Content creation : are you missing the mark?
Last month, I attended the Content Marketing conference hosted by Les Affaires, and I took away some positive insights. The conferences and surrounding discussions reflected a universal comprehension of content’s mission. The words values, utility, and relevance were spoken enough times to convince me that the mentality behind content marketing efforts is oriented towards developing a relationship with the user and win his trust through truly significant content.
However, despite that this fundamental realization seems to be spreading, we can observe quite a bit of questioning and numerous cracks in these wonderful principles when it comes back to the reality of organizations. Content creation is still too often planned following instinct, and focuses solely on the products and promotions. We still see a lot of content developed thanks to spontaneous ideas, which renders its performance in regards to business objectives difficult to measure. In a presentation about frequent errors in Content Marketing given by Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, we learn that these magic thoughts and wishes are in fact obstacles to the overall success of the strategy.
Before creating any kind of content, we must ensure that it will not only be pertinent to the target user, but that it will also answer to specific business and web objectives.
Why is this important?
“Number 1 way to getting actionable KPIs is starting with the end objective in mind and backing out what metrics accomplish this from there.” – Adam Singer, Analytics Advocate at Google
1- Keep the business objectives in mind
We want to avoid whistling in the wind by creating content without specific objectives attached.
2- Avoid drowning in a mass of metrics
Defining the metrics beforehand will largely simplify measurement tasks.
3- Ensure coherence in a multi-channel content strategy
The created content must align itself and be balanced with the user journey (conversion funnel).
4- Assign the right resources to the right places
Firmly establishing the business objectives and the measurements indicators ensure that the investments made in content are not in vain.
How to acquire the right tools
Types of content can be divided by following the user’s journey, from notoriety to conversion. This division is fundamental to evaluate the strategy’s performance. If a company invests in a significant manner in content, but does not possess an online purchase option or a feature to track in-store sales, or even a feature to evaluate performance at all levels of the user’s journey, it will be difficult to link global results to the content deployed.
To imagine the distinction between these steps, Distilled proposed an objective division that features four large axis:
“The Content Matrix” par Distilled
OBJECTIVE : ENTERTAIN
The kind of content that is destined to entertain has a notoriety or brand image objective and often contains elements of an emotional nature for the user. We will find content with a high viral potential such as touching television advertisements, behind the scenes footage, etc.
User journey phase : Notoriety and brand image
User needs : Be informed / entertained / distracted / moved
KPI examples : Social media share buttons, positive comments, video views at 100%, earned mentions, content subscription, organic Trafic evolution, number of unique visitors.
Examples of content : Content with highly emotional themes such as family, love, animals, travel, funny and absurd content, content surrounding incredible achievements (sporting, academic, etc.)
Social media share buttons are a good KPI to evaluate the brand image objective
The “Thank you Mom” campaign from Procter & Gamble is an example of content destined to entertain
OBJECTIVE : EDUCATE
Content destined to educate is also a part of the notoriety phase of the user journey. However, the user profile is further precised when information coming from a reliable source is researched before proceeding to the purchase stage. As such, rational and factual elements will be found in this kind of content as a way to answer that objective.
User journey phase : Notoriety
User needs : Obtain information from a reliable source
KPI examples : On-site survey (has this article been useful, yes or no), complete content viewing (video watched from beginning to end, complete scroll, etc.), time spent on the site, etc.
Examples of content : Editorial blogs, expert opinions, democratization of complex concepts, information hubs, online trainings and workshops, reports, studies, whitepages, slideshows, etc.
Buzzfeed has their own brand of on-site survey at the end of its articles
“Guide to spices and flavors” by Arctic Gardens and Blueprint Training by Facebook
OBJECTIVE : CONVINCE
Content destined to convince attempts to reach users who are in the reflection and consideration phase of their purchase. This content objective nears the conversion objective in the user’s journey. A user that consumes this kind of content will be considered a quality prospect.
User journey phase : Consideration / conversion
User needs : Consider and evaluate all options
KPI examples : Number of visits of the product page following content consumption, number of subscriptions to a content chain, number of positive reviews published for a specific product/service, user feedback readership.
Examples of content : Article about the properties of a product, tutorials, reviews and feedback from users, etc.
An article from Prana that details the beauty properties of coconut oil
The specialized equipment company CAT built an exchange forum based on tips and tricks provided by its users
OBJECTIVE : CONVERT
Content destined for this stage of the journey is linked very closely to the strategy’s success. The return on investment of this content can be easy to measure if it is directly linked to conversion and features clear and measurable calls to action.
User journey phase : Conversion
User needs : Acquire the right product/service
KPI examples : Number of subscriptions to newsletter, number of study downloads, number of quotes requested, number of product purchases (online or in-store).
Example of content : Recipes featuring a call to action (CTA), quote generators or calculators, etc.
A tool implemented on the The National Bank of Canada’s website which allows to calculate loan amounts, accompanied by a pre-authorization option
IGA recipe, featuring a purchase option
A FEW THINGS TO CONSIDER
Quantitative vs. Qualitative
The reality marketers face often leads them to justify their efforts with the help of tangible numbers. While content marketing can generate metrics that we can then link to sales (depending on the attribution model), it will not necessarily always be possible to make such a direct link.
Qualitative metrics help us understand why a user decided to take action. Ask questions such as: Why did you download this study? or Tell us how you cooked this product! The answers will give you interesting and insightful data to reflect on. While it may not be directly linked to a number or a direct impact, this type of data is essential to take note of.
The importance of analytics
It is impossible to discuss objectives and KPI without highlighting the importance of analysis in a strategy. Ultimately, if a strategy aims to create a relationship and generate leads, there must a traceable system in place. Without measuring content objectives, it will be impossible to link them to business objectives.
The addition of certain URL parameters allow to precisely measure the performance of different elements of your campaigns by isolating them in Google Analytics or another reporting platform. Our Analytics Specialist, Yann Kerveant, detailed how to do this in his article about the topic.
A tool to help you go further
To help you go even further in defining your objectives and KPI, I invite you to consult the detailed report developed by Anne-Sophie Guillou, our Omnichannel Strategy Specialist.