Content is without any doubt the backbone of any good marketing plan and there ain’t any second opinion that there can be no good product marketing strategy that does not involve having a strong and effective content to back it up. But here is the catch!
Most content managers focus exclusively on content planning and management that they often ignore another very crucial component of a good content marketing strategy. That is tracking the performance of your content and making the required adjustments as per said evaluation. Having an effective impact assessment policy is as important as having an actual content policy. The following is a brief guideline on why and how to robustly track your content’s performance, which indicators and analytical tools to deploy and how to use impact measurements to actually improve the performance of your content.
Why content tracking is important?
The most frequently asked question when it comes to content performance evaluation is that why should I care? Content developers and managers often argue that their job is to come up with ideas and then implement them and the potential impact of content is already very clearly projected so why waste organizational time and resources on tracking and measuring the content performance. It is believed that content performance will always become visible through revenue figures and then can be taken up from there.
In fact, this is only one dimension of content evaluation and will be discussed in detail later on but here are a few points highlighting the importance of content tracking and monitoring aside from extracting a miniature report from sales figures.
Introduces flexibility into the content marketing plan
The general rule of thumb is that a rigid content marketing plan is not a good content marketing plan. It should be flexible and accommodating enough to adjust to market conditions and other variables that may change at any time during the implementation phase. Often times, there is a stark difference between drawing board ideas and actual field conditions and the only way to acknowledge and overcome these discrepancies is by having a tracking mechanism in place in parallel to the implementation process. This arms the content plan with required flexibility and can be amended on very short notice if actual conditions do not favor the original plan envisioned by the creative department.
Significantly enhances the impact of your content
The ultimate goal of any content plan is to have maximum impact on the potential and existing consumer base and this cannot be achieved without a good performance tracking strategy. This works exactly like the appraisal and performance evaluation policy adopted for human resources.
Everyone is already working according to the plan but having an impact assessment policy in place simply improves the efficiency by multifold. This is why a lot of renowned content developers recommend having a monitoring and evaluation policy for content in parallel to the planning and execution framework.
Bridges the gap between creative and sales wings
Both sales and creative departments differ greatly in their approach and attitude towards a content plan. There are often extended arguments and debate sessions between the two regarding the direction and potential impact that a certain content policy will have on the organization. The most important factor here is that no one is wrong but this is just the difference of perspective of two wings. Both see the same strategy and deduce different meaning from it. It’s like famous 6 and 9 examples where both sides are right despite holding opposite views.
This is where tracking content performance can help bridge the gap between the two. It provides a common indicator that both creative and sales can employ in their respective policies and arrive on the same results despite contradictory approaches. If they can agree on analyzing the content performance according to pre-determined indicators then both departments should get a clear idea of where things stand regarding a specific content policy.
Serve as a guide for future content plans
The added benefit of having an effective content performance mechanism is that it can guide the organizational policymakers regarding future content plans. This can serve very well particularly for young companies where they do not have existing empirical data regarding the market dynamics or consumer behaviors in a certain field.
Strategies to accurately track the content’s performance
Now that we have established that having a performance evaluation framework is very important in order to maximize the impact of any content plan, here are a few time-tested and well-recommended strategies essential for having a robust tracking policy.
Begin with the end in mind:
Like any other content related policy, planning is everything even with the monitoring strategy. A very basic mistake often repeated even by senior content managers is to develop a performance evaluation mechanism after the content plan has been developed and implemented. Instead, it should have its own parallel planning and development team that should solely focus on indicators that will analyze the performance of content once it has been implemented in the field.
Know your market:
A market is the sum of all current and potential users along with competition and other relevant stakeholders. This definition shows that each product or service has its own unique market and comes with own market dynamics which differ from organization to organization and sector to sector. Therefore, it is important to plan and implement different performance tracking strategies about different markets to be in the same sector or field.
