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Your Content Analytics Are Meaningless Unless You Have This [Rose-Colored Glasses]



Your Content Analytics Are Meaningless Unless You Have This [Rose-Colored Glasses]

If we can measure it, it must be important. So, is our job to just determine how accurately we can get that number?

Not at all. If any measurement is to mean anything, the first task is to agree on what equals success. It’s one of the unspoken secrets in all of marketing measurement. Agreement on measurement is much more important than the accuracy of the measurement itself.

Agreement on #ContentMarketing measurement is more important than the accuracy of the measurement, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

A couple of weeks ago, I had this conversation with a director of marketing at a technology company. We were talking about the accuracy of digital marketing and how senior leadership directed him to be “sharper” (i.e., better) on measuring content marketing’s contribution to the overall marketing strategy.

His first planned initiative was to get into the details of the accuracy of the analytics tools. He wanted to make sure they were generating the right numbers, which were all in line with each other.

I told him getting more accurate data was the least of his challenges. What senior leadership really wanted was an agreement on what the value is.

Agreement matters more than accuracy

Look at TV ratings. They have never been accurate. In the early days, participants in the selected homes listed the shows that they watched and for how long in diaries. Do you think any of them took a wild guess at what they watched on Tuesday? And, up until a few years ago, the representative sample for television ratings was about 20,000 households in the United States. When you consider over 100 million homes in the US have a television, that’s like walking into a basketball arena of 10,000 people and figuring out what everybody wants for dinner by asking two of them.

As I explained to the marketing director: Television advertising isn’t a $60 billion industry because it’s accurately measured. It’s because everybody has agreed to the standard that determines “good” television based on ratings, regardless of their accuracy.”

TV advertising isn’t a $60 billion industry because it’s accurately measured. It’s because everybody has agreed to the standard that determines “good” TV, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

The same must be true in your content marketing strategy. You first must define, align, and agree on your objectives and identify the unambiguous measurement of success.

How do you do that? Well, I like to think of measurement as a “design problem,” not an engineering problem, but here is a three-step process that has worked for us:

Step 1: Set your objective

Well-articulated objectives are clear and succinct and use plain language. They also imply or explicitly mention a time horizon to reach them. Objectives are the most important thing to get agreement on.

Set well-articulated objectives with a time horizon to reach them. That’s the most important thing to agree on, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

For example, a plainly stated objective might be: After the first year, our content marketing program will generate 30% of the new qualified leads in our demand-generation efforts.”

Setting and agreeing on strategic objectives doesn’t mean they never change, shift, or evolve. It just means you are aligned on the objective.

Step 2: Agree on key results

Now that you have an aligned strategic objective, you need to agree on the second most important thing – the definition of unambiguous success. This is what that marketing director’s senior leadership actually meant by getting “sharper” on how the measurement of content marketing was going to contribute to the business.

Define the key results and (most importantly) agreed upon measurements to determine if the objective has been reached. Again, clarity and simplicity are critical.

To be clear, these key results are not key performance indicators (KPI). Your key results are the definition of the goal. The KPIs, which I’ll get to in a moment, are the measurements to help you evaluate the progress toward those goals.

For example, the objective is to drive 30% of the new qualified leads. That’s a shared purpose, but it’s not defined. No one has agreed on what that means yet. To define what that means, the three agreed-upon key results might be:

  • Increase current qualified lead velocity into sales by 15% as measured by sales-enablement form fills.
  • Increase conversion rates of free trials by 25% as measured by the number of trials created.
  • Decrease cost-per-thousand advertising rate by 20% as measured by average digital CPM rate.

Notice how I used the words “as measured by.” In constructing your key results, you may use hard numbers instead of percentages, or you might not have numbers at all. The key is to all agree on what the unit of measurement will be.

Now, take the time to pause and socialize your strategy. You most likely will have more than one strategic objective made up of multiple key results. Use this approach to achieve buy-in from your senior leadership.

Once you have shared objectives and agreement on how they will be measured, it’s time to care a bit about the veracity of your metrics.

Step 3: Design your measurement metrics

If you’ve gotten this far, you likely realize no single analytics tool is going to give the direct answers you need. Your sales-enablement form-fill information will most likely come from your CRM system. Your conversion of free trials might, literally, be calling up Mary and asking, “How many free trials from this landing page did we have last month?” And your CPM decrease might be a view in Google Analytics or an average across multiple ad-tech systems.

Your KPIs – the first level of your measurement metrics – are likely going to be drawn from a variety of data sources. They can help track your progress toward reaching one or multiple objectives. In the case where multiple numbers make up a KPI, break out another category of identifying all the sources of those numbers.

