You usually have about fifteen tabs open on your browser. You juggle WordPress plugins, Google Analytics, Post Its, and obsessively refresh the “notifications” tab of each of your many corporate social accounts. Yep, you’re a content marketer, and you’re struggling with the age-old (OK, digital-age old) problem of measuring your content’s success.
Why is it so hard to measure content? One big facet of that struggle is the fact that content’s success can be defined in so many different ways. It can vary drastically from one content marketer to the next, depending on specific business goals and the focus of the content strategy.
To address this, I set out to develop a tool that provides marketers with a simple score to evaluate content performance, while being flexible enough to adapt to the various definitions of success. A tool that would help marketers identify performance trends and analyze the success of content based on their own criteria.
The result is the Content Success Score Tool. Click on the download button and make a copy (File > Make a copy) to get started.
Shout Outs and Caveats
The Content Success Score is produced through a blending of metrics and averages, so naturally you’ll lose some detail. It simplifies analysis and helps highlight trends, but still relies on smart people like yourself to determine valid insights and act accordingly.
What you’ll need
The Content Success Score is calculated based on common content performance KPIs and uses post information, such as category and author, to give more context to the data.
To get started, compile the information below for each post:
- Post information
- Publish date
- Unique visits
- Avg. time on site
- Comment count
- Total social engagements (it’s up to you which social media channels you include, as long as you’re consistent)
- Linking root domains
There are many ways to collect the data; in fact, Trevor provided some great tips to automate data collection in his OneMetric post that I’m eager to try out. But here’s an alternative for the technophobes:
- Export a site map, or list of your content on your site.
- Run the URLs through URL Profiler to get linking root domains and total social engagements (sum of social metrics provided), and use the Custom Scraper tool to get publish date, category, author, and comment count.
- Export unique visits and avg. time on site for the pages from Google Analytics or other analytics software, then merge the data into a single spreadsheet in Excel with some VLOOKUPs. Note that you may have to clean up the URLs so that the format is consistent between data sources (e.g. http://, trailing slashes, etc.).
Once you’ve collected the data, copy and paste it into the appropriate fields in the spreadsheet, then jump over to the “Settings” tab to tailor the score to your liking.
How to make it your own
In the “Settings” tab, you can customize the number of days from which historical data is taken to create the benchmark for average post performance. The default value is 90 days, but you may want to decrease or increase the days based on the type of analysis.
The second section contains the weighting options for each KPI used to calculate the Content Success Score. It’s here that you can determine how each metric will impact the final score. Note that the total must add up to 100% for the tool to work as intended.
The Geeky Stuff: How the Score is Calculated
The raw score for each page is calculated based on the following formula:
The resulting number is the post’s performance against the average from the previous 90 days, with a score of 1.0 (or 100%) representing the benchmark for average post performance.
To put the score on a scale that is easier to analyze, the final Content Success Score (denoted by y) is calculated by the equation y = 27ln(x) + 50, where x is equal to the raw score discussed above and “50” represents the benchmark score for average post performance.
Will this content audit template make you a blogging superstar?
Not overnight. But what it will do is give you a better understanding of what is working and what isn’t to put you on the right path. There are a lot of ways to look at the data, but some of my current favorites are performance by category and performance by author.
…What it will do is give you a better understanding of what is working and what isn’t to put you on the right path.
Analyzing performance by category can help highlight which topics you spend most of your time on versus which topics perform best with your audience. This information can then be used to prioritize high performing topics and de-prioritize those that do not tend to perform well.
Performance by author can highlight which categories authors contribute to most and in which they perform best. The average performance score may also be a good tool for measuring progress over time.
What performs best on the Conductor blog?
While putting this post together, I thought it’d be fun to use Conductor as a guinea pig for the tool. Here are some insights on the results from Conductor’s Sr. Content Strategist, Charity Stebbins:
Content marketers shouldn’t measure their performance by a single metric. We get insight by measuring our content in different ways, and holding it up against different lights — that’s all part of the craft.
That said, our content team found the Content Success Score really useful — we loved being able to adjust the lens on our content by changing the weight we gave to different KPIs. We loved being able to zoom out at the big picture of our performance, and magnify interesting particulars.
How did this affect our content strategy? For context, one debate du jour on our content team was whether to prioritize creating digital marketing stories — AKA customer generated content from awesome brands and agencies — or research, original data that provides insight into our industry. We saw the value in both, but wanted to be able to predict the ROI of investing in each category.
The data we got out of the Content Success Score tool helped us resolve that. It helped inform our 2015 content strategy, and prove the value of that plan to our marketing VP. By looking at our performance in a few different ways, we confirmed we were vastly under-investing in digital marketing stories, which has a big margin of success given the volume of posts.
The data we got out of the Content Success Score tool helped us resolve that. It helped inform our 2015 content strategy, and prove the value of that plan to our marketing VP.
I also used the Content Success Score tool to drill down into categories and authors. Clearly, we invest a lot in our SEO-centered content at Conductor. And just looking at the big picture of the content performance, it has just a slim band of very high-performing content.
However, when I drilled down into the spreadsheet, I found our top 3 posts in the last year have been SEO-themed. Two out of those three were authored by Brian McDowell, our Director of Search Intelligence.
So it became clear that we needed to step away from volume and start pouring more resources into expert-sourced content (particularly by Brian!). It was fascinating to see how the content in our SEO category was concentrated at extreme poles of our performance metric.
All this to say that this is really easy — yes, even for the right-brained creatives among us — to compile. The data was illuminating and actionable. It gave me some great fodder to share with our Marketing VP in our planning sessions. I’ll definitely be returning to this metric to compare one year or quarter to another, too.
To wrap up…
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and would love to learn more about how you measure content success. Leave a comment here or connect with me on Twitter. Follow @TrungVNgo