Studies show businesses aren't using the right metrics to measure their desired content marketing outcomes.

News Content AnalyticsAn overwhelming percent of B2C and B2B companies (86 percent and 91 percent, respectively) use content marketing to reach new and existing customers on the web. Building a web presence that markets products and services while providing prospects with educational resources can put brands in the spotlight and boost website traffic and conversions. Of course, publishing content to brands’ websites is only part of the process for successful, results-focused campaigns. Measuring results and implementing strategic alterations to campaigns based off of those discoveries can be challenging for creative departments.

In fact, Curata released data that found 43 percent of marketers don’t measure or track content ROI. More, two CMI reports discovered that 33 percent of B2B marketers and 41 percent of B2C brands cite the inability to measure content effectiveness as a major challenge preventing their content campaigns from taking off.

Perhaps the main reason brands struggle to gauge content effectiveness is because their content marketing goals don’t align with their how they measure results. It’s important to look at business goals, measurement tactics and why, if at all, there may be a disconnect.

Don’t ask what content can do for you, ask what you can do with content.

Content marketing can help businesses attract new customers and boost online visibility, but only if it’s leveraged appropriately.

According to Curata’s “B2B Marketing Trends Report 2012,” 82 percent of marketers say driving leads is their top content-marketing objective – up from 78 percent in 2011. In fact, 87 percent of brands now use content creation to reach wider audiences, which is up from 82 percent in the previous year.

Marketing TacticsHowever, with such diverse content offerings available to marketers today, picking the right medium can be difficult. The Content Marketing Institute found that 77 percent of B2B brands use blogs to reach leads, and 84 percent of B2C companies use well-written articles to achieve similar goals. The CMI also noted that 79 percent of business-facing marketers use content to boost brand awareness, and 77 percent aim to acquire new customers. As for B2C companies, 77 percent use content for customer retention and 75 percent for customer acquisition. IDG Research found similar results, with 68 percent of brands developing custom content for lead generation purposes.

These reports show marketers have numerous goals in mind, and they’re all using content to reach new audiences.

Are marketers looking at the right data?

While content marketing can provide brands with easy access to prospective and current customers, marketers who fail to measure their successes accurately may waste their companies’ time and resources. When looking at reports from CMI, Curata, IDG Research and Econsultancy, there’s a trend emerging among marketers, and it shows a disconnect between content marketing’s end goals and how professionals are measuring their campaigns’ effectiveness.

According to CMI, increasing web traffic was the seventh most popular marketing goal among B2B brands publishing custom content, well below customer acquisition. However, the same respondents measure their programs’ success by upticks in web traffic. Only half of marketers consider sales lead quality a content metric. If the end-result of a content campaign is to improve web traffic, measurement must move beyond traffic volumes. Content marketing objectives must be identified from the start, and strategies must be put in place to facilitate that gain.

As for B2C marketers, brand awareness is is a goal for three-quarters of companies, but just half evaluate social sharing as a success metric. That could be a key KPI on how content is helping to spread the word. More, 88 percent of Econsultancy’s audience measure content effectiveness by unique views, yet only 38 percent have defined strategies.

Brands know what they want their content efforts to achieve, but they aren’t looking at the right data points to create concise online marketing strategies that reach those benchmarks.

Outsource content creation to experts who evaluate metrics effectively

Outsource ContentWith content marketing adoption at a tipping point – and brands trying to gain an edge over their competition through the web – outsourcing media production to expert agencies continues to become a more popular practice. Marketers should use content analytics offerings as criteria when selecting partners to ensure their campaigns achieve unique brand goals.

According to the Custom Content Council, companies are funnelling record-high dollars to external agencies. Approximately 56 percent of brands now outsource their content creation efforts, spending an average of $987,417 on content production – an increase of 46.6 percent from 2011.

Marketers who want to build public awareness of their brands and drive greater web conversions must follow suit to remain competitive. Third-party content marketing agencies that create results-focused campaigns and offer data to back up their strategies can help companies across all industries develop superior online presences in 2013.

Ted Karczewski is an Executive Communications Associate at Brafton. He works to develop his own voice and apply his passions to the evolving world of SEO and content marketing, but he doesn't shy away from writing for fun. After graduating from Suffolk University, Ted used his Communications degree to test out Sports Journalism before Marketing at Brafton.