6 Tips for Interpreting Content Marketing KPIs
In my last post, I addressed the metrics that should be a part of your content marketing KPIs. Today, I’d like to dive into what to look for in the marketing metrics you are measuring.
1. Think Motion Pictures, Not Snapshots
Perhaps the most important concept you can take away from this column is the truth that although data points can be valuable individually, you’ll gain the most insight from your KPIs by tracking them over time.
This will generally give you a more accurate picture of the health of your online marketing efforts since the trends can help you filter out more of the noise. The shorter the period you’re examining the more likely something anomalous will impact the accuracy of your data.
Over time, you’ll see trends develop and you’ll gain an understanding about the metrics where small changes are important and the metrics where even wild swings aren’t cause for alarm or celebration.
2. Think About Context
Here again, I am suggesting that you not look at individual data points discretely, but rather as part of a larger whole. For example, seeing an important page on your site with a higher-than-average exit rate might look alarming, but it might simply be the nature of that page’s content combined with the fact that it is a more popular page.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t try to decrease the exit rate on your key pages, but you probably shouldn’t be comparing a page like that to a low-traffic page that appeals only to a small segment of your overall audience.
3. Understand the Metrics
Most metrics are going to be fairly straightforward and easily understood even by those not already familiar with reading analytics, but as a marketer, you’d be wise to assume nothing, and work an explanation of key metrics into your presentation so more senior people don’t have to ask.
You should also make sure you and your team really do know what, say, bounce rates are and how they work. This keeps you and anyone who reviews your metrics from reacting to results incorrectly.
For example, we frequently see contact pages with bounce rates that are higher than the average for the site overall. Invariably, a client will ask about this – isn’t it a “bad” signal? In fact, it’s probably not. As you can imagine, a fair amount of your contact page traffic may be from folks who search for how to contact you by phone or email. So what do they do?
- They go to their favorite search engine and enter, “phone number for Andigo” or “Andigo email address.”
- They click on the link to your contact page
- Once they get to your page, they pick up the phone or send you an email.
That’s it. And that’s good. Actually, that’s great since it means they’ve “converted” and moved their relationship with you beyond simply consuming your content.
4. Looks For Gaps in Attribution
While we’re on the subject of contact points, you should look for gaps in attribution that open email addresses and phone numbers can cause. If your contact page simply has “email@example.com” as a way to contact you, you’ll never be able to tell whether the email that lands in your “info” inbox is from the website or elsewhere. (To say nothing of spam you’ll be receiving.) Instead, use a mail form that can be coded to let you easily identify the inquiry as having come from your website and even feed it directly into your CRM, alerting the appropriate team members based on information in the form. (Zip code or area of interest, for example.)
5. Looks for Inconsistencies
This is one of the great overlooked ways of really wringing value from your analytics reviews. Does the session duration for mobile visitors lag behind session duration for desktop visitors? That could be an issue with your mobile site, and one worth exploring. (In this example, we would expect mobile sessions to be shorter than desktop for most sites, so the discrepancy isn’t in itself an issue. The size of the discrepancy is important, as is how it is trending.)
6. Take the Broad View
I haven’t spoken much about business metrics above and frankly they can be a bit more difficult to evaluate. They require an entirely different level of interpretation – and a much broader view.
For starters, you’ll want to look at your digital metrics in comparison to broader metrics.
- Lead volume – digital vs. traditional
- Lead quality – digital vs. traditional
- Closing efficiency
- Return on investment
The last of these requires that you track the investment you’re making over time. Ideally, you’ll also be able to view that investment in relation to both process metrics and outcomes metrics. Their relation to one another will help you determine whether your operation is growing more efficient and effective over time.
Ultimately, that’s the measure that matters most and the one all of your other metrics should be pointing toward.
Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured?
A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms encourage audience engagement through solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either.
His work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components, and he has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events. His writing appears in various online and print publications.
Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")