Sending your company’s content out into the world without knowing whom it’s going to reach — or why it should interest them — is as efficient as a paperboy flinging rolled-up newspapers into the street at random.
Sure, some will be caught or plucked up from the sidewalk, but the majority of the newspapers will tumble into puddles, onto empty stoops, or under car wheels, never to be read.
Online content is like those rolled-up newspapers, except on a much larger scale. Millions of pieces of content whizz around the Web with the potential to be shared or ignored. The challenge is knowing which pieces of content your potential buyers are actually engaging with — and which ones they’re ignoring.
Measuring the ROI of content is an ongoing challenge for content creators. In fact, 90 percent of marketers aren’t confident in how they’re measuring their content’s success. This is troublesome when you consider the fact that their content can directly impact their conversions.
When you know which pieces of content are prompting readers to connect with your brand, your conversion optimization efforts can take force, aiming your content a little closer to the target each time you share until you’re virtually placing it in front of your ideal customer.
Scoring your content based on how many leads or opportunities a piece of content has created allows you to objectively gauge the true success of your content and tailor future content to your specific buyers’ behavior.
How Content Scoring Works
The fundamentals of content scoring boil down to these three aspects:
- Knowing your buyers: Buyer personas are the key to creating content that converts. The better you know your potential buyers, the better you can use content to influence their experiences and persuade them to buy into your brand.
- Mapping buyer actions: Once you know your buyer personas, it’s good to map the actions of each buyer down to the Web page you want her to land on. This will help you think through how you want buyers to react to certain kinds of content and predict the clicks and turns of their online journeys.
- Creating a journey: Different kinds of content have different levels of success, and of the successful pieces, some will only work at certain stages of the customer’s experience. If a piece of content converts at a high rate, it should be repositioned as acquisition content. Content that still has good conversion rates should be positioned as mid-funnel pieces or nurturing content.
Finally, look for content that leads to action on the pricing page or other high-value pages. This should be late-stage content. Good content management is all about leading customers through the journey, from view to click to purchase.
Once you’re tracking your buyers, their actions along the content journey should become clear enough for you to score your content according to its efficacy and its place in the content funnel. Now, you can start targeting content more effectively to reach potential buyers.
The Nuts and Bolts: How to Score Content
Scoring your content is easier said than done, of course. Here are the steps to most effectively score the content you’re producing:
- Develop a lead-scoring model: Begin with a fairly standard lead-scoring model wrapped around your content types, as well as buying stages. You will score “light” content — content that Jason Miller at LinkedIn calls “chocolate cake content” — with fewer points than your heavy gated content pieces.
These are your “definitive guides,” and they focus on enabling the buyer to understand not only your solution, but how she will use it. Once you have the content scoring in place, complement it with additional points for content that’s consumed further in the buying journey. Think of this as an interest multiplier: If I consume content on day 1, it says something, but if I consume content on day 190, that shows a different level of investment.
- Integrate your scoring into your platforms: This is just a fancy way of saying that you need to build your scoring models into your marketing automation and content management platforms. This is how you’re going to manage it.
- Evaluate the data regularly: This is the step that’s often missed. We have to evaluate the data on at least a quarterly basis. Ideally, we want to follow it daily and determine the types and topics of future content production. When you’re creating your next content piece based on what your buyers are asking for, you’ve reached nirvana.
The Benefits of Content Scoring
While you may be reluctant to add another step to your content workflow, scoring your content can make your team more efficient by evaluating what content is working and clarifying how to better shape the customer’s journey to reflect your end goal.
- Scoring encourages quality over quantity. The minute your company abandons the “quantity over quality” approach to content, you’ll see better results. Spending more time honing your content to reflect your strategy — rather than having a bunch of talented people churn out as much content as possible — will lead to more productive workdays and more effective content.
- Scoring supports a cumulative approach to content. Content scoring won’t bring in more leads overnight. However, scoring each new piece of content brings your strategy closer to hitting the mark. Maybe the user will click away this time, but because you’ve added another step to her journey, she’ll be more likely to click next time. Nothing is lost with content scoring, and the content you produce becomes a cumulative game.
- Scoring tells you more than vanity metrics do. Vanity metrics — such as your number of retweets or Facebook friends — are not predictors of success. The only way to judge and predict how your users are behaving is by constantly evaluating how your content is actually performing and repositioning it according to your results.
- Scoring helps you make a good first impression. Poor content can drive away a potential customer for good, but great content does its work slowly, boosting your brand over time. A reputation for good content is a valuable thing; it will lead buyers to associate your brand with intelligence and relevance, which will keep them coming back for more. Eventually, all your hard work will result in that final click to buy.
When implementing content scoring, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Let your buyer dictate the content journey. Even though you may feel the content should lead the buyer through the funnel a certain way or that one piece of content is more valuable than others, your buyer should drive the process. Objective measurements will help you realistically evaluate what content is working — and what isn’t.
- Reevaluate your content often. Analyzing your content at least once per month is best. If potential buyers aren’t continuing along the content journey or interacting with your content, retool it, reposition it, or get rid of it altogether.
- Set realistic expectations. Understand that you won’t necessarily see results overnight. Creating compelling content is a long-term game.
By getting to know your buyers, understanding their journey, and scoring your content accordingly, you’ll be able to convert readers into customers. Scoring helps your brand set a standard for its content, limiting the buyer’s journey to content that actually starts and continues conversations. When you know what content performs, you won’t just be slinging pieces of content at random passersby; you’ll be placing it in the hands of buyers who really want it.
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- If You Aren’t Scoring Content, You Can’t Know What’s Working - November 21, 2014