What’s the right way to measure the effectiveness of content marketing?

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Does a click through truly measure success?

By Emilie Totten

As software platforms grow more sophisticated, it’s becoming easier to measure certain metrics. With software, marketers can determine which materials are the best converting, from white papers and blog posts to commentaries and other mutual fund and ETF content. However, marketers also need to carefully negotiate what exactly they are measuring and whether it’s the right measurement. In other words, what metrics do marketers need, and is there a point at which tracking click-thrus ceases to become valuable?

Rock the Boat Marketing recently noted how content marketers can learn from the publishing world when it comes to determining value. For instance, marketers can draft the most information-heavy, data-driven research in a white paper, but if no one reads it, it’s not an effective marketing document. Marketers need to have some forms of measurement to see whether their materials are actually converting. On the other hand, they may need to tread carefully. What does a click-thru actually mean? As publishers are increasingly discovering, it may not be an accurate gauge of a website’s performance.

What’s in a click?

Researchers are discovering that the click-thru, the central means through which websites determine the success of content, may not be worth much. The CEO of Chartbeat, Tony Haile, wrote a piece for Time Magazine that revealed that the majority of people who click through from a link are not reading the page on the other side. After reviewing user behavior for 2 billion visits over the course of a month, Chartbeat found that 55 percent of users spent less than 15 seconds actively on a page after clicking through. The company also found that the most clicked but least engaged with articles tended to have more generic titles, which used the words “top,” “best,” “biggest” and other similar words.

The moral of the story is that measuring the click isn’t enough, even for publishers that generate revenue from advertising. For content marketing, tracking click-thrus is even less valuable, as most marketers already know. Companies also need to look for what content leads to registrations and downloads of various marketing materials.

Finding a happy medium

Given these findings, the task for the marketer ends up being somewhat difficult. The marketer has to use a certain amount of data to determine what’s working, but he or she also needs to develop standards that prevent their content from devolving into empty materials that appear to generate engagement but actually don’t.

As Rock the Boat Marketing suggests, working as a team can be valuable. In addition, companies can look at the data to see which team members are producing content that generates click-thrus. This information can be leveraged to help the whole team create more interesting headlines. With the knowledge of the group, you can continue to create content that’s valuable to your readers. Marketers still need to measure the click sometimes. After all, a white paper that no one sees is hardly doing the work of converting potential customers. But there need to be standards beyond clickability that determine whether a piece has been successful.

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Emilie is Chief Marketing Officer at Synthesis. She brings over 15 years of integrated sales and marketing experience working with financial services, SaaS, and health and wellness companies. Her passion is architecting holistic marketing strategies that align with each business function to achieve client experience, employee advocacy, and revenue goals. When she isn't marketing, you can find her rehabbing her home in the Chicago suburbs, practicing yoga, or spending time with her family.

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