As NY Times Graphic Editor Rebecca Lieb once said, “Content is the atomic particle of all marketing.”
It is the foundation on which you lay your brand, the strategy in which you draw leads in, and build your future. From our standpoint, it’s quite possibly the most important thing to focus on when building a quality brand persona. However, not all content is created equally. You need efficient methods to actually judge the effectiveness of your work, both as a marketing tool and as a brand builder.
What are you currently doing to judge the quality of your content, before and after publication? If you’re like most businesses, you’re not doing much. That’s why we’ve rounded up a list of the best tactics for professionally assessing your content. Here are five ways to critically evaluate (and improve) your current work.
1. Pick the Right KPIs to Look At
Our first recommendation is to learn more about KPIs and which ones matter to your brand.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) indicate how much time people are spending with your content, as well as how they engage with it. They reveal invaluable insights which then help you set better content marketing expectations and goals.
As most of us have heard time and time again, goals need to be specific and measurable if they are to be achievable. KPIs help you set SMART goals for your content and fuel a better long-term strategy.
What key performance indicators are you looking at now? Are they actually relevant and helpful, or does your marketing team just get lost in the data?
Image Source: Content Marketing Institute
There are different types of KPIs for different goals, content types, and campaigns. Take a look at the graph from Content Marketing Insitute. Which of these KPIs are you currently monitoring, and do they really make sense for your content types?
In the end, KPIs should help you understand how close you are to achieving your goals. Throughout your marketing process, they’ll influence how you’re advertising, drawing in traffic, optimizing for search engines, and more.
During your content assessment, take a long hard look at your current use of KPIs. Determine where you can improve your metrics and better use data to improve your content.
2. Learn to Actually Use Your Data to Improve
The next part of your assessment requires you to look at data beyond your KPI reports. KPIs might indicate what kind of visitor information you collect, but data analysis determines what you’re doing with the numbers and statistics you gather.
In all aspects of content marketing, you should avoid making assumptions. You don’t necessarily know what your readers want – but quantitative data can tell you.
Image Source: Michael Leander
Like most companies, you’re probably already pulling in various data from different sources. What we want to encourage you to do is really consider how you’re using this content data.
Data should be balanced by expert analysis to truly understand what it means. We can’t tell you what numbers to look at or collect: that depends on the goal of your content, which you’ve hopefully determined by looking at KPIs and your brand’s objectives.
The data points you’ll want to analyze on your content’s page include, but are not limited to:
- Page titles/headlines
- Target keywords
- Meta descriptions
- Inbound links
- Page visits
- Visitor entries and exits
- Bounce rates
- Visitors’ length of visits
- Broken links
When it comes to actually improving your quality of content, you’ll also want to gather data points on:
- Word count success rates
- Types of content and their popularity
- Loved topics, tags, authors, or categories
- Number of social shares
- Call to action effectiveness and conversion rates
A word of caution: unless your site is brand new, data gathering takes time – and a lot of it. A real content audit can take days, weeks, or even months to complete.
If you want professional help drawing in and analyzing data, you can always turn to a marketing partner. However, we’re not writing this article to tell you to hire people – we’re sharing ways that YOU can assess your content’s quality.
Start by taking a look at the data you’re collecting on your content. Is it enough? Too much? What are you learning from it, and what do you wish to learn in the future?
All of these are questions you can ask yourself that will help bolster the quality (and effectiveness) of your content.
3. Talk to Your Insiders – AKA the Sales Team
Want to know what your customers really want? Talk to the people who interact with them over the phone and online daily.
Far too many companies fail to facilitate collaboration between their content producers and their sales teams. Your content needs to give people what they’re looking for, and in many cases, your sales team actually knows what that is.
Pull in some trusted sales members to help assess the quality of your content. Do they think it’s hitting the mark, or missing it by a mile?
You might even want to invite salespeople to your next topic ideation meeting. They’ll likely have some new ideas for your content marketing, whether it be different content types (ebooks, reports, whitepapers, etc.) or subjects that customers are interested in.
On the flip side, your content team might also want to sit in on a few real sales calls/interactions. You’ll be surprised by how much you can learn about your content’s quality just by hearing what your customers think and how they talk.
To sum it all up: your sales team likely has some great ideas to help you assess and improve the quality of your content. You just need to tap into their minds and borrow a little insight.
4. Ensure You’re Not a Victim of Content Fatigue
When assessing your content marketing, a big thing to watch out for is content fatigue.
