How to measure content marketing success

How to measure content marketing success

If you want to use content marketing to get your business website found online and convert that traffic into customers, you need to know how to measure content marketing success. But how exactly can you find out whether or not your web content strategy is actually having the reach you expected and providing an adequate return on investment (ROI)?

The truth is that content marketing takes time, effort and money, whether you turn to a copywriting agency or in-house staff to produce your content, or even choose to write it yourself. While online marketing often enables you to gain more tangible and useful data than offline marketing, it’s unrealistic to expect immediate success with the click of your fingers. That’s why an analysis of your content marketing strategy should take place over a period of time.

Below, we’ll discuss some of the ways you can measure the reach of your content marketing through different avenues, analyse this to work out your ROI, as well as how to ensure success going forward.

Monitoring the reach of your content marketing strategy

1. Web analytics

To begin with, one of the most helpful ways of monitoring the impact of your website’s content is with an analytics platform like Google Analytics or your website and/or blog host’s inbuilt metrics. Here, you can view data such as the number of page views, the length of time visitors spend on your site, the crawl rate, the bounce rate and the inbound links visitors clicked on, as well as visitor demographics.

'Digital Britain Final Analytics' - Joss Winn
‘Digital Britain Final Analytics’ – Joss Winn (Flickr)

Conversion rates should be another key point of focus. You aim is to secure loyal visitors by feeding them through the sales funnel. That means engaging them, seeing what they respond to, and making necessary adjustments to your web content or layout based on your findings.

2. Search engine ranking

SEO plays a large part in content marketing; however, it can take months for you to see success from your efforts. Therefore, monitoring SEO campaigns over a period of weeks and months is crucial when it comes to the success of your website or blog content. Ways of measuring your SEO strategy include:

  • Search engine results page (SERPs) ranking
  • The number of organic visits to your website
  • Which of your pages are more popular and reviewing/comparing the use of your keywords and content
  • The customer journey through your website and whether they cross over to other platforms (e.g. your social media pages, blog, etc)
  • Conversions (newsletter signups, purchases, eBook downloads…)

There are numerous tools you can use online that can help you pull data on the success of your web content, including SEM Rush. You can also find out what content is performing well across the internet (and on which platforms) using a tool like Buzzsumo, which can influence the topics you discuss on your blog or social media as well as show you how many backlinks you have secured.

When working out the ROI of your SEO campaign, you will need to analyse the success between natural SEO against a paid strategy such as PPC (pay per click advertising), for example. You will need to work out the sales growth and subtract any marketing costs, in order to analyse whether paid content marketing has been a successful investment.

Having unique, keyword-rich web content is important to drive up your organic search results and ensure you are not penalised by Google for having poor-quality content on your site. Hiring content writers who specialise in creating effective, on-brand and targeted copy is an ideal way to do this.

3. Social media metrics

Another useful way of monitoring your digital content strategy is through analysing social media metrics. Most social media platforms come with some analytics options so that you can gauge:

  • Reach
  • Engagement
  • Buzz
  • Participation
  • Transaction
  • Advocacy

This enables you to monitor the success of your posts, videos, photos and infographics on social media and helps you see whether you need to change your tactics to achieve higher results.

'Social Media & Marketing' - Rosaura Ochoa
‘Social Media & Marketing’ – Rosaura Ochoa (Flickr)

Some social media platforms also offer more in-depth analytical tools, such as Twitter analytics and Facebook business pages which provide post stats and insights into customer demographics, as well ways to boost your posts further by paying for a wider exposure/audience imprints. If you use this option, monitoring your ROI through the available insights into post reach will be crucial. You’ll need to subtract the amount you spent from the monetary value of imprints. Again, tools such as Buzzsumo are another way to monitor your social footprint and see which posts have performed well.

4. Feedback

Qualitative data is just as important as quantitative data when it comes to measuring your content’s impact – perhaps even more so. The way in which your visitors engage with your business online through comments on your blog, social media or review sites allows you to understand how your content is coming across to new visitors and potential clients. It also allows you to step into the conversation and build relationships which are vital for a strong online presence and credibility amongst your online audience.

