Today one out of every five marketing dollars spent goes toward content. With such a significant investment, CMOs want to make sure their money is being well spent and driving outcomes. And yet, a recent survey of B2B marketers found that only 39% considered themselves even somewhat successful at tracking content ROI.

Hence the rise of content measurement. 

Content measurement is the task of collecting data on how well content campaigns and individual pieces of content perform against goals. Measurement also determines the content ROI for campaigns, enables brands to determine which pieces of content are most effectively engaging audiences, and ultimately tells the brand if their content is serving its intended purpose. 

Let’s examine the importance of content measurement, the challenges marketers face when it comes to measuring content, and possible remedies to the content measurement dilemma. 

Why Content Measurement is Important

Simply put, you can’t know if your content is serving your business goals without good content measurement. And if you don’t know if what you’re doing is working, you’re wasting time and money.

But to have good content measurement, you need to know what it is you’re measuring.

That’s why every content strategy should start with a list of stated goals. Common goals related to content include brand awareness and lead generation. The content strategy, goals, and outcomes should all flow up to the overall marketing goals.

Once you’ve identified your content goals, you must select the key performance indicators (KPIs) that ladder up to those goals. And that’s where the challenge begins.

Challenges Associated With Content Measurement

The KPIs that matter for content measurement vary based on a wide range of factors, including the type of content being measured, the brand, the user, the user’s familiarity with the brand, the type of product or service the brand produces...the list goes on and on.

So if, for instance, you want to determine whether a product demo video is successful, the KPIs you want to track are going to be far different than if you want to determine if an educational blog post is successful. For the video you’ll probably care more about watch time and lead generation, whereas you’ll probably look at pageviews and click-through rate on the educational blog post to determine if it’s doing its job.

And even then, you can’t say with certainty which KPIs are more indicative of success. You may be driving leads from your video, but is that because your video is effective, or because previous pieces of content did a good job priming them to be interested in your product?

Measuring this intangible requires a deeper understanding of content performance than quantitative metrics can provide. Knowing that 1,000 people viewed a piece of content is one thing—understanding whether they had a positive impression of it is quite another.

Most web analytics tools can’t provide this level of insight. They’re designed to measure web pages and serve web teams. Content teams don’t have their own dedicated solution for measuring content. And that’s a pretty big drawback for brands seeking to foster a positive connection with their audience. 

The upshot is, conventional methods of content measurement are unable to show you how people feel about your digital content. Instead, they serve you with data that may or may not indicate audience sentiment. 

The result is brands are overly reliant on pageviews, social engagements, and click-through rate to judge whether their content is having an impact. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Here’s a better approach to content measurement.

How to Appropriately Measure Content

Performing accurate content measurement is a multi-step process that involves input from content creators, content leaders, and even the CMO. Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Create a List of Stated Goals

As previously mentioned, good content measurement starts by understanding what it is you’re trying to measure, and how it supports your high-level marketing goals. Your goals will inform everything from what type of content you create to who you distribute that content to.

Common goals associated with content creation include:

  • Grow brand awareness
  • Increase share of voice
  • Generate more qualified leads
  • Increase revenue

These goals seem kind of broad, right? That’s why it helps to break them down into KPIs. 

Step 2: Pick the KPIs to Measure Against Your Goals

Your KPIs are what will “roll up” into your larger goals. You probably already know most of them well:

  • Impressions
  • Pageviews
  • Backlinks generated to website
  • Share of voice
  • Click-through rate
  • Time on page
  • Scroll depth
  • Bounce rate
  • Organic search position

We’ve already given you a mouthful about the issues with typical content metrics: They’re not always indicative of content performance and they don’t paint a full picture of users’ impression of your content. They’re important to measure, but they’re only one piece of the puzzle.

It’s the content measurement dilemma in a nutshell.

But by picking the right KPIs for the right goals, you can get a lot closer to understanding how your content is changing users’ perception of your brand. Here are a few examples.

  • Grow brand awareness: To understand if your content is growing brand awareness, check impressions, pageviews, and organic search positioning, as these metrics are indicative of how often people are finding your content.
  • Generate qualified leads: KPIs that can measure lead generation include email list subscribers, and form completions. These KPIs are reflective of whether or not a user performed an action that would provide value to your brand. While generating a lot of leads is important, it’s also important to measure leads vs. total amount of traffic to your website, as this shows you how many of the users who interact with your brand have a positive impression.

