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Content Marketing Goals and Metrics: Target, Review, Refine, Repeat

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We’re nearly a month into 2019 – by now you will have reflected on work done in 2018, looked at wins and misses, perhaps re-set targets, and finalised your strategy for the year ahead (well someone in your organisation probably has anyway…).

In financial services, most of us have this exercise coded into our DNA. It might be financial or calendar year, but the planning cycle is an essential business discipline.

Here’s a thought: have you put the same thought into your content marketing strategy?

Oh wait… is that a weak “yes”? And, if pressed, is it actually kind of a “no”?

The latest Content Marketing Institute and ADMA 2018 Benchmark, Budgets and Trends report found more than half (53%) of Australian content marketers aren’t doing a great job at measurement, with only 15% saying they are “very good” or “excellent” at aligning metrics with content marketing goals.

In addition, only 41% of Australian marketers measure the ROI on their content marketing efforts.

The skeptic (and consultant) in me wants to say the numbers are even lower in financial services, particularly among mid-tier wealth, asset managers, insurance and superannuation providers.

It’s self-evident that if we’re not measuring the right things, or not measuring at all, there’s no way to tell if what we’re doing worked. I get that this is easy to say, simple conceptually but often hard to do.

So, what to measure, and how?

Here are our top three tips for measurement in content marketing for financial services.

1. Map content goals to business objectives

Is your goal to generate leads? Raise awareness? Both? Before drawing up your content marketing strategy, get clear on the most important underlying business objectives and align your content accordingly.

As tempting as it is to keep goals ‘woolly’, ultimately this is a trap. The Content Marketing Institute found the majority (61%) of the most effective Australian marketers have a documented editorial mission statement.

Careful thinking and planning that links your content (PR and media, thought leadership papers, video or other) goals back to business objectives is key.

These are what your content marketing goals could be depending on what your business objectives are:

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Once you have a clear idea of your content marketing goals, only then will you be able to set clear KPIs for your content strategy and determine what tools you need to measure impact

2. Measure ROI

Whether it’s Return on Investment, Return on Objective, or both, you need to introduce robust, coherent measurement systems that can demonstrate your content marketing strategy is delivering as intended. Some great tools for this are Google Analytics and HubSpot, which we use for BlueChip.

Google Analytics is a free web analytics service that tracks and reports website traffic and can help turn insights into action. You can use this to set goals for your content, which can include anything from site views to sales and lead generation.

HubSpot, on the other hand, is a (paid) marketing automation software, which an estimated 49% of marketers now use to manage their content marketing efforts. These platforms help companies use content to attract visitors digitally, convert those visitors into leads, and ultimately close them as customers. HubSpot, used well, can give close-to-total oversight of all a prospect’s touch points with your content. This means, in our case, we can attribute new leads and sales directly to content pieces such as blog posts or your latest eBook.

An accurate measure of ROI involves calculating the lifetime value, and therefore profit margin, of a customer, then comparing this value to the average cost of your content marketing efforts per customer acquisition. This method can be applied to each program, then rolled up to overall content marketing ROI. An important thing to note when calculating cost per acquisition is to take into account the actual cost of production of the content in terms of time, in addition to any external production or promotion costs.

A simpler, albeit less precise, calculation of ROI would be to use the correlation method, i.e. measuring an increase of revenue as correlated with an increase in content consumption and sharing metrics.

The 2018 Benchmark, Budgets and Trends report found that while marketers can generally demonstrate increases in audience engagement and numbers of leads, they were less confident in demonstrating that their efforts increased sales, or decreased acquisition costs.

So, think about how your marketing content’s direct impact on sales, and how you can draw a line between the two. For example, tracking the source of all your company’s new business – did these customers find your company through a blog? Did they attend a webinar? Knowing this helps you attribute sales revenue to each activity, and work out how much it cost to bring each new customer in.

Related: “If You’re Going Through Hell, Keep Going”: Successful Communication in Tough Times

3. Quality vs quantity

Although the bottom-line numbers are critical, don’t simply weigh up your content marketing results in ‘hard’ monetary terms. You should (and we @BlueChipComm do) also rely on other qualitative metrics such as who is downloading and subscribing to your content and how much time they are spending reading the content on your website. A good metric to determine engaged visitors is the percentage of readers who dwelled longer than thirty seconds, out of total unique visits.

Analyse your customer, client or member behaviour carefully. Find out what content and which delivery channels are more effective with different client segments and recalibrate your content accordingly to ensure you’re bringing in the people you really want. Having fewer but higher quality leads will be more effective in the long term because they’re likely to refer like-minded people to you if you nurture them properly.

When it comes to content marketing for financial services, measurement is a fundamental part of the process, critical to proving value and creating better results. The only way to understand what’s working and what’s not is to set clear goals and track and analyse key metrics. If your content factory isn’t underpinned by robust analytics, it will be impossible to make improvements and deliver success.

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