View negative comments in a positive light so you can change up your strategies to aim more towards your target audience. By treating any type of comment as a positive, you can make the necessary amendments to your website to gain more visitors. However, you should ensure you have a moderator who can check comments over before publishing them, in case they contain offensive, potentially harmful or spam content which, if left unchecked, could put readers off, cause damage to your brand’s reputation and eventually even impact your ROI.

5. Subscribers

If you have a video channel or blog, one way to keep a check on your success would be to see how many subscribers you are gaining on a regular basis. Building a loyal following is a good way of getting return visits to your page, with each new content piece you create. If you notice that you aren’t gaining as many subscribers as you were previously, it may be that your content just isn’t cutting it or you have new competition.

You will need to look into aspects such as the quality of your posts, the subject you are discussing or the in-depth value that visitors are looking for. Compare your most recent posts to previous posts and try and work out where the problem may be.

You can also monitor how many people subscribe to your newsletter. Use A/B testing and regularly switch up the content on your newsletter subscription page and inbound links through social media to monitor over time the content which most effectively results in signups.

6. Email statistics

One of the oldest forms of marketing is sending email newsletters to existing clients or new website visitors. One way to monitor how well your emails marketing strategies are doing would be to monitor metrics such as:

  • The number of emails opened
  • The number of emails clicked on internally
  • Conversions
  • Sender score

Through monitoring the top scores, you can use these figures to change your email marketing strategies to gain a higher success rate of sales. Use A/B testing in subject lines to see which content is more inviting to recipients. You can also do this with the time of day you send your email to see whether this has an impact on your open rate.

If you present new products or offers to your audience through emails, ensure you take these leads into account when working out your ROI. It can also help to compare how much your subscribers spend compared to those who don’t subscribe.

Do I need to measure my content marketing return on investment (ROI)?

Measuring ROI in marketing is an essential part of monitoring your success as a business. Essentially, it entails offsetting the money you have paid out on the necessary marketing strategies against revenue from these campaigns. Expenses refer to the costs of hiring marketing staff, the money put into an SEO or PPC campaign/agency, and the money invested if you hire a copywriter.

'Money' - Pictures of Money (Flickr)
‘Money’ – Pictures of Money (Flickr)

Your revenue will chiefly be in the form of sales. Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge there is more than one kind of return for your efforts. While monetary value is key, so is building a position as an authority in your field, inspiring discussion and attracting/connecting with new customers – all of which may not yield immediate monetary gain but will help you benefit from customer loyalty (and ultimately sales) in the long term.

Doing this for each aspect of your strategy will show you where you are most successful. You can compare this ROI against offline marketing to gain a perspective of how successful it is for your company as a whole; however, since results from digital marketing take time to accrue, it’s important not to make any hasty conclusions.

Want to find out more about monitoring your success? Check out this helpful guide to measuring return on investment for all you need to know.

Actioning changes to improve content marketing success

Now you know how to measure content marketing success, how can you improve your content marketing strategy to maximise reach?

1. Awareness

You should keep a lookout for recent trends in your industry and amongst your target audience. This doesn’t just mean an awareness of the amount of web traffic, followers and search engine rankings but new social media platforms your customers or clients are using, what they are passionate about and how they choose to interact with businesses or organisations online.

For example, a recent survey found that over 15 million consumers turn to social media as the first point of call to find out about products and services and review the company on whether they are reliable. If your content marketing strategy is neglecting social media, you may be missing a trick when it comes to attracting new leads.

You’ll need to decide on your goals, which may include creating brand awareness, building relationships, generating leads and making those clients then take action (for example, signing up to receive a newsletter or purchasing a product). Try not to focus on too many goals at once but narrow them down so you have a better focus on how to monitor your content success.

2. Consideration

Next, you should use this awareness to consider taking new steps. Your motivation should be to allow users to engage with your content, therefore constantly reviewing and adapting your strategies. Your main goals within these sectors should focus on reach, engagement and conversion.

Reach

Your main aim should be to reach out to as many visitors, customers, followers and subscribers as possible, through non-paid and/or paid reach such as PPC. Buying your reach, whether through search engines or social media, should not be your sole emphasis. This is because long-term sustainability is developed through a loyal audience, and that relies on having great content that engages and inspires. However, your content strategy can be bolstered by paid advertising such as Google AdWords to get your great content seen by more people initially.

