We were in a client meeting when one of those content “lightbulb” moments happened.
We’d been having a discussion about email nurture campaign strategy. The discussion turned to which content assets were most (and least) successful in driving engagement and movement through the sales funnel. The CMO turned to her team and asked, “Can you tell me what our best-performing assets are for driving sales accepted leads?”
Why (almost) no one knows what their best content assets are
Although technology-driven initiatives like account-based marketing (ABM) are trending, marketers still have a hard time identifying which assets are best at driving desired outcomes.
It’s not because they don’t get the importance of tying marketing activities to performance. And it’s almost always not for lack of trying. But marketers—particularly those in reactive organizations—typically lack three key elements:
- A strategic framework
- Operational capability
- Agreement on what KPIs matter
Best-in-class marketers push their organizations to move beyond vanity metrics and instead measure value to the business. As Jason Stewart of Annuitas has written: “[T]he best Account-Based Marketers are the ones with a firm understanding of the fundamentals, and who are continuously optimizing their programs based on what is driving pipeline and revenue.”
Asking tough questions about your content performance may be uncomfortable. But it’s necessary if you’re going to evolve your capabilities. Here are our recommendations for getting started.
1. Set KPIs for your content
This step addresses your overall strategy and how success is measured. If you do nothing else, establish the purpose of each piece of content. This is going to be easier to do if you’ve already set up personas and established the buyer’s journey for each of them.
For ABM initiatives, this is a necessity—you’re creating highly targeted, personalized communications that will ideally drive revenue. Content is an investment; you want to determine what return is required to meet your objectives. To start, consider these goals and KPIs:
- Attract: If you’re creating content assets to drive awareness, consider share of voice metrics, content engagement (shares, likes, etc.), and traffic.
- Convert: If you’re creating an integrated content campaign, look at how successful your content is at driving to the point of conversion.
- Nurture and retain: For a high-value asset, you definitely want to measure lead captures, but don’t forget to track by account and persona.
The bottom line is that each piece of content you create should have a purpose and measurable outcomes. These outcomes should map to objectives across the buyers journey and demonstrate the value of your content investment.
2. Ensure your content is measured against pipeline
Operationally, this step is often easier said than done. But many of the marketing organizations we work with are evolving their attribution strategies to get a clearer picture of how their efforts affect pipeline and revenue.
Ideally you want to be able to trace the contribution of assets not just to clicks and conversions, but also to pipeline attribution.
In a complex B2B sales cycle, last-touch attribution may not tell you much. Multi-touch attribution can help you understand which efforts are delivering results.
Make sure to track the content consumption of your targeted accounts and review for patterns that can tell you what’s most effective at moving your audience through the funnel.
3. Align content to results
Once you have defined your asset’s purpose and you’re architecting your attribution approach, think about how to optimize your content investment strategies based on results.
For example, almost everyone will say that Forrester and Gartner analyst reports drive great lead volume. But for many, that’s a large investment with limited opportunities to repurpose.
One client we worked with saw huge download numbers for a third-party branded asset. But did it lead to more deals? And how did it resonate with key audiences essential to the client’s growth strategy? Those questions were harder to answer, leaving the organization wondering if the investment was worth it.
Ask yourself: What does your audience find valuable from you? The answer to that might change more than just your quarterly content campaigns.
Interested in talking to us about optimizing your demand gen content? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.