There are over 500,000 active podcasts to choose from, and on average, nearly 500 million hours of videos are consumed on YouTube every day. When it comes to news and blog articles, the options jump into the stratosphere. The point being, whatever topic, subtopic, medium, or story length your audience prefers, there are multiple ways to access it.
The bottom line: audiences visit the media outlets that provide the content they are interested in. And, the only way to truly know for sure what is engaging your audience is to look at the data.
Audience data has become a vital resource for publishers in 2018. It can give you the insights into the topics and interests that drive the most engagement. Extracting actionable insight from audience data is key to long-term success. Too much data, though, often results in analysis paralysis, which isn’t helpful. And, collecting and analyzing the wrong data produces “vanity metrics,” which cause real problems and provide little-to-no value.
So, which content marketing metrics actually matter to publishers in 2018?
Which Content Marketing Metrics Actually Matter?
As a publisher looking to sustain growth, there are two categories of content marketing metrics you should closely follow. These two categories contain the most crucial information about your audience, what interests them, and which types of content will engage them the most.
#1. Volume Metrics
Despite buzz in the publishing industry about the declining volume of page views, this volume metric isn't going anywhere, according to an article in Wired magazine. The article quotes Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next, a digital publishing trade group that represents Condé Nast, as saying "We've talked about page views dying for ten years. They're not dead, but they should be."
Volume metrics get a bad rap.
Because reliance on volume metrics alone somehow always leads to shady tactics, such as clickbait. The audience backlash on clickbait publishers exposed the weaknesses of prioritizing volume over quality.
At the same time, however, volume metrics from high-quality content and articles can still reveal a lot about an audience. That's why 45% of publishers still find them valuable, and think of page views as the best way to measure the success of their content. For editors, the entire goal of creating and distributing content is to have readers engage with it, which in turn drives advertising revenue. So, in the publishing world, volume metrics still matter tremendously.
These content marketing metrics, which can include page views, unique visits, and click-throughs, inform crucial revenue and strategy decisions.
Publishers can utilize these volume metrics to support a few key initiatives, such as:
- Selecting topics and subtopics to write about
- Identifying trends in popular content, like optimal headline length, preferred authors, and popular content formats
- Gaining insight into the behavior of readers from segmented sources, i.e., Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Demonstrating success and value to potential partners
#2. Engagement Metrics
It takes a healthy amount of advertisers to keep a publication running. However, readers are becoming less tolerant of over-advertising. There are an increasing amount of options for blocking ads, which positions publications to possibly lose $35 billion in ad revenue by 2020. With advertising revenues being challenged, publishers are relying on other forms of monetization, and most of them require developing a loyal audience that returns over and over.
Audience development requires more than just enticing a visitor onto the site. That site must interest and engage the visitor if they are to return. That's why many publishers are prioritizing engagement metrics over volume, measuring more and more data that provides deeper insights into reader intent.
Engagement metrics can include:
- Read Time - Readers are no longer consuming content the same way. Instead of reading from start to finish, many readers follow an F-shape. They skim the first few sentences, then scroll down, scanning the left side of an article. With Read Time, publishers can see how long the visitor spent reading the article, providing a more accurate depiction of their interest.
- Engagement Quality - Engagement Quality (EQ) is a unique score that we developed to encompass the quality of engagement. This metric is only available on the NativeAI platform, and can be used to measure performance by segment, devices, acquisition channels, or locations.
- Scroll Depth - Scroll depth helps publishers can assess how far a reader got into a specific article or content asset. Using scroll depth, publishers can start to study patterns in preferred content length or format, and incorporated into future content strategies.
- Watch Time - For videos, watch time is similar to scroll depth. Publishers get an idea of where visitors dropped off, and use that information to create better content. Editors can compare the watch time of various lengths of videos, as well as the topics and subtopics.
- Click-Through-Rate - Click through rate is an important engagement metric to measure for advertising. Publishers can see which ads are receiving the most engagement from various content, and use that information to inform placement and the subject matter of advertisements.
Using this data, publishers can work to develop a stronger audience and community of dedicated readers.
Putting Content Marketing Metrics into Action
Even when publishers supply access to the right data, it can be challenging to get teams on board with a more data-driven approach. On a day to day basis, editorial teams are swamped with tight deadlines and hectic news cycles, and don't always want to make time for new initiatives. That's why it's so important to provide one central, easy-to-use repository to house key audience and content analytics data.
In our Actionable Insights Mini-Course, we show teams how they can gather and evaluate the most important content marketing metrics. Using our real-time dashboard, we walk through all of the tactics to use data to drive better engagement and develop better content. Before long, your editorial team will finally have the resources necessary generate volume and engagement growth for your publication.