All too often, the success of content marketing is measured in its metrics. How many social shares did this article get? How many visitors did this booth attract? How many clicks did this native advertisement generate? In the rush to justify digital advertising budgets, the human reaction to content marketing efforts can get pushed to the background until eventually it is forgotten completely.
Digital marketing has created a trap for itself.
Digital was supposed to change everything, to make advertising accountable for the first time in history. John Wanamaker’s famous line about not knowing which half of his money was being wasted on ads was no longer going to be relevant. We were going to track every last click, turn every ROI measurements from an art into a science.
And, to a large extent, the plan worked. There’s no comparison between offline and online marketing when it comes to tracking and knowing what works. And yet, when it comes to online content marketing, we sometimes forget that trackable, metrics, extraordinarily valuable though they are, can never quite tell us the whole story. Yes, we of course want to know how many social shares each article gets and how many clicks are generated by any given advertisement. But once the results are cataloged onto spreadsheets and databases the bottom line results can’t capture the full value of content marketing.
Content marketing is successful when it connects with people.
Those connections can’t always be measured by metrics. Take the example of a promotional graphic or image that catches the eye of someone browsing the web. The individual, in this case, isn’t necessarily interested in the company that created the graphic, but she thinks that the picture you’re using is cool and prints it out to hang on her wall.
A few days later, one of her friends asks about it and hears about the company. The friend then mentions the graphic to a few others and all of the sudden the brand has reached a group that, in all likelihood, it otherwise would not have. If you were to look only at the metrics of the company that created the ad, you would only see the immediate, short-term impact of content and miss the more lasting interest that it generated.
You still, of course, want to measure everything that’s measurable, but if you take a data-only approach to measuring the results of content marketing, you run the risk of missing the bigger picture. When it comes to effective content marketing, a single drop can cause ripples that reach a far greater audience than the hard numbers will indicate, and will not only attract more customers, but establish a standard of quality that promotes brand loyalty.