When you’re doing any kind of content marketing, you want to be able to understand how well you’re doing. You want to be able to look at the performance of the content you’re creating and feel assurance that you’re:
- Driving forward key goals and objectives tied to your content strategy;
- Continuously optimizing and improving the quality of your content in order to hit those goals.
Especially when you’re creating this kind of content that involves a degree of creative input (writing!) it can be difficult to measure quality.
This is where maturity models come in. Maturity models can be a great way to build and assess how successful an organization or system is at achieving continuous improvement.
Ultimately, it’s the idea that you’re constantly seeking to test and improve the way in which your organization runs. You’re not standing still.
We’ve written before about more generally applicable Capability Maturity Models, but this post takes a look at our internal Blog Asset Maturity Model (BAMM) process that we use to audit and continuously improve the quality of our blog content.
In this Process Street article, we’ll cover:
- How to assess content quality
- Content marketing metrics to measure success
- What exactly is a maturity model?
- Our internal process for quality control: The BAMM review
- Using processes to systematize content creation – more reliable and higher quality
How do you assess content quality?
Statistician and philosopher of science Edward W. Deming outlined three principle areas in defining his concept of Statistical Product Quality Administration:
- Having a system in place for continuous quality improvement
- Reducing defects through higher levels of quality uniformity
- Understanding what quality should mean within context
The last point, “understanding what quality should mean within context” is basically where you start with assessing quality in the context of quality management systems. The same can be said for assessing the quality of content written for a blog.
So, be clear on your goals for the content you are creating – to be able to define quality you need to understand what success looks like. What’s the business goal of the content? How does it fit into the bigger picture of company strategy and OKRs? Once you’re clear on that, you are better equipped to assess content quality.
At Process Street, one of our main marketing objectives is to create valuable and engaging content around key use cases.
To facilitate this, we have clearly defined personas per each use case that we try to build content around, with the goal of offering the most useful and relevant content for each of these personas.
Success vs quality
Start by defining what success looks like. This will probably be “drive X newsletter signups” or “Y product demos”. Once you’re clear on that, you can begin to determine what “high quality” content means in the context of your strategy.
If you have clearly defined success metrics like driving newsletter signups, or product demos, high quality content might mean adequately addressing the needs and expectations of your target audience.
Quality is often harder to define than clearly set success criteria; it can be more subjective and may rest on a lot of assumptions, like “what is the search intent behind this keyword?” or “what can I do to deliver value to this reader?”.
Content marketing metrics to measure success
Success can be measured in many different ways, and how you read these metrics will also depend on your goals; for example, successful click-through rate for content designed to drive signups will look very different to successful clickthrough rate for content designed to simply drive brand awareness.
FYI, our primary content success metric at Process Street is signups to the product. We also have other indirect metrics, i.e. newsletter signups, traffic, sessions, etc. – obviously we want to see these grow, but they aren’t the main drivers of our blog strategy.
In addition to content on the Process Street blog, the Customer Education team are creating content with the goal of teaching readers and current users how to use our product.
Other tried and tested metrics for assessing successful content might include:
- Product trials
- Newsletter signups
- Product demos
- Traffic & impressions
- Backlinks & page rankings
- Click rate & user behavior
- Engagement & social shares
What is a maturity model?
Van Looy, Poels, and Snoeck’s meta-study Evaluating Business Process Maturity Models (2016; Journal of the AIS) define a maturity model as:
[A] model to assess and/or to guide best practice improvements in organizational maturity and process capability, expressed in lifecycle levels, by taking into account an evolutionary road map regarding (1) process modeling, (2) process deployment, (3) process optimization, (4) process management, (5) the organizational culture, and/or (6) the organizational structure.
In simple terms, a maturity model is a measure of an organization or system’s success in continuous improvement. It’s a model designed to improve how your organization runs.
Continuous improvement (or continual improvement) is a huge topic area rooted in quality management systems, and we’ve written a lot about how to understand and use it:
- What Continuous Improvement Is (and How to Use It)
- Kaizen: How to Deploy Continuous Improvement to Rocket Your Success
Often, it’s achieved by creating looping systems of reviews or audits that are designed to be used regularly to evaluate the effectiveness of the common recurring processes in a business.
These reviews and audits can help to identify opportunities for improvements and actually implement them.
For more on process improvement and related topics, check these out:
- Process Improvement: Stop Bad Processes Killing Your Business
- Business Process Reengineering: What to Do If Your Business Is Failing
- Business Process Optimization: What, How, Why? (Free Templates)
Our internal process for quality control: The BAMM review
We’ve identified some metrics for assessing content success, now let’s dive into our internal process for determining quality, based on our own success metrics.
