When your content metrics fail you

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Marketers strive to improve their content marketing campaigns, but too often brands focus entirely on metrics and not the underlying strategy.

I work with clients across many industries. While each brand has its own offering and unique culture, every company wants the same thing – a return on investment. Of course, when you funnel money toward a project with high expectations, you want to monitor ongoing processes to maximize results. I’ve noticed a problem, though, and I think it’s important to take a step back.

Many of my clients focus so much on the raw data that they lose sight of their strategies. They only see the percentages – upticks or declines – and forget that content analytics are about building smarter campaigns.

Now, I’m not saying that metrics are irrelevant. Brafton already reported on an Infogroup Targeting Solutions and Yesmail Interactive report that found 68 percent of businesses will spend more on data-driven initiatives in 2013. At the same time, almost half admit they don’t understand how to analyze or apply data. Brands fail to look at the whole picture in favor of a microcosm of their campaigns. Content marketing analytics can help you build a stronger strategy, but it’s important to know what to look at before the numbers take over.

Eighty percent of traffic may come from organic search, but what does that mean for a brand’s bottom line?

Here are some signs you know you’re obsessing over stats – not strategy:

  • You know how many pages link to you, but you can’t say anything about the quality of traffic from different referral sources.
  • You know you’re No. 1 for a targeted key phrase, but you don’t explore which of your content pages that use this term have the highest interaction rates.

So how do you change your approach?

Focus on data that matters

Brafton covered a study from CopyPress that found 62.2 percent of marketers credit web content with delivering ROI. So, the practice works, as long as marketers focus on the right data and use insight to guide their strategies.

Instead of reviewing Google Analytics reports and freaking out over a high bounce rate, try turning negative data into positive change.

Eighty percent of your visitors come from Google search. What can you learn about these visitors? Instead of focusing on the percent of traffic you get from SEO, ask more questions to qualify the traffic. What are the big drop off pages for these visitors? Look at those pages to see how you can give your search visitors more click options: Do you need better CTAs or more relevant links so that the majority of your traffic (theoretically 80 percent) doesn’t leave the site after one or two pages?

Instead of reviewing Google Analytics reports and freaking out over a high bounce rate, try turning negative data into positive change. Find the pages that have lower bounce rates and see if they have similar content topics or internal linking strategies. These are pages that clearly have more value to your target audience. For example, if a company sells refurbished electronics and manages a blog full of how-to guides and various product reviews for devices, but readers spend more time on the how-to guides, the business knows to focus resources on producing more in-demand media to attract new and returning audiences.

Value the strategy

Businesses must return to a state where their strategic efforts determine their success. Metrics help identify key avenues to improve content reach, but they don’t always tell the whole story. A generic keyword could drive 80 percent of organic traffic to a website, but do these phrases bring in the right visitors? If they don’t, ignore the high-volume of attention the phrase produces in favor of a different content marketing approach. Perhaps another term drives fewer queries online, but people are more likely to convert. The keyword may get lost in the shuffle and commotion of Google Analytics, but if brands pay close attention to strategy first, they won’t miss so many obvious wins online.

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