We live in an age of digital measurement, where it’s possible to analyse everything we write and publish on the internet. The problem is that we often only value what we measure. So if we don’t measure it, then we assume it doesn’t exist or a least doesn’t count for much.
What does this all mean for our content marketing approach-well in short what exactly are you measuring and why?
In this article I would like to explore some of the differences between success and value and look at different ways of measuring both.
The title of this post was inspired after I read a number of blogs by new internet marketing businesses. They were complaining about various metrics not improving on their site, such as traffic numbers or referrals from different social media sites.
Their whole definition of success was tied into succeeding within these parameters and they were getting despondent at their perceived failure.
So what exactly do we mean by success? Well the following definition taken from Google is;
Obviously if our aim is to increase traffic and that doesn’t happen, then we haven’t met with success. But what if there were steps of progress that needed to happen before traffic increased… but we weren’t measuring them.
For example, I decide to try out the following strategy to increase traffic to my site.
- Step one write 10 more posts
- Step two distribute posts three times a day on Twitter
- Step three blog on another industry forum and add links to my site
- Step four monitor traffic from Organic searches, Twitter links and industry forum
- Step five measure increase in overall traffic
If my only measurement of success is at step 5 how can I monitor progress? Suppose that I had reached steps 2 and 3 and discovered I didn’t have enough time and this had become delayed. I might measure at step 5 and assume the whole strategy wasn’t working and walk away in frustration. Measuring success needs to be done at every stage of the process if it is to be relevant and useful.
So what exactly are the indicators of success in content marketing and how are you measuring them?
Measuring Success in Content Marketing
Indicators of success are usually along the lines of;
- Number of visitors
- Low bounce rate
- Length of stay on page
- Number of pages visited
- Number of impressions on Google
- Number of clicks
- Feedback comments on the site
We use these indicators because we can measure them, not because they provide the best type of information to receive. Ideally a post’s success should leave visitors;
- Feeling informed about the topic
- Have their question answered
- Feeling that it matched their initial search query
- Interested and enjoyed the topic
However the second list of factors are a lot more difficult to measure, you would need to conduct a survey or phone up the visitors afterwards and interview them. That would be fine on an extensive research project, but totally impractical for a blogger wanting feedback.
Quality Versus Quantity
A recent article I read on Wordstream raised some interesting points for me, including the old argument is it quantity or quality that readers want?
People’s attention and timespan is getting shorter, and in order for us to acquire reader’s attention we have to literally grab it from someone else’s site. If we provide good quality content then we will be able to do that, but then if we don’t blog regularly, since quality content takes longer to produce, do we risk losing other readers?
This is where knowing our audience becomes so important. If readers want regular updates and shorter posts, then this is what is needed. However if the audience wants longer more in-depth articles on a less frequent basis, again this is what should be given.
How do you know what Your Audience wants?
There are a number of ways to get to know your audience, you can blog to them through industry forums or you can ask them or respond to the questions asked in comment sections. Interacting and engaging with your audience are both ways to understand their needs better.
Other ways can include researching keywords that are relevant to your industry and are being searched by your audience.
What Do Content Marketing and TV Programs Have in Common?
Also in the wordstream article the writer compared content marketing to TV channels and stated that even though people have more choices than ever before most end up watching just a few good quality channels and ignore the rest.
However I would like to challenge that statement – purely from observing my own approach to choosing TV channels.
I like to watch my set of programs and it takes a lot of persuasion to start watching a new series or moving channels. However if I recognise a series I like on another channel then I will move.
So people make choices that suit them, yes they might be influenced by advertising and think ‘I must watch that on Sunday evening’, but ultimately they have already determined what’s a good series in their opinion and know which actors they like to watch.
So TV programs are like loyalty branding in than content marketing. People follow what they know and like and once you have built up a following many will stay because they know what they receive is reliable and suits their interest.
Defining Value in Content Marketing
This brings me onto the second part of the discussion, what is value? In Content Marketing value ultimately is linked to sales, because that is part of the aim.
Most of the traditional definitions of value from content marketing revolve around these indicators of success.
- Bringing in new customers to a web site
- Encouraging engagement and asking questions
- Repeat visitors developing a sense of loyalty
- Lots of shares and likes on social media
But what about other measurements such as –
- Keeping the brand name fresh in the reader’s mind
- Changing the perception or thinking of a reader
- Encouraging the reader to talk about the material with family and friends
Again these are harder to measure so the true value that your blog post has cannot be fully measured. This can be frustrating for businesses wanting to evaluate the cost value of your articles, or return on investment. It is unfortunately a reality that the true cost cannot be fully measured, especially in the short term.
Social Media Discussions
Social media discussions can be a way to assess how your audience are interacting with your content and being influenced. Many companies have stopped using website comments, which means that interaction with clients can be harder.
Blogging companies such as copyblogger, claim that more conversation occurs on social media than on their blog sites- however most social media sites are image focused or use restricted characters such as Twitter, so is there really much conversation occurring?
In addition to measuring success or value we should also analyse our disappointments. Not because that is a punishment, but rather because sometimes our disappointments are not actually bad for business.
For example it can be frustrating to see traffic numbers drop, but if the visitors who have left didn’t want to buy anyway is that really a disappointment? Even though we know that what we really want is more customers to buy from us, we forget that actually having smaller numbers of buyers is a lot better for our business than larger numbers of bystanders.
Finally -Measuring Success or Value?
In this article I have looked at a number of different examples of measurement of success and value within content marketing.
The purpose being to try and establish what it is we should be measuring and what is of value to measure.
Controlling success is not easy, but recognising when it is occurring should be part of your ability.
This includes looking at both the good and the bad and monitoring it all the way through. So next time you leap into measuring your statistics, ask yourself what exactly are your measuring and why are you interested in these figures?
And if you don’t know, maybe you don’t need to measure them in the first place.
I hope you enjoyed the material and please feel free to share on social media. There are also number of other articles on this site that you might find useful.