by Kim Keller, APR, content marketing specialist with Wasp Barcode Technologies
Evaluating your content marketing efforts starts the moment you decide to launch content marketing.
It begins with the simple question, “What do you want out of this?”
It ends with the question, “Did you get what you wanted?”
Start with a plan.
Just like any other marketing or public relations effort, content marketing should start with a plan. The plan outline is pretty simple:
- This is what we want.
- This is how we’ll get what we want.
The ROI of your plan doesn’t have to involve complicated analytics if you start with solid objectives.
Find the right objectives.
Let’s say your business’ primary goal (what you want) is to increase online sales. You need to identify a few specific and measurable objectives that will help you reach that goal, and those objectives need to impact your bottom line.
Which of the following objectives would help you do that?
- Get 30 new leads a month
- Get 5,000 email subscribers within six months
- Double your website traffic within a year
- Get 500 new Facebook likes a month
You want the leads – leads convert into actual business revenue while the other objective ideas build audience numbers. Don’t write off the other objectives; you can leverage them to get those new leads. Here’s how:
- Website traffic can be sporadic, and even if people like you on Facebook, they’ll see only a tiny portion of the material you share. However, you can use your website and Facebook page to get people to become email subscribers.
- Email allows you to reach these folks directly and regularly, which builds relationships better that periodic blog posts or Facebook shares ever could. Once the relationship is built with valuable content and not sales pitches, these people become great leads who are significantly more likely to make a purchase.
Identify the tactics that will help you reach those objectives. Evaluate as you go.
Remember, you still want people to come to the website and like you on Facebook so you can get their email addresses. That can be done with content marketing tactics such as:
- Writing blog posts that share the helpful information your potential customers want to know. Include an email capture with every post.
- Creating an eBook or some other special content they can download from our website. All the reader needs to do is submit their email address to get the content.
- Running some pay-per-click ads that lead people back to a webpage that can capture email addresses.
- Including a “Sign Up” call-to-action button on our Facebook page that allows visitors to subscribe to your website and get your most recent content directly in their inbox.
As you implement these tactics, it’s important to track your results. Are they working? Did you get what you wanted? If yes, keep it up. If not, tweak them a bit to see if you get different results or drop the tactics that aren’t effective and focus your resources on the ones that are performing well.
Evaluate your competition, too.
As you evaluate the success of your own content marketing objectives, you should evaluate what your competitors have been doing as well and benchmark against them.
Their successes and failures are very easy to find; all it takes is a little online research.
Here are a few easy ways to do it:
1. Sign up for their newsletter or RSS feed.
This allows you to see everything they send to their potential customers. (Small tip: Don’t use your business email address; use a personal email account.)
Are they sending helpful information or is their approach too sales-focused? How often are they sharing information? What kind of images or graphics do they use? How would you describe their writing style – ultra-professional, friendly or academic?
Look over each item and decide what elements would work for your business.
2. Create some Google Alerts.
Google can send you email updates about your competitors’ online mentions. Google Alerts are free and take just a few seconds to set up for items such as competitors’ company names, top products, key executives and other terms someone might use to refer to them. Use this information to help plan your content and identify potential opportunities or threats that your business might encounter.
What are bloggers or news media saying about their company? Do you notice any industry trends you should act on?
Keep in mind the alerts don’t capture what’s mentioned on social media sites, so you’ll want to set up listening stations on an app like SocialMention.com
3. Check out how well they do on social media and who shares their content.
Sites like BuzzSumo.com allow you to use your competitors’ URLs to see the top articles, videos and other items they’ve published. The site also shows how many shares each item got on the major social media networks AND who shared their content.
Use this information to follow the people who shared their content and then send them tweets or messages to let them know when you’ve published something they might like. This information can also give you a good idea of which social media outlets are most used by their particular audience – which is likely your audience as well
4. Use review sites to see what their customers have to say.
You can learn a lot about your competition by checking out what customers have to say about them. Check out sites such as Yelp, CitySearch and Angie’s List to see their feedback. Look at factors such as how many stars they receive, the number of complaints and the overall number of reviews.
Is there something they’re not delivering on that you could? Can you find an unmet need? Is there a customer service pitfall you need to watch out for?
Use this information to do a little pro-active customer service tweaking and collect some reviews for your business, which you can use as content marketing material.
Kim Keller, APR is a content marketing specialist with Wasp Barcode Technologies and an adjunct journalism professor at the University of Memphis. She’s also a veteran public relations professional and journalist who’s worked with organizations such as FedEx Corp., the Dallas Morning News and Fox News Latino.