What impact is your B2B content marketing making?
Often a tricky thing to pin down, knowing how to answer this question is critical to ensure B2B marketers achieve the best ROI possible. Otherwise, how else do you know where your money is most effective and where it’s failing to do exactly what it’s supposed to?
That’s why measuring the impact of your content marketing is a core element of any good strategy for B2B companies. And the simplest, most practical, most effective way to do so is by studying key metrics.
Paying attention to the right key performance indicators (KPIs) reveals your content’s performance across multiple channels, helping you make well-informed decisions down the line.
But which metrics should you focus on exactly?
In this article, we’ll break that mammoth question down and help you get the most out of your marketing efforts.
* Note – we don’t plan to cover metrics related to the lifecycle (i.e., marketing qualified leads (mqls), sales qualified leads (sqls), opportunities) since those are more broad and can be very different depending upon a company’s sales cycle. However, we do recommend building a marketing scorecard that speaks to activities across both marketing teams and sales teams – but that’s for another post!
Understanding B2B marketing metrics and their value
Before we dive into the specific metrics your business should follow, let’s first make sure we’re clear on what they are and why they’re valuable.
Well over half of all marketing teams create at least one piece of content per day, so making sure you’re producing the right type of content is vital to avoid wasting that investment.
Metrics allow you to analyze your content marketing campaign and determine which elements are the most cost, resource and time effective. This analytical approach provides a focused insight into important aspects of your content marketing, and empowers you with the concrete data to take positive action.
For example, that may be to incorporate more video into your marketing strategy based on your YouTube channel’s high engagement, or to overhaul your marketing emails as they’re failing to drive the level of traffic you’re looking for.
By listening and responding to what your metrics uncover, you could increase your brand visibility, secure more customer loyalty, and climb the SERPs.
In short: studying your metrics reveals opportunities to:
- Understand which types of content perform best
- Improve the quality of your content and achieve greater visibility
- Guide your audience through your sales funnel and boost engagement
A quick warning on vanity metrics with B2B marketing
Have you ever released a single piece of content in the wild that’s generated tons of likes or downloads?
Felt good, right?
But in a vacuum, how many of those likes or downloads can you confidently say had a demonstrable impact on your business?
In all honesty, probably very few, if any.
Cause the truth is, while this kind of engagement feels good, it often has very little impact on the things that really matter: active users, acquisition cost, and ultimately, your bottom line.
Which leads us to an important point: beware of vanity metrics – especially with a single piece of content or post.
Vanity metrics are measurements that undoubtedly boost your ego, but deliver no actionable data. They are not things you can learn from, or optimize for in the long run.
That’s why it’s so important to always aim for consistent engagement, satisfaction, and growth rather than focusing on attracting a set number of likes on LinkedIn.
The metrics explored below provide you with real information you can learn from and use to adapt your B2B content marketing campaign.
Which website metrics should you be measuring then?
This metric matters because it shows the number of times your landing page has been viewed within a certain period.
You can measure whether one or more pages is performing better than the rest. And this becomes even more effective when checked alongside your conversion rate data.
Compare those landing pages securing the highest number of views to your others. How does the content differ? What changes can you make to improve its performance?
Prompting visitors to complete forms is perhaps the biggest trigger for lead generation, especially when used with gated content (This is when you offer users access to a must-read ebook and ask for their email address in return.)
But if your form completion rate is low, it’s time to take action.
Low form completion may be caused by a number of reasons. Perhaps the gated content isn’t tempting enough, or the copy promoting it needs work.
Content marketing can lead to conversion rates six times higher than alternative methods, and measuring your form completion can help make the conversion process smoother.
Average time on page
Good content keeps readers hooked. And the longer they spend on your site, the more opportunities you have to win them over (and nudge them towards the next step – like a form conversion or a phone call).
Measuring the average time spent on a page shows which pages hold visitors’ attention for longer and which don’t. Pages in the former group are doing something right, and it could be the tone of voice, the subject matter, or even that short video accompanying the text.
Compare and contrast good pages with bad to spot gaps. See if you can find ways of encouraging people to stay on site for longer, for example by link to related content within posts, or giving supportive, helpful onward journeys.