This is how most brands currently measure content. But there’s a crucial additional metric that needs to be added to the equation to get a holistic understanding of your content performance: sentiment.

Sentiment shows you how your content is changing people’s perception of your brand in real-time. But traditionally, sentiment data has been incredibly difficult to obtain. Most companies have relied on surveys delivered through pop-ups or email—disruptive technologies that have notoriously poor response rates.

More recently, however, brands have been turning to Content Intelligence Platforms (CIP) like Knotch. A CIP is the software that connects content to business outcomes through dedicated research, data collection, measurement, and optimization capabilities. 

One such way they do this is through sentiment analysis. Knotch offers this in the format of sentiment feedback cards.

These are units that are built right into a piece of content that capture audience feedback as they engage with the content. Using a Knotch Card, you can craft pointed questions to ask users about the content they’re consuming. This allows users to offer their opinion as they interact with the asset, and allows you to understand how your content is being received in real-time.

By understanding audience sentiment, you can see if viewers of your content found it helpful, what about it they found helpful, what about it they didn’t like, and how they feel about your brand overall after consuming your content.

Sentiment offers the last piece of the puzzle when it comes to content measurement. It supplements the quantitative with the qualitative, showing you why a piece of content got pageviews, what enticed a user to learn more, and why they decided to become a customer.

Step 3: Gather Your Data

The measurement process begins in earnest when you have KPIs you’re tracking against stated goals. The next step is to pick regular intervals at which you will measure content performance. Most brands lack the software to gather data and insights in real-time, and instead settle for collecting data at monthly intervals.

To begin the data gathering process, select the assets you wish to measure across all of your paid and owned content channels. The data capture and collection process can be done manually, using a web analytics platform, or using a CIP like Knotch. A CIP can automate the entire data collection process and serve the content team with insights in real-time.

Using Knotch allows you to assign content assets across different content hubs, campaigns, and channels to specific folders. By clicking into the folder you can view the performance data of each individual piece of content and the aggregate performance of all the content in that folder. Without a CIP, creating this sort of structure to analyze content can be quite time consuming.

the importance of content measurement

If you want to gather data across different customer segments or content groups you’d use the Reports function in the Knotch dashboard. 

the importance of content measurement

Reports are where we bring the combination of engagement and sentiment data to life. To get started, select specific folders, content assets, keyword tags, or content formats you wish to measure the performance of. The report will generate in seconds. Within the report, you’ll see the following data across each individual piece of content and across all content assets measured:

  • Pageviews
  • Time on page
  • Scroll depth
  • Click through rate
  • Knotch Card interactions
  • Positive interactions
  • Neutral interactions
  • Negative interactions
  • Sentiment over time
  • Traffic by gender
  • Traffic by age
  • Traffic by location
  • Number of social engagements

Knotch also tells you how each user found your content (organic search, social media, etc.) and the devices your audience used to consume your content.

Step 4: Interpret The Data

Data interpretation is often the most challenging part of content measurement. You need to decide which KPIs matter, and which don’t. 

Knotch provides you with an “average” of each major content metric (i.e. average pageviews per content asset, average time on page, etc.). You can use this average to determine which KPIs roll up to your stated goals.

Real-time data can offer you perspective on if your content is initially meeting its goal. However, a representative dataset of your long-term trajectory takes time to build. Think about it: a week’s worth of data on your content performance will probably look very different from several month’s worth of data. 

Once you have a representative dataset, you can begin to parse it to understand which correlations are meaningful and how you can use them to drive better outcomes in the future. 

For example, you may discover that your average time on page per content asset this month is 2 minutes, and that your sentiment toward each piece of content is 75% positive. In the next month, you see that your average time on page dipped to 1 minute and 30 seconds per content asset, but that your positive sentiment remained steady at 75%.

Now look at brand engagements for that month. If it increased, it may be fair to say that the correlation between sentiment and engagement is stronger than the correlation between time on page and engagement. On the other hand, if engagement went down, it may indicate that you need your users to interact with your content for a longer period of time in order for them to want to take an additional action.

Interpreting the data in this way will show you what metrics are most important to track, and which are just vanity metrics that don’t move the needle too much for your brand.

This sort of data interpretation must be done for every stated goal, as metrics that might not matter for one goal could matter quite a bit for another. 

Step 5: Apply Your Learnings

All the data in the world is useless if you don’t apply it. This means understanding what the data is telling you, and adjusting your strategy accordingly.

