One of the most common questions we get at Fifth Story is about measuring the success of content marketing. Here, our President Shelley Middlebrook discusses how to set relevant KPIs and walks us through an example.

Q: What’s the best approach to take for creating successful content marketing?

Most organizations/brands that are successful at content marketing have aligned their content marketing with their overall business goals and have an always-on approach to it – it’s not something they do as a one-off and then forgets about. This requires continuously optimizing content and updating key performance indicators (KPIs) as you see what’s working best.

When creating content, you need to know what you want it to solve and how each content benchmark will ladder up to the business goals. There are different types of content marketing goals at different stages along the purchase/buyer’s journey:

  • Increase brand awareness and/or change perception
  • Drive traffic to the website (for a purpose – to learn more, etc.)
  • Generate Leads
  • Convert leads to sales/sign-ups action
  • Improve retention and drive upsell

The key to success is creating content that directly relates to your objectives.

Q: What are some examples of relevant Key performance indicators for content marketing?

It all depends on the goals of your campaign, but here are some examples of creating KPIs that could help to  indicate the success of a content marketing campaign: increasing the average time on a website from one minute to a minute and a half; or improving clicks-thru to the store finder section of a site by 20% at a cost of $1 per click. Over time, with testing and learning, you can optimize your campaigns to improve upon your results and understand the impact of your efforts on your business goals.

Ultimately, the overall goal is to increase sales, but using these metrics can help you see how your efforts are working and create benchmarks that can help you set KPIs going forward.

Q: Can you share an example of how this would work in practice?

Say a company’s business goal was to increase sales of a product/service by 10% over the next six months. Content marketing is an excellent tool for this, but to ensure their efforts are effective, the company should start by setting some KPIs for the content marketing that would indicate they were going down the right path to meet this goal.

One tactic that could be part of a larger content marketing campaign is producing and distributing a video that explains the benefits of the company’s product or service, and then cost-effectively digitally targeting their audience to view it as pre-roll on YouTube. A metric that would help indicate that the right people were targeted and that they had a strong interest in the product/service would be a high average time watched. This metric is especially useful since audiences are allowed to skip pre-roll video on YouTube after six seconds. Recently, Fifth Story ran a YouTube pre-roll video campaign with a 1:48-minute video ad for our client that achieved a 1:30-minute average watch time. This was fantastic, as it indicated that the video was extremely relevant to the audience.

Q: What role does remarketing play?

Remarketing is a cost-effective way to move people along the buyer’s journey. Using the same example of the YouTube pre-roll video, the company could take their success one step further by developing a remarketing list from the audience that watched the video for more than six seconds. This allows the company the opportunity to create sequential messaging to people who are already aware of their brand and have shown interest in it. The remarketing messaging could entice the audience to go to the website for more information, such as where to buy or pricing.

Metrics that would help indicate if this tactic was working would be click-thru rate; average time spent on site; and taking an action on the website page, such as clicking on a store finder that would indicate that the user is considering going to retail to purchase. You can use Google Analytics to find all this information and see what users are doing on the website. The size of the remarketing list could also be a metric, which can be used for up to a year after the original campaign according to best practices. The amazing thing about digital is you can test and optimize along the way and you do not have to wait until your program is fully delivered to see if it worked. For example, if after a few weeks it looks like you will only increase your sales by 5%, depending on costs and ROI, you may want to increase your digital investment to drive greater results and achieve your original goal.