Identify your priorities:
It is imperative for an effective content tracking plan to have a clear outline of what is required of it. Having a generalized outline of the plan will not do anyone any good. As mentioned earlier that every market is an entirely unique and distinct entity in itself so it is crucial to prioritize the indicators and expectations about a content policy beforehand in order to gain maximum benefit.
Give your content plan time to mature:
Just like any other marketing strategy, content also needs some time to adjust to the market dynamics before having any measurable impact. It is advised to have a pre-decided duration after which feedback data would be collected.
Do not solely focus on sales figures:
This is where the sales department would go head-to-head with the creative but revenue generation should be only one aspect to be considered when tracking and evaluating the performance of a content plan. Other indicators such as outreach, brand awareness, and user engagement should also receive due consideration.
Develop a comprehensive content evaluation approach:
In order to develop a good content evaluation methodology, an inclusive approach is needed. Not only should it include all the relevant organizational goals and objective but should also take all relevant stakeholders on board during planning as well as the implementation phase.
Tools for effectively tracking content’s performance
- Real-time market impact
This is the first and most sought-after metric to be tracked when it comes to content performance. This should include indicators that outline the impact that the content is having in any given market at any given time.
Some popular indicators in this category include:
- of users reached
- SEO performance of any particular content piece
- Brand awareness and presence
This is an often-ignored indicator but it is of immense significance particularly for a relatively young organization. Old-timers usually have considerable brand awareness and market presence yet they routinely use marketing strategies to stay relevant and maintain consumer loyalty and the same is true for every organization.
A few important indicators when going for brand awareness are:
- Variation in consumer strength with time
- Online discussion forums
- Social media mentions
- Traffic inflow and outflow
In the online world of marketing, traffic is the lifeline just as blood is for a living organism. Therefore, it is very important to track the amount of organic traffic generated by a particular content plan.
This can be done by collecting data on certain indicators such as:
- of unique and recurring visitors
- Bounce rate and backlinks
- User retention rate
- Measuring user engagement
User is the end target of any content marketing plan and naturally the most prominent feature in performance evaluation. A good content plan should not only reach the maximum number of users but also engage them about the said product if it is to have a prominent impact.
There are a number of tools available to measure user engagement through a specific content piece such as:
- Average time spent on a page
- Surface engagement such as likes, comments, and retweets
- Impact on revenue
Naturally, the ultimate goal of any marketing plan is to increase the revenue figures of an organization. All the above-mentioned impact streams finally funnel into revenue generation and this is the final destination of all marketing flows no matter where they began.
Revenue impact is usually measured in hard numbers such as sales figures and increased customer base and a few important indicators in this regard are:
- New leads generation and conversion
- Existing leads completion
Putting content evaluation to good use
The true essence of a content performance tracking and evaluation policy is not to provide raw data regarding traffic figures and lead generated only. In order to reap the full benefits, the data must be put to good use by converting it into actual policy guidelines in order to improve the current and upcoming content marketing plans.
Any content tracking policy would not perform optimally only unless it is incorporated into the mainstream of content marketing plan in a flexible manner where its suggestions and recommendations are immediately taken on board by the relevant department in an efficient manner.
Aside from providing analytics on already implemented content policies, the performance evaluation should also serve as a guideline for future content plans. It should also be used to make any revisions and readjustments to the current content policy if the need arises.
To wrap it up, it can be argued that having an effective tracking policy to monitor and evaluate your content’s performance is as crucial as the original content marketing plan and it must receive the same delicate attention. Not only can it prove to be a great indicator to get to know how your content is performing but it can also serve as a guiding light for future content strategies.
There are a number of tools and techniques at the disposal of content managers to devise content’s performance tracking policy but if you or your organization is looking for a more streamlined and professionally managed strategy in this regard then The Write Pick can be of immensely helpful in this regard. Nevertheless, it is something that should be high on the priority list when developing and managing a content strategy no matter which sector or industry are you from.