Three Crucial Classes of Marketing Analytics Tools | B2B Marketing
The final stage of the content marketing “circle” is analytics: the measurement and evaluation of the results of content marketing activities which feeds back into the first stage, content planning, in order to support data-driven strategic decisions.
Broadly speaking, analytics tools help optimize your content marketing efforts by providing four types of information:
- Trends: What patterns are you seeing on your website in terms of traffic sources and levels, visitor engagement, popular content, and which CTAs are driving conversions?
- Competitive benchmarking: How do your results compare, across channels, to those of key competitors? What’s your “share of web” and how is that changing over time?
- Performance: Which content or channel is having the biggest impact? How are your campaigns performing relative to similar past efforts or to expectations? What kind of returns are you generating on your content marketing investments?
- Predictive/prescriptive: Based on recent results, which topics or channels are likely to perform best in the near future? What should be doing more of, less of, or differently?
To help perform this analysis and answer these types of questions, marketers can utilize three broad classes of content marketing analytics tools.
Web Analytics Tools
Mention “web analytics” and most marketers think immediately of Google Analytics. No wonder—it’s free, powerful, and extremely popular, used on more than half of the top one million websites.
But it’s not perfect, and it’s certainly not alone. There are dozens of other web analytics tools on the market. While Mint and Open Web Analytics offer capabilities similar to Google Analytics, most designed to supplement and extend the capabilities of Google’s offering rather than replace it.
Chartbeat, for example, not only shows referral sources and popular pages, but also lets you test headlines and see how far down the page visitors scrolled.
Several tools go beyond Google Analytics in tracking real-time activity and different ways to analyze individual visit activity; among these are Inspectlet, Clicky, W3Counter, Crazy Egg, and Roguelytics.
Tools like Woopra and FoxMetrics let you not only track individual visitor behavior but also serve up personalized content. Mixpanel and Countly provide analytics for in-app activity.
Quill Engage and PaveAI digest your Google Analytics data and provide actionable insights. gShift Labs, meanwhile, extends typical website measures with industry influencer identification, backlink monitoring, and competitive metrics.
Finally, several tools enable you to combine results from Google Analytics with data from social networks and other sources in customizable dashboards, to better visualize your performance and support data-driven decisions. These include IBM Watson Analytics, Gauges, Chartio, Megalytic, Klipfolio, and Supermetrics.
Competitive Intelligence and Benchmarking Tools
When evaluating the progress of and results from content marketing efforts, arguably the two most important comparisons are to your own past results (using the tools above) and to your competitors’ current results (using the tools below).
As with SEO tools for designing and optimizing websites, competitive intelligence tools can be broadly be categorized as either special purpose tools which compare competitive results in a specific digital marketing channel, or all-in-one tools that look across multiple channels. Here are some of the most popular tools of each type:
- Website popularity and traffic sources: Compare your high-level website performance to top competitors using tools like SimilarWeb and Alexa.
- Search engine optimization and marketing (SEO and SEM): Compare backlink profiles, target keywords, keyword rankings, and other optimization-related information with tools such as Ahrefs, iSpionage, and Spyranks.
- Website technical analysis: BuiltWith lets you look at the technologies behind any website (CMS used, hosting provider, widgets, mobile compatibility), meta data detail, related websites, and more.
- Social media presence: Turn to tools like BuzzSumo, TalkWalker, or Vaizle to compare your brand to top competitors on social media measures such as response rate, engagement rate and follower growth.
- Multi-channel performance: TrackMaven and Rival IQ enable you to compare your activities and results to those of competitors across social media, SEO, and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns.
As a company, marketing team, volume of content produced, and maturity of marketing operations grows, new types of analytics tools are required. A basic web monitoring platform like Google Analytics may remain interesting and important, but it’s no longer sufficiently sophisticated to help drive strategy and support decision making.
These tools provide granular, real-time visibility into marketing performance as well as the ability to combine and consolidate data from multiple sources. They help CMOs demonstrate the ROI of marketing efforts and make data-driven budget allocation decisions, while enabling marketing teams to visualize the performance of content assets and campaigns to improve marketing operations.
There are four types of software in this group, based on what they measure:
Lead attribution tools: Too often, marketers rely on either first-click or last-click attribution models, though both of these are wrong. We use them because they are easy, and because more sophisticated, accurate, multi-touch attribution models are hard. Fortunately, tools like Allocadia and Bizible apply technology that (at least somewhat) simplifies the task of more precisely understanding which content and activities drive lead generation.
Social media optimization (SMO) tools: The KnowEm SMO Tool shows you how well-optimized your site content is for social sharing, and helps guide improvements. HowSociable is an SMO and competitive analysis tool, HowSociable provides a “social magnitude score” for any name or brand across two dozen social networks.
Content performance tools: These applications help marketers to more strategically plan, develop, and distribute content based on insights gleaned from the performance of existing content assets. Most also offer project management features to organize the workflow of content development teams. Popular tools include DivvyHQ, BrightEdge, Kapost, and Percolate. EpicTrack adds ROI analysis, sentiment tracking, and competitive intelligence.
Multi-channel marketing performance tools: GinzaMetrics is a marketing intelligence platform that enables brand marketers to monitor their performance across organic search, email, social media, and online advertising channels, and benchmark results against competitors. Agency Analytics is geared toward marketing agencies, enabling them to report to clients on multiple SEO metrics as well as social media engagement and PPC campaign performance.
Once a company’s content marketing “loop” is in motion, analytics tools play a vital role in informing the initial stage of content planning and strategy. They enable marketers to make informed, data-driven decisions about content topics, formats, and distribution channels to improve the effectiveness of content marketing efforts.
This category encompasses an incredible range of tools to meet the requirements of marketers at every stage of content production volume and tactical sophistication. Google Analytics is nearly universal. Real-time website visitor tracking, dashboards, and competitive intelligence tools can be helpful to many marketers. Marketing teams with mature processes will benefit from advanced content and multi-channel performance monitoring tools.
As business needs change, marketing leaders need to periodically re-evaluate their analytics tools to assure they’re using the most suitable technology to both optimize content marketing operations and accurately demonstrate the value of marketing to the organization.
This is the eighth and penultimate post in the Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing Tools series.
#1: The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing Tools: Introduction
#2: Three Types of Tools to Use for Content Strategy and Planning
#3: Seven Kinds of Tools to Help Develop Better Marketing Content
#4: Seven Groups of Tools for Designing and Optimizing Websites
#5: Seven Key Categories of Social Media Marketing Tools
#6: Three Forms of Influencer Marketing Tools to Know
#7: (coming soon)
#8: Three Crucial Classes of Marketing Analytics Tools
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