4 Key Learnings from the Advanced Measurement Track at Content Marketing World 2015

For the second year in a row, the HiP team ventured to Cleveland, OH in early September for Content Marketing World.  This year’s event was certainly a sight to behold.  Attendance ballooned to more than 3,500.

Content Marketing World 2015 more than accommodated this growth with an impressive 88 breakout sessions (over 22 unique tracks), 18 “Lunch and Learn” sessions, and 6 keynote speeches.  The show rounded things out with a full-sized Hollywood Squares set, a Barenaked Ladies concert, and reception at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Faced with this daunting amount of content, we decided to take a different approach this year.  Rather than dipping into several different tracks, as was the case last year, each HiPster took on a single track each day.  I was tasked with the “Advanced Measurement” track on day one.  After four valuable breakout sessions, here are my key learnings from the track.


1. Reporting Does Not Equal Analytics

Applied Analytics:  Using Data to Make Better Content Marketing Decisions”, Andy Crestodina

Applied Analytics Using Data to Make Better Content Marketing Decisions Screenshot

Though, this sentiment was a common thread through much of the Advanced Measurement track, analytics expert, Andy Crestodina, put it in the most concrete terms.  Reporting alone is not analytics.  Reporting is the easy part.  Examining the data and, more importantly, using it to make better decisions is what makes transforms this activity into analytics.

Takeaway:  Crestodina put forward a simple model for meaningful, applied analytics.  Begin with an idea, uses this idea to generate a question, use data to answer your question, and formulate action items based on your answer.

For example, you might have the idea to do a mobile-first campaign.  In planning this campaign, it would be important to know if mobile visitors are as engaged as desktop visitors.  Looking to your analytics data, you might find that mobile visitors are in fact less engaged than desktop visitors.  With this information, your action plan might be to further investigate mobile usability and run, a run a desktop-first campaign in the meantime.


2. Running the Content Wheel

“The Content Wheel:  Sustaining Momentum with Greater ROI While Punching Unicorns in the Face”, Jay Acunzo

The Content Wheel Sustaining Momentum with Greater ROI While Punching Unicorns in the Face Screenshot

As marketers know, content marketing is all about stories – and this presentation definitely came with a great story.  It tells us how one marketer and one ebook built a $2 million book of business from essentially scratch.  Though it may sound like the introduction to some sort of get-rich-quick scheme, this feat was accomplished with nothing more than fundamentally sound contentment marketing.

Takeaway:  Acunzo’s content marketing wheel is made up of four stages: Decide, Hone, Create, and Distribute.

In the Decide stage, marketers must ask themselves why their company exists.  What’s problem we solve or the process we improve?  Acunzo suggests putting this statement into the format, “For [target] who are [segment], [brand] provides the [category] with [distinction] because of [proof].”

The Hone stage of the content marketing wheel tasks marketers with finding their “One Simple Story”.  In other words, it asks you to formulate a consistent and concise story that explains how your company delivers value from the point of view of your customers.  The One Simple Story is the path to your value proposition.

During the Create stage, marketers build the hub of the content marketing wheel.  Here, the company creates a single piece of evergreen content that simultaneously presents the One Simple Story and solves a buyer’s problem.

Finally, during the Distribute phase, traffic is driven to the hub content through sharing and repurposing.  These traffic sources are the spokes of the content marketing wheel.  Acunzo specifically mentions blog posts, email, social media, paid search/display, and third party syndication as sharing channels.


3. The Right Time to Calculate ROI

Content Marketing Measurement – Is ROI Really What We’re Looking For?”, Robert Rose

Content Marketing Measurement - Is ROI Really What We’re Looking For Screenshot

In one of the more cerebral talks of the track, CMI Chief Strategy Officer, Robert Rose, addresses the case for and against applying traditional ROI models to content marketing.  The first distinction Rose made was between content marketing and campaign-based marketing.  As he phrased it in his related blog post, “Campaigns are a cost that provides value at a moment in time. Content marketing is an investment that, if done well, provides increasing value over time.”

This short-term vs. long-term distinction, Rose says, is the key to whether ROI calculations are an appropriate gauge for content efforts.  Campaigns are built for short-term impact.  Therefore, it’s suitable to judge these efforts with simple accountability metrics, like cost per lead, cost per sale, and incremental revenue generated.

On the other hand, content marketing (when done correctly) builds value over time.  As a result, content marketing must be measured more like a product than a campaign.  It’s more appropriate to judge content marketing using a true ROI model, which accounts for current and future value.

Takeaway:  The key here is to understand your content marketing efforts.  There’s nothing wrong with content created to support campaigns.  If that’s the case, roll that into campaign costs and measure appropriately.  On the flip side, if most of your assets are not campaign-bound, use a true ROI model to more accurately demonstrate value.


4. Content Marketers Must Excel at Bringing Structure and Meaning to Numbers

The Content Marketing Metrics that Matter:  How To Measure, Visualize & Report on Content Performance”, Paul Roetzer

The Content Marketing Metrics that Matter How To Measure, Visualize & Report on Content Performance Screenshot

As content marketers, we have access to more data than ever, but data without analysis it is simply noise.  Despite the availability of data, many questions remain as to the effectiveness of marketing efforts.  In fact, only 36% of CMOs have quantitatively proven short-term impact of marketing spend and only 29% have done so for long-term spend.

Roetzer asserts the problem is marketing dashboards report activities, rather than business outcomes. The remedy, he says, is for marketers to turn data into Intelligence, intelligence into action, and action into measurable outcomes.

Takeaway:  In the presentation, Roetzer put forward a five step process.  Step one is to align content marketing goals with business goals.  These goals must be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound).

Next, he says, marketers must identify key performance indicators (KPIs).  KPIs are specific metrics that measure the performance of an activity, cumulatively describing progress on a goal (see above).

The third step in Roetzer’s process is to track and report at a campaign level.  He defines campaigns as “a series of projects designed to achieve a goal”.  Organizing KPIs by campaign, provides a clear view into progress on goals and the contribution of individual activities.

Step four in this model is to train your team. Most sizeable content marketing operations will have multiple people handing reporting from different sources.  Analytics only remains valuable if all of these sources are on the same page and actively identifying actionable insights.

The final step, Roetzer says, is to automate and visualize data. He suggests using APIs to automate data entry, automated emails to deliver reports, and third party dashboards for business intelligence and data visualization.




Let us know what you think:

  • Did you attend Content Marketing World 2015?
  • If so, what were your greatest learnings?
  • If not, do you plan to attend Content Marketing World (or any similar events) in the future?



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