F*ck content feedback – six great reasons not to find out what people think of your content

F*ck content feedback – six great reasons not to find out what people think of your content

Content feedback. We thought everyone was on board. Turns out content feedback is a trigger for some people. Anyway, in the interests of balance, we thought we’d publish this anonymous rant from a content writer that dropped into the Rockee inbox this week. 

Content feedback and sausages

Content marketing is still massive. It’s worth about £50 billion* if you believe the stats. Get it right and you can make some easy money.

Get a few content ‘creators’, maybe even some AI help. Brief in a few thinly veiled Google searches, Wikipedia-substantiated articles and masturbatory client puff pieces and you’re in business.

Just keep pumping it out of the sausage factory and don’t stop the machine churning. It’s a great model. But there’s a blockage on the horizon that could clog up the machine: content feedback.

There’s only one thing better than sausages…more sausages

Quantity. That’s the name of the game in content marketing. Pump out as much as you can as quickly as you can with as little effort as you can. Keep the blog posts coming. Content feedback changes that.

It starts forcing us to think about quality. And that calls into question the model we’re working to – moving us out of the battery-chicken house into a free-range organic equivalent. In short, quality is the enemy.

It’ll block up your content-marketing machine faster than you can say – what the world needs is another ebook on digital transformation. And content feedback is the start of the slippery slope to producing quality content.

So, in the spirit of every factory-content-marketer, here’s a list-based blog that explains why getting feedback on your content is disastrous for you. And the content-marketing industry.

1.    People might point out your content’s shit

Encourage content feedback and you’re increasing the likelihood that someone will spot the blindingly obvious – that the content is complete and utter toilet fodder. There are many reasons why that’ll be the case. Here a few you might recognise:

·      The camel – you know, the horse that everyone helped put together, but no one took responsibility for.

·      The boomerang – the digital transformation ebook is back again. Change the cover and get it out there.

·      The vanity project – someone important has something important to say. And no one dares question whether anyone wants/or needs to hear it.

That list could go on forever. The underlying point being that it’s shit for the simple reason we’re not focussed on making it good. But we don’t really want anyone else pointing that out…or we might have to start answering some questions.

2.    People might point out you’re shit

It’s not a massive leap, is it? The content’s not very good, so the person creating it can’t be very good. Until recently, you’d keep the volume high and rattle off a few vanity metrics and you could progress without ever having to think, or work, too hard.

Will anyone notice the ebook I wrote is remarkably similar to the last one? Will anyone work out I’ve combined the generic messages I was given with a liberal sprinkling of out-of-date stats? Probably not.

Because the truth is most people aren’t reading this shit. But, as soon as they do, and you ask them about it, you’ve got a problem. Get feedback on your work and you won’t just have people questioning the quality of the work, they’ll start questioning the quality of the people producing that work: you.

3.    You might have to do something about the feedback

What you don’t need is someone feeding back to say they’d find the piece more useful if there was more technical detail. Or that they found it hard to read – too much marketing jargon.

Basically, as soon as the kid in the crowd points out that your glamorous robes are transparent, and your marketing bollocks are on show, you’re going to need to do something about it.

You’re going to have to understand your audience. Give your work a clear focus. Expand on complex ideas in an accessible way. And, god forbid, make your work interesting.

Not only is that time-consuming, but it’s likely to produce a better piece of content. And then you’ve got something to live up to. People (clients or colleagues) are going to start expecting better content and heaven forbid – content marketing ROI.

4.    You might have to have some awkward conversations

A central tenet of effective content marketing is the path of least resistance. Can we publish these 5,000 words on why we’re amazing? Of course. We could probably just put this 125 slide PPT as it is, everyone loves it. Great idea.

The audience for this piece is males and females of all ages. Go for it. Our audience will definitely want to spend 10 minutes watching us talk about this product. Ok – let’s get it out there.

If we start getting feedback on our work, we might have to start having different and more awkward conversations. We might have to explain to people that what matters to us is less important than what matters to the audience. We’ll have to tell people that sometimes it’s better not to put something out.

We’ll have to go all Jeff Goldblum and explain that just because we could, doesn’t mean that we should. And how are people going to react when we have those conversations.

They’re not going to be happy. They might start questioning your role. Much better to nod in quiet agreement, get it out there, appear helpful and move on up the content-marketing ladder.

5.    Less opportunity to get creative

Getting feedback on your content is going to lead to a clearer idea about how it’s performing. And that means fewer meetings where you get to look at some numbers nobody really understands and come up with increasingly unlikely, but creative, hypotheses to explain those numbers.

