As content marketers, our key objectives focus on producing material to cater to your audience. We are dedicated to the idea of making digital content shine. Let me set the scene for you. Pretend you’ve whipped up some of your best content to date that you’ve just released via the world wide web. Cue the wait for content domination…
While this is effectively the nuts and bolts of content marketing, most forget one of the key elements of any effective marketing campaign – to critically evaluate efforts and outcomes. There is a tendency to neglect this stage of the cycle because evaluating digital content can be a somewhat cumbersome task. For that reason, it’s often easier to assume that the brief was nailed and move onto new and exciting things. While on the odd occasion, success may come, most campaigns need to be revised, tweaked and re-developed to obtain the best results.
You should always make a conscious effort to understand and evaluate your efforts. Thats why evaluation is always involved in our content strategy cycle. When creating content I like to use a five step content plan of Research, Plan, Create, Execute, Monitor & Evaluate.
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There are a couple key indicators that we look at that when evaluating our content:
- Sharing / public discussion around your content
- Check out the external links pointing to that specific page
- The use of internal analytics tools like Google Analytics.
Public Discussion Around Your Content
Social shares and online discussion will be a key indicator of your content’s online success. When people see a good piece of content they’re likely to share with colleagues, friends and business contacts. And almost all content will be published via social media one way or another. Evaluating this medium is a good starting point to determining the digital virility of your efforts.
A super neat tool like Buzzsumo can provide you with numbers and insights into your socially active content. Buzzsumo has the ability to see who has shared your content and how effective the sharing is. This service is awesome for finding out what your audience is loving, what social network they are more active on, and if your target audience is interacting with your content. Buzzsumo allows us to calculate if your campaigns are hitting the mark or if some adjustments might need to be made.
As a example, in our campaigns for Search Factory, we identified that our content was picked up more on Twitter and LinkedIn compared to Google + or Facebook. This allows us to re-evaluate our advertising spend on these platforms for future campaigns. I will note that Buzzsumo doesn’t support other social media channels like StumbleUpon, which is an important medium for us.
We also look at the backlinks pointing to our material as signal of effective content. For this we use Ahrefs. We found they were able to give us a more comprehensive profile than other similar tools.
The number of external links pointing to your page is a great signal for determining if people see this page as having value for their own audience. Basically more links = more people are seeing your content on different parts of the internet which in turn = content success.
An ideal backlink profile would see a balanced number of referring domains v backlinks. More backlinks and less referring domains means only a few sites are showcasing your content. Another benchmark is to compare campaigns that involve different types of content strategies like blog posts to infographics or e-books. This will allow you to find the most active content type for your industry.
Internal analytics can give you a pretty good look into the behaviour of your audience in relation to your content. If you’re using Google Analytics (which you should be) on your website, boot up the interface and navigate to Behaviour > Site Content > to the All Pages Report. For Search Factory the bulk of our content is based in our blog so we apply a table filter to the report of /blog. From here, Google Analytics will pull up our content and we can measure the audience’s behaviours and how they actually interact with the page itself.
The average time on page can indicate how engaged our viewers are. If you have a lengthy post that you estimate will take five minutes to read but only averages two minute sessions, this could mean a possible problem with the content. Is it written to the appropriate audience? Or perhaps the content has given them everything they are looking for. Bounce Rate and % Exit rate are also strong indicators of how you work is being perceived. Insights from Google analytics can show you where improvements are needed with your existing content. Try different formulas of content writing styles and different methods of conveying your information to see if this improved your stats.
Take Away Points
- Once you have critically evaluated your content, the next step is to ensure you implement the insights you have learnt into your future efforts.
- Sometimes good old trial and error is the best way to determine the most beneficial content methods for you. Remember to document and implement your findings.
- Its important to understand what you aim to achieve from you content. From that point you can start to structure the most important KPI’s to you and your business.