Digital marketing is powerful for getting instant feedback on marketing activities, and content marketing creates long-term value for us marketers. But are we measuring the full success of our content marketing? Or are we narrowly focusing on the wrong metrics?
Find the Metrics That Make an Impact
Two of the things that must be advocated when it comes to content marketing is defining your goals and researching your competitors.
Most businesses will say that their goal is to convert content consumers into leads or customers. This goal can be achieved by managing to get traffic to your content. In order to do that, you need to get search and social visibility for your content.
Did our content resonate? Did users engage?
The main question every marketer needs to answer is, “Did our content resonate with the audience?”
Looking at common metrics such as likes, shares, tweets, views, and so on measures distribution. But wide distribution doesn’t necessarily mean that your content resonated with your audience. It does not mean that the users are engaged.
That engagement is what you should should measure to determine the real impact of every piece of content.
Real user engagement isn’t just buzz
Likes and tweets are great for distribution – and it feels good to see those metrics climb – but they’re volatile and cannot be compared to real impact because they cannot accurately measure real engagement by real people. For that, you need to look at other user metrics, such as:
- Comments on a blog post
- Comments on a shared post or tweet
- Downloads of a file like PDFs or Slideshare slides
- Links to your content from their website
Moving beyond noise
There is a good reason content marketing was called “Link Baiting” ten years ago. The goal back then was to get huge distribution on Digg, Reddit and other channels to get massive traffic and (ultimately) great links.
There was a lot of noise, but after the clanging subsided and the likes moved on to the newest shiny post, what was left of all the commotion? Nothing. Impact, not Buzz, must be your main focus. Would you rather have 10,000 likes and 0 conversions or 100 likes and 10 conversions?
Real user engagement is impact
The long-term effects of engaged users of your content can be summed up as “Impact.” After all, you made an impact on the person who responded to a tweet or downloaded your presentation. They may have even shared your content with their peers, creating a chain reaction of impact.
If that person left a thoughtful comment, it starts a conversation that keeps your content at the top of their mind. And that can lead to a follow-up, leading to the ultimate impact metric: conversions.
Two signals of the same content
To help you track the right metrics, categorize marketing signals into two groups:
- Backlinks to page / domain
Both groups of signals are important for their roles in the marketing process. Where before we just looked at results in one dimension (Buzz), we now have to evaluate content based on results from two dimensions.
Use this 2-axis metric system to evaluate content marketing
If we think of Buzz and Impact as a 2-axis system, it becomes clear that those with a high Buzz and a high Impact are most desirable. But even an average buzz can be profitable with high impact.
Generating high Impact with average distribution is possible because there are more ways to distribute content than just via social channels. Those distribution methods not measured in Buzz signals can be:
- Email list distribution
- Organic search traffic
- Private sharing in chats and discussion groups
- TV or radio advertising – often resulting in brand searches on search engines
YouTube as an example for Low Buzz / High Impact
A good example of high impact results is the massive effect YouTube stars achieve.
Bibi is a 19-year-old who made a video about her coloring her hair to pink. With this video she generated 2.2M views, 182,000 likes and nearly 12,000 comments in less than three months. But she only saw 16 Facebook shares and only six links (some of questionable value).
She is clearly a YouTube influencer. Thanks to her 2.2M subscribers, there’s no need for her to spread her content via the usual social channels we often track. Within her medium she has high Buzz and high Impact.
What if you could find similar talent on YouTube that have the potential to become superstars but lack the Buzz? You can build on that potential and generate a star that you can then market.
Nurture Buzz and Impact
Content marketers can learn and benefit from looking at the full picture of their results – Buzz and Impact. One tells you the health of your distribution while the other tracks the resonance of your content. Both must be nurtured.
The provided examples demonstrate how to glean meaningful insights by looking at Impact. If you’re marketing with YouTube or Slideshare, you are in the best position to capitalize on exponentially increasing your Impact.