There’s a threshold of quality for content in the marketing world. In the oversaturated market, consumers have access to any content they want, and they’re bombarded with messages on a daily basis. As a result, only the best of the best content comes out on top. If your content doesn’t meet that specific threshold of quality, it’s going to fall flat — it might get zero likes, zero shares, and zero comments, essentially making your investment worthless.
Accordingly, if you want any kind of positive ROI, it’s essential that your content is “good enough” for consumers. But how can you tell if it is?
1. Your Goals and Investments
First, take a moment to think about your goals and your investments. Your goals will tell you what “good enough” might entail. For example, if you’re pursuing link building through guest posting, your acceptance or denial from various editors at authority publications in your industry might tell you whether your content is good enough for that level. Are you more interested in building a thriving social community? Share counts are a better indicator. More on both of these later.
You’ll also want to question how much time and money you invest in your strategies. As a general rule, the more you invest, the higher the quality of your content will be. If you’ve deliberately sought a cheap content provider, you can bet that your content isn’t good enough.
2. Social Shares
Social shares aren’t the best metric for overall performance, but they are a good indication of how your content is received by readers. Social shares require the least amount of effort of the indicators I list here — all it takes is the click of a button — but it still demands at least a marginal emotional investment. Someone has to be surprised or impressed by your content in order to share it. If your content consistently demonstrates zero shares, it’s a pretty good sign that you’re missing the mark.
3. Inbound Links
Inbound links require more effort than social shares, and in some cases, put the link host’s authority at stake; accordingly, you’ll almost always earn fewer links than social shares on any given piece of content. However, if you do receive a link, it’s a strong indication that your content is viewed as valuable, original, and authoritative by at least one person. If you’re producing high-quality content on your blog and promoting it sufficiently, you should start earning these links naturally — and you can check using a tool like Open Site Explorer. If you’re earning zero links, it’s a sign that you aren’t offering enough valuable information (and your SEO campaign is suffering too).
Comments are more passive than inbound links but more active than social shares. When someone comments on your post, it means they’re invested enough in your material to want to engage with it, or emotionally moved enough to want to express their opinion. Even if you get people disagreeing with you, comments are a general indication that your content is worth talking about, and that’s always a good thing.
5. Rankings, Traffic, and Conversions
Rankings, traffic, and conversions are all harder, more objective metrics to measure the effectiveness of your content. Rather than gauging how affected your readership is by your material, these metrics tell you how efficient your content is at supporting your SEO campaign. If your rankings are stagnating, it could mean your content isn’t building any momentum, or that it isn’t attracting any new links. If your conversion rates aren’t increasing, it means your calls to action aren’t good enough or your content isn’t tied close enough to your brand’s products or services.
6. Publisher and Influencer Feedback
Sometimes, the metrics give you mixed signals. If you aren’t sure where you stand, or if you just want a second opinion, try to get your piece featured on a major publication, or present it to an influencer in your industry to get their thoughts. There’s a chance you’ll be passed over entirely, but also a chance that they’ll give you some honest, insightful feedback about how you can improve your work. Take this advice, and at the very least, you’ll open yourself up to new publication and syndication opportunities.
7. Audience and Follower Feedback
You can also ask for feedback from an even more important group of people — your readers and followers. Ask your social audience informally, or conduct a survey to see how you stack up to your competitors, and ask users what they’d like to see different in your content feeds.
The Bottom Line: It Can Always Be Better
These factors should help you come to a conclusion about the state of your content marketing strategy. You may find that your content is already good enough to earn you respectable results, or that it only needs a small push in the right direction to get there. But “good enough” isn’t an excuse to rest on your laurels — just meeting that threshold won’t make you a thought leader, or the best in the industry. And even if you are the best in the industry, you can still make improvements.
The biggest takeaway here is that your content can always be better, and as a content marketer, you should always be looking for ways to make it better. It doesn’t come easy, or naturally, but if you work at it, you can turn “good enough” into just plain awesome.