Which of these two pages would you consider of higher quality?
A well-researched, in-depth guide written by six industry thought leaders. 40,000 social shares and a conversion rate of 0.8%.
A looping GIF of a choreographed dance performed by three animated gorillas. No text. 10,000 views. 18% conversion rate.
Some of you will argue the first. Some of you will say it depends. Some of you just like gorillas.
The biggest factor to B2B content marketing success is creating high-quality content.
But here’s the thing:
It’s not about quality. Not really.
A post titled “How to shred to the max on your air-guitar”. It’s on a legal firm’s blog, written in Windings and brings in 40 new clients.
It may not readable. It may not make sense. It may not teach you how to shred to the max.
But that post — is a winner.
Content is another marketing tool. An initiative to grow the business.
B2B content quality is thus a reflection of its goals.
Everyone wants “high-quality” content. It brings in the views and converts the leads.
And when it comes to marketing goals, those are the big ones.
Content helps achieve business objectives, not content objectives.
– Jay Baer
It’s about the context.
Do you want to build your online presence?
Engage your customers?
Ramp up your lead gen?
What’s that? Yes?
Then here are the metrics you need to track to determine if your content is truly of high quality.
Goal: Build Thought Leadership
How do you quantify thought leadership?
It’s like being in high school and trying to figure out if you’re actually cool.
Or if you’re another arrogant teen strutting the basketball court in a tanktop with no muscles.
It’s one of those things that lacks the security of hard numbers and definitive proclamation.
(Unless you’re definitely one of the cool kids).
And let’s be honest.
If you have to ask — you probably aren’t.
And if you’re 100% sure you are — you still, probably aren’t.
But, if you want a better idea of your standing, here’s what you should look at:
Using Google Webmaster Tools you can get an indication of your brand’s thought leadership.
According to Neil Patel, there are three things you should be looking at:
Number of branded queries — this is about recognition. Your brand walks through the hall. Is it stunned silence from all the people who know your name and have spent their recesses looking for you? Or is it business as usual because you’re a nobody among nobodies.
Branded queries + informational queries — this is people throwing your brand name and a query into the search engine blender. For example, “marketingprofs content strategy”. If people are searching for your brand’s view on related topics, you my friend, have got juice.
Straight-shot informational queries — this is about first page results for only the informational query. This is a pretty clear cut sign. If you search “content strategy” and your site pops up — page one. Leader of thought, you are.
Do I really need to explain this one?
Alone, inbound links aren’t a total indicator of SEO power.
But they do provide an insight into your brand’s street cred.
If you have links from industry leaders, you can, more often than not, count yourself among them.
Every link is a classmate giving you two thumbs up and every high authority link is an invite to sit at the cool table.
I’m already sick of this cool kid in high school analogy, but one more to illustrate a point.
Shared content is indicative of thought leadership.
Because people won’t share useless content.
Just like how Casey Borg won’t go out with you because you offered her a Malteser that one time.
They, like her, have a reputation to maintain.
Or maybe they just don’t like you.
Use a tool like Buzzsumo and search for your targeted long-tail keywords. See if your content ranks among the most shared.
You’ll have your answer — without having to face rejection for a date.
And a Malteser.
In front of the whole class.
Goal: Customer Engagement
Let’s narrow down what “customer engagement” is.
Are we talking about strengthening the emotional or psychological investment a customer has in your brand?
Or are we talking about people reading and clicking things?
When it comes to metrics:
It’s the second one. (Bet you thought it was gonna be the first one).
It’s about getting people to act in a measurable way.
So when it comes to content, let’s stick to the reading and clicking.
Engaged Time vs. Page Views
Page views alone doesn’t provide much value when measuring engagement.
So, another question for you:
Which of these would you prefer?
10,000 page views with an average time on page of three seconds?
Three page views with an average of time on page of 10,000 seconds?
(10,000 seconds is 2.8 hours — Yes, I Googled it).
The first means your content wasn’t engaging enough to keep the reader’s attention.
The second could mean many things:
- The user forgot to turn off their computer
- The user can’t read (but tried really, really hard)
- The user is your brand’s biggest fan. Ever. (Not so bad)
Within reason, time on page is a valuable metric to track how engaged your audience is with your content.
