Creating new content without reviewing your existing content performance is like baking a batch of cookies that nobody likes. Or at least it could be. We’ll explain.
Let’s say you were a bakery owner and you loved oatmeal raisin cookies. So you baked batches and batches of the cookies, sure that everyone out there loves those cookies as much as you do.
You baked them up and brought them to the front display case — only to realize yesterday’s batch of oatmeal raisin cookies was still there. Not a single oatmeal raisin cookie had sold. But the chocolate chip, macadamia nut and almond cookies had all sold out. You’re now stuck with five dozen oatmeal raisin cookies that no one even wants.
You could have avoided this mess if you had simply looked up front to see what people liked before you baked up all those new cookies. The same thing happens with content. If you start creating new content without knowing what people like, you can get stuck with batches and batches of junk.
You can find out what people like by reviewing content performance. Once you know what they like, you can create more of the same — instead of the stuff they ignore.
What to Review in Content Performance
When it comes to reviewing content performance, you have tons of options. Your first step is to determine what type of content to track, which depends on the new type of content you’ll be creating.
Since blog posts are one of the most popular options, let’s say you’re aiming to create a lineup of blog posts to cover the next month.
Your next step is determining what key performance indicators (KPIs) to track. You don’t need to measure every single KPI in the universe, just those relevant to your goals.
How to Track Blog Performance
Your goal with the new blog posts is to create content that attracts, engages, and converts members of your audience. Here are four blog metrics in Google Analytics that can do the trick:
- Average time on page
- Average pages per session
- Returning visitors
Where to find it: Google Analytics > Behavior > Site Content > All Pages
This KPI showcases the number of times each individual blog post has been viewed. This lets you see which blog entries are the most and least popular.
- The most popular posts: Gives you a good idea on the types of topics people like, excellent knowledge for creating new topics.
- The least popular posts: Lets you see which topics you may want to avoid, or which posts could use additional promotion, an overall refresh or an SEO revamp.
Average Time on Page
Where to find it: Google Analytics > Behavior > Site Content > All Pages
This stat tells you the average amount of time visitors spend on each post. This, in turn, can tell you if people are actually reading the post. If visitors spend an average of five seconds on a page featuring a 1,000-word post, you’ll know that people leave the page without reading the post.
The headline gets them in, but the rest makes them leave. Here, you can review a number of elements that may be contributing to the short amount of time visitors spend on the page. They include:
- The headline, which could be misleading.
- The introduction, which could be bland and non-inviting.
- The writing quality, which could be dismal.
- The number of ads or other distractions on the page, which could be too annoying for the average viewer to endure.
- The page-load speed, which could be too slow for today’s fast-paced reader.
Keep all of these elements in mind when you’re reviewing existing content as well as crafting new content.
Average Pages per Session
Where to find it: Google Analytics > Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages
This number indicates how many pages a person visited during their session. When it comes to blog posts, it can be helpful to look at how many additional pages a person looked at after landing on a specific blog post.
The more pages they visit, the better acquainted they become with your brand — which increases the chances of an eventual conversion. If you have a low number of average pages per session, you can try:
- Adding more internal links to other website content.
- Refreshing the blog post’s CTA to make it more enticing.
Where to find it: Google Analytics > Behavior > Site Content > All Pages > Secondary Dimension (dropdown menu at top) > Users > User Type
New traffic is always good. But when people return to your site to read a specific post, it can be even better. The visitors evidently liked what they saw the first time around, and they’re coming back for more.
Returning visitors are a good sign of high-quality content that people enjoy. This can give you a good idea of additional topics that may interest your visitors, as well as common pain points your visitors share.
Finding the Returning Visitors statistic in Google Analytics involves selecting the User Type option to display using the Secondary Dimension dropdown menu at the top of the chart.
Once you have the User Type column displayed, click on the header area on the Landing Page column. This will show the new visitors and returning visitors side-by-side for each landing page. If only new visitors are shown, that means the particular page did not have any return visitors.
Performance Indicators for Other Types of Content
Now you know what to measure in existing blog posts before creating new ones. But what if you’re creating a new batch of emails or social media posts? The same concept holds true: you want to look at the performance of your existing content to give you an idea of what’s working and what’s not.
Useful measurements for emails can include:
- Click-through rate (CTR): The number of people who have clicked through to visit your website or other link included in the email. High CTRs mean compelling content.
- Open rate: The number of people that have opened your email. Thanks to privacy settings that skew the results, open rates have become less meaningful and accurate as a statistic to track for emails.
- Replies: If recipients are replying to your emails, you’ve definitely interested them enough to take the time to send you a message back.
- Unsubscribe rates: High unsubscribe rates can happen for a number of reasons:
- You’re sending too many emails.
- People are no longer interested in your content.
- People didn’t mean to sign up for your content in the first place.
You can decrease the frequency and increase the quality of your emails to help take care of the first two issues.
Useful measurements for social media posts can include:
- Likes: Likes, loves and other reactions indicate your post is getting noticed.
- Comments: While not all comments are guaranteed to be positive, taking the time to leave a comment means the post affected the viewer in some way.
- Average engagement rate: This number indicates how engaging your post was. It’s calculated by adding up all the likes, comments, saves and other engagements, and then dividing the total number of engagements by the total number of followers on that particular channel.
- Audience growth rate: A steady stream of engaging posts can increase your number of followers. Losing followers is a sign you need to change what you’re doing, fast.
- Conversion rate: This number indicates how many people followed the action outlined in your social media CTA. The actions could range from scheduling a free call to clicking through to read a blog post. A high conversion rate means your post gave your audience something of value that compelled them to act.
- Amplification rate: This metric indicates the rate at which your followers share your content with their followers. The number looks at shares, retweets, repins or whatever sharing statistic is standard on the specific platform.
Tips for Putting It All Into Action
Once you’re familiar with the useful performance measurements to review for different types of content, your next step is to make your review a regular habit.
How often should I review existing content?
It all depends on how frequently you’re publishing new content. A solid review of all your content is a good idea at least once a year. Some companies do it once a quarter, or even once a month. More than once a month is probably too frequent, as you need to give the content time to work (or not).
How can I make the performance review easier?
Make it easier by:
- Establishing a regular schedule.
- Making someone accountable for overseeing the process.
- Using spreadsheets, templates or customized reports to capture and record the exact metrics you want to review.
Summing It Up
Pleasing your readers is the main aim of the overall game. Knowing what content has delighted them in the past can play a big role in determining what is apt to delight them moving forward.
Using metrics to guide your decisions gives you a solid starting point based on facts, rather than on what you may assume your audience likes. You want to be the baker who serves up fresh, delicious content your readers enjoy — not the one stuck with five dozen untouched oatmeal raisin cookies. Bon appetit!