Marketing Best Practices

7 Metrics to Unlock Interactive Content Performance

By Ashley Taylor Anderson July 21, 2015

It’s astonishing that, given the wealth of data we’re now able to collect from our digital marketing efforts, we’ve continued to create PDFs without complaint. With web content, we can track which pages someone has visited, how much time they spent, where they clicked, even where their eyes rested on the page. You know what you can track with PDFs? Downloads. That’s it. So why do we keep investing serious writing and design efforts to create assets that are a total black box when it comes to performance?

Luckily, we have a much better alternative available to us today—interactive content. Not only is interactive content a thousand times more engaging than a boring PDF, but it also provides robust analytics you can use to evaluate how your content is performing. To me, this second benefit is just as exciting as the first. I can now improve my concepting and writing based on real live data from real live viewers! Pretty sweet.

As with any web property, you can track a number of different metrics when it comes to interactive content. However, there are a few key ones that are most valuable in terms of optimization. In this article, I want to walk you through 7 metrics that matter for interactive content.

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1. Views By Page

This is a baseline metric you’ll never been able to get from PDF content. Views by page are especially useful for multi-page assets like eBooks or whitepapers where you can analyze drop-off within your piece. Here’s an example of what this looks like:

Views by Page

This data gives you the ammo you need to go back into your piece and optimize. For example, you can see that the dropoff from Page 2 to Page 5 is pretty gradual, but then it dips farther down on Page 6. As a content creator, I might want to look at Page 6 to see if there’s something I could do to make that content more engaging. Even if I don’t want to go back and fiddle with the content, I may use this data to decide where to move an on-page CTA. Page 3 looks like a good candidate because it has a slight uptick in traffic from Page 2.

2. Referrals

If you’re using multiple channels to drive traffic to your interactive content (as you should be), you want to know where you’re getting the most traffic from. Referrals will give you insight into the effectiveness of your distribution channels and show you additional channels where your content is getting picked up.

Referring Domains

In the chart above, you can see the split in traffic from a variety of different referring sources.

3. Average Time Spent

One of the most frustrating thing about traditional PDF content is that you can never tell whether someone who downloaded your file ever opened it, and if they did, how much time they spent reading it. With interactive content, you can measure the aggregate time spent on the piece as well as the time spent on individual pages.

Average Time Spent

This second metric is extremely useful in terms evaluating the effectiveness of your content. For instance, looking at the above example, we can see that 3 of the first 10 pages have very short average view times (Pages 2, 7, and 10). It may be that there’s less content on these pages than on the others, or it may be that the content isn’t very engaging. Either way, it’s worth a second look to see if any changes are needed.

4. Clicks Per Object

This is one of the most interesting set of analytics you can look at within an interactive experience. Clicks per object allow you to see how many people clicked on different elements within your piece. Looking at different layers of content and navigational elements will tell you how viewers are exploring and whether your information architecture is effectively doing what you want it to do.

Clciks per Object

In the above example, we can see that the object “Show Brain WhitePlus.png” has the most clicks. When you look at the asset, you can see that this is the top hotspot in the piece, so it makes sense that it has the most clicks.

Clicks by Object Example

5. Average Video Completion Rate

In 2012, video hosting service Wistia performed a follow-up study on video length and overall viewer engagement. As expected, they saw that shorter videos tend to have a higher rate of completion than longer videos.

Video length and view percentage

When you embed videos as part of a larger content experience, it’s really interesting to see how these video viewing trends vary. Looking at your average video completion rates for your entire content piece can give you a good sense of whether your videos are working as part of your overall story. Drilling down into specific videos can help you identify your strongest videos and determine which segments might need to get cut or edited to improve engagement.

6. Outbound Link CTR

While clicks per object reveal which elements of your content are most effective at driving engagement, outbound link clickthroughs indicate how well your content drives to external websites or landing pages.

Take this list of outbound referral links from an interactive microsite we created in partnership with NewsCred:

Outbound click CTR

We can see that the IKEA Foundation link has the most clicks, but the link back to Ceros (our domain) has the highest clickthrough rate of any link in the piece—great news for us!

7. Visitor-to-Lead Conversion Rate

With traditional content, your only lead generation option was to have a landing page with a form that “gates” the content piece. With interactive content, you have three lead conversion options:

  1. A landing page that passes people through to the content upon submission.
  2. An in-content CTA that appears as part of a header, footer, or on-click pop-up.
  3. A pop-up CTA that appears when a viewer hits a certain page or has spent a certain amount of time on the piece.

The first option will have a typical conversion rate equation (lead submits ÷ page visitors). The second two options have a more interesting conversion rate equation (lead submits ÷ content visitors). The added benefit of the second two lead gen options is that your visitors still get to consume your interactive content, whether or not they decide to fill out your lead capture form. That leaves the door open for sharing your content with others and future interactions from the viewer if they find your piece to be useful.

Here’s an example of a visitor-to-lead conversion rate that we tracked via a SumoMe pop-up within an interactive microsite:


The Bottom Line

One of the greatest parts about interactive content is that it empowers you to understand how viewers are engaging with your content. These 7 metrics will provide a solid foundation for benchmarking and optimization.

For even more optimization tips, check out this free interactive guide.

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