While the importance of content continues to increase for marketers — 66% rank it among the top three marketing activities for their brands — there’s a growing disconnect between the content created and measuring the results that content drives.
If marketers are unable to appropriately measure the results of their efforts, how can they continue to justify marketing spend on content?
In the recently released 2017 Global Comms Report: Challenges and Trends, Cision uncovered frustration among marketing professionals at the lack of tools to effectively measure content marketing.
Why metrics are so important
Anyone who has ever tried to justify increasing marketing budgets understands the challenge of doing so without concrete evidence the investment will pay off. Executives want to see results before they sign off on the proposed budget, and if marketers can’t deliver those results, they risk not getting approved for future marketing efforts.
The same goes for justifying existing marketing spend – if they can’t prove it’s working, it clearly isn’t. At least that’s what execs might think. The report shows 65% of marketers say tightening budgets is one of their top three challenges. So how can marketers better prove the value of content marketing?
The measurement deficit
While marketers were initially satisfied measuring impressions and clicks on social media and from blog posts, they are now looking for better ways to directly correlate content to bottom-line growth. This is the case in every type of content marketing tactic.
For example, take earned media. When a reporter or blogger talks about your brand, what’s the real impact? While you can see how many people clicked on that article and came to your website, what does that really tell us? What value did that media mention actually get?
The lack of measurement tools for content is something that can no longer be ignored, and something comms experts are becoming more vocal in demanding
When creating content for their own blogs and websites, how do brands know which content has the biggest impact? Do clicks and shares of the article actually mean anything? Do they convince people to buy? Figuring out which content is most effective is a challenge for over half of the respondents in the Cision study.
Do you know what people do after they consume your content? Does it drive real-world behavior, or do consumers simply digest the content and move on? Where does brand recognition come into play?
The fact that 58% of marketers don’t know what people do after they consume their brand’s content tells us there is a serious deficit. Often, there isn’t a linear path between the consumption of content and a purchase, which also makes it difficult to measure results.
Communication challenges around the world
The challenge with measurement is not a concern held by marketers worldwide. The concerns of marketers vary, depending on the country.
In the U.S., the overwhelming majority (70%) is challenged by an inability to measure the impact of content effectively. Canada and China also share this frustration.
However, in the U.K., France, and Germany, tightening budgets are the lead concern, while comms pros in Sweden worry about how to better align PR with other marketing functions.
What comms pros want
The lack of measurement tools for content is something that can no longer be ignored, and something comms experts are becoming more vocal in demanding. Three out of four survey respondents feel the PR industry can do a better job of measuring and proving its impact on business objectives, while 22% feel the industry doesn’t do a good job at all.
Without the right data and analytics, how can comms pros attribute content and earned media to changes in the bottom line? How can they be expected to justify spending money on content — which is part and parcel to a successful marketing strategy — if they can’t point a finger to exactly how it’s making the company more money?
This isn’t a problem that can be solved overnight, though there are advances already being made. One recent solution from Cision, Cision ID, uses proprietary tracking technology that tags earned media content. The goal is to make comms a data-driven discipline, create more compelling content, and drive better business results.