Measuring The Impact of Your Content: An Interview with Jay Baer


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Why are marketers and PR executives resistant to aggressively measuring their content?

What can be done to add accountability to content marketing?

Jay Baer is a thought-leader in content-based marketing and social media. He leads a company called Convince and Convert that does social media strategies and content marketing strategies for corporations and agencies across North America. He writes the “Convince and Convert” blog, speaks at conferences and is the co-author of a book, The Now Revolution. He is working on a new book that will be called “YOU-tility: Why Smart Marketers Focus on Helping Themselves”.

I met with Jay at the Content Marketing World Conference to talk over the state of measurement today in content marketing.

MP: Jay, why do you find that measurement is so important in content marketing?

JB: I think that anytime you have a shift in communications or thinking, you have a corresponding shift in budget allocations. We’re at that point in the evolution of content marketing where we’re asking the question less often, “Should we do content?” and we’re asking the question more often, “How do we do content better?” or “How do we know this is working?” As more and more companies do more and more content, the next obvious question is “How many dollars should we be giving this?” Should we be doing more content and less advertising? Should we be hiring more content people?

You can’t answer those operational questions with any confidence unless you have measurement.

MP: I have noticed that it has been difficult to get companies to strongly engage with content measurement . What do you perceive to be the barriers that keep people from jumping in with both feet into measurement? Everyone should want to know whether or not what they write is read.

JB: To some degree, people don’t know how, or they think they don’t have the resources to measure.

Measurement requires a level of expertise and a level of time. Sometimes third party resources and things like that which people don’t necessarily want to allocate cost to. It’s not free; so sometimes you need to ask yourself “What is the ROI of measuring ROI?” That’s a legitimate question for some people.

And I also think there is a fear in some companies that they don’t want to measure content because the metrics would not yet show fantastic results. They don’t want to kill a program that they believe in, in its formative stages.

MP: Jay, you have assembled a content measurement framework. Can you just take a couple of minutes and give a highlight?

JB: Yeah, so the core is to know why you’re measuring, and what you’re looking to accomplish with content. I have found that there are four types of metrics: Consumption metrics, Sharing Metrics, Lead Generation metrics and Sales metrics. Each of those answers a different business question. As opposed to looking at metrics in a vacuum and beginning with available data points and trying to craft a story. Start with what you want to prove and make the case.

MP: I have noticed frequently that PR agencies tend to measure media value, but you don’t know if the hits are going to the right people and if anybody is looking at it.

JB: Right and I think they’re getting a lot better at that. One of my clients is the head of the global public relations consortion and they just came out with a new position on PR measurement which moves 100% away from equivalent value. I think this change is really exciting. The PR industry leadership has said that we’ve got to stop doing that, which I think is a positive sign as well.

MP: When you talk about content and measuring content, what are the most obvious places that people are putting content that they might want to measure using your framework?

JB: Well, certainly content that exists within their own online home–websites, blog posts, videos, etc.–but, I’m a big believer in spreading your content in as many places as you possibly can. You can’t be a “hog” of your own content; you really have to be a “digital dandelion,” what we call it in our firm, and put your content in as many repositories as you possibly can. So, Slideshare are a good example, YouTube is a good example — all of these different places where you can have your content reside and they all have their own analytics. The challenge is sometimes keeping it all together in some sort of consistent mathematical narrative because you have metrics from the content on your site, you’ve got Slideshare metrics, you’ve got YouTube metrics, and bringing all those together can sometimes be a little messy.

MP: When you have clients who are just starting out with measurement, if you were to give them some advice about how to get started in measurement when they’re probably a little afraid, where should they start?

JB: I would go back to what we talked about a little bit ago and take the math out, let’s not worry about the metrics to start. Let’s talk about answering questions. What questions do you need answered to determine whether or not your content is effective, at the business level? And then as you position it more as sort of a discussion, an inquiry or a sort of detective game–more so than a math game, I think that approach makes the discussion of measurement less threatening. I think a lot of people got into this type of work, specifically content, because they didn’t want to deal with math. They want to write, they want to take pictures, and they want to tell stories. They’re not math majors. So I really think the most effective way, especially for smaller companies, is just set the math aside, let’s talk about answering business questions first and then move on to the math.

MP: What do you think the first question or two is that people should tackle?

JB: Usually the first question that comes up is that financial side, how much of this should we be doing? How much blogging is too much blogging? The second question is usually more around that sort of consumption side, is anybody paying attention? If you write a blog post, is anybody going to know that it exists? Especially when you’re first starting out as a content creator, there’s that very pervasive feeling like, “Am I just doing this for my own personal enjoyment? I had the same thing, my blog started out with zero readers and then I convinced my mom to read it, right? So then you sort of go from there and then 4 years later it’s going great, The first question is always, “How do we know whether it’s working?”

MP: Thank you, Jay, for sharing some of your thinking about content marketing and measurement.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mark Price
Mark Price is the managing partner and founder of LiftPoint Consulting (, a consulting firm that specializes in customer analysis and relationship marketing. He is responsible for leading client engagements, e-commerce and database marketing, and talent acquisition. Mark is also a RetailWire Brain Trust Panelist, a blogger at and a monthly contributor to the blog of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Marketing Association.


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