Content marketing and measurement go together like peanut butter and bananas—better known as Elvis’s favorite sandwich. Like the King of Rock 'n' Roll, you want your content marketing to ignite and grow your audience, build trusted relationships and drive profitable action. So how do you measure content success?
A strategic digital dashboard can provide a high-level snapshot of how campaigns or content initiatives perform against benchmarks and projected business goals. An executive dashboard can measure how audience growth and retention contributes to overall revenue. Creating dashboards for specific audiences allows for data-driven insights and optimizations that maximize return on content marketing investment.
What makes a good data dashboard?
Quality dashboard designs incorporate data visualization best practices, such as:
- Use a visual variety of different types of charts, single “big stat” numbers and explanatory copy
- Use a combination of both rates and absolute numbers
- Show performance over several periods, such as month-over-month and year-over-year
- Clearly label and explain all data and charts so they are self-evident at first glance
- Tie all elements presented to actionable recommendations about content performance in an insight section
Why the metrics you choose make a difference for effective dashboards.
The KPIs you chose for a content initiative matter. Social algorithms optimize posts by a specific goal: website traffic, awareness reach or engagement, to name a few. Email automation optimizes elements based on either open rate, click-through rate or conversion rate. Choose KPIs that represent steps along the customer journey that can be directly tied to business goals and revenue.
Elvis’s KPIs could be considered radio spins, television performance ratings and screaming fans. All these elements ultimately led to reaching business goals in the form of record sales, purchased tickets, and enough royalty revenue to buy a gold Cadillac—now displayed in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Being strategic when choosing KPIs provides a clear picture of how content initiatives drive profitable customer action.
Three engagement marketing metrics to keep top of mind when measuring content:
How much an audience consumes content should be the gauge of good content marketing. To best judge performance, here are three engagement metrics to consider including in strategic dashboards:
- If your campaign is social: Share rate. Pinterest pins, Twitter retweets and Facebook shares all indicate users found value in consuming the content and think their social network would benefit as well.
- To calculate share rate: divide the number of shares by unique users reached.
- Share rate provides evidence of resonance. Your audience is engaged when your headline piques their interest, the content topic you choose helps solve unanswered questions or the content entertains them.
- When you need an eye on what’s performing well on social for your brand or the competition, tools like BuzzSumo and Rival IQ can analyze what content is shared the most.
- If your content campaign is on the web: Time on page. Especially when it comes to long-form content, time on page estimates how fully users are consuming content. A good baseline for successful content consumption can be estimated using a free reading time calculator, or just timing how long it takes you to consume content.
- If your content campaign is through email: Click-through rate. Email remains the workhorse of content marketing. Click-through rate indicates user interest in email body content. By clicking on links within the email, or opening the email in a web browser, users demonstrate your content was compelling enough for them to take action.
Measuring marketing effectiveness: content marketing versus paid media dashboards.
Content marketing has a longer conversion cycle and focuses on derived audience value. Paid media marketing is focused on immediate conversions and short-term strategies. This difference will be reflected in metrics chosen for strategic dashboards.
Paid media dashboards reflect media costs and efficiencies and indicate how well paid programmatic campaigns are performing when promoting content. Content marketing dashboards quantify how audiences are growing, or how users are reading or consuming content, and illustrate how well content is performing.
Wrapping it all up: digital marketing dashboard design best practices.
Like Elvis’s reign over rock 'n' roll, a good content marketing strategic dashboard will be undeniable:
- Easily displays content performance. Is the content being consumed? Are users exploring the rest of the website? Are website goals completed?
- Interactive elements. Are report dates adjustable? Do graphs allow users to drill into the data series? Are filters provided to allow analysis of different segments?
- Provides analysis and recommended actions. Are there plenty of written words detailing insights and next steps to take? Are metrics clearly labeled and defined?
- Straightforward and distinct sections. Does each portion of the dashboard answer a specific question? Does the order and layout of the dashboard present a clear data story? Is there plenty of white space to keep things simple?
- Illustrates audience growth. How many users signed up for the newsletter? Followed on social media? Shared with their social networks?
- Tied to revenue. Are goal conversions given a monetary value whenever possible? Are conversion funnel stages clearly articulated? What business value are recommended actions estimated to yield?
Now that you know what to look for, what content marketing growth goals can you set for your brand in the coming year? How would you best measure them?
As Elvis Presley said, “Rock 'n' roll music, if you like it, if you feel it, you can't help but move to it.” So it goes with content marketing. While there are no radio charts and platinum albums to demonstrate content marketing performance, there are many indicators of success along the way to increasing brand value and achieving business goals.