4 ways to measure and realize the value in your content
How do you know if you’re getting the most out of your investment in content? Columnist David Booth outlines four tactics to help you define and measure the impact of your content.
How your content is performing across your site matters — a lot. But many organizations have trouble measuring and valuing its impact.
When it comes to understanding exactly what you’re getting for the time, money and resources you’re investing, it’s critical to acknowledge that what’s on your website could be the first impression a customer will have of your company — or it might even be the only impression they have.
For many industries, content is a key component to managing brand perceptions and creating brand value. Studies have shown that content has a better recall value for consumers than other forms of advertising, and it’s also a very cost-effective marketing strategy.
So, how exactly do we define and measure this value? Well, here are four key things you should be doing to ensure you’re getting the most from your investment in content.
1. Have a (sound) content strategy that includes governance.
Before you execute on a strategy, you need to make sure you have a good one. A foundational element of a content strategy is the content audit, or the basic understanding of what you currently have, what your competitors have, and identification of the gaps that represent what you should have.
This leads into your high-level content strategy, where you determine the overall goals of your content initiatives. This means more than just talking about it; you need explicit, tactical content plans and content creation processes and calendars.
Once your content is published, the governance aspects of a good content strategy ensure that it’s measured and maintained over its life cycle. This is all too often overlooked, but governance is a critical step in understanding how your content is doing, how it should be managed, what lessons can be learned from it, and when it should be revisited or even sunsetted.
One way to think of governance is simply in terms of responsibility. Governance helps outline who has responsibility for making data collection, analysis, implementation and assessment a success and determines how those activities are supported. This can range from ownership and responsibility of a particular content area to simply being informed and aware of progress or setbacks.
2. Know how customers are engaging with your content.
A great way to do this is with engagement scoring. Engagement scoring is a methodical, defined way of valuing what a user interacts with across your digital assets, based on what is important to your business.
In the world of web analytics, you could create an engagement score by looking at a host of “micro-conversions” or other site actions, weighting them in a way that makes sense for your business, and then tracking that metric over time. You might be looking at the types and amount of content consumed through clicks, scrolls, loads and exits. You might focus on the recency, duration and loyalty of the visitor, looking at interactions they’ve had with your brand through things like branded search, feedback forms, social media engagement or other interactions.
This is, of course, just a rough guideline for what an engagement score can look like, and ultimately, it should be completely customized to your organization based on your industry, your customers and your needs.
But regardless of the metrics, dimensions and weightings you choose, this provides a holistic way to understand how your content strategy is trending and paying off over time. Below is a simple example that might help get you started down the path of defining and measuring your engagement scoring strategy:
3. Know what role your content plays in keeping a user on your site.
Another key concept around content measurement strategy is the idea of content velocity, which is essentially a measure of just how influential a piece of content is in keeping a user engaged. At its core, you can think of it as a measure of “stickiness,” and credit should be given to Adobe for bringing this concept into the realm of web analytics.
A great way to illustrate how this works is at the level of individual web pages. A page with high content velocity is one that keeps users on the site and encourages them to consume more and more content. Conversely, a page with low content velocity is one where the user leaves shortly after viewing that page.
Let’s look at the following example (and be sure to take a look at a more detailed explanation of this here):
Here, Pages A and B represent entry points to the website — things like a home page or a landing page. These should be (and in this case are), very sticky pages, as they serve as an important way of navigating users deeper into the site.
A blog post or product detail page, however, may not be as sticky as your home page. And look at Page G, with a page velocity of zero: Things like “thank you” pages will typically score low here, as they represent the last page view of a session (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing).
Remember that the context behind your content strategy is extremely important to understanding the content velocity metrics that this type of analysis produces.
The real value in content velocity comes from looking at how individual pieces of content perform, analyzing them and understanding how they compare to expectations and benchmarks for certain types of content.
4. Know if your content is actually leading to business outcomes.
If you’re a marketer, then understanding how users are engaging with, and ultimately converting on, the goals that are important to your business is essential to a cycle of continuous improvement. Typically, when we look at metrics like “conversions” and “conversion rates,” we’re doing so in the context of the various channels that were used to draw visitors into the website, app or experience we’re promoting.
This is a great way to understand how to allocate a media budget across channels, and it can be used across a number of attribution models and strategies, but it’s focused on the acquisition channel. To look at this holistically, you need insight into how your content impacts the channel experience itself, and how that is driving business outcomes.
For example, you might find that first-time visitors from a display campaign prefer a different content type than search-driven website visitors at later stages in the purchase funnel. That display campaign might demand something informational like a blog post, while product-focused search campaigns line up best with something transactional like promotions, coupons or the product pages themselves.
You wouldn’t glean these insights just by looking at the contribution of a piece of content over many visits. But when you analyze content in concert with channels, you begin to understand not only the most efficient acquisition methods, but also the best places to send those clicks for specific conversion actions.
Measuring how often specific pieces of content are involved in the conversion funnel and drawing insights from that analysis will help boost the performance of paid media by ensuring that each visitor is interacting with the content that’s most likely to drive the desired actions.
Put your strategy into action!
Hopefully, you’ve got a formal strategy around developing, deploying, measuring and managing your content. But if not, the best time to start is right now, and the rewards of a good content strategy are well worth the investment.