Applying science to content analytics

Analytics Eats HIPPOs for Breakfast was the attention-getting line that opened Adrian Kingwell’s presentation at the March meetup of Content, Seriously. Any line that involves large mammals is bound to get the audience’s attention, even though in this case, HIPPO stands for “HIghest Paid Person in the Office”.

The vast majority of writers can relate to the situation where the HIPPO, whether that be client or in-house executive, decides that content should be written in a certain way, or delivered in a certain channel, generally based on personal opinion. The writers are left scrambling to mind-read the HIPPO’s instructions, balancing that with what information could be gleaned about what content actually works for the intended audiences.

Using analytics, the HIPPO can be tamed, and may even be happy about it. Instead of acting on opinions, writers can use the data behind analytics to determine what content works and why.

The starting point for analytics

Adrian Kingwell

Adrian Kingwell

The reason that organisations create content is to solve a business problem. That meant asking the right business questions. Then, the primary job of analytics is to get answers to those questions. Start with why: why is content being created at all? What is the business purpose? Then ask how: how should the content be created and delivered? Which channels are most appropriate? For which audiences? Once those criteria have been established, ask what: what content would be most appropriate for those audiences, in those channels, for those business purposes?

Starting with “why” and working backwards, analytics can reveals information about our customers and shows ways to improve content. Every piece of content on a website has an objective. It’s important to agree on the objectives and the key results. As well, ask what else could add value? Once that’s been decided, have the analytics analyst tag the pages.

The goal of analytics is to improve results

Adrian pointed out that the content strategist’s best friend is the conversion rate, which can be calculated as goals divided by number of visits. Each organisation has different goals, which could translate into number of sales, value of sales, number of subscribers.

Goals unrelated to conversion might be time on page divided by time on site, return visitors, recency of visit, or page values. What’s important is that the metric is agreed upon, and that you measure results over time. A single-day snapshot is meaningless. The iterative cycle of measuring, improving, measuring again, and improving again that will ultimately get results.

Many thanks to Adrian Kingwell for his contribution to the Content, Seriously meetup.

Twitter @adrian_kingwell
Mezzo Labs

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