At Content Science, we find the real value of content for an organization is the content’s ability to achieve goals–its effectiveness. If content is highly effective with content users, then usually it brings a return on investment (ROI). Content effectiveness is a strong indicator of ROI.

Is your content effective? If you don’t know the answer, it’s likely your content isn’t as effective as you’d like it to be. The only way to know if your content is effective is by measuring what matters. 

So, what matters in making effective content? In our research, we identified six dimensions of content effectiveness, and these dimensions have held up over the course of collecting data from more than 150,000 people. They are:

  • Discovery: How do users discover content? Do users find the content they need?
  • Accuracy: Do they perceive the content as accurate?
  • Polish: Do users perceive the formatting and design of the content to be a high level of quality?
  • Relevance: Do they perceive the content as serving their needs or interests?
  • Usefulness: Does the content anticipate the users’ needs and enable them to complete the goals?
  • Influence: Do users take action or make a decision after viewing the content?

When we measure content effectiveness, we are taking these six dimensions into account. The Content Science team developed a tool called ContentWRX Effectiveness to help automate this assessment, from collecting data to creating a content effectiveness score. We also look at: 

  • Web and channel analytics
  • Voice of customer data
  • Customer inquiries and sentiment
  • Business metrics

Many companies collect some or all of these types of data. But the challenge often comes with creating a content intelligence system to efficiently evaluate your content effectiveness so you can quickly take action. 

How do you start measuring what matters? Here’s what you need to consider in creating your content effectiveness measurement system:

  • GATHERING RELIABLE FEEDBACK on content, efficiently and regularly.
  • ANALYZING THE FEEDBACK in a timely, consistent manner to glean insights.
  • TRACKING THE INFORMATION over time to measure changes and results.
  • COMPARING performance to industry benchmarks so you know where you stand.
  • CONSULTING expertise, research and best practices to help interpret and act on the insights.
  • PROMPTING ACTION through easy reporting and systematic reminders or alerts.

These tasks fit within three broad buckets of work:

  • Data collection
  • Analysis and interpretation
  • Insight and action

Let’s get into how you can approach each of these three buckets.

Data Collection

This bucket of work is all about collecting useful data efficiently. 

One tool will not collect all of the data. You will need an ecosystem of technology and tools that provide data related to content.

Web analytics are not enough. You also need voice of the customer feedback, sentiment data, channel analytics, and more to understand what content is effective and why. As a simple example, the American Cancer Society uses an ecosystem of data collection and analysis tools including Google Analytics, ContentWRX, HotJar, and more.

Analysis and Interpretation

Collecting data alone is not enough to measure content effectiveness. You need to know what to do with that data. That’s where analysis and interpretation come in. These tasks require a combination of tools, people, and process. And it begins with asking the right questions. 

The right questions come from your business goals and content vision or strategy. The clearer your content vision and your strategy to achieve it is, the easier it will be to define appropriate questions.

Tools can help automate, but humans have to be involved. People need to define priorities for analysis, set up the tools, oversee the implementation and help assess the interpretation. You and your team and stakeholders are not meeting regularly to review your questions about content and the analysis intended to answer them, you will not be able to gain insight or take action.

Insight and Action

If you successfully collect high volumes of content data but never learn or act, you might as well have no content data at all. You need to be able to uncover useful insights and make decisions about your content and much more.

For example, Intel uses a robust set of data about content effectiveness to decide how to streamline its digital presence—in other words, reduce its content bloat. This intelligence has helped the technology giant consolidate in the short term and set a best practice for ongoing digital governance so that such an extreme case of content bloat never happens again.

Understanding content effectiveness is the foundation for other content insights and actions. For example, it’s difficult to calculate a return on your investment in a content product or your return on content assets without understanding how effective your content is.

Having enough content data and analysis to make predictions and decisions takes time. The sooner you implement a content effectiveness measurement system, what we call a system of content intelligence, the sooner you can start predicting the impact of content changes.

Bottom Line

How do you answer the question of whether your content works and what to do about it? Without a steady stream of feedback about content from your customers, you can’t.

The lessons learned from assessing whether your content is effective can help you with improving your current approach, developing new content ideas, solving problems (content problems and other organizational problems), and much more.

If you’re ready to start measuring content effectiveness, you can use our Content Effectiveness Measurement Worksheets [subscriber access required] and read about how to benchmark your content effectiveness using ContentWRX.

The Author

Content Science is a growing content strategy and intelligence company and the publisher of Content Science Review. We empower digital enterprises for the content era by taking their content approach to the next level. Customers of our professional services and one-of-a-kind products (such as ContentWRX and Content Science Academy) include the Fortune 50, the world’s largest nonprofits, and the most trusted government agencies.

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