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Content Accountability: Make Every Asset Pull Its Weight

Date published: September 17, 2014
Last updated: September 17, 2014

“Just 36 percent of CMOs have quantitatively proven the short-term impact of marketing spend. That figure drops to 29 percent when demonstrating long-term impact.”

These disturbing statistics were from Paul Roetzer’s presentation at this year’s Content Marketing World, 7 Steps to Becoming a Performance Driven Content Marketer. Roetzer said content performance has become a critical issue for corporations.

CMOs can begin to improve these figures by making every content piece accountable to the bottom line, just like VPs of sales hold each one of their sales people accountable to meeting and exceeding sales quota.

But how do you do that? Here are two simple steps:

1. Measure Content Conversion Rates

“Traffic x Conversion Rates = Success!”

So said one of the first slides In Andy Crestodina’s standing-room-only presentation at Content Marketing World, Content Marketing 201. This formula may seem obvious to you and me, but it’s amazing how many companies either don’t know this or don't take it seriously.

Here’s how to calculate the conversion rates for each content piece so you can find your content champions:

Step 1: Measure your conversion goals.

For B2B firms, especially those with long sales cycles and high price tags, your first conversion goal is to drive subscriptions to your newsletter so you can nurture your prospects through the sales funnel.

When a prospect subscribes to your newsletter you should redirect them to a “thank you” page on your website. Don’t use the default “thank you” page provided by your email marketing program, since it lives on their domain, not yours.

Then go to Google Analytics to set up your “Conversion Goals.”

  • Go to Conversions > Goals, and add the URL of your subscription “thank you” page as your goal destination URL.
  • After about a month or two, go back to Google Analytics and navigate to Conversions > Goals > Reverse Goal Path. You’ll see the best-performing blog posts that convert visitors into subscribers.

Step 2: Identify your blog post pageviews.

In Google Analytics, go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages, to see your most popular content.

Then export the most popular content into Excel (delete pages you’re not interested in tracking, such as “home” or “/blog”). For each blog post, add the “views” column from the “Pageviews” screen, then add the “conversions” column from the “Reverse Goal Path.”

In a fourth column add a formula to divide the conversions column by the views column. Voilá: conversion rates for each blog post!

Once you find your content champions (and your content goose eggs), you’ll know what topics to write more about, and which topics to avoid.

2. Make Sure you’re Converting the Right Leads

But what if your content marketing machine is chugging away nicely and you’re attracting a lot of subscribers, but the leads you’re getting are not the right leads? What if they just come for the free information without buying anything?

There are two ways to make sure you attract more buyers and fewer moochers: track the types of content they consume and ask better questions on your conversion forms. Use this information to create a custom lead score in your automation system so you can segment your leads into a high-quality bucket and a low-quality bucket.

Step 1: Track what content they’re consuming.

Are your subscribers reading lots of how-to content, or have they started clicking on product related content?

Find out from your sales people what kind of questions your prospects ask when they’re reaching for their wallets, and then track whether your subscribers are reading or downloading content that answers those exact questions.

Step 2: Set up progressive profiling in your conversion forms.

If you have an automation system that allows you to set up progressive profiling, start using it now.

Progressive profiling works like this: instead of asking your prospects every single qualifying question on one form (which can kill your conversions), you can progressively ask a few more qualifying questions each time they return to download another piece of premium content, such as an eBook or an Infographic.

You can ask them: What’s your role in the purchasing process? What are your biggest challenges related to xxx problem? What’s your time-frame for solving your problem?

Note: also take into consideration prospects who have filled out a “Contact Us” form or a “Request a Demo” form. They’re the highest quality “ready to buy now” prospects.

Step 3: Segment your subscribers.

Put the most qualified leads (the ones who answered the form questions the right way, consumed “buying” content and/or requested a contact) into a separate marketing funnel.

Achieving Company-Wide Content Accountability

The content marketing novelty appeal is over – now it’s time to prove ROI. Treat your content like sales people: they either close deals, or they’re fired.

Track your content conversion rates, and make sure your content attracts the right leads.

Knowing a few simple tricks in Google Analytics and in your automation system can go a long way towards helping you make your content accountable to the bottom line.

But this is just hors d’ouvres for the larger meal: turning your whole company into a performance-driven organization, where marketing gets to call the shots.

Consider this: Only nine percent of CEOS and six percent of CFOs use marketing data to help set corporate direction, says Paul Roetzer in his new book, The Marketing Performance Blueprint. It’s time marketers reverse these sad facts by tracking content performance and making those beautifully written pieces pull their own weight.

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