In the world of content marketing, the word “strategy” gets thrown around a lot. You’ll hear it used in grandiose ways that make it seem almost mythical. That’s because for many people, strategy really is just a guess. It’s their gut reaction based on years of experience or personal preference. But neither of these approaches are the best way to develop an effective content marketing strategy. The only way to get smart, results-oriented strategy in place is by leveraging data and measurement – and by using it throughout the life of a project.
An analogy I like to use comes from the sports world. If you’re a coach and you want to win, would you go through a whole game without checking the scoreboard? No! In the same way you need to know how your team is faring so that you can adjust your game plan, you need to understand the performance of your content strategy so you can adjust it – and come out victorious. Establish project goals at the outset and continually measure progression towards those goals on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual basis.
“Measuring data in real time is essential,” said Rob Oquendo, Executive Vice President of Digital and Creative at Spectrum. “We live in a digital world. If you’re not doing things in real time, you’re missing out.”
Not having enough time in your day is not a valid excuse. Set aside a half hour at the start of your day to begin establishing data-driven habits in your workflow.
The first and most important step is to be cognizant of all the measurable data points you have throughout your different paid, earned, shared and owned tactics, and set up systems that will allow you to check results quickly every morning. Remember that you only have half an hour, so don’t overcommit yourself to a bunch of number crunching.
- For owned media: check your Google Analytics dashboards.
- For earned media: log into your media database service and do a quick scan of the results it brought in in the last 24 hours.
- For shared and paid media: look at either the native reporting data from social sites or use a tool to compile all of that data in one place.
Once you’ve quickly looked at each data point (should only take about 20 minutes), compile a one-sheet each day that summarizes trends in the results. This step will create the strategy map you need to ensure success. For instance, if you have five daily updates in a row that show that paid media is failing, maybe you recommend shifting those resources to allow for more earned media outreach. Without daily measurement guiding you, that could have been a big strategic miss. Plus, compiling daily updates throughout the life of a project creates records of wins and losses, which are always good to have.
“If you’re waiting for reports that are a week or even a day late, game over,” says Oquendo. “You need to filter your data by relevance in order to say ahead, because no matter how many resources you throw at it, there is so much data that it’s always going to win.”
I want to be clear, the above advice does not give you permission to stop looking in-depth at results and compiling them in a comprehensive fashion. Frankly, that is the next step in the process. But for those just starting to dip their toe in measurement, quick daily measurement is a good place to start. Too many people view measurement as a necessary evil – and they aren’t entirely wrong. It is necessary, but it’s certainly not evil. It’s time to drop the excuses and start showing real results.
“There’s a lot out there that is easy to measure,” said Oquendo. “But where the real breakthrough comes from is figuring out how to measure the hard stuff. As an industry, we need to keep up and use the right data to make the right decisions.”