How to track sponsored contentSponsoring email campaigns, newsletters, research, or a publisher’s content assets in general can be a great way to bring in new leads as a B2B marketer, but if you’re not tracking your reach and results properly, you’re throwing money away.

Based on what I’ve learned as Vidyard’s official Growth Hacker tracking our campaigns, I can tell you it’s important to know as much as possible about the investment from the start, and you need to take a deep dive into your data after the campaign has run its course to learn how to fully leverage your next sponsorship should you choose to do it again.

Let’s take a look at what you need to do to be successful both before and after a launch.

Know your audience

Before running your sponsored content, work with the publisher or supplier to determine as much as possible about the audience, inventory, past performance, logistics, tracking, and best practices. More often than not, the inventory supplier will provide you with a sponsorship information package, but you’ll still need to ask the following types of questions:

  • Who is the audience/demographic?
  • What kind of inventory is available?
  • How do different kinds of inventory perform against others?
  • What are the impressions and CTR numbers for different ad units?
  • How is this content delivered/accessed by your audience? Is there different timing for different regions?
  • What tracking measures are we allowed to put in place?
  • What’s the policy on using third party tracking pixels in emails?
  • What kind of ad copy/content has worked best with the audience in the past?

You can work with the inventory supplier to fine-tune your messaging and you’ll want to cover a lot of ground with your questions to ensure that there aren’t any negative surprises once your campaign launches.

Take a Look at the Numbers

Once your campaign has run its course you’re going to want to take a close look at your own data in combination with your inventory supplier’s data to get a total picture of what has been going on in the course of your campaign.

Look at performance of different ad units and compare them to historical averages for the inventory supplier. Did you perform better or worse? Come up with a hypothesis and recalibrate your efforts to see if you can do better. If, for example, you ran the campaign and saw double the historical averages for the inventory supplier, you certainly performed well, but you should still come up with a solid reason why this was the case. If you can’t link the data to something you’ve done to influence the result, you can’t necessarily hope to replicate it again.

When it comes to measuring your success, there are a few essential metrics you’ll need:

  • Impressions
  • Clicks: total and on a particular ad unit
  • Number of people who visited your designated landing page (this will give you unique clicks)
  • Number of people who completed the desired action (started trial, visited white paper, etc.)
  • ROI

This set of data will give you the funnel of events contacts go through from viewing your ad unit to actually becoming a lead. This data can be tracked using Google analytics by setting up goals. You can also use platforms like KISSmetrics or Mixpanel to track and report on this data.

The standard way of tracking ad URL clicks is via UTM tags. These tags let you add more information to a link and this extra information then appears in Google Analytics Traffic Sources. Google has a handy UTM tag builder here. This allows you to tell your analytics platform what ad was clicked, what campaign it was a part of, and so on. This degree of differentiation becomes very useful when you’ve got a number of campaigns running in multiple sources with a multitude of ad units.

KISSmetrics also has a URL API. It functions similarly to UTM tags in that all it does is add a few query string parameters to the end of a URL. This allows you to trigger events and assign properties whenever someone clicks on a URL that goes to you website or to a page where you’ve got the KM/MP javascript installed.

Ultimately, the goal of tracking your URL clicks is to be able to measure your campaign’s return on investment (ROI). ROI can be measured in terms of either closed business or pipeline generated. It’s up to you to choose which one (or both) is most important to your team and business. This should be fairly straightforward to calculate, but it’s essentially the pipeline generated (or closed business) over the cost of the campaign. If you’ve integrated your billing system with your analytics platform, this should be straightforward to do. If however, you’ve got a more complicated sales process, then you’re probably going to need to reference your CRM for revenue and pipeline data.

Create Responsive Landing Pages

Your sponsored campaigns will contain links back to your designated landing pages. There are a ton of resources available on building great landing pages, so I won’t get into this; however, based on the research you did prior to signing an agreement, you should know what to expect in terms of traffic coming from different devices, time zones, and countries.

It’s important to have a responsive landing page that has content which is sensitive to the medium it’s being displayed on. For example, nobody wants to fill out 10 different form fields on their mobile device. In this case, consider having fewer form inputs on mobile device content.

You also can, and should, test variations in copy and design on your landing pages. You could either do this simultaneously using platforms like optimizely and visual website optimizer, or by implementing a home-grown solution (not recommended if you’re not technically inclined).

Follow up!

Following up when you’re top of mind is key, and this is where the data about desired actions and customer events comes in. When someone completes a form on one of our landing pages, for example, the relevant people on our team receive an instant notification via email and one person is responsible for reaching out to them and logging their follow-ups in our CRM.

Following up with a lead shortly after they’ve completed some event can increase chances of them becoming a paying customer. Have someone from your team (it’s up to you to decide who would be the most appropriate) send a follow-up email that is appropriate for the level of the funnel the campaign in question is operating in once you notice a prospect has completed an event. If you’ve got a large amount of new leads coming in, it may be wiser to score them and reach out to the ones that are the most relevant to your business with a personal email or phone call while the less relevant leads get a friendly automated email.

Conclusion

From your initial decision to run a sponsored content campaign to your final outcomes, it’s important that you first determine your ideal audience, how the campaign your running will actually target them, and then measure the ROI of your campaign with the metrics I’ve mentioned above. If you’re diligent with your sponsored campaigns and are selective about who you sponsor content with, you can be very successful and drive more new leads into the funnel.

If you have any questions, let me know with a comment – I’d love to hear how your sponsored content campaigns have run in the past and what kind of results you’ve seen.

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Amar Chahal