Engagement

Once your visitors arrive on your site, you need to impress them in order for them to engage with your landing page content. Therefore, create content which is unique, timely, informative and relevant to your audience and which will keep them returning to your site. Think: tutorials and guides, news pieces, competitions, regular updates, videos, infographics…

Conversion

Finally, you should aim to fulfil conversion. Conversion aims to turn the acknowledgement of engagement into action; for example, taking out a subscription, using a coupon code, or another form of action which entices visitors to make a move. With a clear call to action on your landing pages (such as a ‘buy now’ or ‘sign up’ button) you can monitor the success of your content.

3. Getting the balance

Although it seems like a great idea to use as many forms of reach and engagement as possible, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin and risk neglecting content (and customers) in one particular area. Find out which is your strongest marketing avenue while striking the right balance to attract new customers on key platforms across the web, so you focus on building a sustainable and far-reaching customer base which helps you monitor the success of your efforts.

Crucially, ensure you know how to write great web content which is regularly refreshed and reviewed, or hire a professional copywriter who does. Once you’ve built up a cohesive web content marketing strategy, measuring its success using the techniques above is essential to understanding your position online and is the key to strengthening your marketing and outreach.

 

Image credit: Trevor King, ‘Measuring Up’

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The relationship between content marketers and graphic designers

Collaboration is key: the relationship between content marketers and graphic designers

The advertising and marketing industry is a collaborative world, and at the centre of this is the relationship between content marketers and graphic designers. Frequently working together, the two departments need to communicate in order to overcome problems that will inevitably arise during the creative process.

Copywriters and graphic designers have two distinct ways of thinking, particularly when it comes to creating content for their audience. While their thought processes may share some similarities – pragmatism; originality; creativity – there will be hurdles that need addressing at some point in many, if not all, projects.

It’s essential that these problems are overcome in order to successfully meet a brief, keeping the client and/or the audience happy. While both professions may have strong opinions about their work, collaboration is essential to effectively communicate and reach an agreeable outcome, where the copywriting and graphics complement one another seamlessly.

Why content marketers and designers must resolve their problems

Any piece of advertising or marketing material will likely comprise text and design. That’s why effective collaboration between content marketing and designers is key to producing an end product which is attuned to the needs of the target audience.

Each party should ultimately be working to the same KPIs for small business, and employing teamwork when doing so will mean there is a greater impact.

Nevertheless, each project will vary, so some degree of flexibility in approach between content marketers and designers is necessary.

For example, a financial website targeted toward older adults will likely have more copy and fewer visuals. However, to make the website more effective, a designer might include occasional visual content to explain complex topics.
On the other hand, an ad campaign aimed at young adults will have a dominant visual focus. But, you still might need elements of text written by a copywriter to get the full message across, even if it is incorporated into design work.

Even if graphic designers and content marketers don’t always work side by side, they will usually intersect at some point. In fact, 24.1% of marketers use a freelance designer to create visual content, and 30.4% use an in-house designer. Because of the high number of instances when marketers and designers must work together, they must be able to resolve any problems that come up so that the finished piece is on brief, as well as completed on time and within budget.

Problems to resolve

When copywriters work with designers, there are a number of problems that can arise. However, when these are identified, they can be swiftly resolved, leading to positive results that adhere to the brief and the successful completion of a project.

Frustrated woman on computer - Jerry Bunkers
Image credit: Jerry Bunkers

Visual vs. verbal thinking

The difference between graphic designers and copywriters/content marketers can be succinctly summarised via two modes of thought: visual versus verbal. For designers, visual thought processes take precedence. Briefs become realised through imagery. By contrast, copywriters approach briefs and projects verbally, taking a communicative approach as wordsmiths. The success of these modes of thought is based on alternative digital marketing metrics, which can lead to further disparity.

Consequently, achieving an outcome that satisfies both copywriter and designer can be challenging. For copywriters, text is likely to be most important, in order to effectively relay the necessary details and benefits of a product or service persuasively. Designers, on the other hand, will naturally prefer to convey a concept through imagery.

