations/photos (56 percent). All of these types of content should be trackable.
Firstly, you should do this natively on your various platforms. We can now see the percentage of video content viewed, drop-off points, and reach. We can track click-paths and hot spots on websites. There’s a lot you can pull from your overall metrics dashboards. The metrics to prioritize are those that make sense for the audience behavior you expect from a given piece of content.
Secondly, for downloadable content, track consumption/engagement by building deliberate CTAs into content. If your ebook has a highly relevant video linked to it midway or a CTA to a special offer, clicks through to the live content or a dedicated short URL from an infographic are evidence of its efficacy.
Thirdly, B2B marketers should be implementing content management tools like Trendemon or Showpad. These tools allow you more visibility into which types of content your sales team shares and what your potential/existing clients are actually using.
For instance, if your sales team is sharing ebooks 70 percent of the time, but you can see that videos are three times more likely to attract clicks from clients, then you have hard evidence to shift the behaviors of your team to be more effective and relevant to your audience.
We Have to Acknowledge the Importance of Measurement
Why are B2B marketers so bad at measuring the results of their content marketing? As with many disciplines, we’ve focused on the execution and day-to-day activities rather than the results and the impact of our work.
But if performance metrics have revolutionized brooms and sweeping technique (Olympic curling FTW!), then surely we should make sure it’s integrated into how we think about content marketing.