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Content Assets: Score for Long-Term Success



Content Assets: Score for Long-Term Success

Updated January 11, 2022

Want a balanced and actionable way to know whether your content is doing what it’s supposed to do?

Create a content scorecard.

A content scorecard allows for normalized scoring based on benchmarks determined by the performance of similar content in your industry or your company’s content standards.

It marries both qualitative and quantitative assessments. Quantitative scores are based on performance metrics such as views, engagement, SEO rank, etc. Qualitative scores are derived from predetermined criteria, such as readability, accuracy, and voice consistency (more on that in a bit).

A #content scorecard marries qualitative and quantitative assessments, says @lindroux via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Let’s get to work to create a content scorecard template you can adapt for your situation.

Establish your quantitative success indicators

First, you must measure what matters. What is the job for that piece of content?

For example, an index or landing page is rarely designed to be the final destination. If a reader spends too long on that kind of page, it’s likely not a good sign. On the other hand, a long time spent on a detailed article or white paper is a positive reflection of user engagement. Be specific with your content goals when deciding what to measure.

What should you measure based on the content’s purpose? Here are some ideas:

  • Exposure – content views, impressions, backlinks
  • Engagement time spent on page, clicks, rating, comments
  • Conversion – purchase, registration for gated content, return visits, click-throughs
  • Redistribution – shares, pins

After you’ve identified your quantitative criteria, you need to identify the benchmarks. What are you measuring against? Industry standards? Internal standards? A little of both?

A good starting point for researching general user behavior standards is the Nielsen Norman Group. If you seek to focus on your industry, look at your industry marketing groups or even type something like “web metrics for best user experience in [INDUSTRY].”

Find out general web user behavior standards from @NNGroup research, advises @lindroux via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Below is a sample benchmark key. The left column identifies the metric, while the top row indicates the resulting score on a scale of 1 to 5. Each row lists the parameters for the metric to achieve the score in its column.

Sample Quantitative Content Score 1-5 *

Score: 1 2 3 4 5
Page Views/Section Total <2% 2 – 3% 3 – 4% 4 – 5% >5%
Return Visitors <20% 20 – 30% 30 – 40% 40 – 50% >50%
Trend in Page Views Decrease of >50% Decrease Static Increase Increase of >50%
Page Views/Visit <1.2 1.2 – 1.8 1.9 – 2.1 2.2 – 2.8 >2.8
Time Spent/Page <20 sec 20 – 40 sec 40 – 60 sec 60 – 120 sec >120 sec
Bounce Rate >75% 65 – 75% 35 – 65 % 25 – 35% <25%
Links 0 1 – 5 5 – 10 10 – 15 >15
SEO <35% 35 – 45% 45 – 55% 55 – 65% >65%

*Values should be defined based on industry or company benchmarks.

Using a 1-to-5 scale makes it easier to analyze content that may have different goals and still identify the good, the bad, and the ugly. Your scorecard may look different depending on the benchmarks you select.

How to document it

You will create two quantitative worksheets.

Label the first one as “Quantitative benchmarks.” Create a chart (similar to the one above) tailored to identify your key metrics and the ranges needed to achieve each score. Use this as your reference sheet.

Label a new worksheet as “Quantitative analysis.” Your first columns should be content URL, topic, and type. Label the next columns based on your quantitative metrics (i.e., page views, return visitors, trend in page views).

After adding the details for each piece of content, add the score for each one in the corresponding columns.

Remember, the 1-to-5 rating is based on the objective standards you documented on the quantitative reference worksheet.

Determine your qualitative analytics

It’s easy to look at your content’s metrics, shrug, and say, “Let’s get rid of everything that’s not getting eyeballs.” But if you do, you risk throwing out great content whose only fault may be it hasn’t been discovered. Scoring your content qualitatively (using a different five-point scale) helps you identify valuable pieces that might otherwise be buried in the long tail.

In this content scorecard process, a content strategist or someone equally qualified on your team/agency analyzes the content based on your objectives.