In the previous example we described a brand measuring positive sentiment and time on page to see how they correlated to brand engagement. In that example, let’s say the brand confirmed that they receive more engagements when time on page was high.

A savvy marketer would use this information to determine that they should be creating more longform content that keeps people on the page longer. They may even invest in video content marketing, as this tactic has been proven to increase dwell time.

However, by now we know there’s never a 1:1 correlation between a content metric and business outcome. In order to identify meaningful opportunities for improvement, marketers must look at all of the data holistically to see what matters most.

Fortunately a CIP makes that easy by helping you identify correlations and provide meaning to them.

At Knotch we aim to provide meaning to data through our BIOS system. This stands for Benchmarks, Insights, Outcomes, and Scores. Our CIP benchmarks your content performance metrics against the broader marketplace to tell you how you stack up. Based on your performance and those benchmarks, we’re able to formulate a narrative around what’s working for your brand and what’s not, and what your current trajectory looks like. We can even assign a score to your content to show you how it compares to other branded content assets both internally and externally.

It’s our way of weaving disparate datasets together into easy-to-see insights that help you make changes that will drive business outcomes. We make it easy for you to understand what the data is saying, and how you can harness this information to increase the value of your content.

the importance of content measurement

Content Measurement Example

This can all seem complex at first, but once you have your content measurement system fleshed out, the process becomes a lot simpler. To help you get there, let’s look at an example of a brand measuring their content.

Say the CMO at Company X is tasked with enhancing brand perception. Her content team is responsible for developing initiatives that support that goal. They’re using a CIP to see how the performance of their content levels up to enhancing the brand perception of Company X. Here’s what that process might look like:

  1. Company X starts with the hypothesis that the KPIs that will matter most for their brand to increase brand awareness are pageviews, social engagements, and sentiment.
  2. Company X uses Knotch to gather data on all the content published on their content hub, paying close attention to the aforementioned KPIs.
  3. At the end of each month, Company X runs a report using Knotch on the performance of all the content on their hub.
  4. After gathering three months worth of reports, Company X sees that their average pageviews per content asset are increasing month-over-month, but social engagements per content asset are declining month-over-month, and average positive sentiment for all content sits at 60%. Meanwhile overall revenue remains static.
  5. Based on this information, Company X decides to double-down and increase their publishing cadence so that they can gather even more pageviews, which they hope will translate to more social engagements and greater brand awareness. 
  6. After another three months, they’ve discovered that pageviews continue to increase month-over-month, but social engagements continue to decline, and positive sentiment toward their content now sits at 50%. Meanwhile, revenue has also decreased.
  7. Company X interprets this data and realizes that pageviews are not leading to sales. Instead, most people who find their content don’t find it engaging, leading to lower social engagements and a dip in positive sentiment.
  8. Company X adjusts their strategy, prioritizing higher-quality content that takes a longer amount of time to produce. They also begin to pay more attention to time on page, as they realize this metric might be more indicative of whether a user enjoys their content than pageviews. 
  9. After another three months, they see that overall traffic has declined, but average pageviews per content asset, time on page per content asset, and social sharing on each content asset have increased. Furthermore, positive sentiment on their content has jumped to 75%. They’ve also seen an increase in revenue.
  10. Overall, Company X has discovered using Knotch that the best way for their brand to increase brand awareness through content is to create longform, high-quality content that keeps them on the page and entices them to share it on social media, which in turn exposes their brand to a larger audience.

Using Knotch for Content Measurement

As our example illustrates, the Knotch CIP can be used for all facets of content measurement—plus a whole lot more. By providing independent first-party data, Knotch allows brands to plan, measure, and optimize their content programs to achieve more desired outcomes. 

Brands trust Knotch because Knotch helps:

  • Understand over time how their audience feels about the content they’re developing and how it’s affecting their brand.
  • Create more value per each dollar invested in content. 
  • Eliminate data-related dependencies (internally & externally) that slow operations down.
  • Reduce the risk of spending time and resources on content that is uncompetitive and drives poor quality traffic. 

Brands use Knotch to connect content to top level marketing initiatives that CMOs care about such as:

  • Improve brand perception.
  • Improve SEO.
  • Increase ROI and lower CAC.
  • Drive operational efficiency.

Brands that understand the importance of content measurement use Knotch everyday to stay ahead of the competition. If you wish to join their ranks, click here to request a free demo.