Let’s face it: even though we know there’s value in content marketing, ROI is challenging to prove.

For one, marketing attribution models haven’t caught up to the level of sophistication we need to track customer behavior.

Not to mention, data can be deceptive. A lengthy user visit to your website, for instance, may lead you to believe that your audience is engaged, when they’re actually confused about where to find the information they need.

Financial services marketers especially are under pressure to “prove” the ROI of every piece of content created. If you’re struggling with this, don’t worry: you’re not the only one.

In time, marketing attribution models will catch up, and you’ll have the resources to track your audience at different parts of the customer journey. Until then, you’ll need to rely on your data’s “behind the scenes” stories.

Here are four of these metrics to watch.

1. Growth in “Type-In” Traffic

For the most part, branding is impossible to quantify.

There is a data point, however, that can tell you whether your brand is growing: the number (or percent) of website visitors who have either (1) typed your company’s name into Google search or (2) typed your company’s name directly into their web browsers.

When this “type-in” number increases, it’s a sign that audiences are finding your brand memorable.

What’s important to consider about this metric, however, is that a number of variables can affect it—the most obvious being that if you’re investing in multiple marketing and brand-building initiatives, they will all influence your brand’s visibility.

2. Social Media Shares

While social media shares are loosely correlated—at best—with ROI metrics, they’re a signal that people like your content and find it valuable enough to promote. That’s why some marketers will tell you that “social shares don’t matter.”

I’m going to disagree. In the financial services industry, they do.

Here’s why: the financial services sector has a bad rap as an industry that has violated consumers’ trust. People are extremely protective of their money and are averse to spammy sales pushes.

Shares, tweets, and likes are signs that audiences are finding a brand’s thought leadership valuable. This level of credibility is crucial for brands in finance.

3. Backlinks

We’re not recommending that you venture out into the SEO world to “build links” for the intent of passing PageRank. What we do recommend, however, is that you check which and how many referring websites are linking to your content.

You can then use this metric to create a measure for influence.

For instance, you could categorize your backlinks by company type as a measure of authority. This process may take some data entry time (and potentially some engineering resources), but it will tell you a compelling story.

4. Positivity Scores

This one’s going to take some work and technical creativity to measure, but if you can make it happen it’s totally worth it.

The idea is simple: scrape your Twitter feed, Facebook comments, and on-site comments to see what people are saying about your content and brand.

Categorize what they’re saying into positive and negative sentiments. Use this data to understand (quantitatively) what people love about your brand.

If you manage to execute this very ambitious analysis, be sure to share your methods, results, and findings with the rest of your internal marketing team.

You pick #5

What are the most unconventional—yet important—content marketing metrics your brand has uncovered?

What do you measure on a regular basis?

Remember that data is an art, so share your ideas and feedback in the comments section below.

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