TIP: Have the same person review all the content to avoid any variance in qualitative scoring standards.

Here are some qualitative criteria we’ve used:

  • Consistency – Is the content consistent with the brand voice and style?
  • Clarity and accuracy – Is the content understandable, accurate, and current?
  • Discoverability – Does the layout of the information support key information flows?
  • Engagement – Does the content use the appropriate techniques to influence or engage visitors?
  • Relevance – Does the content meet the needs of all intended user types?

To standardize the assessment, use yes-no questions. One point is earned for every yes. No point is earned for a no. The average qualitative score is then determined by adding up the yes points and dividing the total by the number of questions for the category.

To standardize a qualitative #content assessment, use yes-no questions, says @lindroux via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

The following illustrates how this would be done for the clarity and accuracy category as well as discoverability. Bold indicates a yes answer.

Clarity and accuracy: Is the content understandable, accurate, and current?

  • Is the content understandable to all user types?
  • Does it use appropriate language?
  • Is content labeled clearly?
  • Do images, video, and audio meet technical standards so they are clear?

Score: 3/4 * 5 = 3.8

Discoverability: Does the layout of information on the page support key information flows? Is the user pathway to related answers and next steps clear and user-friendly?

Score: 1/5 * 5 = 1.0

TIP: Tailor the questions in the relevance category based on the information you can access. For example, if the reviewer knows the audience, the question, “Is it relevant to the interests of the viewers,” is valid. If the reviewer doesn’t know the audience, then don’t ask that question. But almost any reviewer can answer if the content is current. So that would be a valid question to analyze.

How to document it

Create two qualitative worksheets.

Label the first worksheet “Qualitative questions.”

The first columns are the content URL, topic, and type. Then section the columns for each category and its questions. Add the average formula to the cell under each category label.

Let’s illustrate this following on the example above:

After the content details, label the next column “Clarity and accuracy,” and add a column for each of the four corresponding questions.

Then go through each content piece and question, inputting a 1 for yes and a 0 for no.

To calculate the average rating for clarity and accuracy, input this formula into the cell “=(B5+B6+B7+B8)/4” to determine the average for the first piece of content.

For simpler viewing, create a new worksheet labeled “Qualitative analysis.” Include only the content information accompanied by the category averages in each subsequent column.

Put it all together

With your quantitative and qualitative measurements determined, you now can create your scorecard spreadsheet.

Here’s what it would look like based on the earlier example (minus the specific content URLs).

Qualitative Scores

Article A Article B Article C Article D Article E
Brand voice/style 5 1 2 3 1
Accuracy/currency? 4 2 3 2 2
Discoverability 3 3 3 3 3
Engagement 4 2 4 2 2
Relevance 3 3 5 3 3
Average Qualitative Score 3.8 2.2 3.4 2.6 2.2

Quantitative Scores

Exposure 3 1 3 3 3
Engagement 2 2 2 2 2
Conversion 1 3 3 1 3
Backlinks 4 2 2 4 2
SEO % 2 3 3 2 3
Average Quantitative Score 2.4 2.2 2.6 2.4 2.6
Average Qualitative Score 3.8 2.2 3.4 2.6 2.2
Recommended Action Review and improve Remove and avoid Reconsider distribution plan Reconsider distribution plan Review and improve

On the scorecard, an “average” column has been added. It is calculated by totaling the numbers for each category and dividing it by the total number of categories.

Now you have a side-by-side comparison of each content URL’s average quantitative and qualitative scores. Here’s how to analyze the numbers and then optimize your content:

  • Qualitative score higher than a quantitative score: Analyze your distribution plan. Consider alternative times, channels, or formats for this otherwise “good” content.
  • Quantitative score higher than a qualitative score: Review the content to identify ways to improve it. Could its quality be improved with a rewrite? What about the addition of data-backed research?
  • Low quantitative and qualitative scores: Remove this content from circulation and adapt your content plan to avoid this type of content in the future.
  • High quantitative and qualitative scores: Promote and reuse this content as much as feasible. Update your content plan to replicate this type of content in the future.

