The Missing Link to Measuring Content Marketing Success

The Missing Link to Measuring Content Marketing Success

The Missing Link to Measuring Content Marketing Success

Sponsored Article by HubSpot

Do you know how many blog posts one of your visitors needs to read before they decide to sign up for your lead generation offer?

Are you able to measure which sources and offers are leading to business results?

This is an issue that has plagued businesses and marketers for years.

We invest extensive amounts of time and energy (and money!) into building up our sales funnel, only to be forced to make business decisions based solely on traffic and sales data.

The Content Marketing Setup

Let's see if this sounds familiar.

Working backwards, you set up an email autoresponder that sends a drip campaign to new subscribers, helping them to learn about your business, the problems you solve, and lead them through to a successful conversion.

You then create a great PDF download that your targeted prospects would be very interested in reading, and set that up to be sent when someone signs up to your list.

Next, you add sidebar invitations and exit-intent popups to your site encouraging visitors to have your PDF resource emailed to them.

Once that's in place, you create a landing page for the resource, as well as key informational pages to which you can refer prospects as they proceed through their buyer journey.

After that, it's time to start creating blog content that addresses topics related to your PDF resource so that you can refer to it and drive more subscribers.

And finally, you begin to promote all of this content on your social channels.

That's what the traditional content marketing setup looks like and, when executed well, is extremely effective at raising awareness, establishing authority, and creating an ongoing pipeline of qualified leads.

The Content Marketing Measurement Dilemma

The problem is that there are huge gaps in your ability to measure the effectiveness of that process.

Sure, with Google Analytics you can easily see the traffic coming into your site, which articles are the most popular, and how many goals are completed for a given timeframe.

And of course in your email marketing solution, you can see how many subscribers you gained over the same timeframe.

Google Analytics though is specifically designed to measure current "sessions" - each specific time that an individual visits your site and the actions they take. Their activity is measured and then aggregated along with all of your other visitors.

That means that if we want to answer important questions like:

  • How many blog posts does a new subscriber read before subscribing?
  • How many blog posts does a customer read before purchasing?
  • Which specific blog posts tend to result in more subscribers?
  • Which specific blog posts tend to result in more customers?

We can't.

You can get close with Google Analytics using Events and Goals and other advanced configurations. But you'll never have true, easy access to answer long-term behavioral questions like above. And that's simply because, as I said, Google Analytics aggregates all data. There's no individual measurement.

There are certainly other options besides Google Analytics. One that I've personally looked into extensively is the combination of using HubSpot Enterprise + Curata + Salesforce. Those three solutions together is like the Kikoken super combo in Street Fighter.

The trifecta for content marketing measurement.

The problem, of course, is that combined those tools will run about $2,000 a month, paid annually. Which is why most small to medium businesses continue to struggle.

The Content Marketing Measurement Missing Link

What's needed is a solution that doesn't break the bank, yet still manages to give businesses and marketers a greater insight into their audience and marketing effectiveness.

That is, of course, what we're going to discuss the rest of our time here.

It's called HubSpot Marketing Free and, as the name states, it's free.

How's that for affordable?

If you're anxious to check it out and want to skip my overview, feel free. ;)

If you're not familiar with HubSpot, they're one of the premiere marketing solution providers. Their CRM, Marketing and Sales products are a tremendous asset to businesses using them, and quite affordable compared to alternatives.

But for businesses not yet ready to implement a complete inbound solution, HubSpot now offers 'Marketing Free' as a way to give you better insight into your audience behavior.

With HubSpot Marketing Free in place - and it takes just minutes to 'install' into most sites - you will immediately begin to see exactly which pages and posts of your site your leads have visited over time.

At a glance you can see exactly how your site's forms have performed - whether they're contact forms or embedded lead generation, HubSpot sees and measures them all:

Hubspot Marketing Free Dashboard

And tells you where they're coming from:

Measure sources for your content marketing leads.

Every one of those contacts is added to your new HubSpot Marketing Contacts database where you're able to drill down and explore where each came from individually, which pages or posts of your site they viewed, and what they completed on your site.

For instance, here's "David", a reader who found my site via Google's UK search:

View detailed contact information and history.

Thanks to HubSpot Marketing Free, I'm able to see that on the morning of March 10th he found my LinkedIn Profile Guide via search, went to my Home page, searched on "LinkedIn" and ended up back on the Guide, where he downloaded the full PDF. After that, he searched on setting up LinkedIn and found one of my older articles on Getting Started with LinkedIn.

What's more, since David is recognized by HubSpot, I'm also able to see additional contact details for his company including name, description, revenue, date founded, country, Twitter, LinkedIn, headquarters and address.

Having those kinds of details, particularly for a warm prospect, is invaluable.

Getting Started with HubSpot Marketing Free

To start collecting all of this great data yourself, head over to HubSpot Marketing Free and sign up for a free account.

