When it comes to the bedrock, core truths of content marketing, there’s not much that’s more important than metrics and measurement. As important as it is to know your audience or create content that is relevant to your marketing goals, the work you do there won’t amount to much if you’re not measuring results in some way. Put simply, if you’re not measuring, then you’re simply guessing, and you really don’t know whether you know your audience or are publishing content that ties in to your products and services.
However, the concept of measurement and metrics sometimes gets twisted around, and we find marketers not really doing all they should. One of the biggest ways we see this happening is an over-reliance on industry-wide or web-wide data.
Granted, shortcuts like this are extremely tempting. You might even argue that you’re better off with data from “the experts.” After all, someone else does all the work and you sit back comfortable that you know what a “good” click-through rate is, or how long your email subject line should be, or which social media channel generates the most leads. If this is your approach, the news isn’t all bad. At least you’re paying attention to metrics, even if it’s in a too-basic way.
But the news is mostly bad: this approach really doesn’t give you a whole lot more than the wild-guess approach. Yes, if you stick with it, a picture will emerge over time, and the trend lines can be valuable. But you’re still basing your evaluation on data that may not apply to you.
For example, Facebook may generate the most orders of any social media network, but if you’re say, a B2B professional services firm, whatever orders you do generate come at a huge opportunity cost: namely, the much higher return you’d likely realize if you devoted your resources to your LinkedIn presence.
Similarly, if you base your email subject line on a general best practices data set, you’ll never know if the click-through rates you’re achieving could be better with shorter (or longer) subject lines.
Avoiding all of this is simple, though not necessarily easy. Do your own analytics! Industry trends and general best practices data are great when you’re starting out and need something other than a wild guess to establish a performance baseline. But as your activity grows over time, analyze your own data and experiment based on what you see. Your decisions should be based on your analytics – data about your content and your audience.
There are a huge number of data points you can track. There’s nothing wrong with starting small and expanding as your comfort level grows. Some things you might focus on include
- Subject line length
- Blog post length
- Frequency of social media posts and email newsletters
- Time of day for social media posts and email newsletters
- What information to require on gated content forms
- What topics to cover in your content
More than anything, remember that your goal in gathering your own metrics is the more precise guidance they will give you. That added precision becomes worth the extra effort as it leads you to greater success and a higher return on your content marketing investment.