Is Content Marketing Too Much Work? Here’s How to Tell

heavy content marketingAll relationships take work. Whether we want personal or business ties, we know we have to ‘put ourselves out there’ to meet other people.

For business, content marketing could be the most popular way to build relationships by gaining subscribers and followers. But content marketing often confused with simply publishing. It’s easy to get caught up in the mechanics of making and posting updates, articles and videos without stepping back to see how they’re effective for you.

How to Tell if Content Marketing is Working For You

If content marketing is supposed to build relationships, rather than sales, how can you tell it’s working? When do you know you are working too hard at content marketing for it to be worth it for you?

A successful content marketing effort has a strategy. And it begins not with publishing, but with a though-out, written plan. The number one reason content marketing evangelist Neil Patel gives for content marketing failure is: Lack of a clear strategy. “Publishing content is not a strategy. Content marketing strategy takes in the big picture of marketing — audience, revenue, profit, and brand. Deciding to have a blog and write articles is not a strategy.”

Know Your Goals, Strategy, and What Numbers to Measure

Strategy starts with choosing what to measure, or Key Performance indicators (KPI’s). Having a strategy begins with knowing what behaviors you want to see improve, toward a stated goal.

For example, if the goal is to build a reputation and positive feeling for your brand, some helpful indicators to track:

  • Growth rate of followers on Twitter, LinkedIn Facebook
  • Likes on Facebook
  • The number of shares for pieces of content
  • The number of views of your content
  • Retweets and favorites in Twitter
  • Number of visits to your blog posts

If you are wondering whether all the blogging and social media activity is worth it, ask yourself: how can you tell? If you are waiting for the phone to ring or site visits to go way up, you may be looking for the wrong signals.

Decide what your goal is, what KPI’s are appropriate, and how to track them.

Free Tools to Track Key Metrics on Social Media

There is no ‘one right tool’ to track your statistics — it is important to explore a few and see what works best for you.

Some Free tools for tracking your content marketing KPIs:

Buffer:  Engagement statistics help you track engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. For example, you can see Twitter retweets, mentions, clicks, and favorites.

Facebook and Twitter each have their own analytics pages to help you track changes in follower numbers.

Facebook Page Insights (for pages with more than 32 likes) allows you to track engagement over time. Access you Page Insights by logging into Facebook, go to your “home” page, and click “insights.”

facebook page insights

Sample Facebook Page Insights

The Overview is only relative to 7 or 28 days to the current date. But you can customize the start and end dates to measure other actions including: likes, reach, pageviews, actions and more.

Analytics for each tweet are visible from your Twitter home page. But who wants to analyze one tweet at a time?! Aggregate data is available from analytics.twitter.com when you are logged into your Twitter account.

By default you see a 28 day summary, and a comparison to the change over the previous period, from the Twitter analytics on your account. But you can choose the date range when you select “view all tweet activity.”

Twitter Analytics

Sample Twitter analytics

Often Lack of Strategy, not Content Marketing is to Blame

To see results, you need more than activity. You need to know what change you’re trying to make. A strategy is more than an investment in good content — writing, podcasting, videos or graphics. First, it’s an investment in planning and choosing what to measure.

Sometimes it’s easy to fault this expense, and say ‘content marketing is too much work’ if sales and telephone calls don’t go up. But unless you have a stated strategy, and can track performance relative to a goal, it’s easy to forget that content marketing isn’t really happening.   To see the payoff, it’s important to keep the initial goal in mind, and know what to measure to see if the work is effective.

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