How-to advice is one of the most dominant strategies used in marketing. While most marketers have good intentions when writing how-tos, they don’t always hit the mark on creating useful content.
Granted, the writers and content topics aren’t the only culprits; SERPs deserve some blame. Constant search index changes make it tough to keep content optimized and leave a lot to speculation… leading us back to content like how-to advice.
We’ve extensively researched marketing’s “advice problem” and have discovered the sweet spot. Let’s talk about practical advice.
Measuring Content Success
Based on our research, there are four main stages to content success, which we’ve called the content maturity model:
1. Crawl: Here, marketers start to build their content strategy. The focus is primarily on building and engaging their target audience and creating an SEO strategy.
2. Walk: Brands get more strategic, lean into lead generation and engagement, and carve out their share of voice in the market.
3. Run: Brands fine-tune their content’s SEO value, attribute success to lead values, and use single-touch attribution. Most brands are in this stage today.
4. Fly: The ideal stage. It’s all about multi-touch attribution and knowing each piece of content makes the most impact at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
While multi-touch attribution is the correct end goal to strive for, it’s not something you need to rush into if you’re still developing a content strategy and setting up the correct internal processes.
6 Metrics You Should Use to Prove Content Success
Contently research reveals that most companies are in the Walk or Run stages. The first three metrics we’ll discuss focus on the Walk stage, and the last three focus on the Run stage.
1. Leads Generated
What is the difference between content leads and Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)?
- Content leads are prospects who interact with your content and complete an action like newsletter sign-up or content download. These actions help build your email and nurture lists. Content leads can inform your content strategy. They show you what topics your audience is interested in. Of course, just because someone signs up or downloads content doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy.
- MQLs are ready to talk to sales (in theory). These prospects fit your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and express interest in purchasing or requesting a demo or trial. These leads are further qualified to continue on the buyer’s journey with your sales team.
Prospects will give you their contact information—becoming content leads—if you have exclusive content or a unique point of view to share. If your landing page effectively communicates the value proposition, like this example from Teamwork, you’ll encourage the prospect to fill out the form. The value has to be there. It’s an exchange of your content for their contact information.
You must nurture content leads and MQLs with relevant, timely content. This will, in turn, build your SEO strength.
2. Lead Engagement
Lead engagement measures the contact’s quality and interest in your brand. Once you have engaged qualified leads (MQLs) in your pipeline, you can start lead scoring.
There are many ways to score leads, but let’s focus on the top two. Lead demographic scoring and behavioral lead scoring are two of the most common ways marketers can gauge the value of a lead. Use your ICP to score lead demographics to confirm whether these prospects qualify for sales. This could mean job title, company revenue, industry, etc.
Behavioral lead scoring focuses on prospects’ actions with your brand. These actions include content downloads, pages visited, and email click-through-rate. You’ll want to partner with your sales team to determine further what qualities they look for to qualify leads.
Ensure your content is timely, helpful, and relevant to gain better lead engagement. Wistia is an example of a company that does this well. Their content is clean, helpful, and educational.
Whether it’s the content itself, your unique point of view, or exclusive research, your job is to delight and educate your audience. Also, keep in mind content gaps or whitespace—good SEO tools like Semrush can help you here. What is no one else talking about in your industry that you can take a unique position on?
Consider how to break up your big content pieces to create other assets and scale your content program. For example, can a whitepaper be turned into an email course, infographics, LinkedIn carousel ads, etc.?
3. Share of Voice
This metric refers to how well your content dominates the conversation and boosts your brand compared to competitors. There are three main types:
- Share of search is the amount of search traffic your content receives relative to competitors (i.e., for the term “small business advice”).
- Share of branded search refers to the amount of search traffic for keywords with your company name relative to traffic for competitor names (i.e., searches for Bank A vs. Bank B).
- Share of social is the number of shares your content receives on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc., relative to competitors.
You can calculate your Share of Voice (SOV) with tools like BuzzSumo and Semrush to measure how effective your content is in the marketplace.
4. SEO Value
This is the value of your organic content traffic versus purchasing traffic through ads. SEO value is a metric we’ve pioneered at Contently as part of our performance dashboard. It calculates what a piece of content is worth to a brand based on search traffic and the unique cost-per-click (CPC).
This helps brands determine how much they have to spend to replicate the keyword rankings and visits with paid search ads. According to our proprietary internal data, 67 percent of our customers’ traffic came from organic searches over the past year. But only a small number of our customers had invested in tracking the SEO value of their content.
Forrester Research tells us that executive buyers look at an average of 17 pieces of content before signing a contract. Generating quality content that provides value over time provides a steady stream of qualified visitors without forcing brands to spend money on paid ads.
5. Lead Value
Lead value is a straightforward approach to calculating the impact of your lead generation efforts. It’s the multiplication of the number of leads your content generates and your traditional cost-per-lead (CPL). You should aim to decrease the cost per lead over time while still generating high-quality, sales-ready leads.
Example: 22,000 leads multiplied by $71 CPL equals $1.56M in lead value ROI.
If you successfully track which “opportunities” are generated by content, the same calculation can apply if you know your company’s average cost-per-opportunity. So, multiply the average cost per opportunity by the number of opportunities tied to content. Historically, Contently creates these opportunities with our original research and industry playbooks.
6. Lead Attribution
Single-touch attribution is an attribution model that gives 100 percent of the credit for a sale to a single marketing effort. This metric usually takes either the ﬁrst touch—what initially drove someone into your funnel—or the last touch—what they last interacted with before making a purchase.
We know buyers’ journeys are not linear, so there is a large margin of error here. However, single-touch attribution is still one of the most popular ways to measure content success at companies that do not have a lead scoring process in place.
Single-touch is an excellent first step for marketers who want to tie content to revenue. When starting a single-touch model, pay close attention to trends—they can inform future initiatives.
On the other hand, multi-touch attribution is the white whale of content measurement. This “white whale” requires you to have your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Content Marketing Platform (CMP) integrated so that the data tracks accurately and you know where prospects consume content throughout the buyer’s journey.
This requires a lot of collaboration with your marketing operations, revenue, and sales teams. Make sure you agree on how to value each touchpoint along the buyer’s journey. Lead scoring can be complex, but once you prove to your organization how content impacts the flow of leads through the funnel, you can start attributing more revenue back to individual pieces of content.
Content Metrics That Matter
There’s a lot to consider when generating leads and setting up your internal processes. How you define a lead, and the strategies and tactics you create to generate leads are vital to proving the value of your hard work.
Contently can help you master your content marketing analytics. Hear from the experts: watch the on-demand webinar, “Prove Content Success: 6 Metrics That Matter.“