Content myth #5: Secretly, no one cares about business metrics

Estimated reading time
4 minutes
2nd February 2022
Author: Ellen Montgomery
Posted in: Content Distribution & Promotion, Strategy & Planning

It’s all too easy for content marketers’ obsession with metrics to take over their waking lives. They spend hours analyzing and reporting on open rates, click-throughs, and page views. However, somewhere at the back of their mind, there’s a nagging doubt: the business doesn’t care.

Of course, that doubt isn’t true – it’s another classic content marketing myth. The business cares very much about marketing effectiveness. This is because the business is spending a huge amount of money on marketing, and it expects to see results. 

What the business doesn’t care about is marketing metrics that don’t have a tangible impact on profitability and growth.

Measurement matters

Measurement and analytics are essential for content marketing effectiveness. This is demonstrated in the extensive research conducted by Dr. Clemens Koob. They recommend dedicating resources purely to measuring effectiveness.

Establishing an effective way of measuring content marketing performance requires adaptability. Content marketers should “shift part of their content marketing budgets from actual content marketing initatives to measurement and analytic efforts.”

business metrics - four graphs on a computer screen showing data

“Doing so would be counterproductive if it did not enhance content marketing effectiveness. Our research supports exactly such a reallocation of resources, demonstrating that it can positively affect content marketing effectiveness.”  

So it’s not that business leaders don’t care about marketing metrics. It’s not that metrics can’t make a difference to the effectiveness of your marketing. It’s just a case of measuring more meaningful things.

Show me the money

There’s an old saying that business leaders often like to use: “Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity.”

Apply this concept to marketing, and it’s easy to see the problem:

  • Classic measurements of content success like opens and clicks are interesting, but they don’t tell you anything about engagement.
  • That means these metrics can’t tell you anything meaningful about content effectiveness.
  • And that means you can’t improve the relevance and impact of your content to deliver ROI the business recognizes – dollars on the bottom line.

How does marketing help the business grow? It’s a perfectly reasonable question, and business leaders are entitled to a straight answer. But before you can give them that answer, you need to get a little more strategic about metrics and figure out which ones the business cares about, which ones marketers should care about, and which ones really don’t matter at all.

Stuff that doesn’t matter

Start by weeding out all the vanity metrics that are completely disconnected from business outcomes. 

Nobody cares if your white paper was viewed 5,000 times. Did anybody actually read it? Who? And what impact did that have on your sales team’s ability to close the account? 

There’s always a danger that content marketers can see downloads as an outcome, when really they’re just an input that leads to another much more valuable outcome: sales. 

So, by all means, count your downloads and views (5,000 is pretty cool – congrats!). But don’t expect to impress your senior leadership, and don’t expect to learn anything about the effectiveness of your content.

business metrics - one desktop computer screen displaying the phrase 'work hard anywhere' with open laptop in front, displaying simple data

Stuff the business cares about

This is where you need to connect the dots between content and revenue.

If you can measure things like the number of reads, read times, and individuals’ interactions with content, you can connect content to engagement with buyers and see the impact on the sales process. That’s not possible with static PDF content.

However, with a more dynamic content format, connected to a content automation platform, you can get quite sophisticated about the content engagement and intent data that you track and analyze.

Intent data gives you granular visibility of individuals’ interests and engagement behaviors, helping you identify the accounts and buyers most likely to close, prioritize your efforts, and draw a direct line from your content to a closed deal.

Stuff you should care about

These are the internal marketing measurements that are vital to help you optimize your content and campaigns, but that the business doesn’t need to know about.

Content engagement metrics give you valuable insights into where you should double down on successful content and where you need to make improvements or pivot to a new approach.

With a dynamic content format like a Turtl Doc, you can answer important questions like:

  • Who’s reading the content?
  • How long are they reading?
  • How many people are engaging with each chapter?
  • Which sections hold their interest?
  • Which parts do they skip over?

When you add in interaction data, like responses to poll questions within the document, you soon build up a picture of how audiences are reacting to your content and where their interests lie. That helps you make data-driven decisions about how to optimize your content to drive higher engagement (and higher sales).

business metrics - person sitting with tablet and stylus, screen displaying eight graphs and charts

Today’s exercise: clean up your metrics

List all the content metrics you track and put them into one of our the three categories we’ve looked at, so you can easily see what’s important for you to measure, what you should report on to the business, and what you can safely leave behind.

Then identify any metrics you might be missing. For example, can you measure page-by-page engagement at an account and individual level? And can you measure content effectiveness in terms that the business will understand, so you can demonstrate the value of your efforts?

ICYMI: catch up on our myth-busting blogs

We’ve reached the end of this series taking down five common content marketing myths. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out myth #1, myth #2, myth #3, and myth #4

And for even more insights into improving content marketing effectiveness, sign up for our Noggin Notes newsletter using the form below.

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