You’re Doing it Wrong: Content Marketing Strategy

It is not surprising that more and more companies are increasing their marketing spend on content marketing each year. In fact, marketers, on average, spend over a quarter of their marketing budget on content marketing (B2B Marketing Insider). However, after months of ideation, content design and publication, do we truly know how effective the investment has been? And even more importantly, can we identify which efforts didn’t work? That is exactly the question stakeholders will ask when those reports roll in.
We could just say, “Good job!”, and pat ourselves on the back when we see the big green arrow on our reports. But the truth is, your marketing efforts could derive more value if you just took a few extra steps. It might seem that I am casting a wet blanket over the party, but you need answers to understand the ROI of your individual campaigns, improve your marketing strategy and allocate the right resources to the best places or you’re just throwing money out the window.
What exactly is content marketing? 

‘Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.’[1]

At its core, content marketing’s goal is to tell a full and interesting story to provide long-term education to both current and potential clients, as compared to other forms of marketing which strive to achieve short-term and impulsive reactions. Content marketing can raise the profile of a brand or product by building an image as a ‘thought leader’. This image plays a significant role in increasing client retention and loyalty by gaining mindshare to keep clients coming back to you and not your competitors. It’s a qualitative measure that depends on unique material and constant analysis.
At the heart of content marketing is a company’s website, which usually becomes the epicenter of content marketing efforts. As well it should, blogs give websites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links. (Content+). Your site is the best place to publish unique content such as blog posts, webinars, studies, videos, etc. But do you know what your visitors really want? In order to evaluate the effectiveness of each marketing campaign, you need to find out how to distinguish the traffic from these various sources. 
Single Campaign IDs
To start, your developers might suggest appending meaningful keywords to the campaign page URLs and later search for these keywords in the page report to get the data. For example, you added “ref=facebook&topic=new_product&date=09192014” to the corresponding links in the marketing contents and indicate that the viewer was brought to the site by the “new_product” article on “Facebook” published on September 19th, 2014.
Technically, this is what we suggest our customers to do as well. However, instead of using multiple query parameters to identify a single campaign, you might want to design a consistent naming convention that marks each campaign with a single unique ID. At a first glance, you would probably think that this kind of setup fails to provide intuitive information about the traffic because one has to know the exact campaign ID before he or she could continue filtering the data. But in fact, this arrangement brings significant benefits to your entire marketing strategy.
  • Allows you to easily manage and keep record of your content marketing campaigns. 
  • You can create a tiny database or even an Excel sheet to record the necessary campaign information. Using it, you will be able to check the background of any campaign at any time in the future.
  • Makes it easier to analyze the traffic data. 
    • For example, instead of using the above long query string to represent a campaign, you may probably switch to “cid=fb09192014bu”. In this short string, “bf” indicates the marketing channel, “09192014” specifies the starting date, and “bu” represents the specific business unit the campaign is set up for. So if you want to see the traffic trends of a campaign that is set up at the beginning of each quarter over a year, you could simply use the regular expression “/cid=fb\d{4}2014bu/” to filter the reports. Besides, if you want to know the overall performance of the campaigns for a specific business unit in 2014, you will find this search keyword “/cid=.*2014bu/” really handy.
  • Avoids technical issues caused by including extra “&’s” within link URLs. 
  • When sharing a link through a third party API, your campaign URL usually becomes the value of another query parameter in the API link. However, if you have an “&” in your campaign URL but forgot to encode it when assigning this to the query parameter in the API link, the browsers will not be able to parse “&” as part of the campaign URL and will result in a loss of tracking information.
After your set up a proper tracking framework to collect the traffic data and start evaluating the effectiveness of your content marketing through actual data, you will be able to identify your visitor’s preferences. The next step will then be to optimize your resources to deliver more attractive campaigns in the next round. 
Have questions? Need help setting this up? 
I can be reached at or leave a comment below!


By Yang Zhang
About the Author:

Yang Zhang is a Senior Analyst at Stratigent.

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