Content measurement today has two significant weaknesses.
First, content success is often evaluated using tactical measures such as traffic or page metrics rather than business measures—conversion rate, revenue impact or profitability. Second, the content measures that exist are inconsistent and vary from channel to channel, leaving marketers with no insight into which content assets are really working.
“Marketers need better intelligence on the performance of their content—what it’s about, how it speaks, how effective it is at accomplishing certain goals, what emotions it calls to mind, etc.” —Ryan Skinner, Forrester
Here are two modern approaches to consider to address these shortcomings:
Outcome-Based Measurement Framework
The outcome-based measurement framework forces you to consciously decide what business goals you are working toward—that’s right, business goals, not content goals. Said another way, what are the real opportunities, challenges or both that your business is focused on for which a content strategy is a viable path forward? Content is the means to the end, the strategy, but not an objective in its own right.
We often hear confusion between goals and objectives. This rubric from Range.co should help clear it up:
For example, a business goal could be to increase market share; the program objective could be to improve brand credibility and consideration among new and competitive users; and the specific KPIs would relate to web visits and engagement rates on product pages, program sign-ups and content shares. For instance, an automotive manufacturer knows exactly how many car sales will come from the number of visits to a quote request page on its website.
Here’s an example of the outcome-based measurement framework:
With the measurement framework in place, you should prioritize your KPIs by their likely impact on the business goals. This in turn will inform how you invest in strategies to deliver against these KPIs.
You should establish a cadence for reporting out against the measurement framework that coincides with when decision-making happens for both optimization and program improvements. There’s no point in reporting unless decisions are made and actions are taken at the same time. Developing dashboards that automatically bring reports to life can reduce time spent on building reports and improve time spent on implications and action plans.
Content Quality Scores
For content performance itself, we often see that content success is focused on the amount of traffic that it receives. This, however, is not a reflection of the quality of the content. It merely reflects how well the content has been promoted. Content may receive the most traffic simply because it has been placed into copy rotations with paid media support.
We believe that content quality should be defined by how well it answers these questions:
- Does the content successfully engage the reader and hold his or her attention for the time that it should take to fully consume the content?
- Does the content encourage the reader to dig deeper and engage with another piece of content that is also fully consumed?
- Does the content activate the reader to take an action that is important for the business?
- Does the content perform well in organic search?
With these answers, you can create quality scores that rank all of your content. You can weight the quality score if one question is more important than another.
You should start prioritizing and focusing on content within your owned channels, independent of traffic source, ideally creating a weighted quality score based on the content attributes that are important KPIs in your measurement framework.
Then you can create quality scores for each channel so you can see both the best content performance overall and how these quality scores change when you use only individual channels, like email, social or search.
One of the most important components of successful content measurement is to be religiously consistent on how you use performance insights to move forward with changes in strategies and tactics. Retroactively knowing if a strategy or marketing approach was successful will help to validate theories but should also inform testing plans, creative iterations, and audience and behavioral targeting.
- What worked? How do we do more of that?
- What didn’t work? Could it have performed in another channel or with different messaging?
- What larger themes are emerging?
- What surprised you most?
As you create more content that engages your audience and meets your business goals, you can also evolve the overall content strategy by making your content pillars, themes and topics more specific to areas where you are finding success. This will allow your content strategy to be less categorical and more distinct for your business.
Think of it as content Darwinism: Your content will become stronger, more specific to the audience’s wants and needs, and more effective. In this way, your content investment will become essential for your business.
If you’d like to learn more about how Manifest helps clients measure the essential impact of content, outcome-based measurement frameworks and content quality scores, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.