The Art and Science of eCommerce Content Measurement
- Sameer Khan
- On January 14, 2014
Content is the king, and it continues to be an important component of the digital marketing strategy. Quality of content is becoming critical in addition to quantity as brands big or small are heavily investing in content. If you are still not in the content creation game, then it’s not too late to jump in.
When I present the digital marketing strategy to a group I always get asked, “Sameer, what type of content should I produce or what will my audience like”. This is a relevant question as most digital marketers think of content marketing as a tactical process instead of a strategic one.
Content comes is several formats i.e. articles, blog post, press releases, ad copy, web pages, videos, images, info graphs, and mobile apps. With each type of content you produce, there is always a question of how to measure the success of a content piece. Did it do well? Did it engage your target audience? Did it drive sales/order/revenue? Did we acquire new customers, and many more such questions may linger over you or your analytics team.
I have developed a framework which I call the “Content Sanity Model” to help answer these questions. The CSM model is based on the concept of outcome-based measurement. Instead of treating all content as the same the CSM model allows you to categorize the content in different buckets.
Any type of content irrespective of the media type can be divided into four key strategic initiatives – Dedicated, Supplemental, Social and Mobile.
Content Marketing Framework
Dedicated Content: Dedicated content is the content developed for dedicated website pages. The purpose of this content is to educate your users about your company, products and services at a high level. Think about this as the foundation of your content strategy. In most cases, dedicated content will be static and may not be changed frequently. Your home page, about us, contact us, product or service pages, how it works page all fall under the dedicated content category.
Let’s use Davidsbridal.com as an example to explain each content type. Davidsbridal is a fashion retailer specializing in bridal wear.
Dedicated content on Davidsbridal.com
In case of Davidsbridal, all the navigation pages such as bridal gown, bridal party, tuxedos are dedicated pages. The pages in the footer order status, shipping information, contact us also falls under this category. Davidsbridal.com has to have these pages to give its users a great shopping experience.
Now let’s look at the measurement of success of the dedicated pages. Following our outcome-based measurement approach all the pages will have two types of metrics – macro (site conversion, orders, average order value, sales, revenue) or micro (engagement, time on page, bounce rate).
For example – The Home page plays a role of the gateway page. The performance of the home page content is measured by understanding how successful the HP is in moving users to the right page quickly. Some of the key metrics for HP are bounce rate, time on page, page speed, or the search bar usage. You can further dissect each of these metrics by PPC, SEO, events or other channels to get a full multichannel view of the performance.
Key metrics: Bounce rate, time on page, page speed, search bar usage, depth of visit
DavidsBridal.com Dedicated Content Metrics
Please do not measure revenue generated from the home page as a key metric. This is a critical mistake most organizations make and end up with a home page looking like a “buy now” button. You cannot get married on the first date so remember the job of the home page is to guide users to your internal pages. It is not a transactional page.
Category pages are geared towards a product or service category. “Bridal Gowns” is a category, “Shop by Silhouette” or “Shop by Brand” is a sub category while “A-Line” is a product page under the Silhouette sub category. The success of the category section depends on driving users to the respective product pages. Financial success of category pages can also be attributed by measuring the performance of one category over the other.
Key metrics: Bounce rate, revenue per category, and usability metric such as search usage or depth of the visit.
Product pages are one of the key transactional pages on the website. Transactional pages are critical revenue generators for the site, and the success of these pages can be measured by transactional metrics.
Key metrics: Item sold, item abandonment rate, product revenue, conversion rate by products and average review score.
DavidsBridal.com Product page
IBM Digital Analytics sample product page KPIs
Similar to product pages, the shopping cart is a completely transactional and the most critical component of the eCommerce strategy. However, the product pages are responsible for driving sales of the core product or similar products whereas shopping cart holds the responsibility of all products sold. Cart also plays a crucial role of accelerating or assisting in prospect to customer conversion. Your website could do a great job in pre-selling the customers, but you may end up losing the sale due to a cart failure.
