The KPIs for content/social media marketing: Are they really useful?

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What should you measure with your content marketing?
Content marketing metrics montage
What should you measure with your content marketing?

A common refrain (and challenge) for architectural, engineering and construction marketers is: How do we know we are succeeding? This leads to efforts to set up metrics/measurement systems, with the correlated challenge of seeking to measure useful information. (Gathering numbers for no purpose other than to generate reports, obviously, doesn’t help the case.)

Here, we run into a troubling dichotomy when it comes to measuring online content/social media marketing. One one hand, it is relatively easy to gather incredible amounts of data about our activities and initiatives. On the other, I’m not convinced that much of this measuring really helps us solve the bigger problems — finding and retaining profitable clients.

Consider, for example, these potential KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that Neil Bhakper published in 2013 in the Content Marketing Institute blog:

Reach

  1. Unique visits
  2. Geography
  3. Mobile readership

Engagement

  1. Bounce rates/time spent
  2. Heat maps and click patterns
  3. Page views

Sentiment

  1. Comments
  2. Social sharing

You can certainly track these metrics quite easily. I’ve found statcounter.com provides some pretty deep data for free, and of course you can use Google analytics and heat-map tools to track the behaviour of visitors to your pages.

Yet, while obviously you can learn some things from these elements, perhaps with the exception of comments, I’m not sure how much the information will help you in building your business/making money, unless you combine this data with other resources, notably hard inquiries (that is people really reach you directly, either by phone, email or personal contact) and then research whether the initial inquiries convert to worthy business. Also, the metrics need to be seen in context and combined to provide useful insights.  For example, if you create a video that goes viral and attracts millions of views — but all are from people who will never use your product or service — have you achieved anything (for your business)?

Of course, it is better to measure what you can, rather than just travel blind.  But beware that the easy-to-determine metrics don’t always tell you the things you really need to know.

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