It’s been predicted for years that we’re reaching a point of content marketing saturation. Everyone and their brother is embracing content as a component of their branding, which means that there are companies just like yours producing very similar content – 24/7.
Content fatigue occurs when you realize that you’re going for the easy topics and types, but not necessarily the best ones. You’ve stalled in creativity, and you’re creating content just to create content, not to actually reach your ideal customer.
Image Source: Zion & Zio
Depending on its severity, content fatigue can really drag your visits and customer engagement down. That’s why it’s one of the top things to assess when you’re looking at your brand’s continuous stream of content.
How can you identify signs of poor topic ideation and writer burnout?
Watch your organic traffic
If people aren’t naturally stumbling across your content, then you’re likely missing the mark when it comes to picking new, interesting topics. You need to put a little spark back into your brainstorming sessions. Focus on selecting topics that your audience actually cares about, not just the long-hanging topics your team knows backward and forward.
Take a look at your keyword research
How much time and energy are you really putting into picking the right keywords? Are you just using the same ones over and over again or guessing? Instead, try to pick ones that are highly related to industry news, search results, and customer concerns. Switch them up as needed, depending on what kind of content you’re producing.
Find out if your visitors are actually reading your posts
Just because your content is being found online doesn’t mean it’s effective. Monitor the amount of time and engagement each post receives. Are people sticking around to take in the content, or are they immediately bouncing to another page because they’re uninterested?
Consider the current news
Lastly, look at what the leaders in your field are talking about. Are you sharing the latest updates, too? Or are you stuck in a cycle of churning out easy-to-produce, timeless content that no one cares about?
If you begin your content assessment and quickly realize that your brand is struggling with content fatigue, there are a few ways you can pull yourself out of the grave you’ve been digging.
- Prioritize quality over quantity
The first and most important thing to remember is that publishing hundreds of posts every week won’t do you as much good as publishing a handful of excellent, high-quality pieces of content. Regular posting is definitely a good idea, but if you’re struggling to create good content because you’re creating so much of it, you’re missing the point.
- Create content for a defined reason
As we said before, content creation for the sake of content creation is pointless. Why do you want to produce content? What are you trying to do? How is your content getting you to your end goal?
The more purpose you imbue into your content marketing, the less fatigued your writers and publishers will feel. They’ll come up with better ideas that actually drive your brand in the right direction.
- Focus more on your niche
Our final tip is to really, really zone in on our niche. There are other brands like yours – there always are. However, only your brand specializes in exactly what you do. Find those unique elements and drive them home in your content.
Explain what you offer that no other brand can. Pull in testimonials from experts and showcase your impressive credibility. Make your niche your area of comfort rather than just writing about what everyone else in the field writes about.
If you’re feeling disheartened that you’ve been producing lackluster content due to fatigue, don’t. It happens to everyone. The important thing is to turn your content around and ramp up your efforts – starting today.
5. Do a Little Recon on Your Competitors
Our last step in your content assessment is a little more hush-hush. We’re going to encourage you to do a little surveillance on your competitors.
Although we just said that mimicking your competitors thoughtlessly is a sign of content fatigue, ignoring them is also a bad idea. You need to understand how similar brands’ content production compares to yours.
During this big assessment, look at your content market as a whole. Who are your biggest competitors? What are they doing differently (or similarly) to you?
This tactic isn’t just about understanding your competitors – it’s about understanding what the standard of “quality” is in your field. Trust us: the concept of quality varies greatly from industry to industry, depending on who the big players are.
You can’t necessarily see what your competitors’ data looks like or how they’re brainstorming topics, but you can take note of:
- How well-researched their content is
- Who they’re interviewing/partnering with for posts
- How much their content is shared on social media
- Their use of external and internal links
Chances are, after just a day or two of competitor recon surveillance, you’ll have a whole list of notes and ideas for your own content improvement. Let your competitors ignite a bit of creativity, but don’t copy. Look for features that will enhance your blog or other content, but don’t get lazy and let them do the work for you.
And that’s your content quality assessment. Easier said than done, we know, but self-criticism when it comes to content is extremely valuable. You need to learn more about what content to create, what your customers want, and how well you’re performing.
Unfortunately, your work doesn’t stop after the assessment. Next, you’ll need to prioritize your methods of improvement. How will you use what you’ve learned in this analysis to actually take your content marketing to new heights?
Additionally, when will you assess your content again? How frequently will you check in with your marketing success and data?
Don’t perform this assessment only to take what you’ve learned and shoved it in a folder, never to be seen again. Continue to improve, and using regular assessments, take your content to new heights.