If you want to consistently create effective sponsored content it’s important to remember that the process doesn’t end once you post a piece. The follow-through – monitoring performance, making adjustments, and evaluating again – is just as important as the earlier stages.
While the importance of specific analytics metrics varies depending on campaign goals, there are a few core elements that are useful to track across the board. Specifically, on the News 360 Promoted Content platform, we’ve seen marketers successfully use these three metrics to boost performance and craft better content:
Click-through-rate (CTR) – the percentage of people who see a content snippet and decide to dive into the full piece – is often the easiest way to see whether your headlines and photos are connecting with audiences.
A key thing to note is that a low CTR doesn’t necessarily mean that the core topic isn’t of interest to people. Rather, it often simply indicates that your headline, image, and/or description isn’t compelling action. Sometimes it also may mean that you’re revealing too much up front and not tempting people into clicking.
Average time spent – the number of minutes/seconds spend consuming each content piece – is a metric that works as a compliment to click-through rate.
CTR lets you know if the superficial elements of a piece are engaging enough to spark curiosity; average time spent indicates whether the core content delivers on this promise. A long average time spent shows that people are engaged, while a short average time spent may mean that consumers aren’t getting what they expected.
When looking at time spent, keep in mind that it is all relative; for example, long-form essays have much longer averages compared with quick lists. Therefore, measure performance by comparing similar pieces of content, not across-the-board averages.
Finally, the number of shares on a content piece can be used as a proxy to answer this basic question: does the audience actually like it?
For the most part, people have a high bar for what they’ll share. Posting a piece to social media, or even just privately emailing it to someone, is an explicit endorsement by the sharer. By looking at which content pieces are getting passed around the most, you’ll have a clear indicator of what audiences find most compelling.
Ultimately, these metrics are most useful when used in tandem. CTR shows if your promise is intriguing; average time spent will let you know if the core elements are engaging; and shares indicate that the piece is truly compelling. If content performs significantly above average across all three metrics, then you’ve truly got a hit on your hands.