Key Metrics for Content: Part 2

By Shai Coggins, Digital Specialist | Blog

Jun 08

If you haven’t read the first part of this post, please check out Key Metrics for Content: Part 1.

In this post, we’ll explore additional areas of success measurement in content: Newsletter Metrics, Conversions and Actions, and Qualitative Metrics.

Newsletter Metrics

What does your content metrics tell you?

Newsletter or Mailing List Metrics

If one of your content channels is publishing email newsletters or email blasts, then this is definitely an area worth learning more about. And, unless you’re sending your newsletters or blasts without a proper mailing software, then you should be able to get some useful data about your mailing list. Some of the key metrics to look at with newsletters or mailing lists include:

  • Subscribers – This is the most popular way that people generally measure the success of their lists. That’s why it can lead to a number of folks believing that simply pumping up the subscriber numbers with harvested emails (not recommended!) would be good enough. Truth is, even if you have 10,000 subscribers on your email newsletter list, but only 100 open your emails, then, it really doesn’t help your cause overall. Plus, if you use third party services like MailChimp, sending those non-open emails can really cost you. So, it’s best to have subscribers who really want to engage with your content, even if the numbers are smaller to start with. That’s why opt-in email subscription is always best.
  • Open Rate – This brings us to this second metric when looking at email newsletters or mailing lists. It’s really important to know that how many people actually do get to read your mailing, so finding out your open rate is key. Different industries usually have different standard open rates, but according to Brett Duncan from Marketing In Progress, this seems to be around 22% across the board. So, if your email campaigns have lower open rates, then it might be time to re-evaluate some things.
  • Click Through Rates – This metric allows you to look at how many people actually acted upon your email newsletter or blast, as opposed to just opening and then deleting it. These click throughs either lead back to your website or blog, or to any other content that you wish them to go to. Again, different industries would have different success rates, but apparently, the average is around 3.5%.

There are other metrics to consider in email content, including Unsubscribe Rates, Bounce Rates, and Demographics.

Conversions and Actions

This is probably a content metric that many would like to have and to predict, but it’s never that easy or simple. Basically, it’s about getting readers, subscribers, and visitors to act on a desired activity. Some activities may include:

  • Product or service purchase – How many bought something off your website, after reading your content on your blog or email newsletter? Perhaps, join your membership group or sign up to your upcoming event?
  • Newsletter or RSS subscriptions – Did anyone subscribe to your mailing list or feed when you posted something on your Facebook page or Twitter account?
  • Survey or Poll Responses – If you’re collecting data, how many people responded to your request?
  • Online Donations – Do you get an increase in donations whenever you share a particular blog post, video, or another type of content?

There are a number of others, but I’m sure you get the picture.

So, how exactly do you measure these?

It’s not straightforward, as you need to look at different aspects of your metrics. But, let’s say you published an article about a product on your website on 8 June, Friday, and what you can do is monitor activity in different areas of your online communications.

For example, when I published my blog post on content calendars with the announcement of the content calendar template exclusive access to Vervelycious subscribers, newsletter subscription increased. But, of course, there may be other factors to consider in that spike too. However, we can make the general assumption that the content calendar article was successful, as it contributed to an increase in newsletter subscription.

Qualitative Metrics

Depending on the types of online presence and industries you’re in, there will be other ways you can look at the success of your content. And, one of the hardest to look in to would be qualitative metrics. Inspired by a professional researcher and statistician that I met, I started referring to this type of metric as the “Happy Index”.

Some examples might include:

  • New opportunities – This is the sort of metric that will be hard to quantify. However, successful content can lead to new opportunities like getting a book deal, or being offered an additional fee to reprint a photo or article, etc. Or perhaps, getting an invitation to speak or present at an event.
  • Becoming a subject matter expert – Your posts may start getting quoted on other publications or blogs. You might even be interviewed in different types of media as a result.
  • Personal and Professional Branding – Successful content enable you or your organisation to establish a brand online in a positive way. This can then be related to finding new opportunities and becoming an expert on a subject matter. And, this can enable you to establish a strong following or a group of supporters.
  • Subjective Feedback – Of course, another way to evaluate the success of your content is through feedback from different individuals. While you can’t put too much weight on a handful of people’s personal opinions, each individual feedback can be useful to have. You can collect such feedback through the comments section, on social media platforms, through online surveys, or even good old fashioned face-to-face conversations.

What are Your Thoughts on Metrics?

As you can see from this series, there are many ways to evaluate the success of content. Some data are easier to collect and analyse than others. But, as technology continues to evolve, I imagine that there will be better ways to identify metrics for content in the coming years.

For now, we work with what we’ve got and we tell the story of our data in the best possible way through whatever metric we feel is most appropriate for the work that we’re doing.


About the Author

Shai Coggins is the Manager and Chief Digital Media Specialist at Vervely, an Australia-based agency serving local and international clients. One of the company's main clients is Microsoft. Shai has been featured in a number of media due to her online work, including being named as one of Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list (2009).

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