Can Analytics Help my Content?

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Content creation has become one of the most popular techniques within digital marketing. Compared with traditional advertising, content creation allows companies to build a more natural, long-lasting relationship with customers. As well as long term benefits, uploading videos and blogs, can also lead directly to sales with conversion rates depending on a variety of different factors.

Keeping track of your content can be paramount. You should be asking yourself questions such as, what type is doing the best, when the best time of day to post is and which pieces are leading to the most sales. These are all very important questions, with answers that can help you to produce the best content possible. Using a program such as Google Analytics will help you acquire data such as this and answer all of these questions. Analytics is incredibly sophisticated and although it may appear complex at first, one you have gotten the hang of it, it can completely change the way in which you employ this type marketing.

Metrics

When thinking about metrics, many content creators focus on a few different things. Usually these are reduced to page views and conversions. Whilst these are useful statistics, they will only showcase a small portion of the picture. To have a fuller understanding of your content and the impact it is having, you should look into other metrics. These include page views (standard and unique), the average time spent on the page, entrance rates, exit rates and bounce rates. You can also look at timings and find out which time of the day is the best for posting blogs or videos.

Channels

Google Analytics will allow you to view data on how visitors are accessing your content. There are many different channels which can be used to direct traffic but the most successful is dependent on a variety of factors. Some companies choose to drive traffic via email, other use referring sites and of course one of the most popular channels is social media. However, it isn’t a case of one size fits all, every website is different and this is why analytics are so important. It’s only through the use of such a program that you can acquire solid data on which channel is the most successful for you and your content.

Content

It may seem like an obvious suggestion but one of the most useful aspects of Analytics is to find out what your most popular content is. However, this isn’t just about view counts alone, it’s about consumers finding their way to the content, staying with it and then being converted into a customer. Using these measurements, you can ascertain which of your articles or videos are the most successful and then attempt to extrapolate why this is so. You could even experiment with your content in order to generate more traffic. For example, changing the title of your piece can have a dramatic effect on its overall success.

Timing

One of the main benefits to utilising a program as advanced as Google Analytics is that it allows you to gain in-depth information on metrics such as timings. So for example you don’t have to settle with which of your content is the most popular, you can actually find out when it’s the most popular. This will provide an insight into your demographic and will also offer you data on when the best time is to upload. You can also compare the traffic to your site on a week by week basis, judging whether any recent changes have affected the way in which consumers interact with your site.

Live Stream

One of the most impressive features of Google Analytics is that you can view traffic on your content, in real time. This is especially useful immediately after posting a new piece. Real time data on how consumers are interacting with your content provides invaluable information on both your successes and weaknesses.

At this point in time, it isn’t a question of “can analytics improve my content,” it’s a question of how.

What is Split Testing?

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In case the terminology is not on your radar, I’ll begin by revealing that the wonderous, the truly splendiferous, process of split testing is carried out by phizz-whizzing, whoopsy-splunker web designers who know what’s what when it comes to boosting conversion rates (there’s no prizes for guessing what I saw at the cinema last night!). In more detail, (and I’ll try and be sensible), the process is used to compare different versions of the same webpage in order to identify the page that performs best. With the results to hand, web designers can determine whether changes to the website will have a positive impact on conversion rates or not. (I’ll explain conversion rate optimisation in a moment).

Split Testing/ A/B Testing/ Multivariate Testing

Before going any further, it’s important to note that split testing may also be referred to as A/B Testing, or multivariate testing. While both terms fall under the split testing umbrella, these processes have key differences; A/B testing is the most basic split test which compares version A (original) against a version B (variation), whereas multivariate testing enables you to test multiple changes at the same time. It really depends on your goal as to what method is best to use. For example, if you are considering major, back-end design changes, split testing is the best method to use, whereas for simple, front-end changes (like changing the colour of a button) A/B testing is preferred.

Conversion Rate Optimisation

When we talk about conversion rates we are referring to the percentage of visitors who end up reaching a given goal, i.e. when a visitor to your website takes an action that you want them to take such as making a purchase, signing up for an email newsletter, downloading an app, or any other type of online activity (‘call to action’ in marketing terms).

