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Why ROI is, Literally, the Last Metric for Evaluating Your Content-Marketing Plan Keep a close eye on whether your audience is engaged and enthusiastic for your content or there won't be any return on investment to measure.

By Brett Relander Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It is no secret that not just any content will succeed in online marketing.

Your content must engage your readers, increase brand awareness and improve your bottom line. In the past, many companies simply threw some keyword-rich content on their websites and hoped it would stick. Keywords remain important but it is crucial your content is informative, relevant and interesting. Content+ found that interesting content is one of the top three reasons that consumers follow brands on social media.

Related: The 3 Most Important Online Marketing Metrics to Monitor

Furthermore, TMG Custom Media reports that an astounding 90 percent of consumers believe custom content is useful and 78 percent of consumers believe that companies providing custom content have an interest in establishing good relationships with their customers.

Clearly, the right content is important to determining where you stand with your current content marketing plan. This means measuring engagement and shareability. Consider whether you see a lot of interaction, comments, and shares from the content you post. If your content remains static without any real response, it is time to fine-tun to your approach.

Far too often, many companies focus on the ROI provided by their content marketing plan but ROI is actually a metric that should be measured later, rather than sooner, in the process. You should understand the following metrics first:

  • Are people liking or following your social profiles where you share your content?
  • Are people visiting and returning to your website?
  • Are visitors commenting or asking questions?
  • Are people connecting with other members of the community?
  • Is your content being shared?
  • Are people making comments about your content elsewhere?
  • Are visitors engaging more on your site or social network?

The goal is to get people talking about your content and sharing it with others so that your overall exposure is increased. This means measuring engagement metrics such as shares, likes, comments, link backs, mentions, and retweets. Keep in mind that numbers are important when it comes to engagement, but in the end, it is all about people. In order to understand the type of content you need to develop, you must also identify and research your target audience. Once you have developed a solid understanding of your audience, you can then begin developing customized content based on their interests.

Related: Why Tracking Marketing Metrics Can Pay Off

RazorSocial suggests tapping into the power of Google Analytics to measure engagement and use the data derived to assist in guiding your content development plan. With Google Analytics, you can measure the following metrics:

  • Number of returning visitors
  • Audience engagement rate
  • Average pages or time spent on site
  • Bounce rate
  • Conversion rates from different sources

Google Analytics is a vital tool, but there are also several other tools you should include in your arsenal. For instance, HootSuite is an excellent tool for tracking mentions. TweetDeck is also great for tracking mentions as well as hash tags. In order to track all of your content across paid, organic and social mediums, TrackMaven is a go-to tool that also allows you to compare the results of your content to that of competitors. Do you need some insight into content that is resonating with your target audience? Buzzsumo allows you to analyze the performance of content across multiple social mediums. Simply search a topic or keyword and gain insight into successful content. Gravity is another tool that works similarly to Buzzsumo by allowing you to keep tabs on those topics that are currently generating the most interest online and giving you easy tools to view the topics that are more likely to resonate with your own target audience.

Once you understand the type of content that is more likely to resonate with your audience, it is important to develop a plan. CMI and MarketingProfs report that 66 percent of the most effective marketers have taken the time to establish a documented content marketing strategy. Creating content without a specific focus will eventually hurt your efforts. A well-rounded content marketing plan should include a content calendar for regularly scheduled posts. While a calendar is important, it is also vital to ensure that you remain flexible in your publication goals and make adjustments based on customer behavior and other factors.

The ability to respond to real-time events will become even more vital as mobile web consumption continues to outpace desktop usage. Responding to topics that your readers wish to engage with, a process now known as newsjacking, can help your organization to increase revenue. Organizations that use predictive business performance metrics will increase their profitability by 20 percent by 2017, according to Gartner, Inc.

Related: 7 Simple Numbers That Can Grow Your Business

Brett Relander

Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer, Founder & Chief Strategy Officer @LaunchandHustle

Brett is a growth hacker, consultant and speaker with specialties in social media, mobile, and digital marketing strategy.   He’s the founder of Launch & Hustle and a Top 100 Social Media Power Influencer 2015. His first book, Imperative – How any business can quickly and easily leverage mobile marketing for radical success, was published in Nov 2014. Join him on TwitterFacebook, and Google+ today. Take your social media marketing to the next level with these 25 FREE Editable Quote Graphics.

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