The Northern California coast is a beautiful place. Setting course from our home in Sacramento, my wife and I made the two-hour drive to the Highway 1 junction just north of San Francisco. We wound along the the scenic two lane road, one hairpin turn after another, her eyes staring straight ahead to avoid car sickness.
I once told her my dream home would be a small farm on the beach. We’d never stumbled upon such a place (it would be pretty difficult, as we live 120 miles inland). But then, with a point of her finger, she spotted something. Could it be? We had to stop.
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Slowing the car and pulling over, I stepped out in awe. On my right was a beautiful farm with a little red barn. On my left was a quaint beach with Northern California’s iconic seascape. There was a smooth, flat beach with massive rocks sprinkled out in the surf. With the water crashing on the rocks to our left, and the “No Trespassing” sign to our right, we opted to head toward the beach.
As if my dream home wasn’t already in a good enough location, it even had a creek running through it and into the ocean, which instantly caught our attention. We found sticks and dropped them in to see whose “boat” would make it down the natural water raceway and into the ocean first.
Let’s talk about this blog post. If you worked at Simply Measured, how would you measure if it’s any good? You’d probably start by seeing how many pageviews it has, how much time was spent on the page, maybe how far down people scrolled, and if anyone used the button at the bottom to request more information (if you skip the rest of this and fill out the form, I won’t be hurt). If the numbers look good, you’d take it to the VP of Marketing and anticipate a pat on the back, right? Hooray!
But, what if he hit you with this question?
Those are the best numbers I’ve ever seen. What happened that led to this content performing so well?
She picked a skinny stick, and I picked a fat stick, thinking it would give her an advantage — you can never have too many husband points. Scotty Creek was small but moving quickly that day. After hitting the water, the sticks started moving as you’d expect. They stayed close as they were carried down a smooth sheen of water. We ran after them down the creek. About 10 feet before reaching the ocean, there was a left turn where the water was littered with rocks, undulations in the sand, and stray sticks.
Her skinny stick bounced from one obstacle to the next, slaloming its way through the confluence of the creek and the wash of the waves, eventually sliding into the ocean. Mine, on the other hand, kept getting stuck; its added weight created more friction in the sand and struggled to plow through the debris. It finally made it to the ocean, long after my wife’s had crossed the finish line.
Uh, that’s a good question. Let me look into that,
“Good. We’re working on planning for next quarter, and it’s important that we get as much consumption and conversion from our content as possible,” he says.
You see, just knowing your KPIs isn’t good enough. Whether this blog post is the best or worst performing piece of content from Simply Measured this quarter, the follow-up questions are the same: “Why did it perform the way it did? What are you going to do to improve performance in the future?”
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If you know where your content goes, you can answer these questions. What you create takes a circuitous route before finally yielding traffic and conversions on your site. So, where does your content go? It goes to social. It’s likely the largest content distribution channel(s) you own, and perhaps more importantly, it’s where people distribute your content on their own.
More consumption and conversion comes down to two things:
- Production – Are you creating content people care about? Is it content that people not only find interesting, but that actually compels them to take action?
- Distribution – What content do you choose to distribute through which channels? Is it targeted at the right audiences at the right times?
What you should produce should be based on what your audience self-selects as most interesting to them. If you rely purely on how they engage with the content you serve them through your owned social channels, you’re biasing your data by manipulating the variables. You decide which content to distribute through your owned channels, so you’ve not given your audience the chance to organically declare what they care about most. This is where earned and dark social sharing come into the mix. What people share by their own volition, especially privately with friends, family, and colleagues, is the truest indicator of what will compel them to convert. That’s the answer for what type of content you’re going to produce more of next quarter.
Where and when you distribute your content is solved by testing through your owned social channels. If you’re producing the right content, you just need to figure out how to get it in front of the right people at the right time. Test content delivery strategies based on channel, time, and audience targeting.
Once you know where your content goes, you’ll be able to determine why it performs the way it does, and what will drive even better results in the future.
December on the Northern California coast may be beautiful, but it’s also cold and windy. We were ready to head to the rental house to warm up. We dropped two more sticks in the creek as we walked away. I took a last glance at my dream home, fired up the car, and pulled back onto the road.
So, where are you at today? Do you know where your content goes? You may know what your KPIs are, but that’s only as valuable as simply knowing that both sticks made it to the ocean that day at Scotty Creek. The path each stick took to get there is just as, if not even more, critical to understand. Next time, I’d pick a skinnier stick and drop it in a different place.
Maybe you don’t even know if your sticks are making it to the ocean. Perhaps the first step for you is starting to measure the complete amount of consumption and conversions you are driving with your content. I don’t know if my second stick made it to the ocean or not. Did it get tangled up with the other sticks at the left turn? I wish I knew what path it took, but for starters, I want to at least know if it made it all the way.
Simply Measured Social Attribution can help you determine where your content goes, what results it drives, and what you need to do to increase those results.
Interested in learning more? Click the button below. Maybe this will end up being a good blog post after all.