Once your account is activated, go to Settings and then Installation to obtain your unique tracking code. All you have to do is paste that into the header of your site so that it loads with every page, just like your Google Analytics tracking code.

HubSpot Marketing Free can instantly (some say, magically) recognize when there's a form on a page and when that form is used to submit information. When that happens, the lead's details are recorded, along with their other activities on your site which are part of their cookie.

Next, consider using the included "Lead Flows" which are three step forms available as three different kinds of pop-ups:

  1. Slide-in box
  2. Drop-down banner
  3. Pop-up box

Now, if you're adverse to using pop-ups, don't be. When done right they're an incredibly effective technique for taking the next step toward building a relationship with a site visitor. But you don't have to take my word for it.

With any of those three display options, you can create a flow that appears on all pages or select URLs, and feeds leads into your email provider of choice.

Just proceed through the Lead Flows wizard which walks you through selecting a display type, customizing the text, imagery and colors for your pop-up, and adjusting other options as you see fit.

Use Lead Flows to generate more content marketing leads.

For instance, I can connect my MailChimp to HubSpot Marketing Free and each time I set up a new Lead Flow, I can make sure that contacts are added to the correct email marketing List. (Third party pop-up solutions are not recognized, so you'll need to use these Lead Flows if you want Marketing Free to collect all lead information.)

If you want some or all of your existing embedded forms to feed into your email marketing provider, head over to the Collected Forms tab which lists every form HubSpot Marketing Free has detected (meaning someone has completed the form since the tracking code has been installed). You can also choose to sync those contacts with HubSpot's free CRM service.

Here you can see two of my forms. One is a standard Contact form while the other, "#mc-embedded..." is an embedded MailChimp form for one of my content upgrades.

Here you can see two of my forms. One is a standard Contact form while the other, "#mc-embedded..." is an embedded MailChimp form for one of my content upgrades.

I can toggle email notifications for each form submission (the emails include all of the data that's collected for that contact at that time), as well as edit the collected form to direct it into a MailChimp list. I already know that the MailChimp embedded form is on my LinkedIn Profile guide which gets almost 100% direct, new traffic from Google Search, and it feeds directly into the appropriate group within a list, so I don't need HubSpot Marketing Free to sync, nor do I need email notifications on completion.

For contacts that come in via the Contact Us page, however, knowing how they got there in one email as their form submission comes in via a second, normal lead email, is helpful. I can also sync those leads into MailChimp for ongoing marketing in addition to whatever personal responses I might send.

Obviously your site and available forms may vary wildly, so my point here is to illustrate how HubSpot Marketing Free's Lead Flows and Collected Forms can be initialized and customized to suit your needs, in moments.

There is an upgraded version (HubSpot Marketing Starter) for $50/mo that removes all branding, stores contact details indefinitely (instead of 7 days), and permits custom lead form fields.

PRO TIP: Routinely export your contacts, either all or for specific forms / lead flows, into a spreadsheet where you can perform more detailed, as well as aggregate, analysis.

Wrapping Up

While the creation of words and images into a compelling message that your target audience will respond to positively is certainly an art, executing successful marketing tactics and measuring their results should be more of a science.

If you want to understand your audience so that you can communicate with them better, you need to see what they're doing - both how they got to your site and what they did when they got there - and Google Analytics alone will not provide that information to you when it matters most: for your valuable leads and prospects.

Thanks to HubSpot Marketing Free, you can see exactly what specific leads did prior to becoming leads and learn from those experiences.

  • How many blog posts does a new subscriber read before subscribing?
  • How many blog posts does a customer read before purchasing?
  • Which specific blog posts tend to result in more subscribers?
  • Which specific blog posts tend to result in more customers?

Now you have those missing links.

Improve Your Marketing Insight Today!

While the opinions and conclusions expressed here are my own, HubSpot did ask me to write this article and has sponsored it. The links above are tracking links for measurement purposes only, as I receive no further compensation for your use of HubSpot services. So enjoy the free platform!

DISCLOSURE: Some links in the article above, and throughout this site, may be affiliate links. While there's no additional cost to you, purchases made via those links may earn me a commission. Only products and services which have been tried and tested are reviewed, and those reviews are always thorough and honest. If you benefited from my review and have a genuine interest in the linked product, your use of the affiliate link is appreciated and allows me to continue writing these kinds of helpful articles.

Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner

Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner - a title he invented to represent his holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blogging, social media, email marketing and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales. He is an award-winning Blogger, Speaker, and Author at The Social Media Hat, and Brand Evangelist at Agorapulse (formerly CMO at SiteSell).

As Brand Evangelist, Mike works directly with other social media educators, influencers, agencies and brands to explore and develop profitable relationships with Agorapulse.

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