goals for content marketingWhat are the goals for your content marketing efforts? Many people start to stutter when they get this question.

The answer may not always be simple. But every content marketing program should have the same goals:

Reach. Engagement. Conversion.

I’ll explain in a little more detail and provide a simple infographic template we use at SAP that you can modify for your own organization.

Reach

The CEB released the stat almost 2 years ago that buyers will complete about 60% of the purchase process before reaching out to a vendor sales person. I have seen unverified reports of research that found this number to be edging toward 70% and more.

It is no longer enough to push promotional messages out to an audience of prospects that are becoming experts at tuning you out. And while we need our websites to explain who we are and what we sell, our buyers will visit those when they are already more than halfway through the sales process.

So how do you reach buyers who are unaware of who you are, what you do and why you are better than your competition? The answer is content marketing.

Sometimes, reach measures can be criticized as vanity metrics. But it’s important to be building a healthy audience of the right people and to track those measures over time. Common reach measures:

  • Pageviews
  • Visits and Visitors
  • Unique visitors, Visitors from mobile devices, visitors by source (search, social, direct traffic, etc.)
  • My favorite: Visitors from unbranded search terms (reflects how many people you are reaching who didn’t type in your brand or product names.)

Engagement

It’s not enough to reach people, you have to engage them with high-quality, informative, interesting content. Engagement is a way to tell how good your content is at answering your target audiences’ most important questions. Or it can show you how well you are distracting your target audience from their biggest headaches (by entertaining them.)

Some common engagement measures:

  • Pages per visit
  • Average time spent per visit
  • Bounce rate
  • Social actions (likes, shares, comments)

Conversion

I reject any notion that content marketing shouldn’t demonstrate a return on investment. As such, conversion has to be an important goal for any content marketing program. The only reason to execute a content marketing program is to drive business outcomes. And those outcomes come in the form of actions taken by the readers you are attracting. And while they may not be direct sales conversion, they should be conversions from one stage of the buying process to another.

Some common conversion metrics:

  • Newsletter Subscriptions
  • Registrations to gated content
  • Clicks to your “Buy Now” button (or “chat now” or “call now”)
  • Leads from your track-able 1-800 number
  • Visits and conversions on other landing pages

Thanks to the efforts by Lindsey LaManna on my team (@LindseyLaManna) we update our template every month and review key metrics to understand what is working well and what is not driving us forward against these 3 goals for our content marketing efforts.

Now tell me: what are the main goals for your content  marketing and which are your favorite metrics?

Here is a link to download this graphic yourself:

Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on TwitterLinkedInFacebook  and Google+ or  Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is the Vice President of Global Marketing for SAP where he leads content strategy and serves as the managing editor of the company’s award-winning Business Innovation thought leadership blog site. He is also the author of B2B Marketing Insider, a contributor to Forbes and a frequent speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, social business, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding.  Follow Michael on Twitter (@BrennerMichael)LinkedInFacebook and Google+ and Subscribe to B2B Marketing Insider by Email

19 Comments

  1. Robert Ryan said…

    Hi Michael, good post and agree with everything you have said. Content marketing has to be measured as you can’t manage what you can’t measure. For me, mailing list subscribers and enquiries are my key metrics and being able to track which content is delivering the leads is key. I also like to keep track of what on page call to actions convert better so that the whole process can be refined. All the best, Rob

  2. John Bottom said…

    Excellent logic Michael, thanks for sharing. And at last a useful infographic that actually delivers value – unusual these days! A rose amongst thorns.

  3. Pawan Deshpande said…

    Your metrics are reminiscent of the four content marketing metrics proposed by Jay Baer of Convince and Convert. Jay’s top four metrics are consumption, sharing, leads and sales.

    http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing-2/the-4-types-of-content-metrics-that-matter/

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Thanks Pawan, I cannot argue with Jay Baer! And we are definitely tracking sales but need to be careful about setting that expectation. I know that x number of visits to our “buy now” page will convert to y number of sales. And also that we are generating an ROI. But we don’t report on it for good reason. Content today does not equal sales tomorrow. It’s a marathon not a sprint, as they say ;-)

  4. Ryan Biddulph said…

    Hi Michael,

    Helpful breakdown here!

    I like engagement. Attracting more comments shows that my posts are relevant to the needs of my target audience. If they are chatting about what I have to say and feel the need to pipe up about it I am happy ;)

    Neat read here. Thanks for the share Michael!

    Ryan

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Thanks Ryan, I also think it’s really interesting to see what content does well for reach vs. engagement vs. conversion. It is almost always different stuff!

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  6. ronell smith said…

    Michael,

    You hit the nail on the head with this. Could not agree more with the graphic or the thoughts behind it.

    RS

  7. Julie Schwartz said…

    Michael,
    A great model and metrics for content MARKETING, but you are leaving sales out of the picture. Where is the sales and marketing integration? How about a broader model that includes sales using content to sell?

    Reputation (awareness, reach and eminence)Relationships (online engagement, including conversions short of a sale, and offline conversation)
    Revenue (content marketing sourced and influenced deals, sales using content/thought leadership to sell)

    Julie

  8. Tony Long said…

    This is a great post, and highly useful. I also get a lot from reading what Joe Pulizzi says. Along these same lines you may also find a blog post I put up for start-ups on embracing content marketing interesting: http://setupoperations.com/why-small-businesses-need-to-embrace-content-marketing/

    Thanks for this!

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Thanks Tony. I will definitely check it out. Start-ups are often too focused on their technology to see and understand what their audience is looking for in the form of education or entertainment. Content marketing can help. Keep it up.

  9. Ann Bevans said…

    Hi Michael! Nice job connecting the dots between those confusing Google stats and real world metrics that mean something to clients.Well done!

  10. Alper Ozkorkmaz said…

    Hi Michael. I would like to thank you for great information about content marketing. Big employment realize anymore that content marketing is very useful to reach&engagment. Well done !

  11. Evelyn said…

    Succinctly expressed through the infographic. Organisations have to be cognizant that conversion doesn’t only mean direct sales. Granted that the primary objective is to clinch deals, but other elements also influence customers’ readiness to buy

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