Being a content marketer is a little like being a juggler in the circus. Adding and managing several types of content simultaneously while trying to determine which types to keep, discard, and what to add to the mix.
What concerns me is that those decisions are sometimes made without the right metrics in place and perfectly good mediums, methods, and messages are being discarded for all the wrong reasons. Too often I’ve heard marketers say, “video isn’t working for us” and while video isn’t for everyone, there is an uptake in the popularity of visual content and marketers will need to know how to get the most out of it. In a recent conversation on our FOUND Friday series, I talked to Erin Robbins O’Brien, COO GinzaMetrics, about how to create visual content that’s more effective and measurable.
Visual Content Defined
Visual content can mean a variety of things. There are really two different categorizations:
- Content that is created to convey its message via some sort of visual mode. Things like pictures, videos, slide deck, and infographics.
- The second is content that is written, but utilizes graphic or visual elements to help explain areas of the text. In this definition, pretty much all marketing content is visual content.
For the sake of this post, we’re going to stick with category number one.
“We want to measure all content regardless of its form for a number of reasons. The first is that we want to know what’s working, and what’s reaching our audience. Secondly, we want to know what about the mesaage is working or not working. Is it the medium, is it the message, or is it the method?” stated Erin.
Just to clarify what we’re talking about here, the medium is the type of content, such as video, picture, slide deck, or infographic. The message is what the content is trying to convey, or action you want the audience to take. The method is the way that you’re sending out your content, such as email, SlideShare, or Google AdWords. It’s important to make these distinctions when measuring the effectiveness of the message.
“When someone says that video is great, is all video great or are videos on YouTube great? Or are videos on Vine great? Are all pictures great, or is it Pinterest as a channel that’s great? Even with Pinterest – is it Pinterest that’s great or is it the specific images that are there and would they work on other mediums? It’s important to understand these differences,” advises Erin.
If you find something that works, don’t be afraid to repeat visual content over time. Build up a portfolio of visual content and repurpose it to get a better, more accurate average count of how well that type of content performs. Get insight into whether a singular piece of content was a one-time message that just happened to do really well, or if a particualr medium works really well for your brand and gets the message to your target audience.
Measure Your Medium, Message, and Method
A little over a year ago, we spoke to Kieran Farr, Vidcaster, about using video in content marketing and search to get the most SEO value. What it comes down to is differentiating what you’re measuring and measuring everything to determine what’s working and what’s not. When you’re measuring the effectiveness of video content, create buckets to measure your efforts in a variety of ways. Measure:
- Content type vs. content type, for example: video vs. presentation
- Message vs. message, for example: campaign message A vs. campaign message B
- Channel vs. channel, for example: YouTube vs. Pinterest
- Audience vs. Audience, for example: in-house marketing directors vs. agency teams
Measure each variable individually to find out if video is a good channel, or a good medium for your brand. You may find that some other medium is better by measuring how well video perfoms versus other mediums. Determine what messages are working and how one campaign performs versus another. And measure the channel for your visual content. What channel can you use to reach your target audience? In other words, is Instagram better than Pinterest for your particular brand?
This is where people get a little confused because maybe you’re sending out one message on video, a different message on SlideShare, a different message on the blog. Then, when it’s time to measure the mediums, you decide that YouTube or SlideShare isn’t working for your brand. You have to be careful to make sure that what you’re measuring is the channel – the medium – and not the message.
“There are so many different reasons for something to not perform as expected or to over perform, that not breaking down the measurement into these three very distinct categories will make people think that either something works really well or doesn’t work. What will happen too, is people will make knee-jerk decisions and will drop different mediums, different messages, and different methods,” noted Erin.
Not all visual content is created equal. Measure your content in various ways to determine what message is best received through which medium. It may be that a certain message is better received through an infographic or picture, while other messages require the longer form of video to add more context or make the material more compelling. When building content campaigns, try a number of different channels and compare and contrast the results.
Overcome Sales Funnel Stagnation
Don’t assume that different methods and different mediums have a defined place in the sales and marketing funnel and that they can’t move around or be included at multiple points. Make sure you know why you’re creating what you’re creating and who you’re creating it for. That information should guide not only what you create, but how you produce that content and on what channels to distribute it.
Conventional marketing wisdom may have certain types of assets in pre-determined places in the funnel. But who’s to say that’s the right formula for every brand? For instance, a case study for B2B may be considered more bottom of the funnel type of content to send right before a close. For your audience, a case study may be appropriate for a cold lead at the top of the funnel, or as a video case study. People might assume that infographics are a very top of the funnel asset to bring people into the brand and to get play in large publications. Used in another way, infographics may be a good way to explain complex parts of your product and difficult to understand systems for large enterprise technology companies. An infographic might be useful for customer success or customer support answers to questions.
“The reason all that furniture from IKEA has basically 100% visual instructions is because people understand when they have a question or don’t know how to do something – they really understand visuals. You have to think about the visual content being something beyond this top-of-funnel awareness and try to really incorporate it everywhere,” advises Erin.
Be sure you know why you have created the visual content so that each video or slideshare or infographic has a purpose. Always be prepared to answer the question, “Why? Did you create it because the competition is doing it, or because your boss or peers said you should? The answer to the why question should always come back to the overall corporate goals.
- Understand why you created that piece of visual content
- Know your goal for the content
- Set metrics across medium, method, and message
“How good is good and how do you get from good to great? Just saying that something did well, could it have done better? And how do you know the answer to that? That’s by measuring these things and setting baselines. That’s a really big thing,” stated Erin.
Want more information on getting your visual content found online? Contact Erin Robbins O’Brien firstname.lastname@example.org.