Content is a key component of any modern business strategy. It can help with a myriad of objectives; increasing revenue, decreasing costs, engaging your customers, training employees. The list goes on.
Every piece of content you produce should be working towards an end goal, but deciding exactly which goal can be tough. To get this right, it’s important to ensure that your content strategy is actually serving your business strategy.
When you’ve aligned business and content objectives, you’ll find it easier to design suitable content, and you’ll be able to measure its performance.
When it comes to measuring content performance, there are two key questions;
- How is it delivering against business objectives?
- How is it performing as content in its own right?
Sounds simple enough, right? Unfortunately, to actually answer these questions in a meaningful way, you’ll need to use (or in some cases develop) quantifiable metrics. These are known as “key performance indicators” or KPIs.
The information gleaned from KPIs can help you shape your content strategy, manage your existing content, and more.
So what are some typical KPIs?
There are several KPIs which can be applied to most content. These include;
- Impressions/Views (the number of times a piece of content is viewed)
- Unique Impressions (the number of distinct users who view the content)
- Dwell Time (how long users spend interacting with the content)
Particularly for web content, there are plenty of other metrics which might be appropriate for your business – everything from exit rate, bounce rate, load times, and conversions, to name but a few – but the three mentioned above offer universally applicable insights into both reach and engagement.
Whilst the concept of “earned media” is wide-ranging and worthy of its own article, the term essentially refers to any exposure your content receives, which you haven’t paid for (and isn’t on platforms you own). This can include social shares, news mentions, search engine listings, and various other inbound links. KPIs around earned media, such as “number of shares”, “number of inbound links”, or “Search engine position” can be strong indicators of the perceived quality of content.
Let’s get more specific
After that, KPIs become more specific to individual businesses, and to content objectives. We’ve put together this table with a few examples:
Naturally, there are plenty of variations – a news publisher will have differing measures of success to an eCommerce vendor – so it’s important to consider your specific needs. Some organisations might even go so far as to solicit feedback on individual pieces of content by means of online surveys, or even bespoke research.
Putting it all to work
As you may have already realised, the secret to selecting the right KPIs for your organisation is to bear in mind that not every metric is “Key”. Just because your analytics software offers a particular metric doesn’t mean it’s fundamental to your business. Conversely, if it’s not easy to gather certain information, or to actually quantify something (such as the ever-elusive “engagement”), that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Often the metrics which are hardest to gauge offer the greatest insight.
The crucial letter in KPI is definitely the P for performance. If treated as a passive engagement, measuring content performance is a futile exercise. Once you have picked the most appropriate set of KPIs to measure how well your content is performing against your business goals, the most important thing becomes making smart use of them.
Establish some benchmarks, and review regularly. Consider who else in your organisation would benefit from this kind of information, use it to develop your strategy, improve existing content, and deliver an ever-improving stream of new content to outperform your competitors, delight your customers, and empower your staff.