How the Lack of Industry Standards Affects Content Marketing Measurement

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As the old saying goes, ignorance is bliss. And with a perceived shortage of industry standards for measuring content marketing, this could ring true for global companies. In a recent study we conducted with Econsultancy, we found that 44 percent of industry leaders—categorized as those who show a greater ability to internationalize digital content successfully—believe there is a serious lack of agreed key performance indicators (KPIs) and industry standards, as compared to only 14 percent of their mainstream counterparts.


The chart above illustrates an unsurprising discrepancy, considering leaders are more successful at measuring content by definition, but it also suggests that mainstream brands are simply less aware of what they don’t know. As such, they are less likely to avow a lack of industry standards as an issue.

But what does this all mean for measuring content marketing today? Here’s a rundown of how leaders and mainstream brands differ:

As you’ll notice above, some of the most basic metrics for understanding the value of content—such as unique/repeat visitors and bounce rates—have yet to be utilized by the majority of both leaders and mainstream respondents alike. While 56 percent of leaders are watching completion rates, influencer metrics, and social engagements to assess content performance, less than 50 percent pay attention to much else with the exception of the 51 percent monitoring time on site.

As for the mainstream, these companies seem to be more interested in vanity metrics like page impressions/views, click-through rates, and unique/repeat visitors. While these are considered superficial and are alleged to be of little help in understanding the true value of content, such SEO-related metrics can be useful for understanding how discoverable and shareable content is.

Overall, many companies are focused on reach and engagement to determine commercial success. “Good content equals higher returns, but bad content equals a big problem,” said Alberto Vitto, Senior Director, Web Marketing and Strategy at DocuSign. “The number of leads generated comes down to the quality of the content, though it’s not just about lead generation. You have to measure engagement with the content to measure the quality and the impact.” Vitto also stressed the importance of having an integrated approach to content as part of a well-thought-out strategy, adding: “Different people in different departments will be producing different content, but if it’s not well aligned, it doesn’t get any traction.”

As you can see here, there’s a much clearer distinction between leaders and mainstream in their use of KPIs:

The leaders are significantly more likely to be using commercial KPIs such as sales (54 percent versus 47 percent), profit (44 percent versus 29 percent) and conversion rates (48 percent versus 30 percent).

Lego’s Global Senior Director of Social Media & Video, Lars Silberbauer, believes his KPI framework is key to the company’s understanding of the performance of their content. For example, Lego focuses on four main areas of measurement: direct sales, brand affinity (based on engagement metrics), marketing efficiency (performance of channels and cost of conversion) and brand sentiment. For direct sales, measuring offline sales is significantly more difficult than measuring online sales. Silberbauer affirms this difficulty, noting further challenges in tracking consumers going from online to offline “without being creepy”—he’s probably on to something there.

Based on our findings, it’s clear that companies need to put more focus on understanding their true return on investment from content in order to secure further budgets for internationalization and localization. To assess whether content delivers commercial value, organizations need to establish clear KPIs. For the time being, having dedicated analysts involved in developing measurement requirements and extracting insights from data would prove invaluable to both leaders and the mainstream, whether B2B or B2C.

Want to know how your organization measures up to leaders in the modern digital landscape? Download the full report here.

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