Optimizing Content Performance Means Thinking More Like a Chef

Michael Browning

Videos are created, blogs have been written and edited, and the website has been updated with new, stellar designs. Content and creative teams now get to the “fun” part … the delivery of a campaign and digital experience, and feedback from the rest of the organization about how to change content to make the campaign more impactful.

Will those hours of design overtime pay off? Or will we get the dreaded “this needs to pop more” or “can this be more interesting” feedback? Or worst of all “can we make this look/sound/feel more engaging to get better outcomes?”

It reminds me of this meme from popular Instagrammer Saint Hoax.

Part of this feedback happens because creative, design and content teams operate too much like bakers. Bakers mix all their ingredients according to a recipe, throw it in the oven, and pray it comes out tasty. If it doesn’t, the baker has to start all over again.

The traditional baking approach to content and creative is to see how an overall campaign or experience is performing, and then have campaign and brand managers provide subjective feedback to the creative or content creators. Any data-based feedback — if there is any — doesn’t come for months. It often comes once the lengthy process of ROI calculations has wrapped, and even then, teams still don’t have an important dimension of the full story: insights gathered at the content level. 

Being a baker in content and creative design means feedback is not only highly subjective, it doesn’t take individual content items into account. Worst of all, it comes too late in the process to make a major difference.

Creative and Design Teams Need to Take a Lesson From Cooks

With cooking, on the other hand, you can taste test and adjust a recipe as needed so you can get the best tasting dish possible. You have better insights, in the moment, like “does this need a little more salt? A little more spice? A little less umami?” Unlike baking, these insights are instant, so the dish can be adjusted quickly to impact the final product. Changing the dish is also more direct and prescriptive and puts less of a drain on resources. You can now quickly change the dish rather than starting over, which take so much more effort!

Creative and design teams can take a page from cooks. But to do so, they need some extra tools. They need a more nuanced, asset-level view into performance so that feedback happens quickly and more often. The feedback is also less subjective, and more prescriptive. Instead of “make this pop,” the feedback can be “this asset isn’t performing as well for our sports enthusiast segment, can we make changes to appeal to this audience?” This type of feedback takes the subjectivity and guesswork that creatives loathe so much, and instead provides data-driven, clear and prescriptive feedback.

Creatives and content marketers also need to take a more agile, cook-like mindset. They can’t always start over, so they need to be mindful of where and when to place their blood, sweat and tears. That’s partly why the Saint Hoax meme resonates so much with creative professionals: they don’t have the resources to photoshop your LinkedIn profile! They have a job to do. Taking that cook mindset of optimizing in the moment, with the resource and bandwidth they have available in mind, is so critical to making it happen.

Related Article: Stop Overpromising Content ROI and Start Delivering Content ROE

Gaining a Complete Content Picture

Relying solely on content ROI to determine the outcomes and where to put effort is not the answer. ROI generally takes too long (not providing the gut checks that creative and content teams need) and happens at the campaign and program level, not the asset level, and extrapolates from there. That’s why I believe teams need a new type of content analytics to become more like a cook. This is called content return on effort.

Content return on effort (ROE) is a performance metric that gives your teams immediate insight into the value of each piece of content. With ROE, your team has the answers they need today about how effective an asset is based on how much effort — including the work hours and cost — went into creating it. Content return on effort offers deeper insights than vanity metrics like shares and likes, instead showing values such as performance and the effort that went into making that content. It helps content and creative teams keep their finger on the pulse of content performance.

That doesn’t mean ROI isn’t important. Instead, Content ROE data provides creative and content with a holistic, more complete, set of data so that you can more confidently assess which content piece(s) are truly more successful and how to adjust spend and resources accordingly. While content ROI can help them be the best bakers, content ROE can also help them become excellent chefs too.

compare impressions

Related Article: Google Introduces Search Console Insights to Track Content’s Performance

Shifting Martech Strategy to Enable the ROE Content Analytics Approach

Moving to a content ROE approach requires a slight shift in how we think of our martech stack today.The first step is to consider a martech architecture that separates content from the presentation layer. Why? Because to effectively get metrics at the content-level, content needs to be managed and report insights for each type of experience it’s used on (web, email, ads, etc.). This requires a core, componentized content storage (typically a DAM solution) underneath the personalized, experience delivery platform (a DXP, CMS or personalization engine).

The second critical consideration is to ensure there’s a consistent data story. While content ROE is typically in a DAM, to provide that single place for asset creation / re-use / performance, the data should also be part of a broader experience analytics strategy. Content return data should be viewed in marketing intelligence and performance solutions, like Salesforce Datorama or Google Analytics, so that content data can be married with campaign and program data. 

Content ROE is a powerful piece of your team’s data story, providing a solid leading indicator of future success or failure for any piece of content and, by extension, an entire digital customer experience. Content ROE helps us not just be great bakers in the kitchen, but also amazing chefs.

Anjali is a product marketing director at Aprimo, and looks after the strategy, go to market, positioning, and messaging for the Marketing Productivity, Plan and Spend, and Digital Asset Management products. Prior to joining Aprimo, she spent 8 years at Forrester Research where she covered the marketing technology, ecommerce, and digital agency spaces.

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