How bad KPIs skew your content decisions

“Begin with the end in mind.” That’s one of Stephen Covey’s 7 habits of highly successful content operations.

Start with a really clear business goal, and only then figure out your key performance indicators (KPIs). Because your KPIs are going to dictate a lot of the choices you make.

The most well-known example in B2B media or brand journalism is the over-use of slideshows and broad-interest topics, which do “drive page views” but don’t actually attract a targeted B2B audience. They probably have the opposite effect.

But here’s more subtle real-life illustration of how bad KPIs cause bad decisions.

One tech vendor built a website specifically to build relationships and start conversations with CIOs, who are sophisticated and elusive executives. That was the business goal.

However, the bottom-line performance measurement for the site was page views.

So, when they designed their email newsletter, they constructed it to “drive page views back to the site.”

Getting a CIO’s email is a great relational achievement. Sending them back to site does not reflect another step forward.

They should have designed the newsletter to provide maximum benefit right there in the inbox. (The Hustle is an example of a newsletter that doesn’t seek page views.)

“Page views” was not the right KPI to achieve the business goal. The growing relationship or conversation for a high-value reader should logically go:

visit site > sign up for newsletter > read and love > forward to peers


visit site > sign up for newsletter > get sent back to the site again

Photo by Mr Cup / Fabien Barral on Unsplash