​Marketers are getting savvier, but too many still let their gut instincts guide marketing strategies when data could do it smarter.

​No marketing campaign should be allowed to run freely without direction, oversight or adaptability. While brands shouldn’t force strategies or restrict creativity, a certain sense of evaluation must be performed on a regular basis. Otherwise, campaigns can run off track and they may fail to show ROI. Brafton previously reported that 26 percent of companies don’t have a single staff member assigned to content analytics measurement. This means internet marketing efforts conducted by nearly one-quarter of brands run on gut instinct.

At first, that realization may seem ridiculous. But MarketingSherpa’s “2013 Marketing Analytics Benchmark Report” found that 42 percent of surveyed brands rely on gut instinct to guide their online campaigns. Forty percent depend on historical spend, and 35 percent use testing to gauge success. The bright side: 66 percent of brands say their top priority for the remainder of 2013 is acting on data to improve marketing performance.

MarketingSherpa’s report did outline which content metrics companies evaluate when analyzing their content marketing campaigns. Fifty-five percent look at unique pageviews, 48 percent measure leads and 45 gauge success by social shares. While all of these data points are good to know and can show reach, they may not be the most precise way to truly understand the impact blog content has on bottom line efforts.

The report showed that only 23 percent measure the ROI of their campaigns, while 40 percent calculate conversion rates. These two metrics are perhaps the most telling about a given content marketing strategy. A highly shared article might circulate the Twittersphere for days, but if it doesn’t convert a single lead, is the virality worth the investment of time? What about a post that reached fewer prospects, but more than 50 percent bought a product or service? Marketers not only have to focus on content analytics, they must understand how to prioritize the metrics they look at on a frequent basis.

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.