The objective approach.

Author:Pulizzi, Joe
Position:Content marketing: how-to
 
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To make the case for content marketing programs, you need to know what's working and what's not. Here's how to get real data

"A year from now, what's different?"

When I used to sell custom publishing services, I always asked the client that question before signing the contract, because the answer was the most critical element of the final agreement. The client's response revealed everything about how they intended to measure the content project we were about to create for them.

And that's the exact question I want you to ask yourself when you think about measuring your content marketing efforts.

Content marketing, simply defined, is the marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience--with the objective of driving profitable customer action. But to be successful at it, you need to understand what's working and what isn't.

Before you start on this path, keep this message from Content Marketing Institute lead consultant Michael Weiss in mind:

"There is no magic silver bullet. Remember, this is marketing and it is organic--it takes time. Traditional advertising is very hard to measure. Content marketing is totally measurable, but it takes rime to get real data. Unless you are willing to launch a program for at least six months, there is no reason to do anything. You need time to gather data!"

Once you start a content marketing strategy or program, you'll never stop. Content is a promise to your customers--make sure you don't break it.

Return on objective

Sales increase, impact and retention are just a few of the key measurements for any return-on-objective (ROO) program. (I like to use ROO instead of ROI because it focuses content marketers on the teal objectives.) Sometimes ROO can be determined with one metric; other times four or five are needed to show an impact on your organization's business goals.

ROO measurements come in all shapes and sizes, and usually include multiple items to give you the complete answer to your question. Remember, you aren't measuring just for the sake of measurement. The tools and tactics below are used to directly determine what a project's objectives should be. If you keep that in mind, you'll get your ROO.

Here are a few measurement initiatives to get you started:

* Tracking an increase in sales among those who receive the content program (for example, an email newsletter) versus those who do not over...

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