It used to be levied at advertising, back in the days where measurement was vague at best, but today’s budgetary opacity can in some cases be levied at content. And measurement can be misleading.

With the shift in B2B towards content marketing, marketers are under pressure to maintain leads whilst ramping up to a fully functioning content-driven demand cycle. Results are needed quickly, but there’s often a mismatch in understanding what’s really working versus the ability to show big numbers in performance analysis. 

It’s easy to tell whether a content item is pulling in the clicks – you can directly correlate performance of any single asset in attracting traffic, downloads and form completions. What’s more difficult to follow to conclusion however is the contribution of each content asset to leads, opportunities and sales. This I would argue is ultimately the most important metric for content marketing success.

A few tell tale signs that you need to fine-tune your strategy:

1. Long initiation to lead qualification period

Is it taking ages for new prospects to get from interested behaviour at the top of the funnel to qualifying as a marketing lead at the bottom? The question here is whether you can get prospects to qualify at all or not. A possible cause of slow funnel velocity is not selling hard enough. In the editorially focused world of inbound marketing content, often the content is interesting, but probably high level and lacking the specific CTA that allows the visitor to skip to the end and look at the product or solution. Make it an option and fast-track your active buyers.

Understanding ‘how long is too long’ is important in measuring real results. You can’t assume active contacts operating within your content funnel will become possible buyers. They may never tell you they’re never going to buy what you’re selling, but they’ll still keep on clicking. It’s important to qualify them in or out quickly, within a specific time period or a certain number of touches. Be ruthless and drop them out of active nurture, keep them rolling with ongoing communication and pick them up again when they self-select back into your active contacts by taking an action.

2. High traffic, high conversion, low leads

In this case, it may not be the content, the topic or the format that’s underperforming. If all the signs are positive but commercial results are slim, then you’re attracting the wrong traffic, and possibly promoting your content in the wrong places. Likewise, if inbound acquisition is high but progression through the funnel drops off, then the clicks being attracted are likely information gatherers rather than buyers.

Creating inbound content that attracts a healthy volume of new prospects is a good idea, but it’s the targeting that counts. The critical measure of content performance is not the immediate form completion percentage, it’s the conversion to the next click. What you’re looking for is 50% or more of completed forms to progress to one more interaction – this is your measure for the content’s ability to attract the right target buyers.

3. No analysis of content access frequency

Analysis that reviews content access frequency from MQLs and even sales accepted leads or opportunities can yield valuable insights. Understanding the most frequently accessed content items will help you pick out the star performers that you can then apply as secondary CTAs alongside new communications. Also look at the analysis in context of the content journey – product-driven / sales focused content will appear more frequently in successfully qualified leads, but inbound content, such as reports or infopapers, where a form has been completed should be measured versus MQL conversion and the number of necessary touches to achieve qualification.

4. Your content doesn’t relate to your products or services

You have to consider your brand and your roots when presenting a solution. There’s no point creating wonderful content about an issue or topic entirely unrelated to what your audience can consume or buy from you. It’s a complete waste of time. Trust in self-selection, in your targeting and don’t only aim for reach in order to improve your numbers. A small number of actual buyers is much more valuable than a huge amount of irrelevant captures that you continue to market to ad infinitum.

If you’re not sure where your content marketing is missing the mark, we can help you troubleshoot and get back on track. Drop us a line for a chat.

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