The Rise of Content Performance: The Search and Social Link

While many marketers write about the rapid rise of content marketing and the importance of ‘xyz’ ways to produce killer content, many fail to truly understand what content marketing really means ‘beyond the blog post’, ‘beyond the view’ and ‘beyond the like’.

According to data from the Content Marketing Institute, 86% of organizations use content marketing, but only 21% say they are successful at tracking the ROI of its content. Digital and content marketers are at a crossroads – in order to justify content budgets, they have to get better at measuring performance.



Content Marketing Objectives

At the heart of publishing content for performance lie objectives. Not one objective, but multiple objectives.

For example:

  • Your audience objective: If you don’t know and understand your audience, then your content marketing metrics will fall flat. It’s vital to understand and optimize your content in a format that helps audiences read, understand, engage and take action. Content has to serve a purpose for them. This is where persona based targeting is essential.
  • Your personal objective: What do you want to get from the content? Is it personal promotion? Is it sharing a specific message? Or is it influencing a certain niche section/audience? Is your personal objective actually your business objective?
  • Your business objective: What value does this add to your business? Is it aligned with key performance indicators (KPIs)? Do you simply want traffic and shares, or is the aim to influence a brand or prospect and tie in with a wider sales, CS, or business plan?

Not everything you do around content can be numbers driven. However, everything you do around content, search and social should be built to measure or, at least, show how it attributes to content marketing success.

Search & Social – Silos and Vanity

Search, social and content marketing are interlinked, so it is important to measure different things as part of a bigger picture. In the past, marketers have tried to measure and amplify their success based on outdated metrics that didn’t offer measurable impact to a business.

Measurable impact is derived from taking a holistic approach to how search, social and content strategies attribute to common business objectives such as sales, conversions or revenue.

The rise of vanity metrics often distracts content authors from the true meaning and value of publishing great content. This is subjective vanity versus objective performance. Page view and ‘like based’ journalism is partly to blame for the rise in vanity and comfort based metrics, and this is the new content/social link bait in poor disguise.

If you want to drive content performance, then looking at rankings, page views, shares and likes alone are exceptionally weak metrics.


5 Simple Steps That Lead To Better Content Performance

  1. Establish a shared goal. Rather than look at channel specific goals, set a clear, cross-channel goal (conversion, sale, brand lift) or a strategic objective (brand, recruitment, customer service).
  2. Build and work as a ‘search, content and social super-group’ (SCS) towards a common goal or objective. Set a mutually agreed strategy and document your plan.
  3. Bake search and social strategies into to your content strategy. Identify audiences and platforms where your customers are most likely to take action from your content.
  4. Execute, test and refine. Share content across social networks. Analyze SERP positions and test video, image and text variations. Share content around topics of interest. Search, social and content, as I mentioned before, can help inform and amplify each other’s strategies. Continually evolve and adapt your group tactics.
  5. Analyze, attribute and measure performance. Track and measure key metrics and KPIs that align with your goals and objectives. Place tracking codes on every piece of content available to help you understand how search, social and content channels interact and identify how, when and why they perform.

Ensure that your campaigns are synced with your CRM system so you can see the impact of your content strategy in relation to final business outcomes. Take the complex and try to make it simple – it’s a lot harder than you think.

Related reading

cat fail
15 writing tips to rank higher on social and search results
Simple Share Buttons