This does not mean that the two modes of thought cannot cooperate, though. Visual and verbal thinking can work in tandem to produce a balanced result.

“A good art director or copywriter can magnify the power of their ideas by overlapping their skill sets with the skill sets of the other,” said Michele Kamenar in a Speckyboy article. “To pit them against each other totally misses the point and can even compromise the strength of the idea they are trying to pitch.”

The key to tackling this issue is simple: communication. How much text is practical? Where could images work well? Are there certain details that would be too difficult to try and create as images, or is there content that would be particularly effective as an illustration? Is audience understanding achieved more easily via words for a particular section, or would it be simpler to use an image?

Infographics are a strong example of where these questions have been asked and implemented to produce strong results for both parties. As 65% of the population are visual learners, infographics appeal to a large audience, while breaking down copywriting into easily digestible chunks helps with information absorption. This is particularly effective for complex topics, especially those involving statistics.

The balance between visual and verbal is also dependent on the type of content involved. Blog posts will naturally be primarily verbal, with visual aids assisting understanding. Conversely, posts for social media are likely to grab readers through strong visuals, with copywriting clarifying certain areas. By working harmoniously, a balanced result can be easily achieved.

Visual vs. content knowledge

It’s a given that graphic designers and copywriters/content marketers have a sound understanding of their respective fields. However, they may only have an elementary understanding of the other’s profession, based on their collaborative work. This limits the design aspect of a brief to purely the designer, whereas the content aspect is restricted to the copywriter/content marketer.

Potential problems can arise precisely because of this. Even if both have their best intentions at heart in order to effectively meet the brief, making suggestions regarding work outside of their profession could be, at best, patronizing; at worst, a source of conflict that could cause deadline delays.

Respect is therefore integral to getting the job done. Again, communication is essential to combine the two areas of expertise – more importantly, the ability to listen. This doesn’t mean meeting their ideas with a wall of silence; it means making suggestions that have room for an open response and honest opinion. Statements such as “I think this would be better if…” or “I have an idea for…” invite discussion, as opposed to announcing ideas with a command, such as “We should…”. Teamwork is of paramount importance.

Deadlines

The demands of client work dictate the length of time designers and copywriters can commit to a brief. This can become particularly pressurised when deadlines overrun, or even when they’re shortened, as indicated by the command of “I need this right now” from a colleague.

All content production takes time. Both graphic designers and copywriters need a period to jot down and play around with ideas before committing to one route and doing the appropriate research, content creation, edit(s) and review.

Image credit: Daniel Novta, 'tictac'
Image credit: Daniel Novta

According to freelance graphic designer Janie Kliever, some of the worst things someone can say to a creative include “Can you have this done by tomorrow?” and “Can I get you to do something really quick?”. More often than not, a designer/copywriter will have a packed schedule where they need to meet multiple briefs per week. It’s essential that other agency roles, such as content strategists, respect the timescale needed to do something “really quick” – just as graphic designers and copywriters need to appreciate that the combination of their respective ideas takes time.

With this in mind, setting estimates is an important way to gauge content creation. If a designer estimates that an infographic will take them four hours, the copywriter needs to give them space to commit to this project, and contribute their opinion afterwards, when the environment is less pressured. Similarly, if a copywriter establishes that developing slogans is going to take them an hour for the initial brainstorm, the designer needs to be patient before weighing in on the brand/company in question. Naturally, different forms of content are going to require different time allocations, so this needs to be borne in mind.

“Designers are good at giving estimates and will let you know how much time they need if you ask,” Kliever said in an article. The same is true for copywriters. It’s a case of discussion, awareness and respect for the other’s work process. Key to this is being reasonable with expectations – schedules can’t simply be opened up for one request. If it’s going to take a copywriter two weeks to develop an amount of content, then the designer must work round that timescale, and vice versa.

At particularly busy times of the year, outsourcing may be a solution. Online copywriting services can facilitate this, giving an internal copywriter the time to commence with other projects, and designers time to receive the copy they need to progress with the visuals.

