Measuring the Success of Content Marketing Initiatives [Interview]
Marketers are investing more in content creation, but research suggests that they do not always use sophisticated methods to measure the impact of their efforts.
The “2017 Content Insights from Tech Marketing Execs” report from 10Fold and Dimensional Research discovered that 32 percent of marketers are releasing content daily or hourly. However, 56 percent are still relying on customer feedback to assess the success of their initiatives. To find out why – and if this is going to change – we spoke to Susan Thomas, CEO of 10Fold Communications.
Was there a difference in how B2B vs. B2C marketers measured content effectiveness?
“We did not survey B2C marketers, but we did look at the differences based on the industries the B2B marketers were selling into and their geographies. As an example, companies in the Southern U.S. tend to ask their sales teams about the content first, and then consult industry analysts. Companies in the Midwest, meanwhile, rely more on direct feedback from the customer. Northeastern states also use customer feedback but also use content download numbers and the sales team to measure efficacy. Western states rely on the number of leads created and the number of clicks on links (suggesting a very data-driven approach).”
Why do you think marketers are still relying heavily on customer feedback to gauge effectiveness?
“Marketing automation systems are still very complex and there is a big need for market education to ensure widespread adoption. It’s sometimes hard to ensure you are measuring the content fairly.
“For example: if a piece of content doesn’t perform it could be because the headline wasn’t compelling, or perhaps the graphic associated with the piece wasn’t attractive to the intended audience. It could be that the content was interesting, but presented in the wrong format (for example, the content might have worked as a short video, but a longer form case study didn’t pull in results).
“Knowing how to eliminate biases (through methods such as A/B testing) is critical. Also, finding a system that helps you determine the real challenges and successes with your content can be tricky for companies – especially smaller companies with less budget and less time to be trained.
“On the bright side, I think these marketing platforms are working hard to educate – and speaking of content, there is a wealth of it to be found on their websites. If you want to learn about this area as a marketer, there’s plenty of opportunity by looking at marketing automation platform vendors’ websites.”
How do you see content effectiveness measurement evolving/becoming more sophisticated over time? Is new marketing technology helping?
“All types of marketing programs are becoming more data-driven than ever before. I believe one day we will think that it is a standard operating procedure to calculate the investment in every marketing program against the results the program yields, and then compare it to a standard rate of return. This will drive efficiencies and increase productivity.
“However, as marketing executives, we must guard against letting this data-driven approach squash all the creativity from a campaign. Sometimes the untested and unknown big bold marketing campaigns are born from venturing into the unknown – even though it is unclear what will result. Those types of campaigns develop cult-like followers for the companies that deliver them (think Apple).”
What was the most surprising finding/statistic in the report to you?
“I think the biggest surprise for me was how much content these marketing executives expected to produce. When nearly everyone is planning 300 percent more content – and most are planning six hundred to nine hundred percent more content in the next 12 months – that’s staggering!”
Is the sheer volume of content making measurement more difficult? Why or why not?
“The answer is both yes and no. Yes, it is more difficult if you have not implemented an automated measurement solution. Counting responses or reviewing all the Google Analytics and associating them with specific content is hard with small volumes of content and near impossible with the types of volumes we are seeing now – let alone the volume of content these marketing executives are predicting. However, this volume is not a problem for the marketing automation platforms, as long as you have discipline about setting up your pages with differentiated links and you are accurately tracking the sources of the clicks.”
Visit the 10Fold website to get your free copy of the report.
ABOUT SUSAN THOMAS
Susan Thomas has provided marketing communications and public relations services for technology companies for more than 20 years. Susan founded Trainer Communications in 1995, which was renamed 10Fold Communications in 2015, and has won dozens of awards for service excellence and innovation in PR, marketing communications, and video. Trainer Communications has represented some of the largest technology companies in the World, as well as those achieving impressive liquidity events and delivering industry-first solutions. Susan’s campaigns have built credibility and leadership for more than 250 companies such as Appcelerator, Brocade, CA / Nimsoft, Comcast, Data Domain, DROBO, General Dynamics, Sygate and YuMe.