So this is the post where we tell you what we hope to achieve from the Content Marketing Strategy Checklist campaign.
The word ‘campaign’ almost seems quaint in the era of continuous content marketing but we believe there’s still a place for campaigns – in this case as a promotional push behind a specific piece of content (and the metrics surrounding that).
Why do we write down our goals?
It’s really, really easy to produce and promote content without ever committing to a set of specific, measurable goals.
And it’s tempting as hell.
If you don’t establish any goals – in public – you get to call whatever you achieve a success.
If you get decent downloads but no engagement, you can say, “This was never an engagement piece.”
If your downloads are disappointing, you can say, “But hey — check out those engagement metrics.” Well, as Ms Miles, my first grade teacher, used to say, you’re only cheating yourself.
But if you write down your goals some good things start to happen:
- You get better at setting goals
- You work harder to achieve them
- Your content gets much better because it’s goal-oriented
- You become nine times more likely to learn and improve as you go
- You become a confident, professional content marketer
Neil did an excellent post on the power of goals on the CMI blog. Because they’re important. So don’t rationalise why you can’t set goals. It’s bullshit. And don’t hide your goals. It’s craven.
Set them down and share them widely (maybe not as widely as a blog post – that would be reckless – but with the whole team and the key stakeholders). Make them specific, quantitative and bolted to a time frame.
If you have absolutely no idea what goals are reasonable, stick your finger in the air and guess. Next time, you’ll have a piece of data to base them on. If you do have a track record to base your goals on, so much the better.
How ambitious should you be?
It kind of comes down to your constitution. We always feel it’s best to go ahead and aim high by setting challenging targets you may not hit. But if you’re creating a pipeline here for the sales team, you also want to be accurate, so the business isn’t budgeting for something you can’t deliver.
Set your targets too high and a really great campaign can feel like a failure (or look like one to the people who sign your paycheck).
Set them too low and you’re not really motivated to try hard. If you’re sure you’ll hit your targets with minimal effort, well minimal effort is probably what you’ll put in.
For this campaign, we’re going to try to be on the ambitious side of accurate. We have a bit of track record and historical data so we want to see how close we can get. But we also want to push ourselves a bit (factoring in a tendency towards neurotic pessimism). So…
Here are our goals and metrics for the Checklist campaign
Our over-arching goals are downloads, engagement, influencer relationship-building, nurturing leads from earlier content, new business meetings and new revenue.
But goals without numbers are like the dreams of an America’s Got Talent competitor: empty and annoying as hell. So here are the metrics.
We’re basing most of these goals on the first six months of our B2B Manifesto Manifesto campaign (as tracked in Project Open Kimono). Even though it’s a very different piece and the world has changed since then (see ‘Fears’ below). It’s a benchmark. And who doesn’t love a benchmark.
In six months, we aim to hit these targets:
1500 downloads – This only matches the mighty, macho Manifesto, one of the most shareable (and shared) pieces we’ve ever done. Folly to aim as high? We hope not. For one thing, we’ve got the benefit of our previous content and the ever-rising Velocity content brand behind us. (And prayer. Lots of prayer.).
A 10% Site Conversion Rate – We want a whopping ten percent of our site visitors — from all sources — to download the Checklist. Our crack analyst team thinks we ought to be able to beat the Mainfesto’s 9.4% rate. If we don’t, we’ll fire their asses and use their deskspace for a foosball table with drinks holder (Note to self: do that anyway).
A 47% Funnel Conversion Rate – 47% of the people who hit our Manifesto landing page actually filled out the form and downloaded it. Kind of depressing but that’s what forms do. For the Checklist, we’re aiming to do the same — but we’ll test a no-form version (watch this space) and may end up torching the form and letting the Checklist fly free like a Scotsman’s todger or… like a… bird.
700 extra downloads of other gates content – The Manifesto drove 1700 extra downloads of the earlier Content Marketing Workbook in the first six months. So why such a low target? Because so many of the people we’re marketing to have already read the Workbook and Manifesto and Holy Trinity. And because we’re wusses.
500 other conversions – we want the Checklist to drive 500 newsletter downloads and visits to this blog series, the Diary of a Content Pimp. We might throw in another conversion goal if it looks like we won’t hit this one. Who you calling a cheater?
Beat our engagement metrics from campaign landers – we get about 2.5 pages per visit and a 50% bounce rate depending on traffic source (email is our best as they’re our peeps). We’d like to beat these. Getting bounce rates much above 50% is never easy for this kind of content but we have some tricks up our sleeves. For email we want it far lower (maybe 25% with a 65% conversion).