One of our internal maturity models is for our content. We’re proud of the content we create and it performs very well. But we know that some pieces we produce are better than others – but it’s not always clear why. As Deming said:
The question is not “Did it work?” but “Why did it work?”
BAMM stands for Blog Asset Maturity Model. The BAMM review is a framework of 5 consecutive levels (i.e. you need to achieve level 1 before you can achieve level 2) designed to assess how our blog functions, quality wise.
To help you understand how this works, here’s a visualization of a similar model we built for more general agile ISO quality improvements:
The point is, the levels of the BAMM review build on one another.
Here’s a breakdown of each of the levels, and specifically how each level helps us refine different aspects of the content we’re creating.
Level 1: Professionalism & SEO
This is all about making sure the content is:
- Readable (in terms of structure, scannability, how efficiently the information is presented to the reader, etc.) as well as;
- Findable (i.e.the post is optimized to rank on Google, and how the structure and tagging reflects that).
Level 2: Reputability & quality of sources
The content needs to be good, otherwise why would anyone want to read it? The focus here is making sure the content is well-sourced, reputable, and backed up by data and statistics where possible.
Level 3: Product alignment
The content should serve a purpose; what problem are we trying to solve for the reader, and how are we accommodating their search intent?
Again, these levels are designed to build on one another, so the product alignment will already be anchored in the initial SEO research done as part of the initial planning steps.
But of course, meeting the needs of the reader is more than just hijacking a keyword and pushing your product in their face. You have to speak to them in a way that compels them, which brings us to the next level:
Level 4: Storytelling & rhetoric
This is all about optimizing the product alignment and making sure we’re doing the best job possible at making good on the promise we made the reader in the title and keyword.
If you write a post titled “How Salesforce Uses Process Street for Effective Client Onboarding“, you better make sure you deliver on that title!
Level 5: Workflow
By this point, you’ve locked down the content and all that’s left are essentially improvements to process efficiency. How can you make this process repeatable, and ensure consistent quality for each new blog post or piece of content?
That’s what this level is designed to assess – how the content marketing machine worked in tandem to facilitate the creation of this content. It’s no longer just about a blog post, but how the whole marketing team works together, from initial strategy and keyword planning, to draft deadlines, reviews and image creation.
Assessing how all of these moving parts work together helps us identify bottlenecks in the process and improve how we work together.
Content creation systemization: Reliable, quality content
This kind of process is very important for us, because we’re a process management company; and as you might expect, it’s not the only process we use internally for creating and developing content in the marketing team!
Here are some of the other processes we use:
- Blog Idea Processing Checklist
- SEO Checklist: The Keyword Research Process
- Peer-Editing Checklist for Bloggers
- Blog Pre-Publish Checklist
- Submitting content to social bookmarking sites checklist
- Advanced Content Promotion Checklist
We’ve spent a lot of time trying to build a content system – something that helps us create reliably high quality content consistently. We’ve published hundreds of blog articles in the 6 years we’ve been running the blog, at a rate of about 4 per week almost non-stop! But we’re always looking for ways to improve the process, and also realize that processes need to give people room to breathe and be flexible.
Having clear, actionable processes is incredibly important for a sound content strategy, but it’s even more important that your tools fit your needs. Process Street makes it easy to build robust, flexible processes with features like:
- Conditional logic.
- Dynamic due dates.
- Task & role assignments.
For recurring processes that need to change based on different situations, conditional logic has you covered, so you don’t need to mess around with multiple complex processes for a single use case with more than one potential variable.
Dynamic due dates allow you to change due dates automatically, based on factors like “when this checklist was started”, “when task X was completed”, or “X days after the image for this blog post was created”. This helps with process enforcement and enables you to focus on getting work done.
For assigning collaborators in and outside of your team to tasks. Both task assignments (for bringing in specific people, if you always know who’s going to be doing a certain task) and role assignments (where it makes sense to plan for turnover in a given role) can be used to dynamically invite users to complete a specific task!
Build powerful automations easily with webhooks. You can send automated messages or information straight from your Process Street checklist to other apps, e.g. if you need to send a message into Slack once a particular task has been checked off, informing your colleagues that you’ve completed an important task.
Especially in content creation, tasks will need to be approved, often at multiple steps along the way. Approvals makes this process far more streamlined, by automatically sending work for approval straight to your inbox.
How do you make sure your content is of the highest quality? Do you use a maturity model in your business, for content or otherwise? Let us know, we always appreciate your comments!