By Michael Gerard published November 30, 2015

Content Metrics: Assessing the Real Impact of Curation

content-metrics-cover

With the increased use of content curation (the best marketers use a mix of 65% created, 25% curated, and less than 10% syndicated content), some unique challenges need to be addressed in a content marketing measurement strategy, including:

  • Marketers who are curating content are selecting, organizing, and contextualizing third-party assets.
  • Target audiences are not necessarily consuming content within branded experiences.
  • Content curators also are redirecting traffic to external sites and distributing content across multiple channels – including email, social media, and feeds in addition to branded sites and blogs.

These factors lead to two questions:

  1. How can marketers demonstrate their success in using curated content to become a trusted authority on particular topics?
  1. What are the relevant metrics for a content curation initiative?

Here is a guide to the metrics you should be tracking for each channel where you curate content, as well as the metrics you should ignore.

Websites and blogs

Care about these metrics:

  • Page views and visitor growth – Building an audience over time is important. The metrics for websites and blogs featuring curated content are comparable to those featuring original content. It is still important to track overall activity.
  • Count of visits – Measure how frequently customers return to a curated site and/or blog. If customers consider the curated content relevant and useful, they are going to return time and again. Frequent returns demonstrate that the collection is a trusted source for the topic.
  • Days since last visit – When a content curation program is successful, customers return periodically to access the updated content. Not only can you learn how many times they revisit, you can see when they revisit. With that information, you can identify trends. For example, how many visitors return daily, weekly, or monthly?

To track “count of visits” and “days since last visit,” log in to Google Analytics, click on Audience, then Behavior, then Frequency & Recency, as shown:

Google-analytics

Under Distribution, switch between Count of Sessions and Days Since Last Session, as shown:

Google-anlaytics-distribution

If your site is like most others out there, the vast majority of visitors viewed it once. To better analyze your results for returning visitors, add a segment and filter by returning visitors:

Google-returning-users

Don’t care about these metrics:

Curated content is different from original content in one key respect. Customers may click through the curated content to third-party assets. Consequently, engagement, bounce rates, and total time on site may not be particularly good metrics for assessing success since you are directing readers to leave the site.

In addition, curated sites focus on specific topics for target audiences. Total number of site visitors may not be a useful metric (e.g., even a relatively few number of customers may indicate relevance and popularity if they are of a high quality based upon your target criteria).

Email lists

Email newsletters are another way to distribute curated content.

Care about these metrics:

  • Subscriber growth – Assuming there’s a sign-up form on the site, the steady growth in the number of subscribers demonstrates that visitors are interested in the curated content collection. They are going to value updates via an email newsletter. This metric should grow steadily over time.
  • Opt-outs and unsubscribes – Similarly, watch the opt-out and unsubscribes – the number of people who are losing interest in the curated content. This number should generally be low (e.g., less than 0.2%). If there is a rising number of unsubscribes and opt-outs, then consider:

– Changing the frequency of distribution
– Segmenting the list by topics so the curated content is more relevant
– Improving the quality and insights of the content you are selecting

  • Click-through rates. Track click-through rates to help gauge content relevance. The higher the rate, the more frequently readers are viewing the articles referenced in newsletters. However, the flip side can be misleading: Low rates do not necessarily indicate a lack of interest. Rather, customers may simply be skimming headlines and summaries without clicking through to the individual articles.

Don’t care about this metric:

Open rates on newsletters can be misleading. Typically open rates are only computed for readers who click on links or disable images, and do not capture readers who skim the newsletters themselves. The number of readers viewing titles and summaries – and benefitting from a curated collection – may be higher than the open rate.

Social media posts

It is important to track the distribution and promotion of curated content through social media.

Care about these metrics:

  • Followership or fan growth over social channels such as Twitter or Facebook – the increased number of social shares and people viewing collections as they browse Twitter can lead to more views on a curated site or blog, as well as an increase in the number of newsletter subscribers.
  • Retweets – Another social media metric to track is retweets. While this is a good metric for any content marketer, curators can employ this little trick to better track the spread of their curation efforts. When you share third-party articles on Twitter, retitle the headline. This not only allows you to share your perspective and make it more appealing, but also to more cleanly track retweets.

Feeds

To assess the success of an RSS feed, monitor both the consumption and retention of content collections.

Care about these metrics:

  • Use feed analytics tools such as FeedBurner and FeedBlitz to measure views, click-throughs, and subscriptions.

Conclusion

While many of these metrics are similar to the usual content marketing metrics, curation does change things quite a bit by providing a different content consumption experience.

Of course, metrics are only one aspect of a content curation program. To better understand their role within an overall content marketing strategy, be sure to check out Curata’s e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Content Curation.

Want to learn more about measuring your content marketing? Check out CMI’s hub on content marketing measurement and ROI

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Please note:  All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team.  No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).

Author: Michael Gerard

Michael is the CMO of Curata — a CMI Benefactor. He is responsible for Curata's marketing strategy and all related activities. Michael has over 25 years of marketing and sales experience, having successfully launched and sustained three start-up ventures as well as having driven innovative customer creation strategies for large technology organizations. (e.g., IDC, Kenan Systems, Prospero (mZinga) and Millipore). Michael received his MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, as well as a BS in Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an MS in Engineering from Northeastern University.

Other posts by Michael Gerard

  • http://www.bigskywords.com/ Greg Strandberg

    The biggest problem content curators run into is giving up. Most give up. It’s hard going to sites everyday (each week isn’t enough) and analyzing, writing up, and then posting that content.

    Most give up.

    • http://rockthestatusquo.com/ Carrie Morgan

      It is hard, and very time-consuming. Far too many curate based on headlines alone, without ever opening up to read what they share. It’s not about finding certain buzzwords in a headline, it’s about sharing what is most valuable to your audience fitting your specific topic/theme.

      Adding insight is a best practice that seems to be falling by the wayside, too.

    • Michael Gerard

      Agreed Greg. One of the keys to success in content marketing is not just delivering great content, be it curated or created, but doing it consistently. For example, a recent Curata study indicated that 90% of business bloggers with 10,000+ page views per month post weekly or more often to their blog.

  • rogercparker

    Michael:
    This is “evergreen” content at its best: worth a second and third reading. I especially like your brilliant use of “Care about these metrics” and “Don’t care about these…” The CMI-supplied “related articles” were also of great value. All in all, a nice start for the week!
    Roger

  • Stacey Mathis

    Wonderful article. My Twitter (curation) drives traffic to my site, but it never occurred to me that I should be tracking my Twitter metrics. Thanks.

  • http://www.globalwebforce.com/ Hitesh Parekh

    Great read about curation of content statistics that would surprise you to the core.

    “How can marketers demonstrate their success in using curated content to become a trusted authority on particular topics?”

    This is challenge for the content marketer where curated content does not really build or demonstrate authority on the subject.

  • https://inbound.li/ Gene Sobolev

    Good article, thanks for writing it, Michael.

    Exactly 2 weeks ago I was thinking about curation metrics and tried going to higher level goals such as the monetary impact of curation. Then I wrote a blog post about it.

    I don’t usually post links in comments but since I find it very relevant I made an exception: https://inbound.li/blog/measuring-the-value-of-content-curation-how-much-is-engagement-worth