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Stop Drowning in Marketing Data and Start Measuring Influence on Revenue

Stop Drowning in Marketing Data and Start Measuring Influence on Revenue

Kevin Joyce

Follow these five steps to track meaningful metrics and understand the monetary value of your content.

The 2017 Content Marketing Institute Survey, executed in conjunction with MarketingProfs, reported that content development consumes nearly one-third of nonlabor spending on B-to-B marketing in North America. Marketers might imagine that investment is backed by airtight analytics on its return, right? The same report shared that the No. 1 metric for content marketing results is website visits. Not so airtight. 

Marketers want to better understand how well their dollars are spent. They want a sense of which content is working, where it is successful, why it works and when, so they can focus their budgets on high-performing tactics. To do that, they need data.

Many of them already have a lot of data. They have reports in Google Analytics. Google AdWords data. Blog results in Kapost. Viewer stats in Wistia and YouTube. Podcast download reports in Libsyn. Funnel reports in their customer relationship management (CRM) dashboard. E-mail engagement reports in Marketo. Social engagement results in Grapevine6, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. 


The point is, we are drowning in marketing data. But are we getting good, timely and consolidated information to make better decisions relative to our content? And if so, how do we use that data to answer basic questions such as:  

  • ​Which content in what format, through which channels, generated the most or the least engagement this month, and why?
  • What marketing content was most instrumental in helping close new business from existing customers and from net new customers last ​​month?
  • What topics are attracting people to our digital properties, social sites and syndicated content
  • What is the pattern of content that the best qualified leads look at before they become a known lead to us, and through which channels did that occur?
  • What is the channel mix or the linear attribution that distributed the content and attracted the final conversion point?

Analytics vendors believe that they have the panacea to these data ailments. But these simple questions are difficult to answer because they involve multiple channels and technologies. So, what are some simple steps we can take to consolidate the data and make it easier to answer these questions on a regular basis? How can you configure your marketing automation platform (MAP), Google Analytics, content management system and CRM to get insights? You need a data buoy.

1. Decide What You Want to Track

Say you host a webinar in the first quarter on “hot content.” As a result, you have a webcast, perhaps a transcript, a blog post of some key points, a SlideShare, a blog post about the polls you conducted during the webinar and an infographic related to the information you shared. That makes six related assets. Do you track them all as unique items or tag them all as “Q1_Hot_Content” and track them as one? If you decided to use a single common label, you are agreeing that, for now, you are more interested in the topic result than the precise format in which the topic was delivered. 

Based on that decision, the blog post is an asset—but it’s just a page on the website, not a file or downloadable object. It’s starting to get messy now. My advice: Blog posts are ungated assets and can be packaged in bundles of posts related to a topic. To track them with related content assets, insert the appropriate stem into the URL of the blog post. In this case, insert “Q1_Hot_Content” into the page URL, so you can easily add results from visits to this page to the other “Hot Content” visits.

2. Create Unique Landing Pages for Downloadable Assets

Each asset should be shared through the many channels you control: website, social and e-mail. The problem is, if you share a direct link to an asset (.pdf, .png, .ppt, .mov, .mp4) it can’t easily execute any JavaScript, and anyone viewing the link simply accesses the asset without being tracked. Most folks solve this by sending the visitor to a landing page, which tags them and registers the visit to the asset. It is cumbersome for the visitor, but does help track content results. In the “Q1_Hot_Content” promotion, I would likely end up with at least six landing pages. If I decided to track these as one item, I would create a common part in the URL stems of all six landing pages. For example “q1_hot_content” can be common to all six assets.

An alternative that offers a better user experience, if you do not require a form to access the asset, is to create a virtual landing page. Give out the direct link to the asset with Urchin tracking modules (UTMs) embedded, and the link will go to a page where the UTMs are grabbed and immediately redirected to the actual asset. The visitor is unlikely to notice the redirect at all. This requires a little bit of JavaScript but is entirely doable.

3. Utilize UTMs

Set up your content promotions to direct visitors to the same landing page for the same asset, albeit with different UTM values embedded. Regardless of whether you are doing a blog post, LinkedIn promotion, Facebook promotion or tweet, all should route to the same landing page. Some channels, such as LinkedIn, might strip out your UTMs. To avoid this, shorten the link with the UTMs prior to using it in the social channels. Don’t minimize the URL in blog posts or e-mails. Do not use UTMs when linking within your own digital properties and content. Use them only for links that will come from external sources back to your content.

4. Set up Campaigns in Your MAP

Ensure you capture the UTM values from the landing pages for each of the unique assets you want to track, identifying the origin of the click to the asset (source, medium, campaign, keyword, ad). Testing is critical here to ensure you are getting what you expect.

5. Set up Campaigns in Your CRM That Align to Your MAP Campaigns

Draw on the information in the MAP to show the same results in the CRM. Sync over from the MAP all the relevant fields. Build your content reports in the CRM based on the asset campaigns you synced from your MAP.

If you have properly used UTMs and landing pages and created tracking campaigns in your MAP, you should be able to create reports for your assets in the CRM. The difference between doing them in the CRM versus your web analytics is that you can connect content usage to individuals and where they are in the funnel. Perhaps you will determine which content is used most often in which part of the funnel and by which role in the purchase. If you have applied your UTMs diligently, you should be able to see which channels are driving the most traffic to which assets. 

Having a view of your content results in the context of their influence on the funnel is vital to making wise content editorial calendar decisions. Don’t drown in the sea of content reporting data. Focus on measuring your results in the most important context: influence on revenue.

Kevin Joyce is CMO and vice president of strategy services at The Pedowitz Group. He holds a combination of marketing skills and sales experience to bridge the gap between sales and marketing.