So you just published your content. The tags are in place, the title is perfect. What now? Well you’ll probably want to see if it was successful, if people actually read the dang thing and responded to it. Simply put, you need to measure it. The number of people viewing your content is a start; you can get that information from any basic web analytics tool. However, unless you are The New York Times or Vogue you most likely want something more than just viewership. A sale, a lead, even just sharing the content, these are some of the eventual outcomes your company expects for the time and effort producing that content. The truth is measuring the effectiveness of your content doesn’t begin after you’ve published it and it’s live on the site; it begins before a word has even been typed or a frame of video captured.
Articulating your goals is the most important step in any web initiative, including content creation. You have to ask yourself: what is the purpose of this project? What do we what to get out of this? It’s usually easiest to start with Conversion goals – purchasing a product, completing the ‘Contact Us’ form, signing up for emails. You don’t want to stop there though. Try to develop goals that relate to audiences who may not yet be ready to convert, those that are just starting to engage with you and those who you are still building a relationship with. Avinash Kaushik, a thought leader in the field of web analytics, has a great framework that encapsulates these audiences: See-Think-Do. The widest audience Sees your content, those who are further down the funnel Think about and engage with it and eventually (ideally) convert (Do).
After you have developed your goals for your content strategy then you can look into the metrics that will measure and support them. Simplicity is best here, the metrics should flow naturally from your goals. Where you want to add some complexity is in the segmentation of these metrics, how they break-out into sub-groups. One of your articles may have had a couple thousand pageviews, but where were those pageviews coming from (search, banners, etc.)? How does that number compare to other articles you’ve published? What types of subject matter do people seem to view the most? These insights can then assist in planning future releases. Some common places to start are below:
- Pageviews can help you measure the initial impressions, but remember to look at how they relate to the site as a whole.
- Share metrics can help you measure the social aspect and if the content is reaching a wider audience then those who initially see it.
- Site surveys (be sure to keep the questions short and sweet) can give you feedback on how users feel about your content and if they are finding it relevant.
- Cookies and tracking tags can help you attribute conversions (leads, sales, etc.) to particular content, even (in the former case) if the user doesn’t convert immediately.
The first step in any successful content strategy is articulating what you want to get out of it and developing the metrics that will accurately measure those goals. Pulling the data is the easy part.
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