People with cats have a higher dwell time on Wednesdays when it’s raining because…Qualitative feedback limits the opportunity to kick back in those meetings and get creative. It opens up the possibility that you’ll have a clear idea of what you need to fix.

Combine it with content scores and Google Analytics stats and you’ll really start to understand how your content’s performing. And that’ll increase the risk you’ll need to go back to your desk and create something people will want to read or find useful.

6.    It’ll slow the machine down

We’ve touched on this already, but it’s important. The success of content marketing is predicated on some good old fashioned 18th century thinking.

It’s the factory system. It’s the industrial revolution. It’s why you hear churn factory, or sausage factory, or content-marketing machine…or engine in agencies and in-house content teams.

And when you hear those words, it’s usually people advocating for some sort of organic, artisanal, free range, good for mind body and soul content.

Get those revolutionaries out of there. Those hippy luddites will slow your machine down. If they don’t destroy it outright. Content feedback will only spur them on to focus on quality over quantity.

Not convinced?

If you’re not convinced, you’re probably one of those aforementioned luddite hippy people.

You want feedback on your content. You believe that all feedback is good feedback. You want to produce great content. You value quality over quantity.

Well, good for you. Don’t spoil it for the rest of us though. Don’t jump on the Rockee bandwagon.

Don’t start posting about content feedback. Don’t blog about content marketing success.

Don’t share advice on making better content. We don’t want a content-marketing revolution.

Image credit – Andre Hunter, Unsplash.

How to measure content performance using Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and Rockee

How to measure content performance using Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and Rockee

Rest in peace Universal Analytics

Keep an important date in your diary. As of July 1st, 2023, the Google Analytics you’ve grown accustomed to over the last ten years will be no more. I know – on its tenth anniversary as well! That’s the official date that Universal Analytics properties will stop processing data. This data signals the start of a new era under Google Analytics 4 (GA4).

You’ll still be able to see old Analytics reports for at least six months afterwards, but only new data will flow into GA4 properties from that date on.

What do you need to know about GA4? 

The biggest changes to take note of are the layouts of dashboards and changes in metrics and terminology. This is ultimately driven by a change in analytics methodology, which is a shift from session-based hit types like page hits, events hits etc to ‘event-based’.

Simply put, all hits like ‘page-view’ are now events. If you want to get into the technical details, Google’s official documentation is here.

Where have all my metrics gone! What does this mean for content marketers?

One of the big things for content marketers, who love analysing content performance to get used to is the metrics. Nearly all the metrics we’ve been using for the last 10 years are going or have been replaced.

Try not to scream. It’s going to be just fine.

It’s a good thing. Really.

Here’s why – most of the metrics we used were flawed in one way or another. That’s because Google Analytics was never built to measure content. Look at it like this:

  • Time on page – this was always subject to users who multi-tab, leaving tabs open for a full maximum session duration. A good guide on engagement but not accurate.
  • Bounce rate – This was always misleading. For example, high can be good! Someone who visits once, reads a whole article and solves a problem might leave once they’re done. And they’ve only visited one page. This contributes to a high bounce rate as that person didn’t trigger a secondary action on your website. In short, a bad metric for content.
  • Unique page views – A massive skew on what matters, which is engagement. This is not, and never has been, a good indicator on how many people start to read your content. People browse, click, and go all over the place.

Historically, this has been a big problem for content marketers. This data, while an interesting proxy to content performance, isn’t fit to help you measure or improve content.

There are no clear answers from the data. I mean, who’s making better content based on a dwell time or a bounce rate? You’d just be guessing. And that doesn’t feel like a solid foundation for creating great content.

GA was never built to measure content. It’s time to embrace change. So long, old friend.

Out with the old – in with the new. How to measure content using GA4.

The metrics that matter

Users – This is a key metric to establish ‘unique readers’ of your content. Universal Analytics used to focus on ‘total users’, whereas GA4 is focused on ‘active users’ – users who are currently engaged.

You will see a margin of error when comparing reports, mainly as GA4 at this point does not support filters. You can find more in this Google guide.

Average engagement time – Out with dwell time, in with user engagement. This, in essence, measures how long you’re ‘active’. That means all the time you are scrolling, moving your mouse etc.  

Even if these are lower than your existing ‘session duration’ times, don’t fret. Most people are multi-tabbing. Switching in and out of your content among other things. Bear that in mind.

Engagement rate – This is the one that’s closest to replacing ‘bounce rate’. Engagement rate is the number of engaged sessions divided by the total number of sessions.