Are they engaged enough to click and read on?
Or do they bounce themselves out when they realise they can’t read Wingdings?
And that leads me to:
Track this. It’s the partner metric to time on page.
By tracking bounce rates you will get a clear view of which pages are driving away your customers.
Using a tool like Crazy Egg, you can see exactly where your visitors are clicking and dropping off.
If you see people are bouncing off your site when they see an image of your face — it might be a good idea to replace it.
The image. Not your face.
You’re beautiful. I don’t care what the 96% bounce rate says.
Information like this is invaluable.
It allows you to omit, amend and optimise your content for customer engagement.
Direct Post Engagement
If you’re looking for a way to measure customer engagement, this one is a no-brainer.
I mean engagement is right there in the name.
What is direct post engagement?
Comments, baby. Comments.
People leaving them and people responding to them.
How can you not track this if your goal is customer engagement?
This is it. Engagement – in it’s purest and most obvious form.
People who took the time to read your content, form an opinion and then broadcast it to anyone who will read it.
This could be the:
“Hey man, I think you’re really cool.”
you’ve been waiting your whole life for.
It will tell you if you’re on the mark with your target audience and your content.
It will tell you if what their persona says they love and hate is actually what they hate and love.
Here are some of the social metrics you can track:
Reach, engagement, impressions, actions, views, organic likes, paid likes, unlikes, retweets, mentions, followers, replies, link clicks, favourites, hashtags, interactions, oh, and shares.
Depending on how many platforms you’re on – that’s a lot of numbers.
But if you’re goal is customer engagement you should be tracking the social metrics for all your content.
This is crucial for relevancy.
Like direct post engagement, it’s about knowing what resonates with your audience.
It can give you an indication of how well future content will move visitors down the funnel.
And that brings us to:
Goal: Lead Generation
Ah, lead generation. The beacon of ROI for inbound marketing.
In the end, though, it’s about raising the bottom line.
And when it comes to content marketing, as 90’s R&B superstar Montell Jorden would say:
This is how we do it.
These metrics are for marketers who, as Jay Baer puts it, must create action, not just attention.
In B2B, the goal is to have prospects fill-in, opt-in or sign-up.
Then you have a lead.
A lead you can show all your cool stuff. A lead you can take on a journey.
A lead — you can convert.
So what metrics should you track to make sure you have an optimised pipeline?
Leads Per Offer
Conversion rates. It’s all about relevancy here.
Making sure each piece of content has the right CTA.
Do you have ebooks, white papers or free consults that you’re peddling to your readers in exchange for that sweet, sweet contact information?
Your goal is to maximise the number of quality leads.
Knowing which of your offers is the highest producer of them is an opportunity to double down.
You can also figure out what’s alluring to prospects and sprinkle some of that magic onto your other offers.
Total Lead Attribution
Where your leads are coming from.
Find out. It’s important.
For lead generation, you want to be tracking metrics at every stage of the funnel.
You need to know what content and which social platforms result in the most conversions.
Tracking lead attribution tells you which channels are bearing the most fruit.
And yes, this is the common theme here — you can optimise the low performers with high performing juice.
B2B content marketing is no longer in its infancy.
It’s learned to walk, talk, and graduated high school pretty darn cool.
But, it isn’t all fancy words and pretty pictures.
It’s numbers. And graphs and spreadsheets.
It’s maths class.
But instead of learning from a teacher, you want people to think you’ve got the answers.
Instead of dividing fractions you’re counting attendance at your study session.
And instead of studying, you’re offering the class your notes in exchange for permission to text them.
Now I know there are three goals in this guide, each with separate metrics.
But here’s the thing:
If you don’t know your stuff, you’ll have no notes.
No one will come to the study session if they don’t think you’re a maths whiz.
And you can’t offer your notes if no one shows up.
The bottom line is:
It’s difficult to achieve one without the other two.
So, if you want your content and marketing to be of high quality — you need to track them all.
Every single one.
And before you whine, remember:
As a marketer, you will never be at a disadvantage by having more insight.