How to evaluate your content without sales-based metrics

by Chris BoylesContributorJan 14, 2016

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 Benchmark, Budgets and Trends report, 58% of B2C marketers and 55% of B2B marketers are unclear or unsure what content marketing effectiveness looks like.

While many myopically measure content performance against sales figures — evaluating content by the number of conversions — this makes no allowance for a weak sales team or a not-quite-there product. So what non-sales metrics can be used to determine the success of content? I tend to favor engagement stats. And I’m not alone.

In researching measurement strategies for my own edification, I came across many marketers who’ve gone on record saying they heavily weight things like content completion and time on site. Here are a few cherry-picked perspectives:

Finish rate
In an interview published on Contently’s Content Strategist blog, Marriott Global Marketing Director Karin Timpone was asked how she evaluates the output of the hotelier’s new content studio. While her lofty goal was “true loyalty” — repeat engagement with Marriott’s hotel portfolio over a customer’s lifetime — Timpone said her team is granularly focused on finish rates. This is something that Itai Bichler, Head of Global Digital Marketing at SodaStream, echoes. In a separate Content Strategist interview, he said finish rates are his “holy grail” of metrics. If your CMS doesn’t offer data on finish rates, you can search for plug-ins like this one.

contently

Adjusted bounce rate
Over on Moz’s blog, digital marketer Rob Beirne dismissed the bounce rate as a valid measurement of content value. His issue: even if a person reads or views something all the way to the end, they’ll be counted as a bounce should they leave without exploring another page. Beirne recommends that instead of counting all site exits, marketers should just count those within a defined period of time. Since the majority of web users bounce from a site in 15 seconds or less, Beirne only includes those people in his bounce rate. You can do the same by following his quick tutorial on how to tweak Google Analytics’ bounce reporting code.

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Time on site
OneSpot’s own Ryan Rozich recently discussed engagement metrics in a webinar with former Altimeter Group analyst Rebecca Lieb. Around the 43-minute mark, Rozich advocates using these metrics to evaluate user interest:

  • Frequency (average visits per person)
  • Depth (average interactions per visit)
  • Stickiness (visits greater than one interaction)

With this data in hand, marketers can determine the relative worth (and success) of their content. While various tools exist to help you discover where you’re over- or under-indexed, below is a snapshot of the tool Rozich’s product team created.

matrix2

OneSpot CEO Steve Sachs elaborates on the benefits of content analysis in this AdAge guest post. He believes that by using the metrics Rozich suggests, brand marketers can get a clearer sense of what to publish next. This isn’t just limited to topics either. Brands could use predictive data to determine optimal content length or media type (video vs. text).

Regardless of how you choose to evaluate the efficacy of your content, it’s important to look beyond revenue. While a sale is a short-term win, increased time spent with your brand could lead to a more lucrative outcome: a long-lasting relationship.

Chris Boyles is a creative and content polymath, marketing executive and one of OneSpot's first customers. Follow Chris on Twitter at https://twitter.com/chrsboyls