So now we know that B2B marketing professionals can use content marketing to generate and nurture leads through the entire buying cycle, and that they can use marketing automation to cope with new paradigms in B2B marketing to deliver bigger, faster, smarter content marketing campaigns.

Knowledge is one thing; execution is another. Do content marketing right, and you can reach every potential buyer meaningfully, from when they first start looking for ways to solve a problem or meet an opportunity, to where they start comparing solutions, up until they are ready to make a purchase. But to deliver the content that will move each individual lead closer to a decision—exactly when they need it—you have to continuously analyze your leads and measure the impact of your content marketing.

Fortunately, marketing automation systems like Marketo, Hubspot, Pardot and others provide a wealth of tools to help you do just that. Here are a few ways that marketing automation can help measure the effectiveness and value of your specific content marketing initiatives as well as the value of your marketing investment in them.

Testing

Ever wonder how a particular content asset is performing? Or what you can do to improve landing page conversion rates? With their detailed tracking capabilities, marketing automation systems can take the guesswork out of identifying what works and what doesn’t. Using marketing automation and well-designed test and control group methodology, you can create A/B testing scenarios to determine what calls to action work most effectively with specific buyer segments and find out whether your buyers respond best to, say, white papers, videos, or blog posts, based on their click-through and conversion rates.

Reporting

Metrics abound, but reporting on them meaningfully is another thing all together. Generally speaking, there are five broad categories of marketing automation metrics:

  • Activity metrics, such as the number of emails your system sends out.
  • Response metrics, such as click-through rates and unsubscribes.
  • Effectiveness metrics that show results such as the number of Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs).
  • Efficiency metrics, such as the cost per Name or Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL).
  • Value metrics that provide the critical connection between activity and response metrics to actual sales.

Marketing automation systems not only help you track all of the above, they can also help you report on them meaningfully, with tools to help create dashboards that provides updates on the KPIs most important to you and your management team.

Analysis

Measuring—and improving upon—tactics is helpful, but what you really need to show is how your marketing efforts lead to conversions and revenues. When integrated with a sales automation system such as Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics, marketing automation provides a way for B2B marketers to link a prospective customer’s first visit, registration, or download to their first conversation with your sales team through to their first sale – and beyond. By tracking each and every interaction, you can quantify how much time and marketing investment it requires to generate a dollar in revenue or profit.

Check out the Marketing Automation Owners Manual to learn more about how to score, qualify and nurture your leads, and how to measure campaign success in your marketing automation system.