Content marketing ain’t easy… but isn’t that why it’s so valuable? Organizations are taking a more proactive approach to content these days as it relates to audience engagement, lead funnel growth, prospect nurturing, customer loyalty, and strong brand affinity.
Companies need content, and great content marketers know how to position it… at the right place, at the right time, and on the right channel. So what are the key metrics our content gurus need to pay attention to in the new year? As we look ahead to 2023, these are the top metrics categories to have on your radar. Keeping tabs on these will be crucial to attributing revenue back to content and then conquering the content world… obviously.
Measure Engagement to Assess Thought Leadership & Buyer Intent
We all know that engagement is good. And I’m not talking about marriage proposals (although the flash mob proposals on YouTube smash). Metrics such as clicks, shares, likes, comments, and views are all important. But what do they really tell us about the impact that content has on the business? Every boss for the last ten years has asked me that question.
Here are some common engagement metrics you can use to showcase how your content impacts brand awareness.
- Unique Page Views: How many individual people have read or interacted with your content? You can track Unique Page Views via Google Analytics.
- Organic Traffic: How many people found your content organically, without clicking a link on a paid ad or sponsored blog post? This will help you understand how well your post is ranking in Google.
- Average Time on Page: How long do visitors stay on the page when they click to view your content? This lets you know how engaging your piece is and which topics resonate well.
- Share of Voice (SOV): Keep track of the number of mentions your content receives compared to other brands or publications. Tools like BuzzSumo or Brandwatch are great for this.
It’s essential that you can articulate to your boss the context behind these numbers. While engagement metrics tell you whether your content is insightful enough to drive brand awareness and share of voice in the marketplace, they also function as a relationship score, showcasing how influential you are on your audience. They offer critical indicators of your market position and should tell you whether or not a piece of content or a web page is performing as well as it can.
Beyond clicks, shares, likes, and comments, it’s about how long prospects will engage with you. These metrics also help highlight the topics that resonate with your audience. Are you meeting their needs? Does your content alleviate a pain point? Once you have data to make educated assumptions, you can use this information to power your content strategy.
Measure Content’s Impact on Lead Qualification & Scoring
Lead scoring helps marketers identify different stages of the buyer’s journey and what specific actions resonate with customers at every touchpoint. Content is an integral part of that process.
Different content formats optimize engagement at each stage. Blogs are typically top of the funnel, whereas case studies thrive at the bottom of the funnel. Regardless of the stage or the format, quality content nurtures relationships with customers and drives sales by converting prospects into marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) and sales-qualified leads (SQLs).
Sales and marketing teams must work together to identify the criteria for an MQL and SQL. As Hubspot suggests: “Without a defined set of actions, your marketing team might pitch leads that aren’t ready to move on to the sales process. Overall, this will slow down your sales team.”
MQL: Marketing Qualified Leads are individuals who take a particular action on your site and qualify to move further into the sales funnel. Every organization has different qualifiers, but some of the most common MQL actions are one or two of the following:
- Downloading a free gated eBook
- Watching on-demand software demos
- Filling out gated content forms
- Submitting an email address for a newsletter or mailing list
- Favoriting items or adding items to a wish list
- Adding items to the shopping cart
- Repeating site visits or spending a lot of time on your site
- Clicking on an ad to find your site
- Contacting you to request more information
While these actions represent some of the most common prospect actions, it’s not a comprehensive list. It’s a start to determining who is ready for sales. Other information (lead scoring, analytics, and demographics) may impact an organization’s decision to qualify the lead as an MQL.
SQL: Sales Qualified Leads are individuals who are ready to talk to the sales team. Once they’re an MQL, they’re handed to sales which qualifies them as an interesting prospect. Some of the most common SQL criteria include:
- Booking a meeting with a sales team member
- Filling out a demo form
- Returning to a website a certain number of times
- Responding to an email
- Viewing a pricing page
Usually, by the time a lead becomes an SQL, the sales team has identified that the prospect has a need for your product or service, the budget necessary to purchase it, the infrastructure to use it, and a pain point that’s alleviated by your offering. This is the framework for the BANT system (Budget, Authority, Needs, and Timeline). Lead scoring can help you understand if your product is a good fit for the customer when you reach out to them.
Content & Lead Qualification
Lead scoring allows you to assign numerical values to prospects based on lead details and lead behavior, which helps you understand how those leads progress through the sales funnel. This data can then help identify which types of content are performing best according to lead scores assigned at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Creating lead scores for content requires collaboration with sales, customer success, and revenue operations. Revenue operations, a department responsible for coordinating sales, marketing, and customer success, sets the lead qualification parameters, monitors scoring, assesses engagement, and creates cohesion between departments. While content is always a huge part of nurturing a prospect to buy, it is often the most difficult to map back to revenue.
With specific lead scoring parameters in place, companies can set up qualification standards for each stage of the buyer’s journey. Once a lead reaches a specific score, your team can qualify it as an MQL. Scores are determined by several attributes, including the ideal customer profile (ICP) and behaviors the prospect engages in (actions taken with your brand).
Knowing what pieces of content the prospect engaged with to reach the MQL score threshold is critical for improving content performance. With this information, you can adjust your content strategy. For example, a prospect who just reads a blog and downloads an eGuide might not be ready to talk to sales, but they can be a warm marketing qualified lead (MQL) to nurture with similar topics.
Measure Content ROI
We’ve discussed traditional engagement metrics and lead qualification, but what about revenue? That cold hard cash attributed to the investment you made in content?
Once you have established lead scores, you can calculate content ROI by looking at the total lead score from an individual content piece, the number of opportunities created, the average cost per opportunity, and the resulting return on the investment.
By analyzing this data, marketers can understand how successful individual pieces of content were in driving leads and sales. You can use the following calculation to determine ROI.
Average Cost per Opportunity x Average Opportunities Tied to Content = Content ROI
As a percentage, calculate content ROI using the:
ROI (%) = ( Return – Investment / Investment) x 100
By tracking lead scores for each piece of content, marketers can gain insight into what drives engagement and conversion. For example, suppose a certain type of content consistently has high lead scores at all stages in the buyer’s journey. In that case, it could indicate this type of content is particularly effective in lead generation. Content marketers can then use this data to inform their content strategy and better target prospects with content that will lead to conversion.
Content metrics provide marketers with valuable insight into how content impacts lead generation and sales. Using this data, marketers can optimize current campaigns, improve lead nurture strategies, and identify new opportunities for content creation. By understanding the different stages of the buyer’s journey and assigning appropriate lead scores, marketers can tailor their messaging to maximize impact on lead conversion rates.
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