Measuring the metrics that matter: Does your brand know what counts?

by Rakhal Ebeli @rakhalebeli

The move away from direct marketing to brand journalism has left metrics in a muddle. How do you measure the performance of your content? What really counts in the field of brand publishing?

Here are some tips and myth-debunking advice on the metrics that really matter. 

Start with the objective

The first step may sound like an obvious one: Set a target. You can only know if you’re content has hit or missed the mark if you have a mark. Forbes, for instance, offers advertisers on the Brand Voice platform metrics on both the publishing impact of the content and its performance on social media.

But ultimately, as Mike Perlis, CEO of Forbes, explains, “The specifics of how that works against their key indicators, that depends on what they’re trying to accomplish.

A brand must first clarify what it hopes to achieve, be it increased subscribers or higher sales, and adjust their metrics accordingly.

Sharing doesn’t always equal caring

It is commonly assumed that the more content is shared on social media, the more it drives traffic. Interestingly, this is not always the case. According to Tony Haile, CEO of real-time analytics software company Chartbeat, “the people who share content are a small fraction of the people who visit that content.”

In an op-ed to the Times, Tony reports that after tracking 10,000 socially-shared articles he found “there is no relationship whatsoever between the amount a piece of content is shared and the amount of attention an average reader will give that content.”

His research showed that for every 100 visitors, an article receives one tweet and eight Facebook likes. In other words, 99 per cent choose not to tweet. This may be good news for brands whose social media metrics fail to measure up.

As The Next Web’s Brian Honigman points out, “Clicks and social sharing aren’t bad measures of the success of a piece of sponsored content, but they don’t always highlight the satisfaction readers derive from a sponsored post or the depth of the experiences they had.”

Attention more important than clicks

Measuring click-through rate is a poor indication of reader engagement because it does not show whether you have engaged or added value to a reader. Tony explains, “We confuse what people have clicked on for what they’ve read.”  

According to his Chartbeat research, 55 percent of website visitors spend less than 15 seconds on a web page. Using page visits as a measure of performance is therefore a highly misleading metric. After all, what does one million page views mean if no one has read the content?

Tony believes we need to measure what happens “in between the clicks”, focusing on attention, or “attention minutes” as Upworthy suggests. Huge group director John McCrory agrees,Traditional online advertising metrics such as impressions and click through rates matter less, while publishing metrics such as page views, unique visitors, repeat visitors, and time spent begin to matter more.”

Quality economy

By measuring what counts, brands are in a better position to create engaging and relevant content. This benefits the entire web community, fostering the creation of quality content and an improved user experience.  As Tony concludes, “It’s not just the publishers of quality content who win in the Attention Web, it’s all of us.

A web where quality makes money and great design is rewarded? That’s something worth paying attention to.