Why content marketing services should always have transparent, clear KPIs and reporting

As Head of Digital Campaign Performance, I’ve been managing digital marketing campaigns for over a decade.  I started out ‘trafficking’ ads: chasing copy for online display creatives from clients, publishing them to our sites, and then providing performance reporting for our customers and sales teams – how many impressions had been delivered  (or ‘hits’ as they were once known) clicks, and which creatives had done the best.

These days the role is much bigger, encompassing not just online display ads, but a full range of digital channels: social, programmatic, native and digital content syndication platforms – much of which is driven by Incisive’s powerful first party data. Whilst the tool set has expanded, the name of the game is still the same: how can I generate the maximum exposure for clients’ messages?

When I first started out, clients relied on media owner honesty to discover their results. Reporting? A spreadsheet, filled in by me, attached to an email. Clients had to depend on my honesty and that of my peers.  There was no objective way for customers to know if we were telling the truth, and no effective way of holding us to account.

Very quickly this changed and clients started to ask for more visibility of their ad performance. Ad tech companies stepped in to fill the gap and both publishers and clients started measuring their campaign performance not just in “over-view” terms but against very measurable KPIs.

In many ways content marketing in B2B is still at the stage where we were with digital display all those years ago. It shouldn’t be: there is no reason why your reporting for content marketing should not be as clear as your reporting for digital display. Clients should demand maximum intelligence so they can learn the lessons that campaigns offer.

Every content programme we produce is now integrated with reporting from multiple independent data sources and integrated into a live reporting dashboard that clients can access at any time: no email attachments, a live URL. This provides top-line stats such as number of views each individual content pieces has had, how many unique users have viewed the content, how many ads have been displayed promoting that content, and what sources of traffic are generating the most engagement with their content and what devices users are viewing that content on.

This is valuable data, and when used in real time it can help inform and direct your current marketing strategy and improve the overall performance of your campaigns and enable you to direct resources for follow-on activity (i.e. focus on what is working, eliminate what is not).  This can be as simple as writing more content of a similar nature or focusing promotional activity into channels that are delivering the highest engagement: is social or email your best channel? Does it change depending on the content?

It is also possible for us to include a clients’ marcom tags, which would provide additional intelligence on the programme: our performance in your existing dashboard, in real time.  Many of these tactics have been used for quite a while in consumer markets – there’s no reason why they should not be available in B2B.

When you invest your money with content creators and syndicators, make sure you get the best of that investment – work with providers whose tech keeps them honest, and whose reporting allows you to maximise not just performance, but intelligence.