For example, Content Marketing Award-winning company ServiceNow publishes Workflow Quarterly with the objective of generating leads. One of their KPIs is what they call an “engagement KPI,” a custom metric that combines page views, time on page, and scroll length. The engagement KPI is used to score articles to help ServiceNow evaluate the content’s effectiveness in delivering value to the reader.

Put these things together, and you’ve designed a measurement program that people will agree with.

More than accurate numbers – you know the numbers everyone agrees on.

Just remember that accuracy is how close we are to a standard or truth. But, to determine accuracy, you first need to define what the measurement is attempting to assess. In other words, you must define the standard or truth before accuracy means anything.

Now you’re measuring what’s truly meaningful – the truth we all believe in.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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2022 YouTube and Video SERP Result Changes



2022 YouTube and Video SERP Result Changes

When you think of video results on Google in 2022 (and video optimization), you might think of something that looks like this (from a search for “flag football”):

In mid-October, we noticed a drop in this type of video result, and that drop became dramatic by late-October. Did Google remove these video results or was our system broken? As it turns out, neither — video results have split into at least three distinct types (depending on how you count).

(1) Video packs (simple & complex)

The example above is pretty simple, with the exception of “Key Moments” (which debuted in 2019), but even the familiar video packs can get pretty complex. Here’s one from a search for the artist Gustav Klimt:

All three of the videos here have Key Moments, including a pre-expanded section for the top video with thumbnails for each of the moments. Some specific SERPs also have minor variations, such as the “Trailers & clips” feature on this search for “Lion King”:

Video packs are still often 3-packs, but can range from two to four results. While only the header really changes here, it’s likely that Google is using a modified algorithm to surface these trailer results.

(2) Branded video carousels

Some videos are displayed in a carousel format, which seems to be common for branded results within YouTube. Here’s an example for the search “Dave and Busters”:

While the majority of these “brand” (loosely defined) carousels are from YouTube, there are exceptions, such as this carousel from Disney Video for “Lightning McQueen”:

Like all carousel-based results, you can scroll horizontally to view more videos. Google’s mobile-first design philosophy has driven more of this format over time, as the combination of vertical and horizontal scrolling is more natural on mobile devices.

(3) Single/thumbnail video results

Prior to breaking out video into separate features, Google typically displayed video results as standard results with a screenshot thumbnail. In the past month, Google seems to have revived this format. Here’s an example for the search “longboarding”:

If you hover over the thumbnail, you’ll see a preview, like this (edited for size):

In some cases, we see multiple video results on a single page, and each of them seems to be counted as one of the “10 blue links” that we normally associate with standard organic results from the web.

There’s also a variant on the single-video format that seem specific to YouTube:

This variant also shows a preview when you hover over it, but it launches a simplified YouTube viewing experience that appears to be new (and will likely evolve over time).

(4) Bonus: Mega-videos

This format has been around for a while and is relatively rare, but certain niches, including hit songs, may return a large-scale video format, such as this one for Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero”:

A similar format sometimes appears for “how to” queries (and similar questions), such as the one below for “how to roundhouse kick.” Note the text excerpt below the video that Google has extracted from the audio …

While neither of these formats are new, and they don’t seem to have changed significantly in the past month, they are important variants of Google video results.

(5) Bonus: TikTok results

Finally, Google has started to display a special format for TikTok videos, that typically includes a selection of five videos that preview when you hover over them. Here’s an example from one of my favorite TikTok personalities:

Typically, these are triggered by searches that include “TikTok” in the query. While it’s not a standard video format and isn’t available outside of TikTok, it’s interesting to note how Google is experimenting with rich video results from other platforms.

Does YouTube still dominate?

Back in 2020, we did a study across 10,000 competitive Google searches that showed YouTube holding a whopping 94% of page-one video results. Has this changed with the recent format shuffling? In a word: no. Across the main three video formats discussed in this post, YouTube still accounts for 94% of results in this data set, with Facebook coming in at a distant second place with 0.8%. This does not count specialized results, such as the TikTo results above.

What does this mean for you?

If you’re tracking video results, and have seen major changes, be aware that they may not have disappeared – they more likely morphed into another format. This is a good time to go look at your SERPs in the wild (on desktop and mobile) and see what kind of video formats your target queries are showing. Google is not only experimenting with new formats, but with new video-specific markup and capabilities (such as extracting text directly from the soundtracks of videos and podcasts). You can expect all of this to continue to evolve into 2023.

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