An engaged session could be it one that lasts longer than 10 seconds, had a conversion event, or had two pageviews. The lower the engagement rate, the less your audience is enjoying that content.

Unique user scrolls – If ever I was to have a favourite metric (I know – I’m great at parties), this would be it. For years, content marketers set up custom-scrolling scripts in Universal Analytics. You don’t need to do that anymore!

In GA4, scroll depth is automatically calculated at 90% depth (you will need to turn on enhanced measurement in GA4: Admin> Data Streams> Select website/stream> Turn on enhanced measurement)

In essence, this means someone has scrolled to the bottom of your content. They are most likely to have read the full article. This is a key metric when you compare it with users to determine how many people started and finished your content.

Conversions – Formerly known as ‘goals’, conversions work much the same. This is where you can start attributing content to business outcomes. In GA4, you’ll need to set these up yourself, as the pre-defined metrics are very app centric.

We’d recommend you set up goals that relate to events that really matter. We’re talking form-fills, chatbot engagement or key CTAs to your platform sign-up page (if you’re SaaS of course). Linking content to impact has never been easier.

 

Combining GA4 and Rockee Insight data

Here’s the fun bit (ok, we’re biased). Now it’s time to understand the ‘why’ behind the analytics, when measuring content performance. Once you’ve set Rockee up on your website (read our how-to guides here), you’ll see people leaving ratings and feedback in your Rockee dashboard.

The unique logic-based questions Rockee uses will quickly allow you to understand user sentiment towards your content. Have you helped solve a problem, was something missing, what could you do better? In short, it’ll help you make sense of the numbers with feedback from the people who matter most – your audience.

Improved content optimisation

With GA4 and Rockee, you’ve now got all the tools and insights you need to improve your content.

Where to start?

High-volume content

Which assets get the biggest audience? Your big SEO winners are your priorities. Getting under the skin of how that content performs can unlock bigger lead driving opportunities. Combine the high volume unique user page visits from GA4 and Rockee feedback scores to understand how you can improve the content on these pages. Pro tip: Use the Rockee audience identifier questions to measure whether high performing keywords are bringing in relevant target audience traffic.

Low-performing content

Which content gets the lowest rating and what does the feedback say? This is where users aren’t getting what they need from your content. Too much detail? Not enough detail? Hard to understand? Too simplistic? These are the kind of things your audience can tell you. All you need to do is listen, learn and iterate to improve your content quickly. As we say, the only bad feedback is no feedback.

High performing content

On the flipside, where are people getting what they need from your content – enjoying it even? You’ve got high engagement rates, lots of unique user scrolls and great Rockee ratings – there’s something going down with this content! Look at the feedback and use it to repeat what you’re doing well in other pieces.

More than helpful content

The GA4 update will take some getting used to. But crucially, we’re moving to more meaningful metrics and data to help us understand what effective content looks like. This is vital as Google is placing ever more emphasis on ‘good’ content – as well know from the Helpful Content Update.

So, before we start thinking about creating more content, let’s focus on making better content.

Be on the side of quality, not just quantity.

Rockee BETA Launch

Rockee BETA Launch

What is Rockee?

Rockee is a B2B content measurement and feedback platform. It’s been built around a common problem we have in B2B marketing, in that we make a lot of content – but struggle to prove the value of it.

Analytics leads us to guesswork. SEO takes a long time for traction and lead-gen metrics only tell a very small part of story.

Rockee collects data from the people who matter most – your audience. Our BETA is an on-site widget you can use on any content, be it blogs, videos, e-books, infographics or even gated content. For more info, check out the video below:

The BETA program

    • Rockee BETA is completely free
    • BETA users – will get a 50% lifetime discount on any future package.
    • BETA testing is limited to 15 spaces overall – with 4 spaces already taken
    • Ongoing consultancy from the Rockee team – working with you to measure your content performance. Combining Rockee qualitative insights with existing measures used (i.e. analytics, marketing automation, CRM data). We will help you build a content marketing ROI framework for future use. All for free.
    • Managed account setup – the Rockee team will help set up your account. We’ll get collection widgets in place and customise your dashboard reporting to suit your business requirements.

If you’re a B2B business, who are heavily invested in content creation and distribution – we’d love to hear from you.

Contact matt@rockee.io or fill out the below form to find out more about the BETA programme and how it could work for your business.

