Content performance measurement begins by defining high-quality content, Animalz’s Alli Tunell told the recent Better Brand & Content Summit.
Tunell, team lead at the content marketing agency, said she highlights content direction, readability, customer experience, and expertise as the four pillars of content excellence.
So how can you ensure your content is adhering to these pillars?
1. Add Performance Goals to Content Briefs
Tunell recommends creating content briefs that align with macro and micro goals.
“Common goals I see on content briefs are usually around free trials or building organic traffic,” she says. “Give yourself some more micro-goals when you’re working on that brief to set yourself up for quicker, better measurement, and to give you a better idea of how well it’s performing realistically.”
Tunell recommends listing micro and macro goals in your briefs. “[Such as] gain x keyword rankings in y D, days, or generate x many backlinks in z days, or you could say hit page one on a primary keyword by this date. Break it down to find easier goals that you can track quicker and more minutely.”
She also recommends adding:
- Audience value proposition
- Repurposing opportunities
- Product positioning
- Funnel position
- Goal positioning.
“You need to go back to that first content brief and your original strategy,” says Janine Anderson, content operations manager at SaaS automation platform Zapier. “Figure out what to do to ensure that your content keeps performing how you want it to perform.”
2. Seek Feedback and Check Metrics
Anderson begins measuring performance right after publishing content. “I like to make sure I build in space to gather feedback from people,” she says. “This is a more qualitative kind of measurement work.”
“I’ll talk to internal teams who might share things with users directly like sales reps, customer support. [I want to] understand what they find useful, or where I might have missed the mark.”
Beyond gathering internal feedback, Anderson recommends monitoring quantitative content marketing metrics such as shares and posts on social media. Questioning or surveying your audience is high on her list. “Ask open-ended questions,” she says. “Anything that gets at the how, what, or why is going to give you a lot of information.”
Anderson looks at the following metrics:
- Sessions, downloads, and shares: Are people finding your content?
- Funnel metrics: CTA conversions, awareness, and reach.
- Engagement over time: Do evergreen pieces need updating?
When figuring out what to measure, return to your brief and look at the goals you want to achieve. This process simplifies performance measurement.
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3. Change Underperforming Content
Marketers routinely deal with content that underperforms, but Tunell says a poorly performing piece doesn’t mean poor content. She suggests content teams ask several questions. When reviewing underperforming content.
“Should we assess this piece’s original goals? Maybe a free trial is not the right CTA,” Tunell says. “Maybe we need to bring them into a nurture campaign instead. Should we assess the format it’s presented in?”
Content teams should also ask the following questions:
- Content distribution: Was the piece reaching the right people?
- Content quality: Is there some way to break the piece up and add value?
- Content metrics: Are you using the right metrics, depending on the funnel position?
- Expectations: Are you expecting too much too soon?
Anderson says it’s easy to get lost in the weeds when looking at metrics. “Goals and metrics are really important, but they don’t always reflect why you’re doing something or whether something is working,” she says.
For example, when content teams are experimenting, producing a new area of thought leadership, or attempting to attract small-but-valuable audiences, they won’t see great-looking metrics. However, producing this kind of ‘unmeasurable’ content is worth the effort.
Drive Continuous Content Improvement
And performance measurement ultimately comes down to defining your business goals and better serving your audience. Metrics and measurement flow from there. As Tunell and Anderson say, use your content briefs to define performance goals for every piece, seek content feedback and check metrics, and then use any useful information to improve specific content.