How can you know if you are achieving B2B content success? What does success look like for your business, in your industry? There’s a dizzying array of metrics you could track, in fact there are too many, with too many “it depends” attached when it comes to comparing your results against industry benchmarks.
That’s why many content marketers fall back to measuring quantity: the number of pieces produced, page views or downloads or some other ‘counting’ metric. In fairness, quantities are easy to understand: 100 is more than 10 no matter what business you’re in. But they don’t tell much of a story.
A better approach is to set a clear goal for each piece of content and measure against it. Knowing what you want the content piece to achieve at the outset also helps you make sharper decisions about which audience you want to reach, the topic, messages, format, channels and more. Based on what you measure, you can then optimize future pieces of content to achieve even more B2B content success.
A better approach is to set a clear goal for each piece of content and measure against it.
B2B content success must connect to business goals
I’ve argued many times that the ultimate goal of marketing is to generate revenue. People are often surprised by that. “What about building awareness or thought leadership or something tactical like getting clicks or gaining followers? Aren’t revenues too far removed? Aren’t they the job of sales?”
Revenue should always be the goal because it clearly connects to the business and aligns marketing with the rest of the organization. No one’s going to care much about leads or followers if the company is struggling to hit its revenue targets.
Making revenue your top-level marketing goal still leaves room to set more specific targets for each individual piece of content. Obviously, there are a lot of steps between an infographic and revenue. But the content should be designed to propel your prospects closer to the decision to buy. It could be a highly shared blog post that sparks conversation about your technology. It could be an e-book that serves as a lead magnet for generating form fills, or a web page that leads to a demo, or a video that highlights your customers success.
In all these cases, the content is creating the right kind of engagement for the stage of the buyer journey you’re trying to address, and that engagement will lead eventually to your revenue goal.
…the content is creating the right kind of engagement for the stage of the buyer journey you’re trying to address, and that engagement will lead eventually to your revenue goal.
Measuring B2B content success is all about engagement
How you measure engagement will differ based on the journey stage, content format, the platform you’re using and many other factors. That’s why there’s no single metric for measuring B2B content success. But there are five key questions you can ask to determine your own relevant content engagement metrics.
Are the right people consuming my content?
For every piece of content, you need to clearly define your target audience and then measure if they are reading it. If you’re trying to raise early-stage awareness, for example, and you’re targeting executives, but you’re only getting engineers reading your stuff (or competitors’ salespeople), this will not lead to success. That’s why who is reading your content is the most critical to measuring its success.
This is one of the more difficult things to measure, but there are tools that can tell you who’s coming to your web site. And if your asset is a gated piece of content, you can tune the download form to get more specific about who is reading your content rather than using it only as a means to get a lead for your sales team.
How long did they read (or watch, or listen)?
While I firmly believe the “who” question is the most important one, “how long” does get to the heart of measuring engagement. You don’t just want a page view: you want to know people are staying on the page and reading to the end. You don’t just want a video view: you want to know that prospects are watching to the end. Length of engagement is a very strong measure of content success.
How well is it performing relative to other pieces?
There are two aspects to this. One is about making sure you’re getting the most bang for your content-creation buck — producing more of what’s working and less of what isn’t. Track which pieces of content are most successful and focus on those. Creating the right pieces of quality content will help you leapfrog the competition and have more B2B content success.
The other aspect comes back to the “who” question. If everyone who ultimately buys your product or service read one specific white paper or watched a particular video, you should know that. Use data to analyze which types and pieces of content (topics, formats, length, etc.) get the most engagement and lead to revenue. Those are obviously valuable to your target buyers, so keep them coming.
Where did they find it?
It’s a content marketing fantasy to believe that if you write it, “they” will read it. In the real world, you need to guide people to your content. That can only be done by promoting it.
I’ll dig into this more in a future post, but for now, let’s assume you’re sharing or promoting your content across different channels. Which ones are getting the best results? That’s where you want to concentrate your media investment. And because every distribution channel will favour certain types of content, knowing which channel drove the traffic to you will also help identify what you should make more of going forward.
What did they do next?
Since it’s extremely rare for any one piece of content to convert to a sale, you need to understand what does come next after someone engages with a specific asset. Did they consume another piece of content, request a demo or fill out a sales inquiry form? Tracing those steps helps you connect each content engagement to your bigger business and marketing objectives.
Say someone reads your article, watches a video about how your product works and then requests a demo. In that situation, you’re well on your way to seeing those content pieces contribute to revenue. This is why you want to carefully map out a journey and lead the buyer to the next piece while measuring the steps to see what works with those who buy.
Don’t measure everything if you want to have B2B content success
The five questions above are critical to answer to measure content success, but they’re not the only ones. There may be others that are especially relevant for you and your business. The key is to avoid meaningless vanity metrics like page views, impressions or followers.
For your B2B content to be successful, you want to know and prove that the right people are really engaging with your content and then going on to consume other content. Once you have those metrics in place, it’s easy to show how your content is contributing to revenue and the overall business objectives.
Quality content that your audience engages with and that ultimately convert that audience to buyers is the goal. Use metrics that measure that. Nothing more, nothing less.
Quality content that your audience engages with and that ultimately convert that audience to buyers is the goal.
If you are struggling with measuring B2B content success, check out the B2B Content Survival Guide we recently developed at Zinc Marketing. And if you want to talk about your challenges, we are here to help.
Download the B2B Content Survival Guide.
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