Anne Caborn

5 Content Measures And How To Make Them Work Harder

28 October 2015, Anne Caborn


content dashboard

The pleasure (and the pain) of digital is that you can measure virtually everything (and, the painful bit), still be none the wiser.

Increasingly my workshops with content strategists and clients focus not only on what we measure, but why… and how? While Google Analytics and commercially available social listening tools may provide the backbone, it’s worth spending time developing more bespoke hard and soft measures and making them work harder.

Below are 5 of my favourite content measure starting points. But remember that measures are like James Bond gadgets – an exploding briefcase is no good when what you really need is a fast getaway car, or a martini.

Your content measure dashboard – top level metrics that are monitored weekly or monthly – should be composed of the widely used and universally recognised, alongside newer, more bespoke measures.

At any one time 80% of the dashboard might be a in a lock (i.e. developed and monitored over several years and well established throughout your business), and fresher measures (possibly campaign or launch/product generated) that are being road tested. Don’t forget to measure the measure during this phase.

Firstly, the 3 Cs – Consumption, Conversation & Conversion

1. Consumption

Web page views and dwell times, email opens, forwards and clicks, print/pack offer codes used are probably already in your arsenal. But also ask yourself what content might people consume that you don’t tend to measure?

An example of this might be a form, where you may already measure the number of completions but not the time it takes to complete and whether that is going up or down? The world is becoming increasingly busy, so begin by assuming that the time people are willing to give to forms is shrinking.

Tracking completion times and drop off points can help you improve what you have, even if you think what you have already is pretty darned good. You may love all that data your forms are providing, but at what cost?

There was some interesting discussion about the lack of research into Ebola prevention, coming down to the fact that scientists were put off by the forms they have to fill in before they can embark on a clinical trial.

Top tip: Useful measures are often adopted from other disciplines.

2. Conversation

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram… sharing, liking, following, forwards in email, member get member deals… There’s probably a whole separate article that could be written about the use and tracking of #hashtags.

Please research them before you deploy them – a project I know of almost deployed a hashtag that was already in use by some likeminded young people with a fondness for posting raunchy images in tight fitting swimwear.

Consider monitoring for misspelled words, particularly new brand names, celebrity endorsements (for example, Keira Knightley is an often misspelled name) and products descriptions (particular ones that replace “c” with “k” or “ea” with “ee”). Not many of your customers will describe your new men’s cologne as “men’s colon”, but it has happened!

3. Conversion

The classic measure. But what is a conversion? It would be lovely if all conversions were the product of single journey from Google to checkout, but depending on what is being purchased (or completed), it may be straddle multiple touch points. Apple products are a case in point, where fans happily research online, but a large number still want to go in store for a product fondle before they make their purchase.

iPhones are interesting when it comes to metrics. German firm Statista discovered a spike in people searching with the term “iPhone slow” at the time of a new iPhone release. One inference is that owners who have not upgraded to the new model feel their old phone is getting slow and are, at a subliminal level, trying to justify buying a new one. In terms of social listening, “iphone slow” could be dismissed as negative comment when it might be a strong indicator of how desirable the new iPhone is – and conversion stats need to be weighted accordingly.

Could this behavioural insight also apply to your product/service suite?

The “do nothing” 2 – email inbox indolence & satisficing

4. Inbox indolence

We like to measure what people do but are less interested in what they don’t do. I am forever grateful to email metrician emeritus and Alchemy Worx CEO Dela Quist, for opening up this possibility for me when he observed that people who never open your emails have value and go on to purchase.

What other things do people not do that you should take more notice of? For example, we may monitor complaint levels but what about non-complaining, including the time elapsed between complaints (increasing/decreasing), and whether complainants tends to come along one at a time (indicative of isolated incidents) or in batches (possibly something more troubling and fundamental)?

5. Satisficing

Satisficing measures aren’t always heroic. Sometimes it’s good to measure “good enough”. Satisficing is when people do enough research and search through enough alternatives to select something as good enough. Satisfice may not work for wedding dresses but it’s good enough for a whole bunch of other stuff.

The satisfice principle can also be applied to shopping basket uplift. You may be encouraging people into a second major purchase at the point of completion but what about smaller uplift? Shoe shops have long understood the value of selling protective shoes spray at the point they sell shoes. Smaller purchase but often at an impressive margin.

This post was written by Anne Caborn who delivers Emarketeers’ Digital Content Strategy Training Course

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