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Explaining Content Measurement As Though It’s A Game Of Musical Chairs


Content measurement works when you’ve got your head around what stage of the game you are playing.

Measuring what’s important at the place you are currently in has to be better than thinking of measuring what isn’t there.

Keeping To What’s Safe

It’s a big topic of discussion at the moment. Ian (Rhodes) and myself dipped into the topic of ROI on a recent Marketing Homebrew podcast (click here to listen). However, I totally understand why people want to sweep this topic under the carpet and just get back to concentrating on creating more content.

It just feels safe creating more, it creates pattern. You know what you are doing and no one is going to question you. More feels right and that seems to be the consensus of UK businesses in the 2015 Content Marketing Institute/Direct Marketing Association report.


If it comes to that slightly uncomfortable word of measurement and making it a function of your business just look at it as game of musical chairs. You focus on what you want to grab at that particular moment in time.

A Birthday Tradition

From remembering when you was a kid to your children now taking part in this birthday ritual, similar to mass humming in a class at school so a teacher couldn’t pinpoint the exact culprit, this traditional has been handed down from one generation to another.

In the quickest way to reacquaint you, it worked like this. All players walk around chairs while music (or if like my parents hosting a party, the radio) played. When the music stops, the players rush to sit down. There is one chair fewer than the number of people playing. The player, who is left standing, is out. The winner is the player who sits on the one final chair available.

Fast forward to content measurement and this link with musical chairs. The focus is on where you are in the moment of the game you are playing. Your focus is a lot wider when there are 13 chairs in the room when compared to two. You need to concentrate on the immediate round of the game you are playing.

I know the quest for numbers, likes and followers, leads and increased website traffic are now frowned upon as pretty shallow metrics, but the toughest place to start at the latter part of 2015 is on zero.

If you are just commencing with a focused content mindset and have relatively few spaces to distribute and little knowledge of how your website is performing, you have to start somewhere.

The question of knowing what to measure, depends on how progressed you are with your efforts. If you are in the first few fledgling months, a measurement metric of comments both on your site and within your email in-box maybe surpassed by increased time on your site.

People are becoming comfortable with your approach and what you stand for. The impact you make on others is key, but a consistent body of work maybe needed before someone makes that step to share with you.

Bringing In An Example

Lets look at your blog. If you are just beginning an owned media approach, your main form of content measurement could be the more ‘top of funnel’ activity such as driving traffic to your website.

The longer you are committed to this approach your focus moves to more defined metrics such as building a subscriber base and then towards the participation your content creates. From a broad outlook of web traffic becomes a drive to create more value for an audience and informed/loyal customers. This becomes a much richer understanding of the customer experience.

content_marketing_measurementThis example is the equivalent of the start of the game where your focus is on a room of chairs and the longer you are left in, your focus becomes the few chairs remaining.

It is time to stop looking at numbers to impress someone else and focus on what your goal should be at the stage you are at. If that goal is to sit down on the seven chairs remaining, you focus has to be those seven chairs.

Similarly to your business, what is your short-term goal? Is it to build awareness? Is it to grow a bigger audience? Is it knowing customers better? Is it to move from a transactional way of working to building a relational approach? The big question is, do you know what to measure? I say it changes based on where your journey currently resides.

Opening Up

Here is my moment of opening up to you. My content measurement at the moment is to grow subscribers who come to my workshops. This has moved from increasing organic traffic to my site and sign-up to my weekly email (still important though) and moving to a more participatory experience.

See, my priorities depend at the stage of the game I am playing. I recognise that my efforts continually evolve and progress, much like the game of musical chairs where the focus becomes more pinpoint the longer you are focused on that one chair.

How we evolve is critical, in the words of Robert Rose and Carla Johnson in their book ‘Experiences,’ they highlight that we must use content measurement, “as a method to improve the continuing process from which we derive more meaningful insight and develop more delightful customer experiences.’

When you are down to the one chair in the room, this is the equivalent of perhaps more defined metrics. Lets go back to the blog example. Simply publishing a blog is not enough for success; in fact you’re out after the second round. However, what develops into a healthy database of blog subscribers now represents value that can be measured as revenue per subscriber.

What PCOS Diet Support Have Done: An Example

PCOS Diet Support (based in Dorset) is an example of a company who has taken the approach where measurement priorities evolve at different stages of the brand process. PCOS Diet Support is an educational resource for women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and launched with a blog in 2011.

What started as a blog to assist women with PCOS resulted in increased readership and good organic listings on Google. Starter kits were introduced with the intention to deliver better value such as taster diet plans and recipes.

The subscribed audience has grown to over 50,000 people and since April this year, 12 week-one off courses have been introduced with gated content. The first launch resulted in over $20,000 and the second June launch earned over $30,000 in one week.

What we can see here is a company that had an initial goal to grow a subscriber base whereas as the company progressed measurement became more succinct via revenue per subscriber.

To define you goal, you have to know whom it is you are creating a product for and what it will achieve. In PCOS Diet Support the goal was educating women with PCOS and for their audience create sign up for the premium content.

Lets Round Up

You need to measure what’s important within the moment you currently reside. At the start of musical chairs, you can’t focus on one chair at the start of each round, you have to assess what’s around you and prioritise when the music is about to stop. That’s the same with content measurement.

There are a host of metrics to focus on, but measure your immediate priorities and let it guide where you want to take it. Priorities will always change, it’s just a case of knowing what to measure in the space you are participating.

Image at the top of the article courtesy of David Prasad


If you want to take a deeper look at the importance of content measurement for your business why not have a look at The Content Marketing Show on 12th to 14th October.

This is a live, virtual event with 90 days of on-demand access. I’ll spend some time with this, it could be useful for you too.

Have a look at the agenda, click here.

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