Using analytics to guide content strategy

Aug 08, 2014
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As more and more brands turn into publishers, it’s becoming increasingly important to produce content that resonates with your target audience. Easier said than done.

We’re all familiar with web analytics and reports highlighting site usage behaviour. Using that data wisely and gleaning insights from it, however, is a completely different matter.

Analytics can do a lot more than just churn out numbers and nice metrics dashboards; it can have a significant bearing on the content creation process. Looking at how certain pieces of content perform can help us decide what content to create. In short, analytics lets us know what material is being seen, how, when and by whom.

What’s your vision?
Numbers need context to mean something. We can’t measure how effective content is without it.

“[Web analytics] changed the game for marketers and advertisers. But with respect to content quality, many practitioners are flip-flopping with regard to which numbers matter, and whether we can make use of them.”

-Kristina Halvorson, CEO Brain Traffic

In other words, there has to be a well-defined strategy. What do you want to see? What is important to you? Try and be clear about your plan.

Analytics - numbers to guide content

What do you need to do?
Ask yourself these questions:

1. Why does your website exist? What’s its purpose? These make up your Website Objectives.

2. What actions do you want visitors to take as a result of visiting your website? This is how you find out what your Goals are.

3. After deciding on your objectives and goals, how can you gauge how well you are achieving them? Get these Key Performance Indicators pegged down.

4. How will you decide whether something has been a success or a failure? Creating real Targets for all reported metrics gives content creators something to work towards.

What should you measure?

If you’re running an entertainment website, a basic objective may be creating a space where content is educating and informing visitors. The goal here would be to establish the site as a trusted source of valuable information where users are engaged and return on a regular basis. Having established objectives and goals, evaluating the effectiveness of content through considered application of analytics drives subsequent strategy. In this example, a KPI could be set to measure dwell time (time on page) and number of comments written.

Giving content creators something tangible to aim for such as increasing dwell time, and the site’s readership (be specific), crystallises content strategy and embeds it within your team. A target of getting x number of visitors to read material for a given length of time or increasing the number of returning visitors on a month-by-month basis by x% is both measurable and can be achieved by following the numbers.

Outcomes
After being specific about your goals and focusing more on what you’re measuring and why, you’ll be able to show which content meets business objectives and fulfils visitors’ needs. What’s more, you’ll be working towards making that vision of yours a reality.

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