When analyzing your traffic (which is also good to monitor at just a high-level), it’s important to take note of where the traffic is coming from. For instance, referral traffic is Google’s technique for categorizing visits to your website originating from other sources. So, if one website features a link to yours, a user clicking this would be generating referral traffic.
A good rate of referral traffic means you may be guest blogging on high-authority sites. In addition to referrals, it’s also important to witness the other channels visitors are arriving from. Are visitors landing on your site from email sources, social sources or even direct (website visitors arriving on your site either by typing your website URL into a browser or through browser bookmarks). Analyzing this metric will help you decide if there are certain channels that are worth focusing on more than others.
When a visitor lands on your website but leaves without clicking on any links or other pages, this is a ‘bounce’. And a high bounce rate suggests your content is failing to engage users and encourage them to explore your site. Which obviously makes converting them harder than it should be.
To lower your bounce rate, you may need to refresh your content, change the layout of your landing page, or reconsider the message you’re conveying.
Which email metrics should you use?
Email marketing has the potential to generate 4400 percent ROI, bringing in $44 for each $1 invested.
But your ROI could fall far short of this if you’re not taking full advantage of your email marketing. The following key metrics can help you develop a better overview of your email strategy and enhance it.
The open rate is, quite simply, the percentage of recipients who actually opened your marketing emails.
People may choose to not open your emails for several reasons, such as weak subject lines, no personalization, bad experiences with your business, or even a lack of clarity. A solid open rate is between 20 – 40 percent, so aim for this as a benchmark.
The click-through rate metric refers to the percentage of users who clicked a link (either as text or a linked picture) inside a marketing email.
If yours is low, it may be because people don’t trust the link, the content doesn’t engage them, or your email doesn’t make the purpose of the link clear.
You can encourage people to subscribe to your emails on your website or a dedicated landing page, with the promise of exclusive insights, freebies, discounts, etc.
A consistent growth rate demonstrates you’re attracting people to sign up effectively. Promise real value and exclusive news or perks when prompting visitors to subscribe. Sell it as growing a community, rather than just an attempt to grab new customers.
Number of unsubscribers
If the number of people opting-out of your marketing emails increases, it’s a sign you’re doing something wrong — and it may be something major.
One reason is you’re sending too many emails, possibly without good reason. Another is irrelevance: only send emails to subscribers if it’s relevant to them. Segment your audience to avoid annoying people with messages and content that offers no value.
Which social metrics should you use?
Social media is fertile ground for sharing content, attracting new prospects, and reinforcing your bond with existing customers. Study the following metrics to see if you’re taking full advantage of social channels:
You want people to be so amazed by your content, they have to pass it on to others. After all, almost one-third of Americans do this more than 10 times each day (most commonly on Facebook).
But if your content isn’t being shared on social media, it has less chance of reaching its potential audience.
Integrate social media buttons on your blog, news section, or videos to make it easier for people to share. Include images, too, as they’re much more engaging to social media users than text alone.
Follower growth rate
Building your follower base is a great indicator of effective content marketing.
Keep people engaged on social media by sharing lots of relevant content, interacting with followers, and hosting giveaways. Aim for consistent growth, and always respond to comments, questions, or complaints. Show people you care.
Measure your social engagement through the number of likes/retweets, comments, and shares posts earn.
If your engagement rates are low, consider adding more visuals, using trending hashtags, and keeping text concise. Diversify your posts, too, to avoid spamming followers’ feeds with repetitive content.
Study these metrics to keep your B2B content marketing strategy at its most effective. They’ll reveal which content types and techniques make the biggest impact, and which don’t. They’ll show you where and when you might be going wrong.
And all of this information can help you grow.
But taking action on your metrics can be daunting if you’re new to content marketing or want to try a whole new approach. What can you do to make it easier?
Written by Tristan Pelligrino
Tristan Pelligrino is the Co-Founder of Motion. He’s a serial entrepreneur who started his career as a consultant with large IT companies such as PwC, IBM and Oracle. After getting his MBA, he started and grew one of the fastest video production companies in the country – which was listed on the Inc. 5000. Tristan now enjoys leading the content marketing strategies of some of the most innovative B2B technology companies in the country. You can find him on LinkedIn and Facebook.