With traditional publishers competing against bloggers for page views and businesses battling each other for customer leads, today’s content development should be as much about analytics as it is subject and delivery.
Businesses often incorrectly assume, however, that the greater the content’s depth, the more attractive it will be to the search engines; the more content they share, the more organic reach they will enjoy from the social networks; and the more time spent on optimizing content for visibility, the better chances people and, again, search engines, will find and link to it. In other words, they would spend much of their time in research and creation, hit “go” and start the process again.
What savvy enterprises have quickly learned however is that “writing and releasing” alone provides little business value, and even less insight on how to repeat successes or avoid previous misses. There is a way, however, to turn all of this around and it starts with the six elements that writers once learned to address with every new content piece: who, what, when, where, why (and how).
Applying these elements to the analysis of content – in addition to the creation of it – can turn efforts profitable and more clearly define what a successful program looks like.
When setting out on a content initiative, many companies define their target audience as who it is that their product or service most relates to – developing content to match this persona (learn more about how to build personas at wsm.co/persona411).
When it comes to content, however, businesses need to understand how their idea of who should consume their content compares to who actually is. If a software company, for instance, discovers that the majority of people downloading its content assets are those without purchasing power, adjusting the type of content they create to attract decision-makers or creating content for this other demographic will be necessary (e.g., “How to Convince Your Boss…”).
One of the most popular content metrics is that of page views – indicating what people are viewing most often. More detailed reports like those provided within heatmaps (review the top heatmap providers at wsm.co/heatclick) can show what users are clicking on any given page as can some content management systems. DNN Evoq, for instance, can provide on-page interaction events (showing the different areas clicked on a page, such as a link click or a call-to-action click) while Sitecore shows insights on what customers have viewed, opened, clicked through or bought from a brand.
Understanding when people consume content (reading a blog, clicking through a social link, downloading a gated asset like a whitepaper) can help businesses not only publish and distribute content at the time it is most likely to be viewed, but also follow up in a timely manner (e.g., a sales rep calling or emailing after someone filled out a form).
Tracking where people are coming from (device, source, channel) and where they go after they read (bounce, read more, subscribe, download) is critical to deeming content as effective and understanding readers’ goals.
Understanding why people are consuming a company’s content is part science and part intuition. Knowing what we know about our audience (who they are, what they are reading, when they are engaging and where they are coming from) can help piece together the “why” so the information presented can help answer that audience’s questions and it can be distributed to them at a time they are most likely to convert (e.g., awareness stage, consideration stage, decision stage).
6. Most Importantly, How
To make a profit with content marketing and blogging, publishers have to provide ways for readers to convert and understand how the materials supported their path to purchase. While analytics solutions can certainly help, a publisher’s content management system should be able to provide this information as well. DNN Evoq, for example, shows how the different conversion paths attributed to the current page. On a blog post, for example, content marketers can see how the post contributed to various conversion events, which provides an actual answer to whether content is contributing positively to a company’s bottom line.
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