Any marketer worth her salt is results driven. Marketers understand that in order to make an impact on the bottom line, you need insight into how people are interacting with you, your product, and the company or brand as a whole.
So why is it that only 28% of marketers are able to measure the ROI of their content marketing? Although content marketing has proven to increase awareness, generate leads, and lower the cost of acquisition, many marketers still struggle with two key areas:
- Optimizing the content marketing experience for lead generation
- Understanding consumption behaviour and which content converts
As much as content marketers must think like journalists when it comes to authoring good content, we also need to think like architects and data scientists in order to reach our business objectives — and for over 80% of us, that means customer acquisition and customer retention.
Luckily, you don’t need to have a degree in architecture or data science to measure content ROI.
Actual content creation should be done by real, live human beings, but marketers now have the technology to systematize and automate the content marketing cycle: content marketing automation. This means better optimization, and better measurement of results.
So how does content marketing automation work, and how does it help you measure ROI? And what, most importantly, does it have to do with a beach in Fiji?
Design A Content Experience Optimized for Lead Gen
I love pina coladas (cue Jimmy Buffet), but I’d rather enjoy one while sitting on a beach in Fiji than in my backyard, watching a neighbour hang his laundry. At the end of the day, experience is the only thing that matters — and that goes for content marketing as much as it does for frozen beverages.
Don’t get me wrong: your content must be both relevant and valuable, but quality isn’t the only factor that impacts how well your content performs. In fact, in many cases it’s not even the most important factor. Here’s what you need to keep in mind when you’re creating a content experience that is optimized for both engagement and generating new leads.
1. Make It Visual & Responsive
Whether you blame Pinterest or Tumblr or Instagram, the evolution of the visual web has changed how people consume content and what they expect of it — regardless of whether you’re marketing in B2B or B2C. The bar has been raised, and if your content experience isn’t up to snuff, content ROI will suffer.
I could inundate you with stats about how including visuals in your content converts better (it does) or how people will be predominantly using mobile devices soon (87% of Internet device sales will be mobile or tablet by 2017), now making responsive design a must have — but I think you’ve heard it all before.
The bottom line is that the more visually appealing your site is, the more likely people are to engage with your content. The more accessible it is — meaning that regardless of which device a person is using, they still get a killer experience — the less likely they are to bounce to another site and the more likely they are to convert.
2. Include Contextual Calls-to-Action
If you don’t invite them to the party, they won’t come. Think of call-to-actions (CTAs) as an invitation to further the conversation and be sure to sprinkle them throughout your content experience. But it’s not enough to simply include a call-to-action — it should also be contextual. Just like you wouldn’t invite your Uncle Bob to a girl’s night out, you don’t want to put a CTA to for a “beginner’s ebook” next to an article with “advanced” content. Remember how much better the pina coladas taste in Fiji?
For example, don’t do this:
Instead, try this:
CTAs must be relevant and contextual. You might include an offer for premium content, a request to subscribe to your blog, or maybe even a link to free trial sign-up. Regardless of what the “ask” might be, it should be presented to the right person in the right context.
3. No Dead Ends Allowed
Always (always!) have an engagement path. As we’ve mentioned, this should start with a contextual CTA, but it shouldn’t stop there. Include a path for people to discover more content, recommend articles they might be interested in based on what they’ve already consumed, and create custom content streams tailored to your buyer personas or target demographic.
Having an engagement path attached to every form of content (including blog articles, videos, ebooks, and more) keeps your audience warm and engaged. They might not be quite ready to accept the invitation offered via your CTA, but they may be willing to explore more content in the meantime.
Boost Content ROI through Better Insights
Marketing automation often acts as your marketing’s foundation, telling the story of how people interact with your website, emails, and (hopefully) your content.
This is where the interaction between the content team and demand generation team becomes integral to the process of gaining insights and making them actionable. Work with your counterparts to design a process that feeds content marketing performance data to your marketing automation software. Basic engagement metrics like page views and visits are important, but you’ll also want to tie content to revenue.
Once your content performance metrics are synched with your marketing automation software, it’s time for both demand generation and content teams to start leveraging the data. Here’s how:
1. Share Insights
When it comes to content, your most important insights will answer these two questions:
- Is your content resonating with people?
- What is the business impact of your content marketing?
The content team can generally tell what is resonating through engagement metrics like time on site, social shares, and pages per visit. But in most cases, the demand generation team has better insight into which content generates more customers. That’s why it’s crucial to share you insights — a 360-degree view will help you understand how your content is performing, and help you iterate on your processes to boost that performance.
2. Set Mutually Beneficial Goals
Typically, content teams focus on early-stage content, whereas demand generation teams need a variety of content — including late-stage content that is more likely to convert. While both are important, content shouldn’t be created in a silo.
Setting overarching goals for both content and demand generation will help guide your strategy moving forward and ensure that you’re on the same page. By gaining insight into the full buyer journey, these teams can work together to create the type of content needed at each stage.
Thinking in terms of content marketing automation — not just content creation — is what will ultimately differentiate forward-thinking marketers from the rest. By systematizing the optimization of your content, you can be more agile with your content strategy and gain more insight into how your content is performing.
To learn more about how to optimize your content experience for lead generation, join us on Wednesday, June 25th for a joint webinar with Marketo and Uberflip: Why Content Marketing Automation is Your New Best Friend (With Benefits).