Why Defining Content Campaign Success is Harder Than It Sounds

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Content marketing has quickly become one of the most important digital marketing strategies out there. But how well does it really work for brands? An overwhelming number of content marketers couldn’t actually tell you. In fact, 55 percent of B2B marketers don’t have a clear picture of what content marketing success looks like in their organization.

The reason? Content marketing has little to do with the bottom line. It’s about creating awareness, offering value and building relationships to drive behaviors that produce ROI.

I know firsthand that content marketing is a bit messy to measure. Here are a few factors that contribute to a content marketing campaign's success.

Focus on your defined audience(s).

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Content marketing is about offering value to a specific audience. So a big aspect of defining success is understanding how well you’re speaking to this core group. If you offer a diverse range of products and services, it’s likely you’ll have several unique buyer personas to target. I recommend defining success by evaluating your reach to, and impact on, each of them.

Does your content offer provide value to the right groups of people?

Make sure your content is relevant.

You need to be sure that you’re delivering the right information at the right time to the right person.

You can do this by tracking the buyer journey and aligning the most relevant content to each segment at each stage in your sales cycle.

Track the level of engagement.

Engagement is another important factor in determining the success of content marketing. It can tell you how well your content resonates with your target audience and how capable it is at driving people to action.

Some metrics you should consider paying attention to are:

  • Consumption (Average time on page, pages per session)
  • Social shares
  • Comments

Measuring engagement will help you define your campaign's success overall. Plus, you’ll have opportunities to improve your success by producing more engaging content.

Define your strategy.

According to Content Marketing Institute, the most effective B2C marketers have a defined content marketing strategy. HubSpot’s survey of successful content marketers also backs this up.

If you don’t have a set strategy, I recommend developing one. If you do have a defined strategy, then evaluate how well you’re sticking to the plan.

Analyze your content team’s ability to:

  • Delegate responsibilities
  • Choose topics
  • Produce content
  • Distribute content
  • Carry out other components of your content plan

If your content campaign is failing, it’s not necessarily because it was ineffective. It may be due to organizational issues that prevent you from executing it properly.

Related: Who Should be on Your SEO and Content Marketing Team?

Measure your brand's influence.

Is your content making an impact and helping you gain influence? Content marketing success is also based on the overall influence of your content on the web.

Individually segment your content marketing projects, and see if any or all of them are helping improve your influence month to month.

Here's a few metrics to consider:

  • Number of social followers
  • Number of blog feed subscribers
  • Number of email subscribers
  • Overall site traffic
  • Links back to your content

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Does the campaign support your long-term goals?

Individual content campaigns can be considered successful based on improvements in engagement and influence, but they should still be seen as building blocks for overarching business goals.

Overarching goals may include:

  • Building brand authority
  • Generating leads
  • Encouraging customer loyalty

Identify and measure key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your long-term goals, such as:

  • Lead form completions
  • Organic brand impressions
  • Repeat purchases

Evaluate your campaign’s ability to drive toward - or even achieve -- these goals in combination with your other marketing efforts.

Measure the ROI.

Particularly if you work as part of a larger organization, where marketing tactics require buy-in from senior executives, you’ll want to demonstrate real financial impact from your content campaigns.

Related: Content Marketers: Don't Ask Them to Sign Up. Tell Them to.

In my experience, proving ROI can bring clarity to your campaign. It can also help you unlock a bigger budget.

There are a lot of ways to measure the ROI of your content. Tools like Salesforce CRM or Oracle can track the financial impact of your content for you. If you don't have access to these tools, you can also measure it by hand with either of the following methods.

Determine the value of your organic web traffic.

  • How much organic traffic is your content campaign bringing in?
  • How much would you need to spend in Adwords to get equivalent traffic?

Calculate the ROI per campaign.

  • Determine the cost of a content campaign.
  • Calculate the sales increases during the campaign.
  • Subtract one from the other to determine ROI.

Content campaign success is made up of a number of interrelated factors, including: audience segmentation and targeting, execution, engagement, influence, impact on long-term goals and financial ROI. Measure your results in all of these areas to have a clear understanding of your content campaign's success.