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The Metrics That Matter for Content Marketers

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If you’ve ever been in the position of asking for more budget for a content marketing campaign, you might have heard something like this: “Sounds interesting. But what’s it going to get me? How do we know it’s valuable?”

In other words, what’s the ROI? It’s what all marketers are trying to prove, but for content marketers, the criteria are slightly different.  The valuable metrics are different from those of a traditional advertising campaigns. That’s because editorial-based sponsored content is as much about implanting an idea, and engaging a consumer in that moment, as it is about driving clicks and, ultimately, purchases.

This deeper goal makes measuring success all the more difficult. Are sales still the end-game? Yes. But since there isn’t necessarily a straight path from a piece of content to a  new customer acquisition, there are so many other components that need to be measured.

That’s where metrics – new-school metrics – become essential. These measurements, while still tracking clicks, and lead generation, and sales, have a fourth, incredibly significant component: consumption. Consumption metrics, more than anything, are most similar to the types of measurements that are important to straight editorial content.

Essentially, the same questions being asked to determine the quality, appeal and success of editorial stories apply to sponsored stories. What pieces are being read? By whom? How long are readers spending on this advertorial? What context makes for  the most effective delivery?

Being able to measure these factors creates a whole new kind of ROI for sponsored content: it allows us to see what’s working. Furthermore, by analyzing metrics for specific readers, we can tailor our advertorials to best suit certain individual tastes.

The value-add of consumption metrics goes beyond a simple yes-or-no answer to the question, “Is my content strategy working?” It allows us to hone in on particular aspects of a campaign, make needed adjustments, and make it better.

And, as with all analysis, the more detail we can get, the better. The rise of content marketing has shown that we’ve moved beyond the one-size-fits-all approach to advertising. The tools we use to measure success, and the ways in which we define success, are evolving accordingly.