By Gil Christenberry, Content Team Lead at HEBS Digital
DATA: CONTENT’S BEST FRIEND
Not everyone realizes it, but data is content’s best friend. This is because content creators use data to leverage their work. In fact, there are so many metrics available that instead of asking, “What metrics can we track?” the question becomes, “Which metrics must we track?” Answering that question involves understanding the goal of the content in question. Knowing what you want your content to do helps you identify which metrics matter.
Data is important at multiple stages throughout the content-creation process. Of course, we use data to evaluate the success of content after it’s been published. Analyzing performance data gives insight on traffic, engagement, and conversions. After looking at the numbers, KPIs can easily be set based on the desired goals and corresponding metrics. However, data is also used before we start writing. It helps build accurate personas and anticipate user needs, allowing writers to predict what content will resonate with an audience.
TYPES OF CONTENT AND THEIR CORRESPONDING METRICS
WEBSITE LANDING PAGES
Website landing pages are among the most common forms of content we create, and most people are pretty familiar with the metrics associated. Page views, unique visitors, and traffic sources show how many people are looking at a web page and where they’re coming from. These metrics are predominantly impacted by SEO. Ensuring the pages are optimized for SEO will cause the pages to rank higher and draw more visitors.
Evaluating the content of a website or landing page requires looking at different metrics. Dwell time is a great place to start, and it tells you how much time a user spends on a page. The numbers vary, but generally, anything under 30 seconds is bad, and anything over two minutes is very good. This directly reflects on the quality of a page’s content. Another important metric is conversion rate. If the page has a desired goal, like getting visitors to buy a product or book a hotel room, the conversion rate is a direct reflection on whether the content is doing its job.
Bounce rate is another useful metric, which shows the percentage of users who left a website after viewing only one page. However, like many metrics, bounce rate varies depending on the type of content — if a page is designed to provide users with the answer to a question, it would make sense for the user to exit after finding the desired information. On the other hand, if a page is designed to generate interest, like a home page, it should ideally have a very low bounce rate. If these numbers are poor, it’s an indicator that the content isn’t doing its job.
Because they live on web pages, blog posts are measured by many of the same metrics as other website landing pages. However, blogs are often designed to funnel traffic to another page, so tracking visitor behavior can provide more-illustrative numbers. At the very least, you’ll be able to see how many new leads your blog is generating, as well as which posts are creating the most leads and eventual customers.
If a blog isn’t generating enough leads, it could be due to one of two factors. First of all, you need to make sure that enough people are finding your blog. The pages must be optimized for SEO, and the blog topics themselves should be informed by winnable keywords. Once you know that the visitors are there, it’s up to the content to drive conversions. The copy needs to be readable, engaging, and persuasive.
Email, on the other hand, has many unique metrics to track. Bounce rate and delivery rate show how many of your emails are actually arriving in users’ inboxes, while unsubscribe rate and spam complaints let you know when your content was off the mark. If there are red flags regarding these metrics, it most likely means that your email list needs to be reviewed. Eliminating duplicates and inactive users, as well as ensuring you’re targeting the right users, will help improve these numbers.
For evaluating the content itself, two of the most important metrics are OR (open rate) and CTR (click-through rate). OR illustrates the interest generated by an email’s subject line, while CTR shows how many people “converted” by clicking on an email’s call-to-action button. Finally, dividing the number of clicks by the number of opens gives us the CTOR (click-to-open rate). This isolates the effectiveness of an email’s body content and shows whether it succeeded in driving conversions.
Social media, of course, is a different world altogether. Social media platforms are inherently more inspiration-oriented than transaction-based, making it difficult to measure ROI (return on investment). However, we can analyze data to identify trends and understand user behavior. After all, by determining how today’s users find inspiration, browse properties, and make travel decisions via social, we’re able to predict how tomorrow’s users will use social to plan and book their vacations.
When looking at the numbers for social media, there are plenty of metrics to track. Follower count is the first thing many people want to know, and more is usually better. However, bots and inactive users can make the numbers misleading. Therefore, engagement rate becomes a very important metric. Naturally, the better the content is, the more users will interact with it. Just like email, CTR is used to track conversions, and if you’re linking to a website, you can follow the user’s journey to see if they’re ultimately converting.
With so many metrics to track, and so many ways to gather data, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. However, identifying the goals of your content and knowing what you want it to achieve will help you determine which metrics to focus on. At the end of the day, it’s these numbers that inform and validate what we do, because while the quality of creative content is subjective, data is not, allowing us to stand by our content.