Of course, there are times when the discrepancy between quantitative and qualitative scores may indicate that the qualitative assessment is off. Use your judgment, but at least consider the alternatives.


Get going

When should you create a content scorecard? While it may seem like a daunting task, don’t let that stop you. Don’t wait until the next big migration. Take bite-size chunks and make it an ongoing process. Start now and optimize every quarter, then the process won’t feel quite so Herculean.

Selecting how much and what content should be evaluated depends largely on the variety of content types and the consistency of content within the same type. You need to select a sufficient number of content pieces to see patterns in topic, content type, traffic, etc.

Though there is no hard and fast science to sample size, in our experience 100 to 200 content assets were sufficient. Your number will depend on:

  • Total inventory size​
  • Consistency within a content type
  • Frequency of audits​

Review in batches so you don’t get overwhelmed. Set evaluation cycles and look at batches quarterly, revising, retiring, or repurposing your content based on the audit results every time. And remember to select content across the performance spectrum. If you only focus on high-performing content, you won’t identify the hidden gems.


Raise your qualitative and quantitative content marketing initiatives with helpful insight from experts in the field. Subscribe to the free CMI weekday newsletter.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]



45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

Creating content isn’t always a walk in the park. (In fact, it can sometimes feel more like trying to swim against the current.)

While other parts of business and marketing are becoming increasingly automated, content creation is still a very manual job. (more…)

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How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open



How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open

Are data clean rooms the solution to what IAB CEO David Cohen has called the “slow-motion train wreck” of addressability? Voices at the IAB will tell you that they have a big role to play.

“The issue with addressability is that once cookies go away, and with the loss of identifiers, about 80% of the addressable market will become unknown audiences which is why there is a need for privacy-centric consent and a better consent-value exchange,” said Jeffrey Bustos, VP, measurement, addressability and data at the IAB.

“Everyone’s talking about first-party data, and it is very valuable,” he explained, “but most publishers who don’t have sign-on, they have about 3 to 10% of their readership’s first-party data.” First-party data, from the perspective of advertisers who want to reach relevant and audiences, and publishers who want to offer valuable inventory, just isn’t enough.

Why we care. Two years ago, who was talking about data clean rooms? The surge of interest is recent and significant, according to the IAB. DCRs have the potential, at least, to keep brands in touch with their audiences on the open internet; to maintain viability for publishers’ inventories; and to provide sophisticated measurement capabilities.

How data clean rooms can help. DCRs are a type of privacy-enhancing technology that allows data owners (including brands and publishers) to share customer first-party data in a privacy-compliant way. Clean rooms are secure spaces where first-party data from a number of sources can be resolved to the same customer’s profile while that profile remains anonymized.

In other words, a DCR is a kind of Switzerland — a space where a truce is called on competition while first-party data is enriched without compromising privacy.

“The value of a data clean room is that a publisher is able to collaborate with a brand across both their data sources and the brand is able to understand audience behavior,” said Bestos. For example, a brand selling eye-glasses might know nothing about their customers except basic transactional data — and that they wear glasses. Matching profiles with a publisher’s behavioral data provides enrichment.

“If you’re able to understand behavioral context, you’re able to understand what your customers are reading, what they’re interested in, what their hobbies are,” said Bustos. Armed with those insights, a brand has a better idea of what kind of content they want to advertise against.

The publisher does need to have a certain level of first-party data for the matching to take place, even if it doesn’t have a universal requirement for sign-ins like The New York Times. A publisher may be able to match only a small percentage of the eye-glass vendor’s customers, but if they like reading the sports and arts sections, at least that gives some directional guidance as to what audience the vendor should target.

Dig deeper: Why we care about data clean rooms

What counts as good matching? In its “State of Data 2023” report, which focuses almost exclusively on data clean rooms, concern is expressed that DCR efficacy might be threatened by poor match rates. Average match rates hover around 50% (less for some types of DCR).

