There are a lot of measures you can apply to content marketing: page views, clicks, retweets, Likes, email inquiries, and that’s just to name a few.
You can get very granular in measuring your content marketing, but if you ask the VP of Sales what measure she values most it will be leads.
Show me the leads
The VP of Sales’ is right. Effective marketing programs should drive the sales funnel. But lead generation cannot and should not be the primary measure of success for content marketing.
Leads are moments in time. A prospect has a need, and looks for suitable options.
At any given time only 3% of a market is actively buying, the rest are not. If a content marketing program is focused exclusively on this small segment of active buyers it can never reach its full potential.
A different set of measures should be put above lead generation: engagement and sharability.
That’s interesting. Tell me more.
My favorite response is, “That’s interesting. Tell me more.” Whenever you can engage someone with your content, you know you’re on the right path.
Effective content engages your market whether they’re buying or not.
By focusing on interest and engagement, you’re focusing on relationship building. This is far more valuable than lead generation, because it is developing trust and rapport with your audience before a need arises. And when the need eventually does come up, the relationship eliminates much of the competitive forces sales people encounter with a new prospect.
Measure how people are responding to you. Emails, questions and comments are all examples of engagement that can indicate the effectiveness of your content.
That’s interesting. I will share it.
The other side of engagement is sharability.
It takes effort to forward, retweet or share something. Sure Facebook, Twitter and YouTube make sharing easy, but it still requires the user to take action.
Sharing has a degree of risk. By sharing a piece of content, a user is putting a little bit of their reputation on the line through the endorsement. They are asking their networks to pay attention to your content, and their connections expect the content to be relevant and interesting.
To measure the sharability of your content consider all the places it can be shared: Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, blogs, email forwarding, and other relevant networks. Keep track of the volume of shares and forwards your content has in each platform.
Relationships deliver leads
There are two approaches to lead generation:
- Creating a first call advantage
- Being in the path of search
Both are not exclusive to each other. Content with a high degree of engagement and sharability delivers Google search results that puts you in the path of search.
By focusing on content that engages your market, whether they’re buying or not, you will generate leads now and build relationships for future leads.