Wordsmiths and creatives alike, the first instincts of writers and marketers don’t typically gravitate toward data. One of the biggest content marketing mistakes is to create, publish, and promote content without thinking much about audience analytics or the performance of previous content.
The real gift of digital content marketing is that it is 100% measurable. Sure, there’s some testing and growing that should naturally take place, but most decisions can and should be based on what the numbers dictate.
So, please stop guessing. We repeat: STOP GUESSING!
Get to (Really) Know Your Audience
Talk to your customers.
First thing’s first. Real conversations outweigh the data, so start there. If you are able to actually speak with and spend time with your customers, always do so. Get to know them, what they like, and what they need. If, for whatever reason, you’re not able to speak with customers, find someone who does. Interview your sales team; listen in on customer calls. Find ways to hear customer pain points, what’s working, and what’s not, so you can collect the resources and messaging needed to reach more of them.
Use Google Analytics. It’s free.
Next up, look at whatever data you have. For a quick (and free) win, use Google Analytics to get a solid understanding of who is visiting your website and what they’re doing there. A simple copy and paste of some code provided by Google to your website’s backend will open up a world of data.
Google Analytics empowers you and your team to get to examine audience demographics, providing an eagle-eye view of who is visiting your website. View by location, interests, gender, and more.
And you can dig down even deeper by taking a look at the Behavior tab, which includes Site Content. Here you can access which pages your site audience is visiting and learn how long they’re staying on each. Discover exactly which blog posts, videos, and pages are the most popular. Then you can take action based on these analytics to give your audience more of what they like or what you know they’re looking for because the data tells you.
Use social media analytics. They’re also free.
If you’re using social media, free or paid, you have a whole host of free audience data at your fingertips. Facebook Insights, Twitter, and LinkedIn Analytics each provide full audience overviews, including age interests, country, region, and more.
Of course, you can use this information to optimize which content you share on which social network, and when you can also combine this social data with your website data to get a full picture of how your audience wishes to engage with you and your brand.
How to Apply Content Marketing Analytics
Marketers have great ideas, and so do managers and CEOs. Analytics help filter and focus those ideas on data-driven decisions. Suppose your company has a website and promotes content on even one or two social media networks. In that case, it already has enough information to begin making content marketing decisions based on metrics. This might be the greatest CYA move you can make, but it’s just plainly the most effective.
Get yourself and your company out of a reactive content marketing role. Make proactive decisions based on analytics. Refer to the analytics before launching a campaign. Be sure that all, or at least most, decisions are based on metrics that make sense.
Analytics can also be used for future goal-setting and in identifying key performance indicators (KPIs).
Examine how your content is performing over time. Check year-over-year and month-over-month trends, so you can set reasonable and reachable goals for future performance.
Which Content Marketing Stats Matter Most?
Once you’re confident that you’re reaching your audience and serving up content that they want, it’s important to know which metrics matter so you can continue to improve.
Big picture, the first thing you want to know is overall numbers. Determine how many people in total are visiting your website and social media pages. Then, figure out your overall reach or how many eyeballs are viewing your brand messaging.
More is usually better, but keep in mind that quantity does not equal quality. To move the needle from one to the other, your content must be engaging enough to make your audience stick.
So, next, you want to dig into which pages and content assets on those pages are outperforming. To get a clear picture of exactly how your audience interacts with your site, you should frequently review the bounce rate and time spent on the site.
The lower the bounce rate percentage, the better. Higher bounce rates indicate that people are coming to your site and then bouncing out really fast because they’re not getting what they want. The longer time spent on site is good because it means people are engaging with your content.
You can also use the free starter trial with a company like Hotjar that delivers audience heat maps.
You can see, in real-time, what users are clicking on. Hotjar collates this data to provide a website map that outlines where most people on your site tend to go.
Do this right now: Evaluate your content.
You have the data now, and that’s great, but don’t be remiss to forget the human element of content marketing.
Really, this will only take a few minutes, and it will likely prove invaluable. Grab a cup of coffee or tea. Block your calendar and take a brief time out to read through and honestly evaluate your content.
While reading, ask yourself these questions: How am I currently speaking to my audience on my website, in my emails, and through social media? Am I talking about myself and my company? And am I talking about my products, my webinars, my awards? Am I using language or acronyms that only people who work at my organization use?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have to fix it. But know that you are not alone. These are among the most common content marketing mistakes made by most.
But since you have the data and know what your audience wants, there’s no longer any excuse to keep giving them what YOU want. It’s not about you. It’s about your customers and your prospects. Use the analytics blended with a human touch to deliver what’s right to the right person and at the right time.
Editor’s note: This post was written by nDash community member Melanie LoBue. Melanie is a freelance writer, editor, and digital marketing consultant living in Boston who also works full-time as Director of Digital Content Marketing for a global tech company. With over 20 years of professional creative experience, Melanie focuses on helping businesses grow using the power of words. To learn more about Melanie, or to have her write for your brand, check out her nDash profile page.
You can read part 1 here: https://www.ndash.com/blog/content-marketing-mistakes-avoid-2018