Marketers are still struggling to measure content ROI, and it may be impacting their strategic success, according to recent data.

In the 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report, 86 percent of companies said they’re using “a strategic marketing approach focused on distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.” Even though most have high expectations for their content marketing strategies – 75 want content to influence sales – a shocking 25 percent admit their ability to measure ROI is poor.

A full 15 percent aren’t doing anything to track the returns from their content creation, while 10 percent report they haven’t successfully harnessed their analytics data.

This is becoming a familiar refrain. Last year, 37 percent of businesses said their teams lacked necessary content analytics skills. We recently covered a separate study that concluded even when marketers think they have a handle on content KPIs, they still struggle to turn those metrics into answers about how the strategy is affecting their bottom lines, such as:

So how can marketers stop throwing money at campaigns they think are working, and start making smarter decisions based on hard numbers that make sense?

Learn to understand the story behind your content marketing numbers

Not all positive metrics mean your content is more effective. You need to be able to differentiate which data looks good on paper and how that translates to results that matter most for your broad marketing goals. Here’s the video for more information. 

Set up goals in Google Analytics: How and why you should be tracking ROI

It’s hard to tell how your efforts are benefiting the business and how close you are to reaching your goals if they aren’t defined. By setting up your Goals in Google Analytics, you can start to measure which topics and formats impact the most conversions. And you’ll also start to see which conversions are most valuable by observing how they impact sales over time.

Partner with an analytics expert

Last year, the Content Marketing Institute reported 13 percent of B2Bs outsourced their measurement and analytics. It’s likely that number will rise as nearly half say content marketing ROI is a top priority now, and 36 percent say it’s on the front burner for the next year.

Content marketing is not becoming simpler – it’s becoming more sophisticated. Companies with access to content strategists who can look at a dashboard full of traffic data, engagement metrics, conversion information, etc. and turn those numbers into real-time campaign direction will start to see how analytics measurement can be a strength, not a weakness.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.