I know that’s not what you wanted to hear – I see you over there, beaming from ear to ear because this month’s page views were 200% higher than they were this time last year. I’m not here to rain on your parade – but I’m here to let you know you may want to consider shifting your mindset and tracking different metrics. You’ll see a different, better picture of what’s really going on with your audience.
Sorry, guys, it’s time to stop bragging about how many people saw your video on Facebook, and how many people read your blog posts. It’s not how many people you reach, it’s how many you connect with.
Click Metrics vs. Attention Metrics
Until recently, click metrics, such as page views and sessions, have been the golden standard for success in online marketing. The more people you had clicking on your stuff, the better, right? But as we’ve continued to grow and evolve, those numbers don’t hold as much weight as we’d like for them to.
Ultimately, click metrics tell us how many people see our content, but they don’t tell us what really matters – how many people are paying attention to what you have to say. It doesn’t do your business any good if people are looking and ignoring it. You want people to take action – so that’s what attention metrics look at. While measuring attention metrics isn’t as easy as click metrics these days, you can still get insights if you analyze any of the following:
- Comments: How many comments are you getting on your blog posts? On your social media posts? If people are taking the time to comment, they’ve read what you have to say, and are moved enough to reply to you. Not only this, but comments can be an excellent source to learn more about your readers and what they want from you. You can use the comment section to elaborate further on an issue, and even get inspiration for future content. Since it’s easy to share your posts with a click, some may say the blog comment doesn’t have as much value as it used to, but the other line of thought is that your content moved them enough to take the time to respond.
- Shares and Mentions: How many people are sharing your content? How many people are mentioning your brand online? If people are sharing your posts – either from your website or your social media accounts – they’re interested in what you have to say, and believe their network could benefit from it in some shape or form. Many social sharing plugins like Social Warfare and SumoMe can show share counts on your posts. But tools like BuzzSumo and PostReach can help you see more information about the people who are sharing your posts on Twitter. Start monitoring your feed for a bit after each post goes live so you can see how people are responding to it.
- Time Spent: Look at the time they’re spending on each page in your Google Analytics account. Generally, the longer they spend on the site, clicking around, the more attention they’re paying to what they’re looking at. It’s always possible that someone clicked on your site, and then got distracted, and looked at another tab, took a phone call, took the dog for a walk – and left your tab open, so, take this one with a grain of salt – looking at the user journey throughout your site as an indication of what they were actually doing during their session.
- View-through Rate: Though this metric is exclusive to video content, it’s still a good indication of how much attention people are paying to your content. Many times, people will click and start watching a video, only to fall off somewhere before getting to the end of it. The view-through rate lets you know the percentage of your audience that’s actually watching the video from start to finish.
- Net Promoter Score (NPS): This helps measure the loyalty between a brand and its customers. You can also use it to measure the value your blog is giving your readers. Calculate your score, by asking a simple question: “How likely are you, on a sale from 0 to 10, to recommend our blog to your friends or colleagues?” Anyone who scores in the 9-10 range is a promoter, or someone who will keep reading/buying and fueling your growth. Anyone in the 7-8 range is a passive, or someone who’s satisfied, but vulnerable to offers from your competition. Any in the 0-6 range is a detractor, or someone who is unhappy and can damage your brand, impeding your growth. Subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters to get your NPS – which can range from a low of -100 (when all customers are detractors) to a high of 100 (when all customers are promoters). Tools like SurveyMonkey and io can help you conduct your own NPS survey on your blog.
Creating Attention Worthy Content
I’ve got some more disappointing news for you, too – the average human attention span is now just eight seconds, (down from 12 seconds) meaning goldfish pay attention longer than we do. Not good news for anyone who’s in the business of getting people to focus, I know, but fortunately, there are things we can do to defeat this awful statistic, and draw people into our world.
- Think Before You Write: Before you spend a lot of time typing away writing about this awesome idea you’ve just come up with, make sure it is actionable, you know what makes it unique, and at least have a decent idea of the group of people who will share and amplify it for you. This way, you go into every piece you write with a plan, and you’re already aware of the value you’re giving your audience.