Rockee features in new B2B Content Podcast

Rockee features in new B2B Content Podcast

Rockee founder Matt Laybourn had the pleasure of being invited on leading B2B Content Marketing Podcast ‘B2BQ&A’, by the UK based B2B technology copywriters Radix Communications

Alongside Podcast host David McGuire, Creative Director at Radix and Katie Colbourne, Senior Manager, Global Demand Generation from Basware – the trio tackled the subject of ‘How much B2B content actually gets read?’.

With the top talking points being:

  • Not a lot of people reading is ok! Understanding audience size relative to engagement, and value of small audiences in B2B
  • How to monitor the content marketing metrics that matter. Sort your vanity from your sanity and understand the real impact your content is having.
  • Getting to know all about you. How to research, understand and use audience insights to make awesome content.

Check it out below on Spotify or subscribe via Apple Podcasts.

Let us know what you think through the Rockee feedback tool below 🙂

Confessions of a Content Marketer

Confessions of a Content Marketer

This anonymous confession from one content marketer was delivered to Rockee HQ in a manilla envelope. Alongside the confession was a note that said:

I wish I was brave enough to put my name to this, but I still make a living creating absurdly bad content for some of the world’s biggest brands. I hope one day we’ll live in a world where we can talk freely about how shit most content is without fear of reprisals. And, maybe then, we can start making it better.

Until then, I remain Anonymous Content Creator.

Confessions of a content marketer

Confession no 1

First confession – I hate the word content. It might be useful for some people as a catch all, but it strips whatever the ‘content’ is of any value. You might as well swap it for the word stuff. Or, preferably, call the stuff what it is – a blog, a film, an article, eBook anyone? Don’t get me started on eBooks. Anyway if Vikki Ross, Bob Hoffman, and Dave Trott all agree on this one, there’s probably something in it. Having said all of that, I’ll be using the word ‘content’ (under duress) for the rest of this.

Confession no 2

Second confession – I’m no more convinced about the term content marketing. Most of the time, we’re just talking about marketing. The word content is pretty much redundant. When we do marketing, we need some ‘stuff’ to do it with. But, this isn’t just about trashing content and content marketing. Although there probably is a bit more to come. It is, however, about looking at a rather inconvenient truth for content marketers and creators.

Confession no 3 – the long one

How many of you recognise this scenario? You create content. You research and write things like videos, articles, blogs, eBooks etc for commercial purposes. You might be quite good at it. You take a brief. You do some research. You write something that you think will be helpful to your audience. You get a colleague, boss, client, village elder to review/approve it. You send it out into the world. And then you move on.

You might, if you’re lucky, hear about the number of leads it’s generated a little further down the line. Someone might talk to you about increased dwell time or some other spurious metric…But, for the most part, your content goes off into the ether and you don’t hear any more about it. And, in short, you don’t know if your content’s any good. And, by good, I mean it does what you intended it to do for the audience you intended it for.

From confessions to questions

So, is it just me? How common is this? I’m really interested to know who’s making really good content and how they know it’s good. What kind of metrics do you use? How do you collect, and respond, to feedback? How do you learn what’s gone well? How do you learn from what hasn’t?

I suspect most content marketers don’t have those answers. And that might be part of the reason there’s such a lot of shit content out there. I’ve created loads of it (what number confession are we on now?) But shit content is not a new phenomenon. Remember when Doug Kessler called out the deluge of crap in content marketing. The “me-too blog posts”.

The “Three-sentence ideas pumped up into 36-page eBooks”. And the “Microsites full of the obvious disguised as the profound”. Things haven’t changed. The research shows what Doug predicted: content is becoming less effective. People don’t trust it, in fact 57% of content buyers receive from vendors is described as ‘useless’ in a Forrester report. 

Torturing analogies

At the moment, content marketing is like sitting an exam and never getting the result. We don’t know if we’re any good at it. Let’s torture another analogy. If you had bad breath, you’d want someone to tell you, right? Might be a little awkward, but at least you wouldn’t be wandering round offending friends, family, and innocent bystanders with your noxious oral health problem.

Similarly, if you’re pumping shit content out into the world, wouldn’t it help if someone told you it stank before too many people had seen (smelt?) it?

Good people make shit content

So, we’ve trashed content. And content marketing. Used the word crap and shit quite a lot. And covered stinky breath. Can we get to a positive and less excretory point? Most of the people I know who create content want to do a good job. They’re always looking for ways to improve their content. They look for, follow and share advice. They do their research. Adopt new tools. Take feedback on board.

They just don’t usually get feedback from the right people – their audience. If they had that feedback, they’d do something with it. They learn from it. They’d respond to it. They then make better content.

So, content marketers, does any of this ring true? And is this blog just adding to the tide of crap? What do you think? Give me some feedback.