by Kelsey Raymond
CEO of Influence & Co.
More than 80 percent of organizations use metrics to determine how well their content is performing, according to Content Marketing Institute's 2021 report. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, because any good marketing tactic has to be measured consistently in order to ensure its effectiveness.
However, in this same report, marketers expressed reservations about whether their content efforts led to any actual sales. They were tracking consumer interest, but whether that interest yielded conversions or not was something of a mystery for many.
Over the past year, as trade shows and conferences have been put on hold, content has become an increasingly important part of many organizations’ marketing strategies. However, if business leaders can’t tell whether content is making a real difference in revenue, then content might never reach its full potential as an integral marketing tool.
Thankfully, measuring content marketing results is possible, even for businesses with smaller marketing teams and limited budgets. It doesn’t require keeping on top of a hundred different metrics or hiring new people just to pore over your analytics.
To get started, busy leaders can determine whether their content marketing strategy is affecting the bottom line by consistently reviewing three key performance indicators:
1. Marketing-qualified leads
Content Marketing Institute reports that 47 percent of marketers don’t track the number of marketing-qualified leads being generated as a result of their content. Instead, many of these marketers probably rely on broader metrics, such as general leads and new contacts, to determine success. This is a mistake. Unlike those more general metrics, marketing-qualified leads allow you to identify the people who are likely to have a real interest in buying a product or service.
To determine which leads should be considered qualified at our company, we assign points to each one on the basis of various factors, such as job title, industry and the number of times a contact has interacted with pieces of content. Marketing automation systems, such as the one offered by HubSpot, can streamline the process by automatically assigning these points based on your unique business's priorities. Properly identified, marketing-qualified leads can tell a company whether its content marketing is effectively attracting potential customers — not just the general population.
If the idea of assigning scores to leads is new to your organization, Cyberclick has compiled examples of lead scoring models that you can review.
2. Qualified leads that turn into sales calls
Of course, a qualified lead will offer only part of the story of a content strategy’s success. The next step should be to look at both the number and percentage of marketing-qualified leads that get on the phone for sales calls.
If a low number of marketing-qualified leads are moving forward to get on a sales call, that can mean that those contacts weren't qualified in the first place or that the lead-nurturing process needs improvement. To fix this, you might encourage your marketing team members to revamp your email sequences being sent to marketing-qualified leads. Your team could also adjust when and how often they reach out to each lead or even rethink your lead scoring approach, which we talked about above.
If something isn’t adding up at my company, our marketing team performs what we call a “qualified audit.” We have a sales development representative or marketer review leads and assign a qualified score between one and five when they set up a call. Then, we have the salesperson assign a score once the call is completed. This helps us determine whether marketing and sales are on the same page. If they’re not, it then opens up a discussion for both teams to better understand how our company as a whole should be measuring qualified leads and managing sales calls.
3. Sales conversions
This final content marketing metric is arguably the most important, which is why 80 percent of B2B organizations already track it. Sales conversions happen at the bottom of the funnel, so they won’t provide the same direct cause-and-effect information as tracking marketing-qualified leads. However, this metric can still provide valuable data that informs future content marketing decisions.
If a business is getting a lot of marketing-qualified leads on the phone, for instance, but few are converting into customers, that would be a signal that your sales team needs better sales enablement content at their disposal. It could also point to a disconnect between the messaging in your company's marketing materials and the messaging salespeople use with prospects. Perform an audit of your company's last 20 sales to determine which lead sources result in conversions.
This content marketing metric is also useful for tracking which lead source is driving the most new sales. If three of the last 10 sales originated from webinars, for example, that's likely a strategy ripe for more investment. On the other hand, if nine of the last 10 sales came from organic search, you might decide to put the bulk of your efforts toward SEO.
Effectively measuring your content marketing strategy's success doesn't require tracking dozens of metrics all the time. For busy leaders looking to get started with measuring the success of their content marketing strategies, a great place to start is tracking sales conversions, marketing-qualified leads and qualified leads that turn into sales calls. By focusing on the most important metrics, any company, big or small, can make content a powerful tool in its marketing toolbox.