CHAPTER 4

MEASURING METRICS, DEFINING GOALS

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CHAPTER 4 | MEASURING METRICS, DEFINING GOALS  

How long is a piece of string? How successful is your content strategy? To find out how well you’re doing and to make improvements, your content needs a yardstick. You need metrics to measure and goalposts to aim for – without these structures, your content is all just a stab in the dark. This chapter will help you to keep tabs on how well your content is doing and even reveal ROI.
“You need metrics
to measure
and goalposts
to aim for”

SETTING THE GOALPOSTS

Before we equip you with all sorts of measuring tools, you need to know exactly what you’re aiming for. Without an ultimate goal, it’s impossible to define and measure your content’s success. When it comes to content, your goals can be big and overarching (relating to the whole of your content strategy) or they can be small and detailed (relating to just one piece of content within that strategy). Some common goals worth commandeering for your own content include:

  • Boosting customer engagement

  • Minimising the bounce rate on all of your content

  • Growing a committed, returning base of customers

  • Developing a reputation as an industry-leading voice

  • Bringing in shiny new customers

  • Helping specific personas with their specific questions and problems

Depending on the goals you choose, you’ll find that some are easy to measure with facts and concrete data (known as hard metrics), while others (like developing a reputation in your industry) are much harder to measure with data (soft metrics).

SELECTING YOUR METRICS

Once you’ve settled on your priorities and goals, it’s time to decide which metrics you’re going to use to measure your progress. But before you get started with your individual goals, there are four essential areas every content strategy should be looking at and taking into consideration:

1. SALES

This collection of metrics can be used to demonstrate how well your content is driving sales. It’s not always easy to demonstrate a direct correlation between content and sales, but CRM tools and unique URLs can be used to show the last piece of content viewed before a conversion. If you can show direct links between your content and sales, you’re onto a winner as this is proof that your content strategy offers real ROI.

2. SHARING

Tweets, retweets, likes, shares, embeds, backlinks – measuring how widely (and enthusiastically) your content has been shared will give you a clear indication of how useful and well-targeted your content is – along with how much social media exposure and presence it’s generating.

3. LEAD GENERATION

Registration, sign up forms, contact forms – a little Analytics know how will help you measure how much of your on site content turns into leads. This will demonstrate what type of content is most likely to convert and its location on the conversion funnel.

4. CONSUMPTION

How much exposure is your content getting? Is it reaching the right people? Are you using the right channels? Are your titles compelling enough? Looking in Analytics at data on page views, downloads, bounce rates etc. will give you plenty of insight.

SELECTING METRICS BY CONTENT TYPE

These, however, are pretty general metrics. If you want to delve deep into the nitty gritty of how your content is performing, it may be helpful to divide measurements up according to content type.

BLOGS & ARTICLES

It’s likely that blogs and articles will comprise of the lion’s share of your content strategy. This means it’s very important to measure their success to ensure you’re constantly improving them. Yet, blogs and articles are also likely to be the most varied type of content you produce, which can make them difficult to measure accurately. Keeping tabs on what succeeds and what flops is essential. If something’s good, do more of it, if something’s bad, cut it out! When it comes to metrics look at:
  • BACKLINKS

If your content gets shared or referred to elsewhere, it’s going to crop up as a backlink. The more backlinks you generate from relevant sites, the more compelling your target market and industry are finding your posts. Use open site explorer to find out who’s linking to you. This metric will also open up potential new avenues for things like blogger outreach.
  • PAGE VIEWS

Topic, title, format, tone, CTAs – looking at pageviews and undertaking split testing is a great way to determine which types of content work for your website. The more page views, the more compelling your content is to your audience and, with A/B testing, you can really start to hone your posts.
  • ENGAGEMENT

This is a trickier metric to quantify, but things like social shares (make sure you include social sharing buttons with every piece of content) and comments on your blog or article can give you some very good clues about how engaging your content is.

WEBINARS & HOW TO VIDEOS

This is a less widely used form of content, but it is one which is growing. It’s great for informing personas who are at the early trigger or awareness stage in the conversion funnel. When you’re measuring the success of your video content you’ll want to examine:
  • ATENDEE & VIEWER NUMBERS

The number of people who attend your webinar and the number of views your videos get are a clear indication of your content’s success. Judge these figures against those achieved by a similar piece of content from a competitor to assess.
  • BOUNCE RATE & CTA

If your visitors come to a page, watch your video and leave, your bounce rate is going to suffer. That’s why it’s important to include a strong call to action (CTA) on the same page to encourage further interaction with your website.

Don’t necessarily go for the hard sell, instead try to think about what further questions or logical next steps your video will leave viewers at, then offer more information (another video, a PDF guide etc.) or a next step in your CTA. Set up event tracking and split test a few different CTA options to help you nail this.
  • ENGAGEMENT

At this point in the buying journey, conversion shouldn’t be at the forefront of your mind. Instead, boosting brand awareness and building an industry reputation are likely to be your goals. Engagement, then, is all-important. Set up hash tags on social media to monitor buzz surrounding your webinar and make sure you quantify social media shares to paint yourself a clearer picture.

SLIDESHARES, PODCASTS & INTERVIEWS

Ideal for returning customers and visitors who are at the upper end of the conversion funnel, this type of content is ideal for informing and educating your target market. If you want to gauge the success of these content types and start to improve them, look closely at:
  • PAGE VIEWS & DOWNLOADS

The more the merrier! This data will tell you which content works and which flops. If you’ve hosted your content on site, page views will give you a clear picture of how compelling your content is. If your content is a video or download, set up event tracking in Analytics for the big picture.
  • REFERRAL TRAFFIC

Is your interview or slideshare appearing on an external site? Look at your referral traffic to see just how much traffic each piece of content is bringing back you your website.
  • BRAND MENTIONS

Use a tool like Topsy or Mention to find out how widely your brand is being talked
about. Meanwhile, fire up open site explorer to identify links to your content and
SharedCount for a good idea of its social media success.

WHITE PAPERS TUTORIALS & GUIDES

Case studies, exhaustive tutorials, lectures; this is big content, designed to give a target market a lot of information and insight. If you want to measure how successful this is, examine:
  • CONVERSIONS

Power up Google Analytics and use it to monitor conversions from your long form, informational content. A conversion could be downloading your guide or finishing a particular module of an online lesson. This will give you some idea of your content’s usability, popularity and reach.
  • LEAD GENERATION

If you’ve created a great big white paper (or similar), you’ll probably require visitors to sign up for a download. This is a great way to get hold of leads so monitor lead generation in Analytics to find out which content is the most promising lead generator

BONUS INDUSTRY TIPS!

  • Integrate your metrics and measurements into your editorial calendar to
    keep a close eye on what’s working well and what needs rethinking. This
    will also help you to spot the patterns in successful and unsuccessful
    content

  • Set quarterly goals for your content. “Generate more traffic” is an overall
    objective, but a quarterly goal may be something like “increase social
    sharing by 20%”.

  • Analyse bad content. Don’t get upset or angry about unsuccessful
    content – it’s a learning opportunity! Instead look at it closely to find out
    what went wrong and how you can avoid this in the future

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