Measuring the effectiveness and ROI of content marketing is one of the biggest challenges financial marketers face. But unless you can bring some numbers to the table, you may stand an even greater challenge convincing the powers within your organization to continue finding room in the budget for your content efforts. To get you started on the right track, we’ve compiled these tips — with a particular emphasis on online content and measurement — to help you pick the right metrics to measure, find tools to track content performance and analyze results to make performance-boosting changes.
Pick Goal-Centric Measurement Metrics
While there are dozens of individual metrics that can help you measure content marketing results, there are really only two overarching types — consumption and behavior.
These numbers show the quantity of people consuming your financial content and include:
- Email open and click-thru rates
- How many times a piece of online content was viewed or downloaded
- The number of unique and returning visitors to a piece of online content
- How much time an individual spent viewing a piece of online content
- What portion of a content piece was read/viewed (e.g., which articles and links received the most clicks)
- The number of friends/followers/subscribers to your social sites, e-newsletters, RSS feeds, etc.
These numbers show how many people took an action related to your financial content and include:
- People who follow through on your call to action (e.g., clicking a specific link or calling a trackable phone number)
- Likes and shares tied to specific social media posts
- Photographs, videos and comments contributed by your fans, followers, etc.
- People commenting on or rating your e-newsletter articles
- Registrations and downloads (e.g., signing up for special events and seminars, or downloading informational material)
Most financial content marketing teams should measure both consumption and behavior metrics. The specific ones you choose should be goal-centric, relating back to your overall content marketing objectives.
Alternatively, or as a supplement to this method, you can consider measuring your content performance in relation to your sales funnel.
Regardless of which metrics you decide to track when measuring your content performance, remember that they aren’t necessarily meaningful on their own. To say your brochure on IRAs was downloaded 50 times this month might sound good — unless you know it was downloaded 75 times last month. Always measure against established benchmarks or in comparison to a quantifiable goal. That’s how you’ll get your answer to that critical question from the powers that be: “How well is your content marketing working?”
The Challenge of Measuring Content Marketing ROI
Unfortunately, while ROI is always a sought-after number, identifying the ROI of content marketing can be tricky. Much content is designed to raise awareness and deliver education or information early in the sales cycle, or to maintain ongoing relationships with existing customers. But with a little effort, it is possible to connect your content to sales.
For instance, in your customer/prospect database, you can note what content has been consumed by specific individuals. Likewise, you can track who fills out lead forms tied to a piece of content (or set up browser cookies). Then, when someone converts (even months down the road), you’ll be able to look back, connect the dots from content to conversion and see what content had a hand in the sale.
Tools for Measuring Content Marketing Performance
Once you know what to measure, here’s how to get it done.
We’re all familiar with the old-school, print-based tracking tools, including dedicated phone numbers, and codes on coupons or reply forms. But today, more and more of your objectives probably revolve around online metrics, such as likes, shares, time on site and so forth. That means financial content marketing teams need to keep a different set of tools handy.
While there are numerous options out there — and what you choose depends on the channels you use, the metrics you track and your budget — we’ve pulled together a few examples worth considering.
Web Tools for Measuring Content Marketing
Web measurement tools run the gamut from those dedicated to metrics on your own website or blog, to those that will rove the Internet for any mention of your company. Consider:
- Google Analytics. With this popular service, you can track numerous customer involvement and interaction metrics on your website or blog, such as where site visitors come from, which pages they view, how long they stay and clues to which content they like best.
- Google Search Console. While designed for webmasters, this tool’s “Search Analytics” report offers specific details — such as keywords per landing page, impressions by keyword, click-thru per keyword or landing page, and average ranking positions — that content marketers will find helpful.
- Google Alerts. Allows you to monitor the web for mentions of your website, brand, blog name, key personnel names and other content markers that you can define.
- Crazy Egg. Shows you site visitor activity using heat maps. Lets you see where people are clicking on your website, how far down your pages they’re scrolling and which parts of your site are the most engaging.
- Clicktale. Allows you to see the pathways visitors take within your pages, including things like mouse movement, scrolling and where visitors drop off.
Email Tools for Measuring Content Marketing
Most email deployment platforms offer basic tracking and analytics tools to help you measure opens, clicks, bounces and the like. For more sophisticated insights, such as device usage, time spent with email, content sharing and printing, reader location and other behavioral data, as well as testing features, look to add-on software such as:
Social Media Tools for Measuring Content Marketing
Social media networks — including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram — typically offer analytics features to let you view statistics related to your pages. You can complement these tools with third-party services, such as:
- Hootsuite. Lets you check social engagement metrics from multiple social channels through one application.
