Why your digital marketing agency should stop creating content…
...and start analysing how effective it is.
One hundred years ago, arch-marketeer, John Wannamaker, said: "Half my ad budget is wasted on marketing, I just don't know which half."
Guesswork, hunches, experience, assumption, luck: marketing a century ago was more dark-art than precise science. Now, we're awash with data that confirms or denies the success of content marketing campaigns with a dizzying array of metrics to explore.
As your journey with your B2B content marketing agency progresses, you should take regular pit stops with them to check the impact of the strategy you wrote together in those early days: are you hitting your KPIs? Can they show they're on the right track to deliver ROI?
Only data will tell you.
Data is the x-ray vision needed to see the real clout of your content - and diagnose where and by how much it's delivering returns or breaking the customer journey. (And if your content marketing agency appears to be dodging dissecting the data with you - hello, red flag.)
Data on your customers' journey throughout your marketing ecosystem drives your marketing strategy, lets your agency adapt what's not working, lean into what's going well and target clients more efficiently and effectively.
Ready to dive in? Let's look at the numbers you need to know and the places you need to go to get them to measure your marketing's momentum.
Where to get the data to measure the impact of your B2B content marketing strategy
Monitoring and measuring your metrics matters. A great agency will be as adept at analysing key data sets - and acting on the insight they uncover - as they are assembling awesome content marketing creations. You should aim to crunch critical numbers every month with your agency partners.
(For more ways to work with your creative content crew, explore our Tribe tips here.)
But where does your agency's analysis begin: where do they get the data?
Let's take a sec to map out some basic premises of the marketing landscape to keep us on track:
The challenge of traceability/attribution
Here we go!
The B2B Customer Journey
When we say 'customer journey', we just mean the interactions someone has from first finding you to becoming a customer.
Scrutinising this journey is essential to us marketers (and therefore you!). If we can see what channels or content keeps folk keen, we can leverage them more or adapt those underperforming.
And we want to measure the effectiveness of content at each stage of a customer journey: from discovery to consideration to commitment (a sale).
As we've hit on previously, the B2B customer journey is typically longer and more complex, requiring more from you than in B2C sales. We'll see why this proves a pickle for data analysis in a moment.
(FYI - unpick the customer journey in the B2B world here, at your leisure.)
Channels are all possible places a customer might find you: a blog, an email, a Youtube video or a social post. And, when there, the content they see are your marketing touchpoints that a prospect could engage with.
And we want to look at data on the performance of each channel and touchpoint types within them.
But here we hit a bit of a challenge: we need to separate style from substance…
While it's fine to get excited about hitting 1000 followers, it's the effectiveness of those 1000 followers that counts. (Follower numbers can have a woolly connection to sales, these stats are sometimes known as 'vanity metrics'.)
A channel that genuinely performs for your bottom line and ROI does so in lead generation and conversion to sales… but this can be tricky to ascertain.
Do all those likes lead to a movement along the customer journey to deliver a financial return? If so, how do you know?
The challenge of traceability/attribution
Before we dig into what numbers you need to track, we want to put a caveat out there: it is notoriously tricky for marketers to prove that their efforts drive revenue - in other words, to prove that they have a direct impact on leads and sales.
We're not trying to wriggle out of accountability, honest…
It's just that, as you can begin to see from the above, most B2B customer journeys are frustratingly nonlinear.
Channels, campaigns and content overlap. It is difficult to measure how they work together on the customer journey to generate new leads, close sales, and create brand loyalty.
In B2B, leads often compare many different products and solutions or need to get sign-off for big-budget tools or services. This results in leads hanging about in your pipeline for longer.
B2B leads spending huge budgets need more nurturing via more channels to get them over the line. How do you track the most effective communication channels on their journey?
Tracking conversions, attributing back to a marketing channel and then seeing if they progress to a sale is critical to proving the impact of marketing.
Two suggestions to navigate this tricky terrain:
1. Collect customer journey data.
The 'How did you hear about us?' Question after purchase, which can be complemented by:
a) What made you decide to make a purchase?
b) How likely would you be to purchase in the future?
2. Alleviate the stress around lead traceability using a marketing-orientated CRM.
Aligning marketing teams' efforts and their partners in sales, a CRM gives everyone else in the biz transparency on what's working and what's not along an entire customer journey.
