Updated: Oct 11, 2019
In 2015, Brandon Flowers released an awesome solo album that contained the epic retro 80s tune, "Lonely Town" with this insightful chorus:
Do you hear the phone when I call? Do you hear the crack when I break? Do you lock the door when it shut? Do you keep your ear to the ground?
For the kid in lonely town (lonely town)
The song is probably about a kid who can't get a date. Or maybe it's about content that no one reads.
Pick the narrative that works best for you.
Feeling like your website's content is sitting home alone on a Saturday night?
Let's assume you have the basics in place. You have an awesome user interface design. You don't have broken links or empty pages (yes, I'm talking those people who use templates but don't pay attention to the little details). You may even be following my recommended website framework.
But you still have this nagging suspicion your blog posts or articles are not doing their jobs.
Step back for a second and ask why are you creating content for your website?
Is it because you had one or two brilliant ideas you wanted to publish hoping the content would go viral and you could retire to your private island in the South Pacific?
Let me know how that strategy worked out for you.
You have to create content because you want to share valuable and relevant information with your target audiences...information that ultimately drives them to spend their hard-earned money on your products or services.
That’s really all there is to it.
Yet, I continually run into businesses that only grok portions of that concept. They either create content that has no value to the reader or content that kicks off zero momentum toward a sale.
Out of the 1.3 billion websites in existence now, 1.299 billion do the exact opposite. They have no overall content strategy and the owners write the content themselves or farm it out to content mill aspiring copywriters. This usually results in a cobbled-together keyword-rich craptastic piece of “content.” This word-noise has no value to the reader and is a thinly disguised sales pitch that only demonstrates the company excels at working with amateurs.
I'll save discussing content strategy for another article. I’m going to assume you’re reading this because you already have some content on your website and you're not seeing any increases in leads or sales.
Let me introduce you to your new best friend the KPI: Key Performance Indicator
Measuring What Matters
Years ago I was tasked with running a direct mail campaign to small business owners. Buoyed by my initial success from the first campaign, I wanted to really kick the direct mail program into a higher gear and get to know more about the prospects we were mailing. What were their pain points and triggers?
I decided a survey was the best way to go. Now, I wasn’t survey savvy at this point in my career so I came up with a list of questions I thought I was supposed to ask, based on the textbooks and articles I read.
I ran a draft of that survey by a seasoned marketing researcher who also taught the subject at a local university.
Thinking I was going to be praised for my thoroughness, I was surprised when he chastised me with one simple question:
“John, what are you going to do with the answer to this survey question?”
Like many others, I thought collecting data was the objective. I knew I could get some usable messaging information from gender and age groups, but that’s about as far as my brain could go to translate the survey results.
“Ummmm, I’m not sure.”
“Then why are you asking it?”
“Because I’m supposed to.” “Never ask a question without a reason. Focus on getting the data that offers you actionable intelligence. Nothing more.”
That’s what a Key Performance Indicator is. It’s measuring and analyzing only the data that matters.
In the case of your website content, there are several KPIs you can measure, but we’re only going to focus on the top four:
To paraphrase a well-worn philosophical question, “If great content is on your website and no one sees it, is it still great content?”
You need to monitor and understand where people are coming from and how many of them are showing up. Your traffic numbers will tell you if your site’s audience is growing, stagnating, or declining.
You can accomplish this by tracking the following channels:
Direct - people who have bookmarked your site or directly typed in the URL
Organic Search - people who have found your site through a search engine like Google
Referral - people who clicked links from other sites (including social media platforms) that link directly to your site
Email - people who click links embedded in email campaigns
Paid Search - people who clicked links from your Google AdWords campaign
Install Google Analytics on your site (it’s free) and you can easily access all fo this information.
You can now measure your traffic volume. Now what?
Just collect the data for three months, a business quarter if you want to split it up that way.
Don’t analyze it yet. No matter how tempted you are to take action and be a go-getter, just chill out and collect the data.
You can’t determine a trend with just two points of data. You need a lot more information before you can make an intelligent decision on what to change with your content.
At the end of those three months, you’ll have a baseline of information you can use to drive your content strategy going forward.
For example, if you see a nice traffic bump during an email campaign or after publishing a blog post profiling a rock star in your industry, that may be an indicator you want to create more content like that. On the other hand, if you see your traffic numbers slowly circling the drain, that tells you its time to change things up.
Traffic volume is only the starting point when it comes to understanding your web content’s health, but start measuring it today.
In upcoming articles, I’ll introduce the KPIs for Engagement, Popular Content, and Conversion Rate as well as how to translate each KPIs data into a plan of action to improve your website. And by improve, I mean make it more profitable.
Want articles like this in your inbox each week?