- Make it Actionable: Don’t just talk at your audience. Show them how to do something. Teach them something. This isn’t a how-to post, but it’s still actionable because you can read it and take action based on something you’ve learned from it. Even in this article, I give you the tools you need to get started with monitoring your social reach and running your own NPS survey, so once you’re done reading, you can take action to improve your marketing efforts. Why does writing an actionable article matter? According to a New York Times study, practical, useful information gets shared online more than any other type of content.
- Write In-Depth Content: This piece will be near the 2,000 to 2,500-word mark by the time I’m done with it. While you may be inclined to think it’s because I’m a long-winded guy who loves to “hear himself talk”, it’s because in-depth content correlates to higher share and link counts. Though the correlation dates back to 2012, it still rings true. Sure, correlation isn’t causation, but it could be a result of having more useful information packed into a piece.
- Make it Unique: The internet makes it possible for anyone, anywhere, anytime, to write something about anything they want – and put it online for others to read. Just because it’s possible and there for everyone to read, however, doesn’t make it good. And if you’re not doing what you can to stand out from the crowd that’s writing crap, then you’ll get lost in a sea of it. Some topics are easier than others to add a unique element to, but there are several ways to put your own spin on it. Everything from timing, to depth on the topic, to your own perspective/experience, your own company data/research can make your article different than one of mine, even if it’s on the same topic.
- Write a Damn Good Headline: You’ve only got a few seconds to grab their attention, and your headline’s going to be what does it. I’m not talking about garbage clickbait – there’s not much I hate more. Don’t give me something like, “She Lost Her Arm in a Car Accident… and You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!” Give me value. Entice me. Tell me what you’re going to share with me – and make me want to click it. But after I click it, give me value. Think of your headline as a promise – and if I’ve taken the time to click on it and start reading, make sure you deliver. It’s keeping your promise with the article that will make me that much more likely to keep giving you my attention. It’s the second that people feel like the article isn’t providing what the headline promises that they’re distracted by something else… and no longer giving you their attention. You may still have a window open on their screen, but what good is that doing you? None.
- Use Images and/or Video: Text is still a dominant format online, but we’re seeing the rise of video. People process images and video faster than they do text, and these additions can help capture and hold attention, simply because of the increased visual interest. If you want to present your blog content in a different way, you can try formatting it into an infographic. Plus, visual content assists with information recall later – which is important when you’re aiming to increase brand awareness.
- Appeal to Emotion: The best ideas have some kind of emotional hook, whether positive or negative. While it’s true content charged with positive emotion gets shared more often than negative, there are some instances where hitting the negative makes sense. If nothing else, appeal to surprise, by providing your audience with something new and interesting.
- Use Language Your Audience Knows: There’s nothing wrong with teaching people new concepts, but do it in a way you know they’re familiar with. If you’re speaking a bunch of industry jargon, or talking over their heads, do you think they’re going to take the time to research it so they understand? Sure, there’s a chance a few people will, but most people will abandon ship. It’s hard to hold attention on something you don’t understand, no matter how much you want to.
Does Attention Guarantee Your Content Will Go Viral?
No – nothing you do will ever guarantee anything you write will go viral. But, if you’re producing high-quality content that holds attention, it certainly doesn’t hurt the chance that you content will spread far and wide. And, depending on what you consider viral, you could possibly hit your mark. If you’re just starting out and your content gets shared 500 times? That could feel viral to you. But, if you’ve been at this marketing thing for years, and your most popular piece was shared 5,000 times within the first couple days of going live? Those 500 shares won’t really feel viral to you, will they?
Focus less on the idea of potentially going viral, and more on giving your audience the value they seek. It will provide a much bigger pay off in the end… because going viral once doesn’t mean you’ve cracked some secret code and you’ll get that kind of success each time.
Your Mission… Should You Choose to Accept It…
You’re almost to the end, and if you’ve made it this far with me, thank you for your attention. I value it more than you know. But, now, it’s time to give you some homework. Go to your blog, your Google Analytics, and social media insights. Take a look at the data and see what your brand looks like based on attention metrics rather than clicks.
Capturing and holding attention? Great work. You’re onto something, so keep it up.
Results not so good? Okay, don’t beat yourself up too much. Get to work. You know what to do, and if you don’t, let’s talk.
Where do you stand on the metrics marketers should be watching? Do clicks still matter? Share your thoughts with me below. Let me know if and how this post helped you.
Photo Credit: iStock