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Marketing Data Detective: Using Metrics to Solve (and Avoid) Content Misfires

If your content isn’t working, it’s time to dig out the telephoto lens and your favorite black hat and start digging into why. And by “working,” I mean achieving whatever goals you’ve assigned to define success. I really hope that page views or downloads aren’t your only goals, because if so, you’re doing it wrong.

As the illustrious Jay Baer said in a blog post, “Content cannot be measured with a single metric, because no one data point can successfully or satisfactorily tell you whether your program is working.” He actually recommends at least these four: consumption (so yes, this is a good metric but not the only one), social sharing, lead generation and sales.

So, step #1 of your detective work is measuring your content based on those factors. Without measurement and data, you’re kinda screwed on the data investigation portion of the program. Remember, numbers don’t lie. Looking at metrics will get you past your own blind spots and subjectivity, and help you the crack of the case of why some content just doesn’t perform.

Now let’s fix some stuff.

Imagine that you have a piece of content. It’s beautiful, filled with your cleverest combination of words ever. It’s timely, relevant and useful. This is you at your best. And no one is interacting with it. Alright, detective, let’s see what you got.

Keywords—What keywords were you focusing on? Actually, what keywords are drawing people to your content? Maybe you talk about jam when most people are searching for jelly. Investigate your keyword data and adjust your content to fit.

Sharing—Why aren’t your social posts driving traffic? Well, maybe your 11 am Tuesday post would work better Monday at 3 pm. You’d be surprised at how much date/time metrics can tell you about the effectiveness of a post. Do some sleuthing of your last few months of posts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) to find out when engagement is the highest, and use this to inform future sharing plans. There are plenty of best practices guides out there, but your best bet is to look at your own data.

Social—I’m counting blogs here, too. Do you post your content based on an editorial calendar? If you don’t, you should. If you are, well done. You should be tracking everything in your calendar and evaluating for effectiveness and fixes. Which blog post author seems to get the most comments or shares? Which topics get the most engagement in different channels?

Now that you’ve learned the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about your content (wow, I’m really mixing my metaphors in this post), it’s time to put your findings into action. Go back to that sparkling piece of content and update it so that it performs the way you thought it would. Use that same data as a roadmap when crafting and scheduling new content.

Now take off that silly hat.

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