Content ROI: Defining and Measuring Success, by Sarah Richards
What is value? To a content strategist, it might be “consistency” or “no typos.” But to the higher ups, it’s often “money” or “conversions.” And to the user, it might be “I achieve my goal efficiently.”
What Makes Content Successful?
4% of advertising is remembered positively. 7% is remembered negatively. And 89% of all advertising is ignored. That is a waste of $17 billion. It’s better to have fewer people come to your site but have them engaged, converting, talking to others about you. This is the elephant in the room.
We measure success by how many people visit the site, or visit a page. But people don’t WANT to have to read multiple pages to get something done.
We measure success by how long people spend on a page. But people don’t want to spend so much time looking for something. Traffic should be #4 in measuring success.
We don’t know how long it takes someone to convert. Some academics say 7 points of connection, others say 9. So how do you track conversion? The easiest way is through code and analytics.
Reach, engagement, and brand recognition may be successful, but they aren’t necessarily adding value. Everyone knows the Ice Bucket Challenge, but do they know what charity it was for? Did they donate money to it? In most cases, no.
Know Where You’re Going Before You Look at Where You’ve Been
Before you start your content audit, think about what you want to find out. Plan ahead before digging in. Think about what your users want: you have 3 seconds to get their attention, and 5 to keep it.
Sarah recommends value mapping.
- Write out the editorial flow
- For an easy piece of content, figure out how much time it takes to accomplish each step, and how much money their time costs. Then do the same for medium, and difficult.
- That tells you the how much your content costs to produce.
Know What Value Is For You
If you know what your audience needs from you, then you can determine: is it worth it to produce this content?
Consider: where else could that time and budget go? What are you not doing because you’re building that content?
Measure that you have fulfilled the need for the person who needs it. It’s all about the intention of the user. What is their goal on your page? Is your page fulfilling that goal?
We can’t benchmark the same data for different goals.
Look for improvement over time:
- Focus on quality of leads
- Find different (appropriate) metrics for different pages
- How much does the content cost
- What else are you now doing that’s stopping you from doing more important things?
- Happiness of workforce
Sarah’s 5 rules of value (in reverse order of importance):
- Know what you are measuring and why
- Know where you’re going
- Know how much content costs
- Know what value is for you and your audience
- It’s all about intention