March 7, 2019 Richard Jones

How to Make Content Reporting Count

Marketing bosses can be quite demanding when it comes to content performance reports. And they have good reason to be, considering the vast amounts of data that web analytics platforms provide. But just because the plethora of metrics exist, doesn’t mean you need to use all of it.

Ensure that the reports you create are true content performance indicators with these tips.

Knowing what you want

Imagine going to the supermarket without a plan. Chances are you’d end up spending more time and effort to buy your groceries than if you had stepped out with a shopping list. Reporting on content performance is not too different – if you don’t know what your objectives are, achieving them is tedious.

Another issue is that businesses often try to use the data to support decisions that they have already made, when in reality they should be using the data to detail a plan of action to meet pre-set targets. Add to this the fact that measuring a content marketing campaign’s return on investment (ROI) gets even trickier when done by a third party (such as a web agency) because it requires that the partner have a great understanding of the client’s business, industry, target audience and objectives.

Once the content objectives are determined (are page views, social shares or sign-ups more important at this point?), they provide a benchmark for which performance can be measured against.

No one size fits all

Since each company is unique, the approach to measuring the content’s ROI should be too. Automated reports that provide standard details such as page views, number of sessions and bounce rates are all well and good, but a good report is one that speaks specifically to a client’s needs and objectives. This calls for custom reporting.

Start from the beginning by setting the right parameters for data collection. For instance, applying filters on a single view can be great for keeping out internal traffic but it can also create data sampling issues. In such a situation, it might be a better idea to create several different filtered views so that each one can provide appropriate context for interpretation and analysis based on the data samples.

Context is key

Unannotated spikes or dips in website visits also hinder the reporting process. For example, a business owner could have decided to do a television advertising campaign during this period, which may have resulted in an increase in sales. But to someone who is only looking at the numbers, this unexplained spike would be incomprehensible and therefore lead to false reporting.

In the same way, saying that a website received 20,000 page views means nothing if you can’t measure it against another metric. A page view count of 20,000 in March compared to 12,000 views in February is a much better (month-on-month) way of presenting the same data. You can also segment your data (e.g. search, direct or referral traffic) to get a clearer picture of what is really happening.

Reporting doesn’t have to be difficult – a lot of it is intuitive. But after you have eliminated all the possible roadblocks you might potentially face, you still need to answer the one great question: So what?

After analysing your reports, the logical conclusion is to marry that data with the action to be taken thereafter. This will put you on the right path towards meeting your objectives.