A conversion rate optimisation plan is carried out during the early stages of the split testing process to identify pages with low conversion rates, or high-drop off rates that can be improved upon. Google Analytics, Kissmetrics or other analytics services can help with analytics reports and insights via click through rates and on-site metrics as well. With this data you can create an informed test hypothesis which may cover changes such as the colour of a button, navigation elements, adding a button or link or something entirely custom.

Split Testing Software

Deciding on the most effective type of split testing software can seem daunting due to the amount of options available to choose from, however, to give you an insight, here are three of the most popular tools available:

Google Content Experiments: this free service is offered via Google Analytics and lets you split test variants within the programme.

Visual Website Optimizer (VWO): this is similar to Google Content Experiments, but in addition includes a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) editor. This means that you can make changes to the page for testing purposes without having to change the underlying HTML or CSS code. VWO offers a free 30-day trial.

Optimizely: this is similar to VWO in that it provides a WYSIWIG editor so you can make changes easily without having to alter the HTML or CSS code.

Testing/ Results

When the test is run, the traffic is randomly split among the different versions to see which version performs best. By tracking the performance of the webpages, web designers can implement positive design changes based upon the accurate, informative data. This takes the guesswork out of website optimisation and should put you in good stead for creating a whoopsy whiffling website (sorry, couldn’t help throwing one last BFG reference in there) with all the attributes needed for achieving a healthy return on investment (ROI). And we all want a whoopsy wiffling website, right?

Translations:
Phizz-whizzing – brilliant
Whoopsy-splunkers – fantastic
Whoopsy wiffling – Great
(Roald Dahl’s BFG)

Is Automation the future of Content Marketing?

Robotic hand, accessing on laptop, the virtual world of information. Concept of artificial intelligence and replacement of humans by machines.

Technology is playing an increasingly crucial part in refining both the creation and execution of our content marketing, but will there ever be a day when content marketing can be left to look after itself?  It’s certainly an appealing thought with automation saving time, money and resources on an area which is probably one of the most stretched in your department.  Good content takes time, thought and planning to be successful so anything that can help make life easier will be well received.

There’s a multitude of resources available for those wishing to explore the benefits of content automation tools and software and here are just a few for consideration:

Content calendars – effective content starts with effective planning. Those that plan their content strategies, and stick to them, are more likely to see success and content calendars can help you to not only create a workable plan but help you share that plan within your team. Throw your antiquated spreadsheet out of the window and benefit from automated reminders and shared real-time access to help keep everyone up to date and on track.

Content generation – why spend time thinking about content topics when tools can do it for you?  You know your audience best, but if you really are struggling for ideas then a content generation tool could be just what you’re looking for. You basically type in the word of a subject you want to write about and it delivers a list of ideas around that subject.

Content Distribution – you’ve spent ages crafting your content, the last thing you want is to spend ages distributing it.  Thankfully there are tools that can do this for you and will also notify you when your content has been posted and where. The Content Marketing Forum has compiled Content Marketing Tools: The Ultimate List, which contains a section on distribution tools, as well as some excellent tools to help you initiate and nurture influencer relationships.  In fact the entire list is worth a look through.

Content performance analysis tools – If you don’t monitor the performance of your content how do you know what’s working? This is one of the key areas that will save you time in the long run as through monitoring performance you will be able to streamline the content you produce. Overtime you will be generating highly targeted content that has a greater chance of success instead of randomly throwing content into the ether and hoping it’ll work.

Content cataloguing – this is a fabulous way of keeping tabs on all your created content so that you can easily draw on it again in the future. If you’re looking to generate large volumes of content, especially across multiple channels, then cataloguing your content is highly recommended. These tools also provide an additional benefit by marrying up your catalogue with your performance tools to provide instant insights as to what pieces are generating the best responses and which formats are working efficiently for you. This helps to create an informed strategy for future content allowing you to invest time and energy into formulas you know have succeeded in the past.

