Here’s a big question that may or may not make you squirm:
Are you reaching your content marketing goals?
If you reluctantly whispered “no” and felt uncomfortable, that’s okay. We can fix this.
You’re not alone, either. 57% of marketers don’t measure content marketing ROI, according to Content Marketing Institute’s most recent research.
One of the major red flags I see for people in this camp is not what they’re doing, but why they’re doing it.
Why are you doing content marketing?
- Are you focusing on the number of likes, comments, and pageviews you get?
- Are you trying to serve Google constant fresh content, even if it’s mediocre, because “that’s what Google wants?”
- Do you dream of going viral?
If so, your content marketing goals, themselves, might be a large part of the problem.
That’s because the above goals will not contribute to real, quantifiable growth (read: ROI and revenue). And, without measurable growth, you’ll never get anywhere with content marketing.
So, if virality and a website bursting at the seams with content don’t equal growth… what does growth look like?
What should your content marketing goals be?
Content Marketing Goals: How to Focus on Growth
Content marketing goals should be 1,000% growth-related. And yes, content absolutely can catapult your business into the stratosphere.
But, if nothing is happening from your content, you’re focusing on the wrong goals. You’re going through the motions or focusing too much on empty numbers.
Growth in content marketing is easy to spot, once you know what to look for. If you’re seeing one of the following, you’re growing up.
1. SEO Rankings
Google is a great barometer for your content success. If the content you create and let loose into the world climbs those rankings and reaches page one, you’re onto something.
Because Google has tough content standards (thanks, Panda). Only the best pieces will get ranked in the top 10, top 5, and top 3. It’s based on who is providing the best information on a specific topic/keyword that fits the user search need.
If your content is that awesome, you’ll earn top rankings. In turn, you’ll earn a lot more qualified traffic – not random people, but people who actually need the information you’re providing. (Hence why ranking is a goal, not traffic by itself.)
About 32% of all traffic on page one goes to the number one result. That’s a whole lot of leads you’re not getting if you’re not ranking.
2. Conversations & Engagement
More qualified leads coming in via qualified traffic means you’ll see a lot more buzz happening around your content. This is our second content marketing goal: conversations, buzz, engagement.
A few examples:
- People are reaching out to sales through many channels (chat, email, etc.), starting conversations and indicating interest in what you do.
- People are similarly reaching out on social, in your blog comments, and through email.
- In general, you’re seeing a responsive, engaged audience – and it doesn’t have to be on a viral level. Even a few thoughtful comments, emails, and conversations point to huge growth thanks to content. You’re reaching people, impacting them, and making them interested. They’ve moved from awareness to the next part of the buyer’s journey – consideration!
3. Sales & Revenue
How many actual sales resulted from the above connections and conversations? Dig into the numbers. Talk to your salespeople. If you see growth in this area, your content is doing you a major solid.
How Do You Generate Growth from Content?
Here’s my #1 formula for generating growth from content. It’s surprisingly simple:
GREAT content, done consistently, hooked up to services (SaaS, agency, books, courses) = Conversations with prospects coming from Google search = Sales.
Let’s break that down in a bit more detail.
Create Great Content Consistently
Reaching your content marketing goals must start with creating great content. If you’re pushing out content just to get it out there, if you’re compromising quality, you won’t grow.
Only high-quality content ranks. Only high-quality content fulfills the user search need, interests them, and engages them.
Lastly, you need to produce great content. All. The. Time. That’s how you build trust with readers. That’s how you build a solid reputation.
You need both to grow, so don’t skimp.
Hook Up Your Content to Services
Content that dangles out in the void with no connection to your services or products is unprofitable content.
Once you generate that almighty interest from your audience, you need a way to capture it.
That’s why CTAs – calls-to-action – are vital. You should include at least one CTA in every piece of content you publish.
The incredible power of the CTA is it leverages what you just achieved with your amazing content – interesting the reader, building trust – and shows them what they can do next. And, if the interest is high enough, they WILL follow that CTA to the next step.
Writing powerful, irresistible CTAs that actually entice readers is an art – either hire a talented copywriter to create yours or read up carefully on how to construct them.
Engage with Conversations Generated from Your Content
The conversations you and your sales team have with excited, interested readers will mean everything to your ROI.
Conversational marketing is here to stay.
No, this is not about using slimy sales tactics to get people to buy. It’s about being available to enhance, improve, and augment the customer experience in real-time.
When they walk away from your content with questions, interest, and comments, you can be there to answer them immediately – thanks to live chat and messaging.
Chatbots are helpful when you’re handling a large volume of conversations at all hours of the day.
However, in many cases, a human response – having empathy and being friendly and personable – is the key that may turn interest into decision: a.k.a., a sale.
Your Content Marketing Needs Goals Focused on Growth, Not Vanity Metrics
Vanity metrics and virality don’t equate to content marketing growth. These are empty numbers because most of those people don’t care about your brand message and won’t become leads.
Instead, focus on tangible ROI markers:
- SEO rankings (that help you pull in qualified traffic and leads).
- Engaged conversations (that turn a prospect’s interest into decision).
- Actual sales numbers.
These are concrete content marketing goals you can actually measure, which might mean more buy-in and budget for your efforts in the long-run.
All screenshots taken by author, January 2020