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Naysayers say content marketing doesn’t deliver very certain results. But proving them wrong is a battery of marketers who are delivering just the exact kind of traction for their brands through this route. Some even say that millennials take to content much more organically that any other form of traditional advertising.

But the key to cracking the code is getting the objective and the tools right. A single piece of content can’t do wonders. And if the strategy is right and the content placement works out in an informative piece, content can even drive consumers to physical stores.

The marketers, however, need to understand that one cannot measure various objectives of the brand through a single piece of content. A brand can have objectives like building awareness, driving affinity and purchase decision.

Kumar Deb Sinha

“The purpose of content marketing has to be very clear and what the brand wants to achieve. Content can be generated to drive that purpose most effectively. But expecting one piece of content to do everything is like expecting one man to win a cricket match single-handedly,” Kumar Deb Sinha, Country Head, Dentsu storyLab told BuzzInConent.com.

The problem that content marketing in India has faced is that a lot of marketers run after the return on investment, which is difficult to measure in absolute terms as the hits or shares cannot be a measure of number of consumers that were turned around.

Samar Singh Sheikhawat

“It should never be about ‘return on investment’ but ‘return on objective’ on content marketing strategies. It is all about measuring the return on objectives and not the return on investment. What is the objective that you have laid out? Was your objective to drive brand awareness or to have a conversation, to drive engagement, affinity and relatability?” said Samar Singh Sheikhawat, former Chief Marketing Officer at United Breweries.

The content game, however, has to be a long-term play to leave an imprint on the mind of consumers. Experts say it fetches real results in the long run only and they could even bypass the impact of traditional advertising. Several new-age brands have established their credibility on the basis of content marketing only.

Lokesh Kataria

“Branded content may not show an immediate ROI but succeeds in the long term. Always prefer having fans rather than customers of the brand. Branded content has an effect in terms of brand relativity and impact. When the brand love goes up, the sales number also goes up,” said Lokesh Kataria, Head of marketing, Mattel India.

While content marketing is working wonders for a category of brands, it is not too far when brands would be able to measure the real time impact of their investment. Experts say content marketing has an edge because it is not competing with any platform but is supplementing the ongoing efforts of brands. Once the impact is measurable, it could also become the first choice of select brands.

The industry is currently working on various techniques to measure the impact. Wavemaker India CEO Kartik Sharma had earlier told BuzzInContent.com that the agency was exploring scientific research techniques such as facial recognition and neuroscience to study the results of content marketing.

“With a lot of brands diving deep into the experience of content marketing to enhance their offerings, the industry is now focusing on the techniques that can accurately measure the ROI. Assessment of results is thus based on crucial aspects like content exposure, content management, SEO, and finally content conversion”, said Parveen Singhal of Wittyfeed.

Asif Upadhye

Asif Upadhye of Yellow Seed feels that several tools are already available and with more coming in, whatever little doubt remains would be put to rest. “There are various tools available, both paid and free, which provide insight into where our content marketing strategy is taking us as a brand. The key facet of each tool that we must keep in mind while picking and choosing is what information it provides us and what brand objective it helps us achieve,” he said.

To make the picture clear on the impact of content marketing, BuzzInContent.com has put together a listicle of the tools available to measure the effectiveness.

The listicle of tools to measure ROI on content marketing is collated with inputs from Asif Upadhye, who is the Director and Darth Vader at Yellow Seed, a content strategy and development agency; Parveen Singhal, Co-Founder & CCO, Vatsana Technologies (parent company of WittyFeed); Aditya Kaul, Senior Director, Insights & Analytics, Isobar; Meghana Bhat, Chief Strategy Officer at ScoopWhoop Media; Vishal Gupta, Co-founder & CEO Momspresso; and Kumar Deb Sinha, Country Head, Dentsu Story Lab.

1. HubSpot

Do a lot more than just analytics with HubSpot. Generate the leads, increase your sales, automate marketing and manage your customers. Precisely, HubSpot helps you track SEO, monitor brand mentions and monitor leads.

2. Hootsuite

A classic combination of Twitter, Facebook Page, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram analytics. With Hootsuite, one can measure social engagement and track brand mentions accurately.

3. HotJar

A technique that precisely records the user session on your website. Not spying, but Hotjar lets you look from the visitor’s perspective into the technical errors and malfunctions necessary to be rectified. This comes in handy to measure content success and user engagement.

4. Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo is mainly used to search influencers. However, it does have various other uses. With this tool, measuring engagement gets more depth than usual. If you enter your domain name, you will be shown which piece of content has performed the most favourably within a given period of time. What sets this information apart is that the top performer is not assessed based simply on traffic, but rather on the number of shares, ensuring that the top performing content was indeed read, absorbed and appreciated enough to be shared. Buzzsumo also helps you determine brand mentions across social media and the web in general. It has an option such that you can get notified every time your brand is mentioned.

5. Kissmetrics

A tool which monitors user sessions like Hotjar, but also provides insight into how well your content is translating into revenue. Its cross-functional analytics component enables you to find out where most of your revenue is coming from. For example, if the emailers you are sending out are converting to sales at a higher rate than your Facebook and Twitter posts, Kissmetrics tells you so. This makes it significantly easier to strategize future platforms and vehicles for your brand content. This is mostly used when the brand objective is user engagement, driving sales and lead generation.

6. viewCent

Content resonance is a strong indicator of potential ROI. Think of resonance as a sum total of all the interactions that the audience is having with a piece of content. Together with factoring the format, medium, competing for similar content, one can eventually arrive at the content resonance. A tool which does this for video content is viewCent. The AI-driven tool quantifies the resonance in totality and provides a forward-looking indicator of resonance. The content with better resonance has higher potential ROI.

7. Crowdtangle

This tool helps bench-marking a platform with respect to competitors with quantitative as well as qualitative insights:

a) Quantitative Insights: Key metrics like social media interactions over a specific time duration, interaction rate, etc.

b) Qualitative Insights: Posts that are performing well on social media, including that of competitors, can be seen. So, if there is a spike in data like total interaction on a particular day, all posts that went viral on that day can be checked, along with the competitors, in a single dashboard. The qualitative insight validates user opinion on better performing content and helps as feedback mechanism.

8. Google Analytics

The most popular and holistic tool that is used by anyone with a website. So by using Google Analytics, brands can measure traffic, indicate bounce rate and go on to assess the ROI statistics as per the requirement.

9. Youtube Analytics

A valuable tool that tells you a lot about who your audience is, what kind of videos they like, and what kind of video content you should be creating to reach out to them. A tool similar to Google Analytics, but exclusively for videos uploaded on Youtube.

10. Facebook Page Insights

Study your user’s behaviour on the biggest social media platform with this tool. Facebook Page Insights let you understand the kind of exposure and social engagement the campaign has garnered over time. More importantly, you get to analyse your followers through ‘Actions On Page’ and ‘People’ Tabs.

11. SEMRush

The way-to-go for the SEO professionals, digital marketers and bloggers alike. SEMRush can help the brand analyse your competition by keeping a track of the trendy keywords, backlinks and ad campaigns. This tool also updates you on Google ranking and tracks the traffic on your marketing campaign.