So you’ve gotten started with inbound marketing. You have a strategy, your content calendar is in order, and you’re creating and publishing quality content. Now it’s time to answer the question, “Is my content working?” by reviewing its performance analytics so you can adjust your strategy, but there’s a problem. Your content has generated little to no engagement activity. If you don’t have results to analyze, it’s virtually impossible to know if the content your team is producing is resonating with your audience and converting them into customers. This could lead to creating more of the same content that is missing the mark, or worse, being this close to creating the right kind of content for your audience, where some minor changes could make a significant difference. Without analytics, how can you know?
Of course, bottom line results are indicative of a successful content strategy, but it can take a long time to see those kinds of results in the traditional sales funnel. This leaves a vast expanse of time where if you understood which pieces of your content strategy were working, which ones weren’t, and how to measure engagement, you could make adjustments to help move prospects further into that funnel faster.
If you have no activity to measure, that could mean a few things:
- You may not be creating the right content for your audience and/or you’re coming across as too sales-y and not authentic.
- You may not be distributing content on the right channel(s) or at the right time (or both!)
- You may not be creating enough content, publishing frequently enough, or investing enough in promoting your content.
- You may not have sufficient analytics in place.
Fear not - there are ways to fix these problems.
Revisit your buyer personas. If your audience is not responding to your content, it’s time to review your buyer personas. Does the content you are creating match what your personas revealed your audience actually wants? Do your buyer personas accurately represent your audience? Personas that are based in part on real data from actual customers are an excellent way to understand the most effective way to connect with both your existing and desired audience. If your content strategy is based on generic or half-assed personas, you could be expending a great deal of time and resources on content that is not going to help your bottom line at all.
Audit and adjust your content calendar. Not seeing the kind of activity you want from your content? It could be as simple as adjusting your content calendar, both for your distribution schedule and the kinds of content you are creating. There are certain days of the week and times of the day that are best for publishing content. Those days and times vary by distribution channel (email campaigns, landing pages, various social media platforms). Again, your buyer personas should help you understand not only where your audience is online, but what kinds of content they prefer to consume (video, blog posts, eBooks, whitepapers, etc.).
Be sure not to change too many variables at once, as this can make it hard to understand which parts of your content strategy are causing problems or contributing to success. You might start with switching up the times you publish your content. If you don’t notice much change after a week or so, you may need to experiment with some new content formats. Finally, apply the 80/20 rule to your content: 80% should be educational and speak to your audience’s problems, 20% should be self-promotional.
Get your analytics in order. This is critical. In order to measure content performance, you must have proper analytics in place for activity such as:
- Time spent on a website (bounce rate)
- Area(s) of a website getting the most activity
- Content being clicked on
- Form submissions
- Calls-to-action clicked
- Social media shares, retweets, and comments
- Keyword ranking and performance - organic search traffic
Some of our favorite analytic tools at Synectics Media are HubSpot, Google Analytics, Moz, and Lucky Orange, to name a few.
Do some research. Creating quality content involves a lot of research, but not just for facts and figures to back up your points in a blog post or infographic. You can learn a lot by following successful brands both inside and outside your industry. Pay attention to what kinds of content your competition is producing and what kind of engagement it’s generating. Even if your brand and another are unlikely to share an audience, you can still get some fresh content ideas from brands with high engagement and tailor them to work with your audience. What about assuming the identity of your personas? Go where your audience hangs out online. Observe and interact (without being a sneaky troll, of course.) In my short-lived banking career, we called this “mystery shopping,” and gained a lot of valuable insight from the process.
Read, read read. Piggybacking on “do some research” above, read as much and as often as you can. Learn about what is going on in your industry and you customers’ industries. Stay on top of the latest developments in your profession. Being informed about the world around you can help you take a more holistic approach to your content strategy, resulting in well-rounded, authentic content that your audience will learn to seek out, rely on, and trust.
Do you have other ways of understanding how your content is working when you don’t have analytics to work with? Share what you’ve learned in the comments!