Data-Driven Content Marketing & Content Effectiveness
Sitecore Content Hub 3.4 introduced a new metric in the Content Marketing Platform (CMP) and Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems of the platform called Impact Score. In this post I will define the new metric and describe how to use it to measure individual assets’ value and content attribution to campaign results.
Impact Score Definition
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half” is an age-old problem in marketing, and content marketing, in particular. In fact, content marketing has been a black box for the most of its existence. From John Deer’s “The Furrow” and the Michelin’s Guide, marketers struggled to apply strategy at a granular level to content marketing. The problem is that in the offline world it is nearly impossible to draw relationships between prospects engaging with content and later converting, thus, marketers primarily relied on theory and past use cases to guide their content marketing decisions. Although it may be possible to measure impact of a billboard on revenue relatively quickly, measuring which article resonated with readers in a magazine will take a lot of split testing, thus, content marketing strategy remained subjective until recently.
The digital content marketing popularity, digital channel growth, content format complexity, and personalization growth led to digital content explosion and what is known in the Sitecore world as “Content Crisis”. This problem created demand for platforms to manage content life cycles, from ideation to archival, called Content Marketing Platforms (CMPs). The CMPs are a relatively new concept in the digital space and many digital marketers still have a hard time wrapping their heads around them. Although, if it takes you more than a few minutes to understand the value of CMPs – you likely don’t need one. These platforms not only allow content production and distribution at scale, they also provide tools to assist in content marketing, like campaign calendars, strategy boards, and last, but not least – reporting. This last piece is what we have been missing until recently. Before the creation of CMPs, content production cost and effectiveness were black boxes; in other words, marketers could not accurately calculate the cost of asset or copy creation and their attribution to campaign, in other words – the content Return on Investment (ROI). Content Marketing Platforms, like Sitecore Content Hub enable marketers to get insight into digital content consumption and effectiveness, thus, for the first time enabling them to make data-driven objective strategic decisions towards content production and distribution. The Impact Score is the subjective measure of content effectiveness used by Sitecore Content Hub CMP and DAM subsystems that enables data-driven content marketing strategy.
The Sitecore Impact Score
There are some caveats to the impact score definition in terms of scope, as the Impact Score can be treated as a campaign-specific and a generic KPI. It is important to remember that content effectiveness heavily relies on context, in other words, a particular piece of content may be a revenue driver in one campaign in a particular channel, and a waste of investment, in another. At the same time, it may also be important to measure generic asset impact score, without getting into the granular details around channels and campaigns. Here are the variations that must be considered when defining and measuring the Impact Score:
- Generic Impact Score – this is a continuously accumulating value measuring assets’ effectiveness throughout the lifecycle. This score follows a particular asset however it’s used, and all engagements get summed up to provide a cumulative effectiveness KPI.
- Campaign-specific Impact Score – the measure of content effectiveness within a scope of a particular campaign.
Sitecore Content Hub allows to further break down the Impact Score for both types by channel, allowing for more granular insights into content effectiveness.
With the help of the Impact Score marketers can clearly see how much each piece of content contributed to campaign’s success and what was a waste of investment, thus, aligning future spending and distribution accordingly. This is specifically important, because more often than not, only a few pieces of content resonate with the target audience and drive engagement, with the majority effectively being a wasted investment.
How to Measure Impact Score in Sitecore Content Hub
How would you go about measuring content effectiveness? Until the Artificial Intelligence (AI) catches up, the most accurate and reliable way is to base it on the level of consumers’ engagement, i.e. the hypothesis is that the more prospects are engaged with a particular piece of content – the more effective, or speaking the language of Sitecore Content Hub, – impactful, it is. Of course, if someone stares at an image of a bottle of juice for a long time doesn’t necessarily mean that the next time that person walks past that bottle at a grocery store she would pick it up, however, the chances are increased as a result, and that is sufficient at this stage. Therefore, an impact score of a particular piece of content is the sum of its digital engagements.
These engagements are defined by the distribution channels. Here are some examples –
- Reach – a view of a piece of content (recommended to measure the time spent consuming textual lor interactive content in this case to increase the accuracy of this KPI)
- Clicks – the number of times users clicked on a particular asset; for instance, clicking a product image on a product detail page to get a zoomed in view
- Comments – the number of comments attached to an asset; for instance, the number of Instagram image comments
- Shares – the number of times a particular piece of content was shared; for instance, a blog post share on social channels, or a LinkedIn post reshare.
- Likes – the number of times an asset was “liked” when posted to a digital channel; for instance, a LinkedIn like.
