In today’s online world, it’s no secret that metrics matter. That’s particularly true when it comes to maximizing your content creation efforts. To produce the most effective content — the kind that engages your readers and gets them to take some kind of next step — you need to know as much about that content as you possibly can. And while some metrics can help you see how well your content has performed after it’s been published, at best they can only offer you a rearview mirror’s look into your content. Others, however, can help you determine how well your content is going to perform before anyone ever reads it.

Let’s take a closer look at both kinds of metrics.

Vanity metrics make you feel good

While there’s no doubt that the so-called vanity metrics can give you a lot of information — how many visitors have seen your content, how much time they’ve spent on a particular page, or how often they’ve shared it with others — the problem is that these metrics aren’t always particularly useful. Sure they may fan your ego (we got 25,000 visitors to our site this month!), but they only tell you what’s already happened. Plus, having all of the visitors in the world come to your site doesn’t really matter, if no one actually winds up buying from you.

The other issue with vanity metrics is that you only know how well a piece of content has performed long after it’s been published. If it was successful, you’re left trying to replicate whatever you did to get a similar result with your next piece of content. If it didn’t perform the way you were hoping, you’re left scratching your head trying to figure out why. Either way, you’re not really in the driver’s seat. And trying to calibrate your content to get the best results can quickly start to feel like a guessing game.

Predictive analytics give you a crystal ball

The good news is that we now have other analytics that can help us determine how well our content is going to perform before it’s ever published. Predictive analytics provide valuable insights on how your content is written and whether or not it’s going to resonate with your specific target audience. They’re the result of an analysis of your writing style and tone of voice that’s designed to measure if your content is clear, engaging, and written in just the right way to resonate with your particular audience. When paired with a content optimization platform like Acrolinx, you can make adjustments to your content while you’re working on it to tune your writing so that it gets the best possible result.

That way you can publish your content with confidence, knowing that it’s going to have its desired effect on your target audience.

A closer look at predictive analytics

The key to predictive analytics is understanding your target audience. Who are the personas that you’re writing for and what resonates most with them? Do they respond well to content that’s concise, pithy, and very conversational, or is something more formal and verbose more appropriate?

While what you say is incredibly important, how you say it is just as critical. If you know what style and tone of voice resonate with your audience, you can then use a content optimization platform to measure all of your content against those preferences. The platform then flags any issues with your writing, telling you what kinds of changes you need to make to bring your content in line with your target audience’s expectations.

If you check all of your content and it earns a high score, you can then predict with confidence that your content is going to be successful. While there are certainly no guarantees in life, predictive analytics are incredibly useful. They allow you to calibrate your content before you publish it, thereby maximizing the chances that your audience will like it and take a desired action.

Looking forward, not back

There’s no doubt that vanity metrics are useful for seeing how your content has been received, assessing its reach, and identifying where it has fallen flat. But with the technologies now available, you can also look into the future. And, going forward, that’s going to be what gives content creators like you a real edge.

To learn more about predictive analytics and Acrolinx, check out “The Application and Value of Content Analytics.”