Vital statistics

by Martin MacConnol – Jun 29, 2020

If content is king and distribution is queen, then it is measurement that keeps them both on their thrones.

Measurement often comes a distant third in the thinking of marketers when planning a campaign – and then when it is thought about, budget and resource required is under-cooked.

It’s a complex subject, far more than can be tackled in a blog post, but if you are wondering how to get cracking on a measurement programme then read on.

It starts at the beginning

It’s an obvious point but worth emphasising: know what you want to measure and what your key performance indicators are at the start of planning. And one other thought here: be prepared for them to change and flex as the data comes in.

Typically clients want to see an uptick in sales – who doesn’t? But it’s good to be clear about content’s relationship to sales. In our experience, the simpler the product and the cheaper the product, the easier it is to see a direct correlation. So a social campaign on sweetcorn recipes might lead to an uptick in sales for Jolly Green Giant.

But the more complex the product – or the less tangible – the harder it is to provide a direct link. In such situations, content is like the oxygen that gives life to the sales message, it creates an environment for a brand’s sales message to be trusted. It is seldom the sell itself.

This means what you measure has to be seen as part of a broader tapestry of data that contributes to your sales figures.

At Wardour we tend to break the measurement story into three areas, working out the KPIs for each at the start and flexing around them (and the content we create) as the data starts to come in on a weekly or monthly basis.

Proving engagement

It starts with proving to bosses that people are interacting with the content at all. In the main, the analytics platforms that come with platforms and channels (think Google, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as a start) are good at providing useful data. But time needs to be spent understanding what they have to say and overlaying the different data fields on each other. When it comes to engagement with content on a client website the things we tend to focus on are:

Most of the above points are also things that we like to track with content living on social platforms, hopefully seeing a journey from the social platform to the brand content site, but of course with social we will also work with clients to track unique social attributes such as shares, likes and follows.

Learn from what works

Online content is a multi-layered affair, and it can be tempting to say a piece of content didn’t work because the subject was boring or wrong for the audience. In reality the way it was trailed, the time of day it was trailed, the frequency of the teasers plus the way it was created all have an impact. It takes experience to understand the nuancing here. So experiment with the language and timing of social posts and also experiment with the formats. For instance with one professional services firm a video we created on blockchain generated 12 times as many interactions as a narrative story.

As you look at the data from the different platforms also work out the patterns that you can see emerging. Which social platforms work best for you and with which content? Which content is being clicked on from your direct email campaigns?

Audience research

Finally, getting direct feedback from your audience is also critical. Audience surveys on platforms such as Mailchimp are the obvious place to start, but if you want really robust data you may look to bring in a specialist research agency to support your content team in formulating the right questions (we have a partner agency, Delineate).

Such research can be brilliant at showing how content changes people’s willingness to engage more with (and purchase from) a brand. If you have a control group that doesn’t receive the content so much the better: you can track different attitudes between the groups. Senior stakeholders typically find such analysis compelling.

But for all that, we also find senior stakeholders find the anecdotal feedback important too – because ultimately people can be sceptical of data, especially in these post-truth times.

We find it’s really important to keep a log of the feedback (positive and negative) that content generates from audiences – and also the feedback that it generates from colleagues within the client’s business. Often, we find our clients will get unsolicited comments from people in the wider business, saying that a particular piece of content was pivotal in helping them land a big deal. This sort of feedback is worth more than all the analytics in the world – and can literally be the difference between life and death for a content programme.

Published Jun 29, 2020

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