Previously … here’s a quick recap from Part 1, an “Introduction to the Content Marketing Index™.”


“The Content Marketing Index™ is a data-driven, evidence-based, social business barometer of a company’s social media and content marketing activities. It is based on the principle that the manifestations of an organization’s content marketing lifecycle activities can be observed, measured and translated into actionable and predictive insights.”


The folks at Dun and Bradstreet call this the “look-a-like” model. In other words, by doing a certain “something,” a corresponding effect manifests. The effect is predictable.

So, how do you measure an organization’s social media and content marketing performance?

I’m an electrical engineer by education. One of my favorite professors used to practically scream out … “So what are your assumptions!” Those words have not left my thinking. I am amused when I see blog titles that authoritatively headline with such statements as “7 Attributes of Content Marketing Success,” “4 Big Errors to Avoid,” “Top 10 Things to Do,” “Track This and Track That,” and so on. It’s mindboggling. It all presupposes that by following the advice imparted, my social media and content marketing efforts will be successful. The reality is it doesn’t happen that way … as entertaining as the read might be.


Let’s take subjectivity out of the picture. Let’s measure content marketing success objectively. Let’s establish a “yard stick” that applies common criteria to support such activities as benchmarking, data-driven marketing, comparative analysis and risk mitigation. Hence, the Content Marketing Index™.


And I hear that voice … “So what are your assumptions?” That’s what I want to address in this blog.

The proof of your social media and content marketing efforts are publicly visible. I don’t even have to sit in your meetings to know what is going on!

To support the assumptions underlying the Content Marketing Index™, let me build on a “black box” approach. In other words, what input is required to drive desired results? The diagram below illustrates this idea.

Content Marketing Black Box

Content Marketing Black Box

I contend that the input requirements will be “spend” or budget, processes and talent. I’m writing this during the World Cup 2014 (the Dutch just made it into the quarter finals … hup Holland, hup – go, Holland, go). So let me use a soccer team to illustrate my point. If you were going to stand up a winning team to compete in the World Cup … what would you need? You are going to need money (lots of it), processes and talent. Change the illustration to Venture Capitalists. Once they find a good idea … what is going to be needed to grow the business? So I believe the same assumptions drive the underpinnings of the Content Marketing Index™.


If you can go with me on these three basic assumptions, then I further contend that by observing and correlating various “signals,” we can glean potential changes in budget, processes and talent.


What does it mean if the posts and engagements of a company are slowly declining? It could be a loss of talent, but given other factors, it’s most likely a change in budget. If I were in the business of mitigating financial risk, having such information would most certainly augment and enhance the results of other data sources.


How about irregular posting activity, poor engagement and a lack of audience growth? This might suggest poor content marketing processes. A key cornerstone of the process is characterizing goals and acting upon them with strategic planning and editorial calendar activities. If you are a brand manager or data base marketer, would performance insights about a company’s activities support better decision making?


In the timeless book Good to Great, Jim Collins includes an in-depth conversation about talent. In fact, the title of Chapter 3 is, “First Who, Then What.” I have recently been practicing that principle (wish I had started years ago… but that’s another blog). The point is that talent is critical to the process. Moreover, a company’s social media and content marketing success will reflect talent and more specifically competitive strengths.


Not to overdramatize it, but the Art of War, by Sun Tzu, talks about knowing your opponent. I would love to know if my competitors have had budget revisions, process gaps or talent changes. I want to know all that I can.

The “look-alike” model …

The basis or assumptions for the Content Marketing Index™ are reflected in the processes applied to an organization’s social media and content marketing activities. As we suggested in Part 1, the processes are more specifically referred to as the content marketing lifecycle of activities. The lifecycle is shown in the diagram below.

Content Marketing Lifecycle

The Content Marketing Lifecycle based on the Cadence9® Model

As you look at each of the steps, consider the question … “What manifestations would be evident on the internet?”


In the upcoming series of blogs we’ll look into each of the lifecycle activities and address what can be observed, measured and translated into actionable and predictive insights.