The Best Methods for Digital Marketing Reporting: Content (Part 1)
Digital marketing and reporting go hand-in-hand. Despite that, digital marketing reporting isn’t the easiest feat. Your reports will vary based on the types of programs you’re running. For instance, you’ll emphasize different metrics in a lead generation campaign compared to a brand awareness campaign.
You also can’t build the same digital marketing report for different platforms because they have different goals, use different terminology, and impact your sales pipeline differently. That’s why we’ve put together this blog series: to assist you in using the best method to report on content, email, and PPC. First up: content marketing metrics.
Why is data important?
Maybe you’re wondering why you need to create reports in the first place. There are many very good reasons you should be reporting on your programs, with the obvious being you need a way to talk about these campaigns you’re running. But before we get started, we’d still like to reiterate the importance of data.
Though we’ve talked about it before, it’s important to stress it again. Data (and reporting on that data) is a necessity in digital marketing. The following represents why reporting on data early and often is of the utmost importance:
Before we talk about what to report, we need to remember to be transparent. Visibility and transparency are the most important aspects of digital marketing reporting. Without that, no one will trust your reports. Make your data available through a variety of avenues: dashboards, automated reports, and thorough walk-throughs with complementary information from other sources. Yes, that’s a lot. But being transparent and providing context for your campaigns is a valuable exercise. It also helps build trust for the campaigns you’re running.
It’s great you’re running campaigns, but how are they doing? Whether they’re the best campaigns anyone has ever run or they’re wasting budget at a considerable rate, no one will know if you do not share the data. Prove your value, and share the data.
It’s a team effort
You don’t know it all. Sorry. Sharing your reports with team members or clients doesn’t just give them insight into what you’re doing. They can actually give you information you’re lacking. That email report you think has poor open rates? Maybe someone added a large number of very cold contacts to the email blast knowing the open rates would be low.
Sharing data about your content, email, and PPC efforts allows you to brainstorm better ways to optimize your initiatives. Yes, you’re optimizing regularly on your own, but sometimes we get tunnel vision. Your peers will likely bring ideas to the table that you haven’t thought of or ask questions about that data you haven’t asked yet.
Sharing data creates a consistent conversation around your campaigns so that everyone is invested in their success.
It might seem impossible for some content managers to find effective ways to report on their blogging efforts.
It can seem like the odds are against you. But fret not, marketing content specialists! There are plenty of metrics to report on regularly. And while blogging gets a lot of the attention when it comes to content, don’t forget about that ace up your sleeve: gated content!
Here are a few favorite items to report on that are relevant to both blogging and gated content:
What blogs and landing pages are performing the best? And where are those page views coming from?
You might be promoting a blog on social media or a gated content piece on Google AdWords. Keep that in mind while you present your findings, and identify which content pieces are doing well organically.
Report on this by either pulling information into a spreadsheet or setting up a dashboard report that highlights your most-trafficked blog over a specific period of time. (We prefer the automated method).
The impact of organic (and paid) social promotion
Social media and content are good friends. Including social data in your digital marketing reporting allows you to paint the full picture.
It’s likely that your audience prefers one social media platform over another. And if they’re using multiple, they don’t use them in the same ways. Use social scheduling tools like CoSchedule or HubSpot’s tool to track content marketing engagement across social media.
If your content does very well across social platforms, you might create a report that shows the number of social interactions with your blog content. Cross reference that with the page views source we mention above for a well fleshed-out report.
Keywords ranking on your blog pages
Track your keyword positions over time. What changes, what’s staying the same? This will also give you insight into improving and maintaining your SEO ranking.
Report on these keywords using tools like Moz or SEMRush. Track changes on individual blogs and your blog as a whole (sometimes a category URL will rank for a relevant keyword). This is important for determining which keywords to spend your resources on, and also what keywords you are inadvertently ranking for.
Clicks and conversions on your blog CTAs
Does your audience click on buttons, or do they prefer hyperlinked text? What terminology resonates most with them? This data will assist you determine the best CTA—and not just in content marketing.
Measuring your conversion rates lets you know if your landing page is successful. It also helps you determine if the offer is relevant to the blog it is attached to. The CTA itself may be great, but did your visitors think it was going to be something else? Comparing conversions and clicks help you determine this.
Create a dashboard for all of your CTAs so you can easily see views, clicks, submissions, and how any tests are performing. If you’re using HubSpot CTAs, good news! You don’t have to build anything as this reporting is available in the CTAs section.
Don’t forget to test changes across your blog and landing pages to increase clicks to your CTAs as well as your conversion rate. You only get better when you test and learn.
Where are your leads coming from, and what are they interacting with prior to converting? Do they reflect your target audience, or are they junk?
This isn’t just about blog CTAs. This is about determining if your content is capturing the attention of the personas you’ve built for your company. If you’re getting the right leads, great. But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook completely. You should still monitor, tweak, test, and optimize your content. But you don’t need to be as aggressive as those who are only pulling in bad leads.
Bad lead quality can mean a few different things from a content perspective:
- Your buyer personas need to be reworked. The targeting, titles, or tone of voice you think you should use might be off.
- Your content isn’t speaking to your target personas. Maybe you’re too technical or not technical enough. Or maybe you’re playing it cool with your verbiage when your personas aren’t the business casual type. Go back to your buyer personas and make the changes you need to make. Then test.
- Your landing pages don’t accurately reflect your content offer. What do people think they’re signing up for? If your landing pages aren’t clear, your target personas won’t convert. Instead, you’ll get whoever you accidentally did write copy for. Go back to the drawing board and start over.
Create lead reports in your CRM that is either segmented by lead source or by what asset a lead converted on. That piece of the puzzle is up to you! Review regularly to see if the leads you get match the leads you want. From that information, use your best judgment to determine how to address lead quality in your content.
Pro tip: Set up separate campaigns in your marketing automation systems and CRM based on how the lead gets to you. This way, you’ll be able to see if a lead converted organically, on PPC, on Facebook, or on third party syndication.
Interesting moments in the buyer’s journey
Monitor converted leads to see if any of them stopped by your blog at any point. What did they read, and what actions did they take afterwards? This can help determine your best content to introduce to email nurtures or to handoff to the sales team.
This will take a little effort, so this might be an end-of-the-year annual review you perform when you’re in content strategy mode in January.
Really want to understand how your visitors interact with your site? Implement heatmaps and incorporate your findings into your reporting. But don’t share heatmaps just for the sake of it. Wait until you have something worthwhile to share and an idea to implement.
Working on a complex backlink strategy? Then you know that it can take a lot of time and energy, and in the early stages there isn’t a ton to show.
But, you still need a way to report on it. So how do you do that?
The easiest reporting option is to catalog the number of backlinks you have before undertaking the strategy, and then report those numbers month-over-month. You might also create high-value backlink target sites (think of this as account-based backlinking) that you can report on separately.
It’s also wise to track the number of bad links you’re able to remove or disavow, anchor text you’re able to change, and how many organizations you’re asking for a backlink in the first place. You’ll be able to determine a success rate for yourself.
One more thought
When we write content, we need to be creative. The same goes for our reporting. The most important thing to ask ourselves when creating reports for content marketing is: What do I need to see, and how can I see it? From there, get creative and build the reports that matter the most to your business.
Can’t get enough of digital marketing reporting for content? Neither can we — let’s chat!
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