Bustos is keen to put this into context. “When you are matching data from a cookie perspective, match rates are usually about 70-ish percent,” he said, so 50% isn’t terrible, although there’s room for improvement.

One obstacle is a persistent lack of interoperability between identity solutions — although it does exist; LiveRamp’s RampID is interoperable, for example, with The Trade Desk’s UID2.

Nevertheless, said Bustos, “it’s incredibly difficult for publishers. They have a bunch of identity pixels firing for all these different things. You don’t know which identity provider to use. Definitely a long road ahead to make sure there’s interoperability.”

Maintaining an open internet. If DCRs can contribute to solving the addressability problem they will also contribute to the challenge of keeping the internet open. Walled gardens like Facebook do have rich troves of first-party and behavioral data; brands can access those audiences, but with very limited visibility into them.

“The reason CTV is a really valuable proposition for advertisers is that you are able to identify the user 1:1 which is really powerful,” Bustos said. “Your standard news or editorial publisher doesn’t have that. I mean, the New York Times has moved to that and it’s been incredibly successful for them.” In order to compete with the walled gardens and streaming services, publishers need to offer some degree of addressability — and without relying on cookies.

But DCRs are a heavy lift. Data maturity is an important qualification for getting the most out of a DCR. The IAB report shows that, of the brands evaluating or using DCRs, over 70% have other data-related technologies like CDPs and DMPs.

“If you want a data clean room,” Bustos explained, “there are a lot of other technological solutions you have to have in place before. You need to make sure you have strong data assets.” He also recommends starting out by asking what you want to achieve, not what technology would be nice to have. “The first question is, what do you want to accomplish? You may not need a DCR. ‘I want to do this,’ then see what tools would get you to that.”

Understand also that implementation is going to require talent. “It is a demanding project in terms of the set-up,” said Bustos, “and there’s been significant growth in consulting companies and agencies helping set up these data clean rooms. You do need a lot of people, so it’s more efficient to hire outside help for the set up, and then just have a maintenance crew in-house.”

Underuse of measurement capabilities. One key finding in the IAB’s research is that DCR users are exploiting the audience matching capabilities much more than realizing the potential for measurement and attribution. “You need very strong data scientists and engineers to build advanced models,” Bustos said.

“A lot of brands that look into this say, ‘I want to be able to do a predictive analysis of my high lifetime value customers that are going to buy in the next 90 days.’ Or ‘I want to be able to measure which channels are driving the most incremental lift.’ It’s very complex analyses they want to do; but they don’t really have a reason as to why. What is the point? Understand your outcome and develop a sequential data strategy.”

Trying to understand incremental lift from your marketing can take a long time, he warned. “But you can easily do a reach and frequency and overlap analysis.” That will identify wasted investment in channels and as a by-product suggest where incremental lift is occurring. “There’s a need for companies to know what they want, identify what the outcome is, and then there are steps that are going to get you there. That’s also going to help to prove out ROI.”

Dig deeper: Failure to get the most out of data clean rooms is costing marketers money

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Ascend | DigitalMarketer



Ascend | DigitalMarketer

At this stage, your goal is to generate repeat buys and real profits. While your entry-point offer was designed for conversions, your ascension offers should be geared for profits—because if you’re serving your customers well, they’ll want to buy again and again.

Ascension offers may be simple upsells made after that initial purchase… bigger, better solutions… or “done for you” add-ons.

So now we must ask ourselves, what is our core flagship offer and how do we continue to deliver value after the first sale is made? What is the thing that we are selling? 

How we continue to deliver value after the first sale is really important, because having upsells and cross sales gives you the ability to sell to customers you already have. It will give you higher Average Customer values, which is going to give you higher margins. Which means you can spend more to acquire new customers. 

Why does this matter? It matters because of this universal law of marketing and customer acquisition, he or she who is able and willing to spend the most to acquire a customer wins.

