Is your Content Marketing as Effective as you think it is? Use this test!

Written by on 19th November 2018

Every seasoned content marketing professional knows the pain of spending hours designing a piece of collateral that failed to strike a nerve with their audience. In the best case the response was tepid and in the worst it was non-existent, but in either scenario you missed the mark.

The only thing worse than that is if it caught you by total surprise.

Never forget that how you perceive your marketing message and how your audience perceives it are often two entirely different things. Therefore, if you really want to make sure your content marketing is as relevant, as compelling and as valuable as you think it is, there are a few important things to keep in mind.

What are the KPIs Telling You?

The best way to make sure that your content marketing is as effective as you think it is involves taking a look at certain key performance indicators, otherwise known as KPIs for short.

As we’ve written in the past, every piece of content you create should be purpose-built – it should literally be designed to accomplish one particular thing. KPIs will tell you whether or not that actually happened. If you wanted to use content to increase sales, you would look at things like online and offline sales volumes. If you wanted to increase lead generation, you would look at KPIs like form completions and downloads, email subscriptions and your website’s conversion rate.

Let’s say you sat down with an Infographic maker like Visme (which I founded) to create a stunning piece of collateral designed to raise brand awareness. You spend a great deal of time working on it, you make sure everything is just right and you send it out into the world. In your opinion, your message is perfect – it’s absolutely what people need to hear and how they need to hear it.

Then, you start to track key brand awareness KPIs like website traffic, page views, document views, downloads and social chatter. You wait and you wait and the results become clear: all of those things are stagnate. Your Infographic didn’t even cause a blip on the scale.

Guess what? Your incredible Infographic wasn’t nearly as effective as you thought it was. The numbers don’t lie and if collateral doesn’t do what it was supposed to, you’ve got a problem whether you’re willing to admit it or not.

At that point, you have two options: you can double down on your previous approach and hope you get lucky, or you can perform an autopsy and figure out where you and your audience differed, why that chasm appeared and what you can do to be more successful next time.

Pay Attention to the Response, or Lack Thereof

Another critical way to see whether or not your content marketing is as effective as you think it is involves paying attention to the more literal response that it’s generating. What are people saying about your content on blog comments? Is your content being liked, shared and retweeted? Are people forwarding your emails? Are other industry thought influencers creating new inbound links to your website?

The good news is that if your content is generating some type of response, you don’t have to guess about how it was ultimately received. You can go straight to the horse’s mouth, as it were, and just look at the way people are reacting.

If it’s not generating any type of response at all, it’s also an indication that your core message failed to land. This is bad news in the short-term, but good news in the long because now you know what not to do in the future. Once you learn “the hard way” a few times, “the easy way” can’t help but reveal itself.

Again, once your content is out in the world, what you think about it matters very little. You could use a bar graph maker to create what you think is an objectively perfect piece of content, but if the response or the KPIs are telling you otherwise, you’re wrong. Period, end of story.

Then, all you have to do is figure out why.

The next time you fire up your pie chart maker for an afternoon of design work, think about all the mistakes you made in the past. Think about why certain choices didn’t resonate the way you thought they would. Then, let all of that insight and actionable intelligence inform every decision you make from that point out.

After awhile, you won’t have to work hard to create effective content marketing. It’ll more or less pour out of you in the best possible way because at that point, it will be instinctual.

About the Author:

Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.