- Buzzsumo. Lets you “find your best-performing content within a given period of time,” as well as review backlinks to individual content pieces.
Specialized Tools for Measuring Content Marketing
Here are just a few more tools that can help you measure some very specific behaviors:
- 33Across. Identifies copy-and-paste activity on your website and tracks social sharing metrics, so you can better understand how users share your content publicly and privately.
- Share widgets — such as ShareThis and AddThis — for tracking sharing analytics.
- URL shorteners — such as Bitly and Hootsuite’s Ow.ly — for measuring link performance.
This, of course, is just a glimpse of the many tracking tools available. If you peer out into the universe and find your mind reeling at the sheer number of options at your disposal, take a breath. Then re-focus on your financial content marketing objectives, your budget and your primary distribution channels. Start with basic, free tools if you need to, and add on as you gain experience and increase your comfort level. Most of all, remember: Some measurement is better than none at all!
Analyzing Content Marketing Results
All the metrics and measurement in the world don’t mean much if you can’t turn them into action. The three essential steps below can help you sift out the important data nuggets and use that information to implement changes that can boost your content marketing results.
Step 1: Reporting
Reporting summarizes all those bytes of data into one tidy spot. This is where you see what your financial content marketing efforts generated in terms of total number of opens, clicks, likes, shares, leads or whatever metrics you set out to measure.
Reports today are often depicted in a highly graphic manner through dashboards, scorecards or chart- and graph-laden PowerPoint presentations. Some business intelligence (BI) tools even have interactive features. In some cases, though, the report can be as raw as an Excel spreadsheet.
“When deciding which method to use, consider your audience,” says CCG Loyalty & CRM Strategist Sheila Hayward. “Your data team may want as much detail as possible and would appreciate a thorough spreadsheet. But the CEO might want a high-level, quick-read overview.”
Step 2: Analysis
“Analysis is the technique of interpreting the information in the report,” says Hayward. Essentially, it boils down the report to key highlights that can be turned into action. It should help you identify patterns, trends and other snippets that show which specific content pieces, messages, offers and so forth were most effective.
“Technological advances have made calculations the easy part,” says Hayward. “We have so many tools and advanced modeling techniques at our disposal today to assist with analysis. But you still need a human to provide interpretations and direction.”
Step 3: Recommendations
Through reporting and analysis, you should glean important insights about your financial content marketing efforts. You should have an understanding of what worked and what didn’t. Now, with the recommendations step, you decide what to do about it.
“Unfortunately, this step is often missed,” says Hayward. “Because of the volume of data available, organizations often get ‘analysis paralysis’ and end up just spinning their wheels. That’s why it’s so important to always go back to your initial strategy and goals.”
By doing so, you’re able to zero in on the specific data points that matter to you and compare them to the targets you were trying to reach.
- Did you meet or exceed the goals you established? Congratulations! Your recommendations should focus on whether to carry on as before or revamp your objectives to shoot for even higher goals. If you do the latter, then consider testing new strategies against your existing, success-proven tactics.
- Did you fall short of your targets? Use your reports and analyses to identify specific weaknesses, then brainstorm ideas to bolster them. Again, testing can help ensure you aren’t making decisions based on gut feelings and guesswork.
Your recommendations may also suggest which elements of your content initiatives should get high priority in terms of budget and personnel. For instance, if generating leads is a key objective, and your social sites generated a higher percentage of leads than, say, your website, you might focus more resources on social media.
Keep It Going
The loop of measuring your content performance, analyzing results and refining your strategy isn’t a one-time effort. You should plan to run through this exercise at least quarterly — possibly more often, depending on your objectives and content plan. If you’re generating daily and weekly content on a notable scale, then monthly reviews probably make sense. The goal is to keep tabs on your success and identify dips early so you can make corrections quickly.
Yes, it’s a lot of work to keep up with measuring content marketing. But the time and effort you put in have the potential to pay off big in terms of improved customer relationships, greater profits — and winning over the bigwigs to support your ongoing content marketing initiatives.
Do you know how well your content is performing? Do you need help pushing your results to a higher level? CCG can help. With 40 years of financial content marketing experience, our experts can help you select metrics, measure performance, analyze results and refine your content strategy. Schedule a free consultation with CCG Financial Strategist Greg Sultan or call 303.986.3000 for assistance.