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Measuring for success: why keeping it simple when measuring your content works

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Three Whiskey sketches out a three-step measurement plan for marketers to follow

“To measure is to know, if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.”

Lord Kelvin, British mathematician

Although these words were spoken more than 100 years ago, they’re as true now as they ever were.

Measurement is a familiar concept for marketers. We need it to understand how channels and content are performing, and we need to know that so we can keep improving. It’s a constant cycle, but one that doesn’t need to be overcomplicated.

In fact, it’s best to keep it simple when measuring your content.

We can ensure this, in the first place, by being picky about the data we choose to measure. Information isn’t the same as insight and too much of it can make a tangled mess that doesn’t help anyone. We should measure only what helps us reach our business goals and objectives.

Where does measurement fit in?

As the graph below shows, measurement sits within the analytics framework. This framework also includes collection, analysis, reporting and optimization.

Measurement is critical and sets the foundation for what goes on further down the road. It’s the discovery phase. Then collection, which is an organization of what we discover in the measurement phase. Analysis is where we make sense of that data. Reporting is how we visualize it and how we share performance with shareholders. Optimization is the improvement stage.

Measurement, in this framework, translates business goals into KPIs and drives measurable impact. It helps us to better understand our audience and identify key opportunities to optimize.

Where do we begin?

Let’s look at how this can be applied in a practical way.

Sometimes, the task won’t be as simple as you’d like and you may be faced with a complex strategy, over multiple channels. Luckily, the steps are still the same.

  1. Identify your goals and objectives. This is critical. What is the overarching business, brand or campaign objective? Identify these goals and objectives, whether they are at a business, brand or campaign level.

  2. Define your measures of success. Plan content around the campaigns and the goals you want to achieve. Identify your KPIs – your key measures of success.

  3. Define key metrics. Identify specific metrics that measure your KPIs. Ladder your metrics, KPIs and content back to your overarching goals.

In more complex frameworks, you might add an audience or channel layer to help add detail (especially for larger, multichannel or omnichannel strategies) but even the most complex strategies are built on these three essential components.

Why does this three-step formula work so well? Because it helps us to align our measurement with our business goals and this gives our content purpose. And content with purpose directly contributes to the overarching goals of the company.

To show this in action, let’s introduce a fictional company – The Little Cactus Co – which is embarking on a measurement framework of its own.

This company is a leader in educating the masses on how to grow exotic plants, but it has low visibility and poor performance. It has no idea what content is resonating with its audience. As such, it is unable to plan for the future. Without understanding its performance, it is unable to optimize content and grow its business.

So, it has set out on its measurement journey and is following the three essential steps:

1. Identify business goals

  • Establish ourselves as a go-to resource

  • Build relationships with our community

  • Inspire and support our community

2. Identify key measures

  • Increase our reach/visibility

  • Deliver free training courses

  • Improve Instagram engagement

3. Define metrics

  • Organic traffic

  • Course sign-ups

  • Content likes

This is what this would look like as a measurement framework:

With this established, it is now able to make content that supports its goals:

  • YouTube videos on cactus care guides

  • Articles and blogs sharing advice and tips

  • Free cactus care and parenting courses

  • A monthly newsletter for cactus lovers

But it doesn’t stop there! And neither should you.

A measurement plan is a living, breathing document. Review it regularly, share it with your teams and get feedback, use it to shape how you track content and fuel your optimization. This plan can be used to inform every step of your analytics process.

Your measurement plan is a touchstone for performance and the broader focus, defining how you measure business performance guides an entire framework. As Lord Kelvin says, “to measure is to know”.

Jo Bell, data and technology director at Three Whiskey.