The 2015 B2B CMO Challenge: Measuring Content Performance
If this is the year of content marketing, then we're fast approaching the year of content performance. Columnist Jim Yu discusses how CMOs can prepare.
As we head into the new year, there’s no doubt that CMOs “get” just how important content is to their business, but many are still challenged with how to measure and report on its performance across the board.
Let’s take a close look at where we’re at now in terms of content as an initiative and where we need to be in 2015 to elevate our marketing to content performance.
The Growth Of Content
According to the latest research from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) on B2B content marketing, 70 percent of B2B marketers are creating more content than they did one year ago — even among those who say they are least effective with it and those without any strategy guiding it.
That’s a pretty powerful statement that illustrates the affinity for content in lieu of any type of performance tracking (in fact, only 21 percent surveyed reporting being successful at tracking ROI). While it’s excellent that we’re all going after content, it’s inefficient for us to shoot in the dark.
A big part of the growth of content marketing is search and social. According to CMI, social media content was the most-used tactic among B2Bs (92 percent), while articles on a brand’s own website came in at 81 percent and blogs were used 80 percent of the time as part of the content marketing plan. (Sixty percent said blogs were the most effective.)
All of this is to say there’s no sign of us slowing content production in 2015. If you remember this infographic from 2012 on how much data is created every minute on the Web, you know just how competitive it is out there.
And with the growing amount of information on the Web, there needs to be an increased focus on how to be found and how to target demand.
The Role Of The CMO
Without a top-down commitment to measuring content performance, the extent of your content marketing strategy will be simply content creation. This can lead to everything from targeting the wrong audience to creating content no one cares about and ultimately, spending more time and money on getting it right.
In a recent article at Forbes, CMO of Limelight Networks, Kirby Wadsworth, explained the company’s commitment to content creation:
[blockquote]”All the pieces of content that we generate are really focused to help the customer do their job better and its part of the overall strategy of engaging the customers, not just in a “let me tell you about me” context, but “let me tell you about things that you care about that can help you succeed.”[/blockquote]
According to Wadsworth, the company’s approach to content is fueled by research about distribution channels, and measuring and analyzing the results of content.
If there’s one thing you can resolve to do as a CMO in 2015, it’s to put processes and measurements in place for your content activities. According to data from the Aberdeen Group, companies that have well-defined content management processes outperform those that don’t in terms of website click-through rates (4.5 percent versus 3.4 percent) and conversions (5.9 percent versus 3.8 percent).
Content Performance In 2015: Three Ways To Win
As with any digital marketing initiative, you’ll need to first define the channels you’ll distribute your message within. You’ll then need to closely track those over time to gauge return.
As cited earlier, organic search and social together are powerful channels for a brand’s content. For example, did you know:
- Inbound leads are more cost-effective for North American B2B companies (HubSpot, State of Inbound 2014-2015)
- Blogging, organic search and content amplification top the list of activities that high-performing marketers are doing to generate a positive ROI (HubSpot, State of Inbound 2014-2015)
- Organic search was the biggest driver of traffic and revenue for the business services sector in Q3 2014 (internal BrightEdge data)
For organic content to earn its seat at the executive table as the channel to watch, CMOs must marry data intelligence with content creation. To move from just content creation to demonstrating content performance in 2015, you need three things:
- Target Demand
- Optimize Content
- Measure Results
1. Target Demand
You need better converting website visitors. To do that, you have to target demand using data and an understanding of your audience.
This requires both formal and informal qualitative research (defining who the customer is and what they need) as well as quantitative research (identifying analytics tools that offer data you can rely on about what your target audience is searching for online).
2. Optimize Content
No matter how smart the search engines are becoming, you need to optimize your content at the time of creation to ensure it’s being found for what your audience is searching for.
Basic on-page optimization tactics using White Hat SEO practices help communicate to the search engines what your content is about.
3. Measure Results
You need to know how effective your content is.
In order to do that, you have to set key performance indicators for each distribution channel, and ensure the analytics tools you have in place are measuring not only the KPIs that are important, but also how each channel is contributing to conversions and primary business goals.
2015 B2B Content Marketing Performance
As a CMO, you have the power to take your B2B content marketing from production to performance in 2015. Let’s make the coming year the one where we, as chief marketers, can collectively say that we understand just how our content is performing for our brand and our business goals.