Very often the business with the best product messaging very often is the business that can throw the most into customer acquisition. Now there are two ways to do that.

The first way is to just raise a lot of money. The problem is if you have a lot of money, that doesn’t last forever. At some point you need economics. 

The second way, and the most timeless and predictable approach, is to simply have the highest value customers of anyone in your market. If your customers are worth more to you than they are to your competitors, you can spend more to acquire them at the same margin. 

If a customer is worth twice as much to you than it is to your competitor, you can spend twice as much trying to acquire them to make the same margin. You can invest in your customer acquisition, because your customers are investing in your business. You can invest in your customer experiences, and when we invest more into the customer we build brands that have greater value. Meaning, people are more likely to choose you over someone else, which can actually lower acquisition costs. 

Happy customers refer others to us, which is called zero dollar customer acquisition, and generally just ensures you’re making a bigger impact. You can invest more in the customer experience and customer acquisition process if you don’t have high margins. 

If you deliver a preview experience, you can utilize revenue maximizers like up sells, cross sales, and bundles. These are things that would follow up the initial sale or are combined with the initial sale to increase the Average Customer Value.

The best example of an immediate upsell is the classic McDonalds, “would you like fries with that?” You got just a burger, do you also want fries with that? 

What distinguishes an upsell from other types of follow up offers is the upsell promise, the same end result for a bigger and better end result. 

What’s your desired result when you go to McDonalds? It’s not to eat healthy food, and it’s not even to eat a small amount of food. When you go to McDonalds your job is to have a tasty, greasy, predictable inexpensive meal. No one is going there because it’s healthy, you’re going there because you want to eat good. 

It’s predictable. It’s not going to break the bank for a hamburger, neither will adding fries or a Coke. It’s the same experience, but it’s BIGGER and BETTER. 

Amazon does this all of the time with their “Customers Who Bought This Also Bought …” But this one is algorithmic. The point of a cross sell is that it is relevant to the consumer, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be aligned with the original purchase. What you don’t want to do is start someone down one path and confuse them.

You can make this process easy with Bundles and Kits. With a bundle or a kit you’re essentially saying to someone, “you can buy just one piece, or you can get this bundle that does all of these other things for a little bit more. And it’s a higher value.”

The idea behind bundles and kits is that we are adding to the primary offer, not offering them something different. We’re simply promising to get them this desired result in higher definition. 

The Elements of High-Converting Revenue Maximizers (like our bundles and kits) are:

  1. Speed

If you’re an e-Commerce business, selling a physical product, this can look like: offering free shipping for orders $X or more. We’re looking to get your customers the same desired result, but with less work for them.

  1. Automation

If you’re a furniture business, and you want to add a Revenue Maximizer, this can look like: Right now for an extra $X our highly trained employees will come and put this together for you. 

  1. Access 

People will pay for speed, they’ll pay for less work, but they will also pay for a look behind the curtain. Think about the people who pay for Backstage Passes. Your customers will pay for a VIP experience just so they can kind of see how everything works. 

Remember, the ascension stage doesn’t have to stop. Once you have a customer, you should do your best to make them a customer for life. You should continue serving them. Continue asking them, “what needs are we still not meeting” and seek to meet those needs. 

It is your job as a marketer to seek out to discover these needs, to bring these back to the product team, because that’s what’s going to enable you to fully maximize the average customer value. Which is going to enable you to have a whole lot more to spend to acquire those customers and make your job a whole lot easier. 

Now that you understand the importance of the ascend stage, let’s apply it to our examples.

Hazel & Hem could have free priority shipping over $150, a “Boutique Points” reward program with exclusive “double point” days to encourage spending, and an exclusive “Stylist Package” that includes a full outfit custom selected for the customer. 

Cyrus & Clark can retain current clients by offering an annual strategic plan, “Done for You” Marketing services that execute on the strategic plan, and the top tier would allow customers to be the exclusive company that Cyrus & Clark services in specific geographical territories.

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