I like to keep up on the latest trends and ideas across the spectrum of marketing activities. Part of that involves reading up on content marketing, especially important because we do so much of it here at BBN. One really good report that I came across recently, published by Ascend 2, got me thinking.
The report is called Strategies, Tactics and Trends for Content Marketing Engagement. Of the 300+ marketers surveyed, the primary objectives of their content marketing programs are clearly divided into two sets:
- 55%: Generate awareness, demand and traffic
- 48%: Generate conversions, sales and improve lead quality
These objectives and challenges echo sales funnel goals: A. corresponds with Top-of-Funnel objectives and B. matches Mid-Bottom-of-Funnel objectives. In the report, half of the marketers picked generating leads and number of visitors as the number one and number two metrics, with conversion statistics coming in a close third place. No surprise there.
The surprise was that the direct, measurable results from content marketing campaigns were topped by an increase in sales (44%), an increase in leads generated (28%) and finally an increase in brand awareness (22%). So while generating brand awareness always came out as the top objective and top challenge, generating conversions and sales always came out as the lead result of campaigns. Hmm…
The question I have is how the marketers surveyed measured brand awareness. The report doesn’t say and my guess is that most didn’t have a way to do so, hence the low result in the awareness category. Sales and leads are much easier to measure than brand awareness or preference. For that, you need to do pre- and post-campaign surveys among your target audience—and that’s an added cost that most marketers are not willing to take on.
It stands to reason, however, that filling the sales funnel also creates brand awareness and preference. People are not going to give you their contact details in exchange for a content resource if they don’t think it’s valuable. So let’s not worry about brand exposure—trust me, when you have great content and a well-planned campaign, it just happens. Instead, let’s take a look at the mechanics of running a great content marketing campaign.
Tip #1 – Set your objectives
It’s surprising how many marketers embark on a content program without clear objectives. “We want to raise brand awareness, fill the hopper and drive sales” is a common refrain. These are good goals, but they need to be put in priority. Is thought leadership the most important goal, or is it sales?
Say you decide that sales are more important than thought leadership, or vice-versa. How much of easy would indicate success? And how do you measure them? If you are sending out 10,000 emails, would be satisfied with 3% entering the sales funnel and 10% of those interacting with sales? Pick realistic objectives, then figure out how you’re going to achieve them.
Tip #2 – Measure
Decide what you’re going to measure and the weight that you’ll give each kind of measurement. There are many things that you could measure: pre- and post-campaign surveys on brand awareness/perception. Email unique open rates. Click-throughs from email to landing page. Triggering a landing page call-to-action (CTA). Engagement with Bottom-of-Funnel resources like self-assessments and surveys. Contact with the sales team. Requests for demos. Each of these things indicates brand awareness and leads to sales.
What are your touchpoints going to be and what kinds of measurement are most valuable to you? Opening an email is good, but triggering a landing page CTA and downloading a resource is much more valuable. With lead scoring, a prospect is typically ascribed more points for actions taking place closer to the bottom of the sales funnel. Google Analytics is a big help with that.
Tip #3 – Analyze
If you are undertaking a robust campaign, don’t wait till the end to analyze results. You will want to know what’s working really well and not so well, how the target audiences is responding, compare results against objectives and adjust as the campaign moves along. We suggest conducting your first round of analysis once the campaign has been running for two weeks.
Start by measuring the conversions near the top of the funnel, especially early in the campaign. For example, how is our demand generation material working? Are we pulling people into the funnel, and from where? To what extent is our material raising interest? As the campaign progresses, look further down the funnel. Are visitors visiting more than one page; do suspects convert to prospects? Do analytics indicate that your forms are working properly and that downloadable materials are interesting and well presented?
Tip #4 Improve
In-depth campaign analysis gives you the data you need to improve every part of the campaign. What’s working well within your demand generation materials (banners, google ads, social media posts) will point you towards tweaking others to increase traffic. If visitors aren’t jumping from featured resources to similar content, the user interface might need adjustment. You can redesign forms if needed and plan the introduction of valuable content like eBooks to gain more conversions.
Tip #5 Repeat
The more campaigns you carry out, the better your results will be. You’ll get a sense for what works and what doesn’t. If you analyze results several times during the campaign and adjust the details, you’ll learn quickly. Before you know it, you will be a seasoned content marketing pro.
I hope you find these tips helpful in running more effective content marketing programs. Like to learn more? I always welcome the opportunity to chat—reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us know if we can help you with campaign strategy or execution, or find out more about what we offer here.