Measuring Content Success Is a Design Problem, Not an Engineering Problem



As a marketer, why do you create content?  To educate customers, explain how products and services work, and establish your company as a trusted partner to solve their customers’ most significant problems. Therefore, measuring content success must align with whether or not you achieved these goals, right?

But there’s as much art as science involved in creating a content strategy and measuring its success. Making the content highly functional, measurable, and scalable requires excellent internal communication around shared goals and purpose. Measuring content success is a design problem, not an engineering problem.

You must also design meaningful objectives and questions for your content before you can receive meaningful answers for how it performed. You have so many analytics tools to choose from today, but one missing thing is a shared definition of success among internal teams; a CMO’s definition of engagement, conversion, or even a website visit can be much different from that of the sales team.

Measuring Content Success With Robert Rose

We discussed measuring success with Robert Rose, founder of the Content Advisory, on The Data-Driven Marketer Podcast. Robert believes in the objectives and key results (OKRs) methodology to align teams around shared objectives or goals that can guide content design and measurement. Once these objectives are agreed upon, teams can identify the measurement attributes and unambiguous definitions of success. If a company can rally around five OKRs, they’ve really started to design something that makes sense with a shared context. And then, they can use the tests to understand and confirm how they got that result. If you have no idea what worked, you can’t proceed strategically.

The first thing you must do is articulate the goal of a piece of content. Work with stakeholders to design the objectives and success criteria. Then you test it to prove or disprove whether or not the content served its purpose.

For example, the sales team may push for the creation of an infographic to hang on a client’s wall, but it would be more effective to add the information to the company’s website to track the performance data, how much time they spend with the content, and if they actually scroll to the bottom of the page. If people aren’t scrolling past the third frame, the content may not be fulfilling its purpose—and you can revisit how you’re measuring content success.

The Time on Site Example

At NetWise, time on site and time on page are significant metrics to monitor. Data as a service (DaaS) is an incredibly complex topic; it requires education. Our first barrier is to create content people want to read and understand. If the content is boring or not relevant, people leave the site quickly.

Time on site indicates visitors are using the website for research. That’s why we love digital marketing—it sends valuable signals back to us, unlike brochures at a conference. With a downloadable PDF white paper, you will know how many people accessed it and can get their email addresses as leads. But the further you move from digital, the more nebulous it gets.

If we don’t know why content is working, we don’t know why we’re getting more leads, and that insight can’t be applied strategically to future efforts or be repeated. The goal of data-driven marketing is to repeat success and build on that.

You can create what you think is great content, but if you don’t have a clear idea of what it’s supposed to do or measure if it worked, is it really great? We’ll say it again: Measuring content success is a design problem, not an engineering problem.


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