If you’re investing in it, measure it. As marketers we’ve done a good job communicating the importance of measuring our marketing efforts. The problem is there are a lot of ways to do it.
When I first started my professional career, I couldn’t believe there were companies that weren’t evaluating their marketing efforts – organizations trying to navigate the marketplace without goals or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). But, chances are good that the majority of these marketing departments are made up of people who wear many hats. The added dimension of having too much to do makes measuring the effectiveness of marketing efforts even more important, but even more challenging.
Our marketing department (and by department I mean my boss and I) meets monthly to discuss our KPIs and see if we’re on track to reach our yearly goals. During one of these analytics meetings, we decided to evaluate not only the effectiveness of our Facebook and blog platforms, but also our Facebook and blog content. We’d been measuring platform success, but hadn’t yet taken the time to audit the content that was driving each channel.
Because any measurement or marketing audit should be uniquely tailored to your organization’s goals and KPIs, I’ve put together five things I learned creating our latest content audit. Hopefully, this will give you some ideas for creating your own audit. Analyzing and evaluating content doesn’t have to be an arduous process, but it does take dedicated time and attention.
In this article you’ll learn:
- How to get started with a Facebook and blog content audit
- Helpful tips for categorizing and analyzing content
- The importance of evaluating content cross-channel
- Align Your Goals
The first thing I did was align the audit to our sales, marketing, and organizational goals. Because Google Analytics and Facebook offer a variety of insights, it was important to narrow down the scope of what we were measuring. Aligning the audit with our goals and KPIs help focus the audit and prevented it from becoming unmanageable.
For example, if your KPIs include time on page, bounce rate, and engaged users, use those as the metrics for your audit. Find the content that best supports those metrics.
Make sure you carefully define your metrics. We released an eBook earlier this year and one thing I forgot to take into consideration was the definition of “success.” Yes, we had numbers we wanted to reach, but we didn’t specifically define a “lead.” Is a lead anyone who views it? What if that person isn’t a viable sales lead? Chances are your business has a variety of customer types and it’s important to understand how each type of customer will consume your content. Remember, if your content has more than one purpose, you may need more than one metric that determines success.
If you really want to get down to it, take a look at what happens after the view. What’s more important to your organization: 500 people viewing the content, or one person placing a $1,000 order because they viewed your content. Take a look at increased purchase orders, inquiries, or requested quotes to determine the ROI of that piece of content. Again, aligning your metrics to KPIs will help weed out vanity metrics and prevent you from wasting time.
- Define Your Measurement Strategy
When defining your metrics and measurement strategy, don’t settle for what social networks provide to you. Tailor your metrics to the needs of your organization. This may include setting up custom dashboards or compiling analytics by hand.
Make sure you thoroughly understand the metrics provided by each platform. If the site provides weekly metrics, how does the site measure a week? Is it the same way you measure a week?
During our content audit, I created a custom dashboard in Google Sheets so that I could measure the results in a way that met our needs. Yes, this is more time consuming and there’s more room for error, but it allows us to measure exactly what we want in ways that make sense to our organization.
It’s also important to establish a regular cadence of measuring your metrics. There are some metrics that are “lifetime” measurements. So, if you’re not downloading the data at the same time every month, you may not have accurate data. When possible, make sure you can set start dates and end dates so you know you’re comparing the same time periods.
- Look at a Variety of Content Characteristics
There are many factors that influence the success or failure of digital content. So, when you’re evaluating your content, keep that in mind. Make a list of defining characters of your content and consistently evaluate those looking for trends.
To get started, I looked at the 10 blog posts with the highest pageviews so far this year and measured them against the following characteristics and metrics.
- Post length
- Content area
- Blog category
- Blog KPIs
- Time on page
- Bounce rate
- Conversion rates, etc.
After that, I went back and looked at our KPIs and made sure that the blog content that had the highest time on page, the lowest bounce rate, the most pageviews, and the highest conversion rate were included in the audit even if they weren’t included in the top 10 posts.
Hopefully you’ll see trends in the types of content your audience enjoys. The most surprising find during the content audit was the amount of time readers spent on our longer blog posts. We were concerned that our audience wouldn’t have the inclination to read our longer, technical posts. After reviewing time on page and taking an in-depth look at the length of our most successful posts, we realized that our audience isn’t turned off by longer pieces of content.
When evaluating our Facebook content, I categorized our Q1 posts to see trends in our audiences’ social consumption. These were the categories we set up:
- Graphic quotes
- Third party content
- General business news/updates
- Promotional/advertising content
Again, these categories were evaluated against our social KPIs, including reach, impressions, engaged users, etc. Knowing the types of content that perform well on social will help you design a more effective content calendar.
- Measure Across Content Channels
In addition to ensuring your goals and KPIs are in-line with your marketing objectives, it’s important to evaluate your content cross-platform. Check to see if your top performing blog content is supporting your social media KPIs. Hopefully, your content strategy is integrated across your communication channels, so it makes sense to evaluate your KPIs in the same way.
Look at top performing blog posts and see if that correlates into top reaching Facebook posts. I sometimes find there’s “inflation” in social reach because friends and family like a Facebook post because of the blog author, but they don’t click through to read the blog post.
As you grow your content marketing strategy you may find that some content doesn’t lend itself well to all social channels, but it’s still valuable to include on your blog. Through our content audit we learned that our Facebook audience has a very low tolerance for repeat content. We can post each blog article exactly one time before our audience moves on to bigger and better things…and I don’t blame for that. There’s a lot of good content out there.
- Pay Close Attention to Evaluation
You’re going through a lot of work to create this audit, so don’t skimp on the evaluation process. Take the time to look for trends and determine why the numbers are behaving the way they are.
You should also balance how frequently you conduct these audits. As I mentioned, we met on a monthly basis to look at the big picture KPIs and do a quarterly content audit to make sure what we’re releasing is a balance between what our customers are looking for and what our organization wants to communicate.
We audit more frequently when we’re testing new posting cadences or content areas. We did two experiments this quarter that required weekly evaluations. We wanted to see what would happen when we posted the first paragraph of our blog in the Facebook status. In a separate experiment we wanted to see what happened to our social reach when we increased our blog cadence. Each experiment required a weekly audit of Facebook and blog metrics to evaluate trends.
We only performed one test at time and measured each one over the course of about a month, while comparing that data to the previous month’s results. This system provided us with the opportunity to limit additional factors that may impact results. If you change too many things at one time (cadence, post length, delivery style), you run the risk of not being able to accurately determine what factors are having the most impact on your results.
Building a content marketing strategy from scratch is an exciting endeavor, but it comes with a variety of challenges. Don’t try to do everything at once and remember that content generation and evaluation will change and grow over time. Keep learning and moving forward, even if you’re just taking baby steps.
Have you designed your own content audit? Let me know what tips you’d recommend.
This post originally appeared on Steamfeed.com.