But there are differing views as to the extent that automation can assist.  For instance, some articles suggest that if a piece of content is written with enough thought and intelligence, sections of it can then simply be cut and paste and repositioned for other channels, allowing you to draw on the same content again and again.  In theory this makes absolute sense, and content repositioning is something I would expect you to be doing anyway.  It’s such an efficient use of resources. My problem though is not with repositioning, but with the cutting and pasting.  Unless you’re an absolute genius I’m uncertain how effective this would be without altering or reworking it in some way to make it tailored to the particular channel in question.

So, back to the original question:  Is automation the future of content marketing? Yes, without a doubt. Will we ever see full automation within content marketing? I personally don’t think that automation should or will ever replace human-led strategy and creativity, if it’s quality content that is being sought – that is content that engages consumers and drives results.  However, what it can do when used properly is help free up the resources needed to generate brilliantly crafted content that is designed for and delivered to the right target market at the right time. And I think that’s the key.

 

Why do content articles fail?

To be Better on the blackboard with chalk writing.

For anyone who does it, you’ll know that content marketing is a time-consuming task and as such it can be incredibly demoralising when you’re not getting the results you’d hoped to see.  Before you start believing you’re the worst content writer ever, it’s important to remember there are many, many reasons for it to crash and burn; so chin up and let’s look at some of those first.

 

  1. Strategy – Do you have one? Do you stick to it? If you’ve answered no to either of these questions then this could be one of the main reasons why your content is flopping. Although its findings are based on businesses in North America, there are many interesting figures in Content Marketing Institute’s annual research papers. Their research identifies that those B2B and B2C businesses who view themselves as being successful at content marketing are more likely to have a content marketing strategy and clear vision of what it looks like. From the B2B side, 79% of those organisations who view their content marketing to be ‘effective’ are ‘clear on what an effective or successful content marketing program looks like’ compared to only 23% of those whose view the content marketing to be ineffective. Likewise, 53% of the ‘effective’ respondents have a documented content marketing strategy in place whilst the figure is only 13% for the ineffective respondents. These figures speak volumes!So, get yourself a clear vision and strategy and stick to it.  Then don’t forget to revisit it periodically just to check what’s working and what’s not. What format and platforms are working best for you and what content topics are driving high interest? Focus on these and learn from the areas that are underperforming.  If, for example, your Twitter activity isn’t as strong as your blog, don’t automatically rule it out; your approach and content for this channel may just need some tweaking.  At the same time, don’t flog a dead horse. If over time you’re able to identify a channel that isn’t working for you then don’t invest your time and money in it.
  1. Resources – It’s typical for content marketing strategies to fail if they aren’t given the time and resources needed to succeed. Those businesses that see success tend to be those that see its worth and are prepared to invest a significant chunk of their marketing budget.   Going back to the research, the ‘effective’ camp invest a whopping 42% of their marketing budget compared to only 15% for the ‘ineffective’.  That being said, simply throwing money at it isn’t the answer.  If your budget allows, investing in an in-house dedicated and experienced resource to drive your content is a great move and often works better than investing in expensive agencies.
  2. Marketing – it’s called Content Marketing for a reason and you can’t simply rely on it being in cyberspace for it to be seen; it needs to be promoted. If you’ve spent time writing a blog article, then for goodness sake tell people it’s there. Use your social media platforms, newsletters and website to inform and direct. Likewise, let people know you’re on social media by making your SM buttons highly visible on your website and blog pages.  If you have a good social media following then encourage them to sign up to your newsletter.
  1. Patience – Good things come to those who wait. You won’t see results overnight so make sure you’re tracking your results carefully so that you can see the improvements you’re making overtime. As with all marketing a steady release of content works best.
  1. Content – If you’re happy you’ve done all of the above and even Googled some more ideas behind any unfavourable results, then maybe, just maybe you need to take a long hard look at your content and style. But don’t dismay, even this area is normally an easy one to fix, just ask yourself the following questions: Is it what your audience wants? Does it answer their questions? Does it inspire? Does it strengthen your relationship and their trust in your brand? Is the style appropriate to the platform? No amount of content will result in leads if it doesn’t meet the needs of your audience, no matter how hard you try.