As you can see, your distribution channels will define the ways in which your prospects can interact with content. Now knowing how many times users interacted with a particular piece of content, we can measure its engagement level, however, we are not quiet at the Impact Score yet. In reality, each interaction carries different subjective measure of engagement, for instance, a “reach” is lower level engagement when compared to a “share”, therefore, we need to come up with a metric that represents a value of each type of engagement and use that as a multiplier. Only after we do that, we would arrive at the Impact Score – the sum of the engagement scores.
The Engagement Value Multiplier
If you have experience of working with Sitecore Experience Platform marketing tools, you should be familiar with the concept of an Engagement Value. This is the value assigned to visitor interactions as the indicator of user engagement. The more content visitors consume and more they interact with business-valuable functionality the higher their Engagement Value generally is.
Introducing the Engagement Value Multiplier in Sitecore Content Hub – a subjective business value of a particular engagement in a particular digital channel for a specific content piece that is measured in points. Similarly to the Engagement Value in Sitecore that measures website engagement level, the Engagement Value Multiplier in Sitecore Content Hub would measure the business value of engagements across multiple digital channels.
Note: The EVM definition is not an official Sitecore term, it is the term I defined and have been using in marketing strategy engagements around the topic. Sitecore currently does not have a name for this multiplier, although, it is present in Content Hub 3.4 release.
Let’s use an example – we have an image related to a given campaign, a banner, that needs to be distributed to two channels: website and Instagram. For a website channel we only have the “reach” and “click,” as possible engagements, and for Instagram –“reach”, ”click”, “ commend”, and “share”. Next, we need to assign the EVM to each engagement type for these channels based on their subjective business values (the process for assigning the EVM is out of scope of this article and will be described in detail in subsequent posts). After the EVM assignment, we end up with the following values:
- Reach – 5 points
- Click – 10 points
- Reach – 10 points
- Like – 15 points
- Comment – 20 points
- Share – 30 points
Notice that “reach” is scored differently for each channel; that is because in our scenario, a view of the image on Instagram carries a larger business value than a view of the same image on the website (let’s say that we find that we receive more conversions from Instagram marketing efforts). Now, imagine if we published the asset to both channels and checked the analytics the following day. In 24 hours the following engagements were recorded –
- Reach – 200
- Clicks – 5
- Reach – 1000
- Like – 50
- Comment – 20
- Share – 10
Although Sitecore Content Hub would do these calculations behind the scenes with the help of scripts, it’s important to understand these calculations, so let’s do some manual math. Here is how the Impact Score would be calculated for our asset –
200 x 5 + 5 x 10 + 1000 x 10 + 50 x 15 + 20 x 20 + 10 x 30 = 12,500
The Impact Score of our image comes to 12,500 points. Now let’s say the total campaign impact score is 20,000 points with 5 other assets participating, thus, we can easily tell that our image is the engagement and revenue driver for the content marketing campaign and next time we run a similar campaign for the same digital channels, we would want to invest in more assets of the this type.
Data-Driven Content Marketing with the Impact Score
As you can tell by now, the Impact Score brings objectivity to content marketing and activates data-driven strategy and helps eliminate wasted content investments. Additionally, it allows marketing executives for the first time to prove the content marketing ROI by using the Impact Score as a measure of content revenue attribution. While Sitecore Content Hub does not come with the analytics connectors that help track engagements at the distribution channels, Sitecore vendors like Altudo, have built the analytics beacons and automated tools that help collect that data in Sitecore Content Hub for reporting. Your Sitecore vendor would also help you define the content measurements strategy and the EVM scoring model. It is possible to get more granular with measuring engagement around content, especially, if it follows a modular approach, and dig deeper with asset renditions and so forth, however, that brings a lot of complexity, and would only suit brands using content as a competitive differentiator. As a start, I would recommend measuring the Impact Score at a generic level, then move into doing that at a campaign level. However you choose to start with the Impact Score, the important thing is now that are able to measure your content marketing effort effectiveness – you can finally manage it!
Note: It is likely that Sitecore will be aligning the engagement scoring terminology between the Experience Platform and Content Hub, i.e. the Impact Score and Engagement value, so the terms may change one way or the other, however, the underlying purpose and relationship will stay the same.
Split Testing Content
A quick tip before wrapping up a topic – when a particular piece of content scores low on the Impact scorecard, don’t archive it after ending the campaign. Remember, content effectiveness highly depends on context, thus, split test it with other types of content and reuse it across multiple campaigns and digital distribution channels to uncover potential value. Resources were spent on creating this content piece, and it needs to work hard for you.
Lastly, if your content is created in a modular manner, parts of it might be effective when combined with other content, so at the very least you will likely be able to reuse it in some way, so don’t be too quick on discarding it.