Conversions is really “the metric that I think most organizations should aspire to from a content marketing standpoint,” Ann Gynn, managing editor of The Tilt, told us during our seventh (of nine) Editorial Training sessions. But be patient, she warned. Gennady Kolker, audience development editor at Crain Communications, wants to know where his audience is coming from because “it tells us a little bit about their behavior.”
When Kolker brought up their marketing funnel during our session on content benchmarks Thursday, he said: “We see a lot of talk about this on the marketing and content marketing side, but it also applies to editorial. It’s how we bring readers and customers into our product and get them to travel through, to bring them along for the ride.”
Kolker and Gynn spent a fast-moving 40 minutes talking about their most valuable metrics and the similarities and differences between their editorial and content marketing approaches. For Kolker, metrics stay pretty much the same on both sides. Gynn stressed that content marketing demands that you strive to go beyond if they’re reading it to initiating an action.
For their funnel, Kolker said that “surge and social are channels that we use to bring people in, to introduce people to our content, to our product. And we hook them. So you publish a tweet or you post something on Facebook, they click on the article, they land on your page, and then you have an opportunity to bring them down into the funnel.
“If you published an article, or if you’re selling a product, get them interested in it so they need it. What can you offer them? And that’s where we get to consideration and conversion is get them to take an action. When we get to loyalty and advocacy, how do we get them to come back? And how do we get them to talk about the product? How do we get them to post or share the product or the story in question?”
Here are more highlights from this excellent session:
Know your goals. The key thing, Gynn said, is to know how you’re measuring success before you create the content. “It may not change everything about your content, but it puts you in a direction to understand what success is. So later if somebody says, ‘Oh, you’re not meeting goals.’ ‘Well, great! What were our goals? How does the content I create relate to the organization’s business model, the business goal?’ And so, if you are the decision maker, figure out what those success metrics are, and tell your creators you are a creator. Be proactive, and ask, how will we know if this is successful?”
Size of audience matters. “We are now in the age where people are searching for information, whether they’re using a search engine like Google or whether they’re looking for stuff that’s related to what they want to know from that,” Gynn said. “And then we can throw in stuff they need to know that they may not know to look for. The big metric is still audience size. Even if you’re a small organization, your audience size still matters. It doesn’t mean you need to go to 500,000, but you need to think about of your niche, of your area of expertise, your industry topic. You want the audience to be as big as possible in that area.”
Metrics that matter. Kolker spoke about the importance of unique visitors, how long on average are people spending on your article or on your product site? “And then we get to loyalty things like recirculation, which again is a Chartbeat metric. It’s a fancy word for saying, what is the volume of people that are converting from one article on your site to another article on the site? It doesn’t even have to be another article. It can be your homepage. We care about that because that tells us a little bit about our audience as well.”
Are they watching our videos? P&I also looks at open and click-through rates, which are traditionally newsletter metrics. “Our newsletters are incredibly successful,” Kolker said. “They bring in a highly engaged audience. So we spend a lot of time looking at how often people are opening those emails, or those newsletters. We publish some videos, not a lot. But we do care that people are consuming videos, and especially if you’re on social. That’s an important metric.” It’s the same for whitepapers, he added. How many downloads are they getting?
Revealing his sources. Kolker said that sources of traffic is another important metric for them. “Where is your audience coming from?” he asked. “It’s important because it tells us a little bit about their behavior.” A person’s first entry point to your site or to your content is very important. What percentage of people are coming in from social? Referrals are what they call third-party traffic. What percentage is coming in from email? We have probably anywhere from 10-15 newsletter products, both thematic digests, and what we call our Daily Newsletter, and we care about how many people are coming in from all of those newsletters. It’s a huge audience, anywhere from 10,000-20,000 subscribers. We care about where those people are coming from.”
The after part. Gynn said that with their organic content, they “just want people to consume the content,” and they’re looking at the metrics that tell them that. “But in content marketing, we want them to do something after they consume the content, no matter how much of the content they consumed. We want them to do something. So when you’re looking at the metrics, that’s where we need to go as the asterisk. What beyond the audience size. That’s the difference from it, and that’s how you create your content. You need to be thinking about that call to action. There are both direct and indirect. But you need to be thinking in that realm.”
Won’t you stay, just a little bit longer? “You [content marketing] can also help drive them to stay on your site longer,” Gynn said. “While the call to action could be registered for our upcoming Webinar, you could also have an indirect call to action that the reader doesn’t really know and doesn’t see as a call to action. It may be on the bar on the side of your website that you have relevant content related to the piece that they’re looking for, and they click on that. That’s a metric that you would be interested in. It’s keeping them on longer. It’s giving them more valuable content. They’re going a little bit deeper, So that’s a measurement of success for your content. They are now seeing your organization, your brand as a valuable resource.”