The sudden flash of victory can happen just about anytime.
Your routine social media metrics show a sudden spike in user interest. Overnight, your Twitter reach triples, or your blog draws a huge number of hits.
In the day-to-day flow of a content marketing campaign, it’s tempting to celebrate sudden, high numbers. We’re seeing more and more of those momentary spikes, in client campaigns and in our own daily outreach.
But before we get too excited, we try to ask ourselves three questions to put the numbers in perspective:
- Does more exposure mean actual visitors to our site?
- Does an increase in visits mean that people are pausing to read, ponder, and absorb the content?
- Does an avid, informed readership translate into action?
All of which leads to the most important question of all:
- In designing content marketing campaigns—and setting priorities with the clients who approve and fund those campaigns—how do we balance our program and metrics between the raw number of people we theoretically reach and the tangible results we produce by reaching them?
Measuring What Matters
Social platforms have no shortage of measurable shiny objects that create the impression of great momentum, but far less in the way of actual results.
Twitter reach is a great example. If your stats show average three-day reach of, say, 30,000, you might triple or quadruple that number with a single retweet from a Twitter celebrity with tens of thousands of followers. But to figure out what that actually means, you’d have to know:
- How many of those followers actually spotted the retweet
- What share of that smaller group clicked the link to your site (we’re making the big assumption that there was a link to your site)
- How many of your newfound site visitors read beyond the first paragraph of the item that inspired the tweet
- How many of the serious readers took any kind of action that connected them more closely with your message, product, or service.
Calls to Action
The strategy for engaging and retaining more of those unexpected guests isn’t rocket science. But it takes consistent, persistent effort, and you (or your client) will have to lay the groundwork before the sudden retweets begin to accumulate.
- The first step is to build a solid enough cache of compelling, original content that there’s depth and detail for new visitors who click through with a particular topic in mind. We keep hearing from organizations that are struggling to make better use of the two- and three-year content archives on their websites. If you blog about that material, then promote the blog on your regular social platforms, you can track your most interested readers back to the original source material.
- Corporate sites create calls to action by inviting visitors to answer a question, complete a survey, participate in a simple online game, or enter a draw for a fabulous prize. The problem with that tactic is the undifferentiated contact list it produces: few organizations have the time, resources, and patience to separate the real prospects from the casual visitors who just sign up for the fabulous prize.
- Gated content is a different story. If you invite visitors to download a white paper, a case study, an infographic, or some other free resource, you have a better chance of assembling a premium list of contacts who are genuinely interested in your message.
- If you’re running an advocacy campaign, bear in mind that petitions serve more than one purpose: they deliver a message on a current issue, but they also help you build your list of supporters. (If you request a zip code in the U.S. or a postal code in Canada, you can sort that list by Congressional district, federal riding, or municipal ward.) Your follow-up must always be permission-based—not just because the law says so, but because the principles of inbound marketing agree.