Content creation ability

Naturally, all designers and copywriters/content marketers have their limitations in terms of ability. Making the relevant professionals aware of this is essential, as if a copywriter has an idea as to how the visuals should look, then this needs to be discussed in collaboration with the design department to ensure it’s feasible and not too time-consuming.

Similarly, if a copywriter has a heavy workload, the designer needs to ensure that they can create content that fits the brief without being dependent on the copywriting department. This is also true the opposite way round. Being open to compromise is essential: the end result may not be exactly as initially imagined by the copywriter and/or graphic designer, but if it fits the brief in question and the content is created within the timescale available to a high enough standard, then this needs to be accepted by both parties in order to progress with further projects.

Finding solutions

While there may be periods where communication between copywriters/content marketers is difficult, the goal is an end result that meets the brief to the standards the agency is looking for, and within the agreed deadline. Despite the alternate thought processes and modes of content creation, copywriting and design are intrinsically linked, and collaboration and open, clear communication can comfortably achieve an excellent result.

By keeping compromise in mind, as well as realistic expectations and idea discussion, copywriters and designers can form an effective, strong working relationship.

 

Author Bio: Kaylee Riley is a content writer for Patriot Software, LLC and Top Echelon, LLC. Kaylee writes about payroll, accounting, recruiting, and other small business topics.

Image credit: Rawpixel.com, ‘Man and woman using electronic device’

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How to use HARO and JournoRequests to build links

TLDR; How to build DA55+ links in just over 40 minutes using HARO & JournoRequests.

Building links, or rather, building the type of links that make the needle move in terms of rankings has never been harder.

There is, however, a major source of untapped links that I believe many people are missing out on – JournoRequests.

What are JournoRequests?

Journalists need quotable sources to make their stories credible. Thanks to the internet, it has never been easier for them to find commenters on even the most obscure subjects.

This is great news for you and your clients, as it means there are thousands of people out there who are willing to quote you, and crucially give you some powerful links!

I’m going to show you how I have built a number of links from high authority sites using a very simple, 3 step process.

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Tweetdeck #journorequest column

Step 1 – finding JournoRequest opportunities

There are 2 main ways of finding JournoRequest opportunities:

Twitter – follow the hashtag #JournoRequest for the most up to date requests. Many of these requests can be quite obscure, so you way want to add another relevant keyword to find the most relevant enquiries to your vertical.

Tip: I recommend setting up columns for your #JournoRequest columns in your Tweetdeck account and checking these daily.

Sourcing services – There are several services you can join which connect you with journalists who are seeking sources. The most popular, and the one I have had the greatest success with is HARO (Help a Reporter Out).

Tip: Subscribe to HARO’s free email digests which are sent out twice daily.

 

HARO Digest email
HARO Digest email

 

Step 2 – Identifying the right opportunities

Once you have a steady flow of requests, it’s time to start responding to them. It may be tempting at first to respond to every single one, but it is unlikely that this will lead to a good response rate. Read each request carefully and if you are confident you can offer some decent insight then respond.

Tip: quickly scan through this list every day to see if there are opportunities in areas you have expertise in.

 

Step 3 – Writing your pitch

You’ve found an opportunity, and you have something worthwhile to say, now it’s time to write your pitch. Make sure you have fully read the request in full and responded accordingly. For example, if it requests a picture, make sure one is attached.

Tip: I have found that the following template for pitch emails works particularly well – offer your initial comment and any further comments if required.

Hi [FNAME],

Please find a response to your request below:

“Response goes here…“

If published, I will share with 5000+ social media followers etc.

Happy to comment further.

The results

The following are articles I have gained links from by following this process:

Bitly.com – Social Media PredictionsDA 93

Businesszone.co.uk – When should you take on your first employee? – DA 59

Docurated.com – 63 sales, marketing, and content professionals share examples of great content marketing – DA 48

Altushost.com – $500 Per Month Marketing Budget – How Would You Spend It?DA 45

Businessadvice.co.uk – Fraud lessons: How the owner of one ecommerce platform is fighting payment fraud on a daily basis – DA 32

 

Stats

  • Pitches sent – 20
  • Time spent on each pitch (approx) – 10 minutes
  • Total time spent – 3 hours 20 minutes
  • Comments/links placed – 5
  • Success rate – 25%
  • Minutes per link – 40 
  • Average DA of link – 55.4

