How to Set Up a Content Marketing Measurement System That Gets Used

Please tell me you’ve seen “Plains, Trains & Automobiles.” If so, you’ll surely recall the part when Del Griffith (John Candy) gets nabbed for speeding due to a melted speedometer. Don’t worry if you haven’t seen the whole movie — I think you’ll agree the following scene holds up on its own:

To help illustrate the role dashboards play in content marketing measurement, I thought it’d be fun to imagine a similar conversation between a CMO and a content marketing manager.

Content marketing manager: Top of the morning, boss!

CMO: What the hell are you looking at here?

Manager: It’s our Twitter data. We had a small follower abandonment issue last night, but we caught it in the nick of time.

CMO: Do you have any idea if we’re experiencing a similar problem on other social networks?

Manager: Oddly enough I was just getting around to that. You see, our social data lives in six different places, making it difficult to tell with any degree of efficiency exactly just how well we’re doing in any one channel, or collectively for that matter.

CMO: My sources say performance is down across the board: Email, SEO, paid, website…

Manager: (bewildered whistle) Across the board, huh? Uh, yeah I could buy that. Sure, I guess you’d know better than me, especially since I haven’t had time to log in and check out the performance for any of those.

CMO: Do you honestly feel this measurement system is a safe way to assure we’ll meet our business goals?

Manager: No I do not. I really don’t. Our data is everywhere. We don’t have time to look at it, let alone analyze it. Channel goals don’t roll up to program KPIs and our various functions have no idea what the others are doing, or achieving. We have a thousand one-off reports scattered throughout Google Drive. It’s not pretty to look at. And it’s not getting us where we want to go.

CMO: You have no idea what’s happening this month.

Manager: No, we lost sight of that.

CMO: None of your data sources are integrated.

Manager: No, not a one. However we’re still cranking out a ton of content, funny as that may seem.

If any part of the above conversation could plausibly occur at your company, it’s time to simplify your content marketing measurement system.

Similar to simplifying your content marketing strategy, there are a bunch of benefits to kicking complexity from content measurement. For most teams, the following three top the list:

  1. Allows everyone to focus on what’s most important
  2. Saves time and frustration
  3. Increases role clarity and cohesion

How to Simplify Your Content Marketing Measurement System

Content program KPIs are fundamental. Hundreds of marketing metrics tell us everything from the percentage of viewers who shared a video to how much it costs to secure a click in a single channel. Unless we prioritize only the most important metrics, we find ourselves beholden to all of them. That’s confusing, and worse, leads to misguided decisions.

For example, a SaaS marketer might look to dozens of metrics for insight, but when it comes to making a decision, she can turn to her program KPIs and ask:

  • How will this decision affect the amount of sales qualified leads my team generates?
  • How will this decision affect our cost per sales qualified lead?
  • How will this decision help my sales team close a higher percentage of those leads?

I disagree with those who say vanity metrics should rarely enter the conversation. Taken with the proper perspective and prioritization, these metrics can be incredibly useful. Establishing your KPIs is what gives vanity metrics their much-needed perspective.

Centralize Your Content Marketing Insights

How’s your data going to tell a story if your insightful anecdotes are nowhere near each other? It won’t. Not without some serious aggregation anyway.

We’re two decades into the twenty-first century — there are tools for that.

Ideally, you can avoid yet another tool with yet another login by pulling all your content marketing measurement and analytics into a tool you already use. You’ll be floored to learn that my personal favorite is the pre-configured yet customizable content analytics feature that comes standard with DivvyHQ. (In all seriousness, this feature has been an analytical boon to our clients and ourselves, hence the admittedly gratuitous video below.)

There are other tools, of course. Whether you use Divvy’s or someone else’s, the important thing is to verify that it’s easy to use, easy to access and easy to understand. Otherwise it won’t get used. Then what’s the point?

Make it Easy for Each Role to Measure Their Contribution

To get the job done right, a crane operator needs an entirely different (and hopefully not melted) set of gauges than a drilling rig operator. The same goes for content marketing roles. A dashboard that’s designed for everyone can’t possibly serve any one person all that well.

In addition to program KPIs and goals, you’ll want to establish channel KPIs that feed up to program goals. This way, each team member can see how their hard work contributes to the program’s success.

As an example, Divvy team members can view every dashboard (below) to track what’s going on with the program. The specialized dashboards come in handy for role-based goal monitoring and decision making.

Build Analytics into Your Content Planning Process

Are you allotting hard, scheduled time for team members to analyze data and make recommendations? If not, what message do you send about its importance?

We all know content teams are busy. If analysis isn’t part of the regularly scheduled programming, it will almost certainly get cast aside in favor of more urgent (but less important) production priorities. It’s also wise to review data as a team on the regular. Check this off your list by adding data review to your content planning meeting agenda.

Get the Boss off Your Back

Healthier performance figures almost always lead to fewer check-ins from the C-Suite. Chiseling out a goal to demonstrably improve an antiquated measurement and optimization system is a logical place to start. A content team could accomplish this goal in a matter of weeks, and it’s entirely reasonable to believe this process should lead to a stronger sense of purpose.

With analytics now centralized and accessible, you won’t need to stop everything to create a report every time an executive has a head scratcher. The dashboard tells an on-demand story for you:

Content marketing manager: Top of the morning, boss!

CMO: Just saw the dashboard. That new thought leadership campaign caught on fire!

Try simple on for size. Check out DivvyHQ with your team, before you buy, to make sure I’m not full of beans when I call it the easiest-to-use content planning tool for busy teams. Schedule your two-week trial here.