Are you successfully tracking your content marketing efforts?

Content marketing. It’s come to save us all, hasn’t it? With consumers looking around every available social network for information and entertainment, all brands have to do is provide satisfying content and in return people will be only to pleased to fill their coffers. Right?

Well, stone me. It’s a little bit more complicated than that. According to research from the Content Marketing Institute, brands are either having difficulty (or simply not bothering to…) to measure the value of their work.

Just 21 per cent of B2B marketers claimed they were successfully tracking the ROI of their content marketing campaigns.

The inability to measure the impact of content marketing programmes is down, in part, to quite how new this promotional approach is across digital channels and how customer behaviour is changing.

Earlier this year Bjorn Timelin, a partner with McKinsey & Company, outlined how smart firms realised the traditional ‘funnel’ model used by marketers to map how consumers move from being interested in a product through to purchase is broken and a new set of factors has been brought into play by the rise of social media.

Basing his analysis on research conducted into skincare products, he said new factors necessitated a new approach where firms need to pro-actively throw useful information and entertaining content at potential customers early in their ‘buying journey’ in a bid to compel them toward their products.

Despite the ‘consumer decision journey’ being nothing like it was ten years ago, he said, many companies still use the old funnel model to plan marketing campaigns, they did not understand how technology had changed purchasing journeys, nor had they adapted accordingly.

But even if your firm recognised the need to market for a new customer cycle and attempted to quantify ROI, that doesn’t guarantee results. There remains a huge range of abilities, Timelin added, when it comes to measuring marketing impact. Of those that can’t properly measure the impact of their work, there were many that simply relied on blind faith while spending large sums of cash. And, of course, there were others who simply ignored the need to measure impact at all. The Content Marketing Institute survey said 15 per cent of its respondents did no tracking of their content.

However, all is not lost. The wide-ranging survey found that seven out of ten marketers were creating more content than the previous year, while 35 per cent of those who claimed to have a detailed content strategy said they were also able to track successfully – suggesting a more formal, disciplined approach naturally brings with it a desire to measure outcomes as well as execute campaigns.

One of the more telling statistic of the whole report was that 14 per cent of respondents claimed not to have a content marketing strategy and a further 48 per cent said they had one, but it was undocumented.

As the report says, having a strategy that isn’t documented may be a good first step, put a more formal approach – where greater strategic thinking is applied – will bring better results.

It’s telling that 60 per cent of those with a documented strategy rated their content marketing effectiveness highly, while 32 per cent of those who only had a verbal strategy felt the same way – I’m surprised it was even that high.

(Below is the slide deck from the Content Marketing Institute with all the findings from the research)