Designing a sustainable content measurement strategy

Ahead of his ContentEd session, Mike Powers shares his tips for developing a sustainable content measurement strategy. You can see more about measurement at his breakout session on the first day of ContentEd 2018.


When you first start bringing measurement into your content strategy practice, you might rack up some quick wins: fixing pages with terrible bounce rates, improving social media posts with low engagement, figuring out what content is contributing the most and least to your admissions goals.

But what happens after that? How do you keep your content measurement useful and productive for months or years? That’s when you need to be thinking about making sure your content measurement strategy is sustainable.

A prerequisite for sustainable analytics is having key performance indicators (KPIs) that relate to your organisational goals. Whether your main goal is bringing in recruits, student success, or fund raising, if your key performance indicators don’t relate to those goals—at whatever remove—they’re not really key, are they?

But while relevant KPIs are necessary, they aren’t enough to ensure sustainability. Here are a few questions to help you design a content measurement strategy that you can sustain for the long haul:


1. Have you made collecting and reporting on the data as easy as possible?

If checking on a metric takes a lot of time and effort, there’s a good chance it’s going to fall by the wayside. Grabbing something like a bounce rate can be fairly quick. (Google Analytics will even send you a daily, weekly, or monthly e-mail with that stat.) But a lot of useful KPIs can involve bringing in data from multiple reports or systems. For instance, if you’d like to have an overall social media engagement score, you might need to pull in data from several different networks and then do some calculations.

There are some great tools out there that can make your data collection and reporting a lot more automated. The free Google Analytics Spreadsheet Add-on allows you to pull together data from multiple analytics views and schedule automatic updates. Supermetrics allows you to pull in data from even more sources—Google Analytics, Adwords, Facebook, Bing, Twitter, Linkedin, and more—into a single report. And Google Data Studio lets you display all of that data in reports you can share with anyone with a Google account.

If all these tools still don’t make collecting and reporting on your data painless, it might be time to ask if the effort is worth the payoff.


2. Can the people receiving this metric do anything to change it?

Making metrics easy to access can have a downside: analytics overload. Just because you can report something doesn’t mean you should. A useful test here is to ask: can the people looking at this metric do anything to change it? That is, could they, in whatever role they have, make a change that would improve that metric?

For instance, you could send your web developer daily reports on how much your current fundraising campaign has brought in. While she might be interested to know that, if donations start to drop, there may not be anything she can do as a web developer to change that. (For instance, online donations might be doing fine while major gifts are lagging.) On the other hand, regular reports on donation form completions are something she can act on.


3. Do you have buy-in on your metrics?

If your stakeholders don’t think your metric measures the right thing, you risk, at best, having your reports ignored. At worst, you might find yourself in a serious disagreement about whether a content project has succeeded or not. If your goals were improving readability scores and increasing time on page, but your client’s goal was reducing the number of phone calls to the front desk, you might have very different views on how well your efforts paid off. Agreeing on goals, KPIs, and appropriate metrics at the beginning of a project is vital to creating a content measurement strategy that works.

Maybe you’ve noticed the pattern here? While you might walk into content measurement thinking it’s going to be mostly about math—it turns out, like so many other things in content strategy, that’s it’s really about people. Make your content measures easy, actionable, and agreed-on, and you’ll be on your way to an effective and sustainable content measurement strategy.

I’m looking forward to sharing more about designing an effective content measurement strategy this June at ContentEd. Hope I see you there!

Mike is the Executive Director of Marketing and Communications at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He’ll be speaking about content measurement strategy on day 1 of ContentEd 2018. 


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