 

 

Takeouts and top #JournoRequest tips

  • Check comments before sending – The easier you make it for the journalist to cut and paste your comments the greater your chances of success. Be sure to spell/grammar check your copy before sending.
  • Don’t ask specifically for links – Include links strategically in your comment or in a bio but don’t demand them. In all of the examples listed above the links were implemented as sent without request.
  • If you don’t have any genuine insight, don’t respond – Don’t waste your time, or theirs, by commenting on things you have little comprehension of.
  • Utilise the knowledge of your team – If you have a member of your team who is qualified to comment, refer the request on. This article was commented on by my colleague who is experienced in payment fraud.
  • Offer leverage – By offering to share published work with your own social media audience, you can make yourself more attractive to publishers.

 

Image Credit: ‘Land of the Tabloids‘ courtesy of Daniel Novta

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The truth about duplicate content

There are many myths and rumours surrounding duplicate content. In this post we’ll separate the fact from the fiction in terms of its potential impact on your website.

What is ‘duplicate content’?

Where better to start than with Google’s definition?

“Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar. Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin. Examples of non-malicious duplicate content could include:

• Discussion forums that can generate both regular and stripped-down pages targeted at mobile devices
• Store items shown or linked via multiple distinct URLs
• Printer-only versions of web pages”

There is a common misconception that any amount of duplication on a web page is a bad thing – this is not the case. Generally, some duplicate content is OK if the source is credited, adds value and it doesn’t make up a disproportionate amount of your content.

The quoted copy above is a good example of this, we are not passing this off as our own opinion, we are very clearly referencing and linking to the original source.

So what’s wrong with duplicate content?

Problems with duplicate content arise if its intent is seen as malicious. Once upon a time, black hat SEO practitioners could copy content across sites to manipulate search engine rankings. But algorithms are much smarter now, so having a large amount of duplicate content on your site will do more hard than good.

Also, if your site has a significant amount of duplicate content, search engines will have the following problems:

– They won’t know which version(s) to show in search results – and what order to rank them in.
– They won’t know which version of the content to include/exclude from their results.
– With internal duplication in particular, search engines won’t know if they should direct the link metrics to one page, or keep it separated between multiple versions – essentially diluting the ‘link juice’. But if the content is on only one URL, each link will point to that single page, enhancing its authority.

Can you be penalised by Google for using duplicate content?

There’s a common myth floating around that you can receive a formal penalty for duplicate content. However, in a recent video, Lipattsev was adamant that if Google discovers your site’s content isn’t unique and doesn’t rank your page above a competing page, it isn’t a penalty – it’s simply Google trying to give the end user the best experience. Depending on the search terms and the quality of your content, your page containing duplicate content could appear higher in another relevant search.

In the following video, Cutts makes it clear that duplicate content won’t raise a red flag with the search engine giant, unless it is spammy or involves keyword stuffing.

Although you may not be penalised by Google for duplicate content specifically, there are issues surrounding duplication which can hurt your rankings – namely the three points mentioned earlier.

Google and the other search engines love uniqueness, added value and high quality content, so sites providing this will be rewarded, while sites providing a high amount of copied content won’t be.

What about plagiarism?

Content scraping is not protected by copyright law if the person who’s using the content on their site gives credit to the original source. However, if an acknowledgement of the source is not included, this is classed as plagiarism; if you’re the victim, you could file a Digital Millennium Copyright complaint against the person who has stolen your content. Take a look at this real-life story of website plagiarism, including steps you might want to take if you’re in a similar situation.

How can you avoid duplicate content issues?

Although duplicate content may not be as deadly as many people believe, it’s still important to take steps to minimise its negative effects on your site. As a first step, tools such as Siteliner and Copyscape can help you to discover any obvious issues. You’ll find lots of helpful, up-to-date tips from the folks at Hobo Web and if you have an ecommerce site, US agency Inflow have also produced a handy guide.

If your website contains a lot of internal duplication, which is particularly common on ecommerce sites, you should indicate preferred URLs to Google via Canonicalisation.

Image courtesy of Andrew Mager.

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