52% of marketers are currently using 'attribution reporting' to calm this chaos and clarify the customer journey - and it's something, as HubSpot providers, Wildtribe can do for our clients (find out more in our performance services page).
Now we're clear on the landscape in which we can find the data from the intent at each stage of the customer journey AND across our digital marketing ecosystem, let's look at the essential areas to mine to deliver the nuggets of insight you need to keep marketing driving your business forward.
The data to download to analyse your content marketing's impact
So, what data should appear on a marketing report, and why? Let's tackle this via three key channels.
Google Analytics and Google Console's dashboards give your agency partners plenty to play with when it comes to data about your website's performance. But what metrics matter? What are the KPIs?
In part, that's down to your business goals, your strategy and your industry.
But one thread runs through it all: as content marketers, we care that the content created is seen and adds value for your B2B prospects - and converts leads to sales.
On a website, these conversions are visible through the calls-to-action we push on the site: a completed enquiry form, call, live chat, newsletter sign-up, or lead magnet download.
Key questions to ask of your website data:
How many contacts/sign-ups/leads are you getting from your site a month? In which funnels?
If the number falls, assess your calls to action - and your content strategy - if they’re not clicking, it’s not clicking.
Is the bounce rate high? On which pages?
If people click through to your site but leave without visiting another page, they didn't find what they expected, or the page's usability (load time, maybe) frustrated them.
Action: Check your keywords for your prospects, pages and offer. Not all pages should have the same keywords - target your commercial keywords on your product or service pages and your informational keywords on the homepage and in blog content.
New/Returning visitors: segment which pages of the site are visited by new or returning visitors.
Consider the customer journey - new users are more likely to visit the site for discovery, and returning users frequently visit to convert. Which pages each user visits can help craft content that suits their goals better. Dig into this data for insights and inspiration.
The number of visitors/ranking: what is your site traffic? In short: are people finding you?
Web traffic is among the top two most-common measurements of success for content marketing strategies. If it's low or dropping, your content marketing team can take action by working more effectively with SEO, optimising keywords and helping jump up that Google ranking…
We would imagine any good marketing agency has locked this down - as in B2B selling, your website is your cornerstone. Some talking points: use newsletters and socials to point to pillar content and link your ads up to key pages - all in the name of upping your SEO game.
Email Content Marketing
Email marketing has the highest return on investment for small businesses. You're doing it. So track three key metrics: open rate, click-through, and leads.
As a benchmark, the industry average email click-through rate is 2.13%.
If your stats are low, consider audience segmentation, subject lines, mobile optimisation and email design as go-to considerations for elevating the email experience in your sign-ups' inbox.
B2B Social Marketing Platforms
Over 90% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn for organic social marketing. No wonder, as four in five LinkedIn members drive business decisions.
Remember the customer journey? Social platforms are at the start of it (alongside organic web searches). Here you're seeking to engage and pique the curiosity of your target audience.
Metrics you might measure and track month on month include:
Although many of these stats only speak of engagement with that content, it's a crucial part of the customer journey and social proofing of your business, values and voice.
Social platforms are where brand evangelists sing your praises, you engage with real people in real time - and you can develop an authentic and responsive digital presence.
The bottom line on social stats: your content strategy should see engagement grow - and it should cover various content types to anticipate what users at different stages in their customer journey would find value in. And while those notifications feel like they validate you, the B2B customer journey goes deeper than B2C dopamine hits.
Finding the right content mix is the special sauce of social success - learn more here.
The data made me do it!
Diving deeper into data sets will reveal the true story of your content marketing's successes. But siloed stats on this month's Twitter follows or email opens are useless to you - the role of a great B2B content marketing agency is not only to provide this data but to unpick what it reveals and take action accordingly.
Data tells a story, but actions define where you go next. As Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, puts it: "Data really powers everything that we do."
According to Hubspot, only 35% of marketers said that understanding the ROI of their campaigns is "Very Important" or "Extremely Important."
Wildtribe are in the minority then: we know that the business' growth - above social media expansion - is the core of our clients' expectations.
We're preaching to the converted, but Mckinsey Global Institute found that data-driven organisations are not only 23 times more likely to acquire customers, but they're also six times as likely to retain customers and 19 times more likely to be profitable.
Data is, thus, never dull. And happily (unlike Wannamaker), as digital marketers, we have oodles of it to hand. Let’s use this power wisely.
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