Shopping cart metrics can be divided into the following categories –
Cart success metrics: Conversion rate (total and for each step), average order value, load time, revenue, orders placed, cost per order, returns per order.
Abandonment metrics:lost sale/revenue, abandonment rate, abandonment by product.
Loyalty metrics: 1x, 2x, 3x buyer rate, average order value for repeat customers, revenue.
Dedicated Content Metrics (sample data)
IBM Digital Analytics sample content metrics (sample data)
IBM Coremetrics Lifecycle is a great product to analyze loyalty metrics. Lifecycle analyzes long-term online customer growth from milestone to milestone, and formats the data into blocks of metrics based on, for example, how often a customer has purchased from you.
Lifecycle Analytics for content measurement (sample data)
In this example, 6.8% (20,406 unique visitors) users visit the shopping cart out of 297K product viewers. 2.5% (7,454 unique visitors) end up purchasing the product one time and 0.1% (574 unique visitors) make 2x purchases. The other interesting fact about the Lifecycle is it reveals the time it takes to reach each milestone. On average, one-time product sale takes 34 days while 6x purchases takes 124 days for the same buyers. Marketers can use this information to start an email marketing campaign to shorten the repurchase cycle. Lifecycle product also integrates with popular email providers to automate remarketing campaigns at each milestone.
One of the best ways to analyze and optimize shopping cart is to follow a robust model. One such model that stands out is Marketingexperiments.com conversion optimization model .
The role of supplemental content is to supplement the dedicated content pages. Primary goal of the supplemental content is to educate your target market about your products and services in detail. It also helps you position your company as a thought leader in the market.
This type of content includes blog posts, articles, how to videos and whitepapers all of which must be well-written and valuable to the customer. If content is poorly written and does not contain useful information, it will reflect badly on your business. Supplemental content also includes slides, spec sheets, and product demos. Going back to the Davidsbridal.com example, the blog posts are a great example of supplemental content.
Key metrics:Downloads, video views, social shares, comments per share, likes per share
Supplemental Content Metrics (sample data)
Social Content: Social content is designed to increase the social engagement. Social content should be developed to spark conversations, attract comments, improve brand image and generate fan following. This type of content must be informative, useful and it also must be engaging enough to attract potential customers to Davidsbridal.com.
There is a fine line between social and supplemental content. Supplemental content can be social and vice versa is true as well. Social content differs from supplemental on the fact that social content may or may not support the dedicated pages on the site. A great example is the “My event” infographic created by Davidsbridal.com. This infographic is best suited for social platform or blog rather than the product pages. The data for this infographic is from the Davidsbridal’s social network for brides called My Event.
DavidsBridal.com My Event Infographic
Social media measurement is based on the outcomes driven by social interaction. Some of the outcomes can be directly measured such as revenue generated by social channels while other outcomes cannot be measured directly i.e. brand value. Social content can serve the purpose of driving users to the website, increasing brand loyalty, social shares, comments or likes. You may also refer to my detailed post on social media measurement.
Social media measurement (sample data)
Mobile content falls under a unique category and most of the desktop content can be easily converted to work with major mobile devices. A responsive design website allows access to desktop based dedicated or supplemental content on mobile devices. The key metrics for mobile site is similar to that of the desktop.
Key metrics: Bounce rate, time on page, page speed, search bar usage, depth of visit
Mobile app is a different animal and a new way to market your content. DavidsBridal offers an app that allows customers to shop and connect with its brand.
App measurement can be broken down to two main categories – pre and post download.
Pre download metrics are app pages review, traffic sources to app page, page engagement and download clicks.
Post download metrics depends on the type of the app. In case of DavidsBridal the app can drive revenue (orders, AOV, sales), engage users (shares, comments, reviews, videos, coupon), used as utility ( bar code scanner, price comparison) or for tracking behavior (frequency of purchase, geolocation, recency, brand affinity, upgrades).
Mobile content measurement (sample data)
Hope this provides you a good overview of how to start measuring content more effectively. Now it’s your turn. Please share your comments, feedback, shares or tweets!