Top Six Mistakes When Measuring Content Effectiveness

By Kat Liendgens — Thursday, April 20th, 2017 at 11:00am
Top Six Mistakes When Measuring Content Effectiveness


Measuring the effectiveness of content remains one of the biggest challenges for content marketers in both the B2B and B2C realm. Understandably so, because it’s not an easy thing to do. After all, it can be time-consuming, tedious, and, in a lot of cases, incomplete or inaccurate. Often, nobody takes ownership of tracking and reporting on content effectiveness. But without monitoring how efforts correlate to results, you can’t measure ROI. And without ROI data, it becomes more difficult to secure budgets for your content marketing.

Let’s take a look at the most common mistakes when it comes to measuring content effectiveness.

1. Confusing Goals with Metrics

All too often, when you ask someone about website strategy goals, the answer is something like “We want to increase new visitors by X%” or “We want to have X number of pageviews”. While those statements sound like good objectives, they are not really goals—and they certainly don’t pay the bills. Really, they are metrics that can help you assess if you’re on the right track towards achieving your goals.

Prior to setting marketing goals, be sure that you have a clear understanding of your organizational goals. For instance, if you’re a college, you might ask some of the following questions: How many new students do you want to enroll? How much of the college’s revenue should come from sources other than tuition? How many new top notch faculty and staff members do you plan to recruit? Is there a student satisfaction score that you’re looking to reach? Next, identify exactly what your marketing and communications department needs to accomplish in order to help your organization reach those goals. How many new student applications do you need in order to achieve the desired number of enrollments? How much revenue in online donations needs to be generated?

These questions will allow you to establish your departmental goals. Only then, can you determine the metrics to focus on and how to track progress towards these goals.

2. Failing to Establish Context

As stated above, the number of visitors is not a goal, but a metric. And it can be a very effective metric to monitor, but no data can stand in isolation. One million visitors doesn’t really mean much if you don’t know how many you had in previous time frames, how it compares to similar organizations, or iwhich initiatives might have contributed to the changes.

3. Only Measuring Content Reach

Perhaps the most common mistake when it comes to measuring content effectiveness is to measure only one of the four parts of it, namely content reach. It’s understandable, as reach is the easiest thing to measure. Reach defines how many people were exposed to your content. This can include social media impressions, pageviews, emails, and other metrics. But content reach is only one aspect— the others are content production, activation, and conversion. Production measures the resources it takes to create and publish a piece of content. It’s the I in ROI. Activation refers to to the consumption and promotion of content within your organization. Conversion is the R in ROI and it is determined by the number of times a visitor took the step you wanted them to take. So be sure to track at least a couple of metrics in each phase.

4. Looking at Data for Data’s Sake

There’s definitely no shortage of analytics to review, even if Google Analytics is your only tool to measure content effectiveness. It’s easy to get paralyzed by the sheer amount of information and end up looking at data for data’s sake. As a result, you may end up generating and analyzing reports that don’t give you any action items. Never focus on data that won’t change the way you do your job. Instead, start with a question-based approach, not with the actual numbers. Ask yourself which questions you want your analytics to answer and then figure out which data points can provide the answers.

5. Ignoring “Small Data”

These days, you can’t escape the term “big data”. Small data is often ignored, even though it can be much more effective. If you have the ability to track an individual visitor’s journey through your website at different stages in their decision-making process, including the forms they filled out, the search terms they used, and the sites from which they came, you will get a much deeper understanding of your target audience, and you’ll be able to track the cause and effects of your marketing efforts on a more granular level.

6. Not Asking for Feedback

Web analytics can be an amazing tool in your arsenal. But numbers alone don’t tell the whole story. Direct feedback from different segments of your target audience is invaluable. Consider sending out quick surveys and hold focus groups and even one on one interviews in order to gain a better understanding of nuances and to better analyze attribution, as in most cases, it is not just the last piece of content that lead to a conversion, but a variety of content and other initiatives, such as events, emails, or even phone calls.

The more accurately you can measure content effectiveness, the better you position yourself to develop a successful content strategy and to make a case for budget increases. Therefore, if you haven’t already put mechanisms in place to track effectiveness and to report on it, now is a good time to start.

What do you do to measure the effectiveness of your content marketing?

Check out our white paper on a deep dive into measuring content effectiveness.

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