500 new entrances from organic search – on B2B, Marketing and Content keyphrases with with no ‘Velocity’ in them.
Defend ‘B2B Content Marketing’ search rankings – We rank well on this term (UK 2 and US 4) but it’s getting tough out there. We hope the Checklist (and related activities and content) will help us appease the Gods of Google.
Earn 25 back links – kind of an indicator metric rather than an end in itself.
Get 30 comments on the landing page – is this just an ego metric or do comments really help drive conversion rates on this page? We’ll find out. We aimed for 50 comments on the Manifesto and ended up with 108 — but we begged and this time, we just don’t want to lower our dignity.
We want lots of social shares. The aggregated targets for all campaign landing pages (checklist, workbook, manifesto, diary of a pimp, etc):
Right now, our social share buttons are too low on the pages and too quiet. We’ll dial these up and see if we can get more sharing.
Business Meetings – the big one. We want ten new meetings that come from the entire content library (we’ll only count people who got in touch after first visiting our content pages). Five of these can be ex-clients who we seduce back into the fold. Out of ten, one or two of these should turn into new business. This is far lower than Stan’s closing rate (Stan closes people he meets at bus-stops) but we can’t take that much more work so we’re forced to throttle back and turn down projects we might really love to do.
So those are our goals. We’ll report back on them as Diary of a Content Pimp progresses.
Now for our Fears
Content marketing can be a harrowing affair. You can put an awful lot into a piece of content and there’s no guarantee it will hit the target and earn that elusive thing called ‘traction’.
So as launch day approaches, the doubts start to set in. I don’t know about you but I get two flavours of heebie-jeebie. First, the generic fears that I get every time I put out a new piece:
Did we pick the right topic at the right time?
Did we give it the best treatment possible?
Is this piece really any good?
And then there are the specific fears about the choices we made as we produced this piece. For the Checklist, our fears include:
Does it fall between two stools? Part practical template, part think piece?
Is it too utilitarian? The Manifesto was widely shared because it’s full of attitude & energy. Will our audience be disappointed with such a hardworking piece?
Will people actually use it as a toolset? The Checklist is designed to be a real, practical tool (we’ve used it on client projects several times with great results). But, in truth, we think it should deliver value for readers who never take out their pencils., too. Will readers agree?
Has the world moved on? Are we now marketing to a saturated community of B2B marketers? Will it become three times harder to reach the same goals?
These fears rise and fall and rise again as the release date approaches. Some days I’m convinced we got it wrong. Other days, I’m confident we got it right. That’s where a little help from your friends can go a long way…
A little help from our friends
We always share our major pieces of content – in draft form – with friends whose opinions we’ve come to respect. Part of the reason is to see if it’s the kind of thing they’d share with their readers, followers and fans.
But the most important reason is to make the piece better. Showing the Checklist to smart people like Michael Brenner and Joe Pulizzi and the other great folks we mention on page 33* made it much, much sharper. They told us which bits confused them; where they felt we’d missed something; and where we’d nailed it.
They also gave us the kind of encouragement that gets you through the little doubt-storms we all experience. That’s priceless and we are both grateful and humbled. (Humbful?)
What do you think?
How do you do goals and metrics? Do you think we chickened out with ours or are we smoking Vaynerchuk? Are we idiots for sharing ours here? Thoughts on a postcard please (or in the comments box below).
* What the hell, I’d also like to thank them here, for their time, their honesty and their encouragement:
Ardath Albee • Bob Apollo • Ambal Balakrishnan • Michael Brenner • Kieran Flanagan • Ashley Friedlein • Ann Handley • Michele Linn • Billy Mitchell • Jeff Ogden • Peter O’Neill • Maria Pergolino • Rene Power • Joe Pulizzi • Robert Rose • Liz Smyth • John Sweeney • Stephanie Tilton • Jeremy Victor • Roger Warner • John Watton
You’ll recognise a lot of these names — they’re the people who keep giving their time, energy and insight to the B2B marketing community. Google them. Follow them. Read them. Be nice to them.
Other ‘Diary of a Content Pimp’ posts
1) The Kick-off – why we’re doing this
3) The Promo Plan – how we’ll promote the Checklist
4) Forms or No Forms – that is the question
5) The Power of a Blog Series – why multiples are better than singles