Guest Post by Allie VanNest who works with Parse.ly’s marketing team. She spends her days telling stories about what content draws in website visitors, and why.
In digital publishing (or any form of content marketing), you’ll probably hear the word “analytics” thrown around quite a bit. That’s because many content creators use analytics to determine which posts are resonating most with their audience.
Many content creators have erroneously assumed that analytics are complex, best left to analysts. However, we’re here to tell you that data can (and should) be accessible to everyone. Editors and writers know their stories and content best. They can spot trends in ways that analysts can’t — and they can do it faster, which makes a big difference in the digital world.
Does an increasing reliance on analytics prevent content creators from publishing quality posts? No! As a matter of fact, data not only tells businesses how many people have visited their blog or site, but it also gives insight into the kind of posts that their readers find the most engaging. They can then use this information to craft future articles and develop an editorial calendar that takes advantage of this newfound information.
So what are analytics?
Analytics are more than pageviews
When you think of web analytics, you’re probably thinking about pageviews. And while pageviews do come into play, digital publishers actually look at many other factors when analyzing the success of a piece of content. Engaged time is one example of a metric that helps digital publishers to figure out how long readers spend actively reading their content. However, engaged time — like pageviews and most other metrics — is meaningless if it is not put into context with a publication’s overall audience goals.
Analytics tell you what content resonates with your audience
If you are a digital publisher, then you know that an editorial calendar is a must-have. It is vital to know what articles you are going to publish, and when. Rather than rely on a gut feeling to help fill in this information, analytics provides concrete examples for companies to make actionable, intelligent decisions.
For example: Rockford Register Star (Rockford, IL), a GateHouse Media property, ran a feature on a man who collects hats. The feature really resonated with audiences on Facebook, so editors decided to shoot video of the man the next day. They added the video to the story package and kept it alive for longer than usual. Readers just loved hearing about this local hat collector.
It’s clear that reviewing analytics can help brands and publishers to discover what articles are popular — and let them know which posts deserve a follow-up. Analytics also let companies know which pieces are a good fit for social media, and can help them tailor their posts to what will resonate most with their followers.
Analytics can help you decide where to post content
Often, published articles are technically good, but they fail to resonate with a particular audience. Perhaps the article has not posted on the appropriate distribution channel, or maybe it is positioned in a weird place on your publication’s homepage.
Parse.ly allows digital publishers to access analytics about a post’s real-time audience engagement directly through an on-page overlay that lives on homepages, section pages, and within the on-site article. With the overlay enabled, article pages include an on-page record of total views, visits, and referrals for the last ten minutes. We also provide information on how the location of an article affects the audience’s reaction — this is called position tracking. (This means that analytics can also be helpful for ad placement, especially since you will want to know what sections are more likely to get clicks than others.)
Analytics help drive content strategy
Analytics provide valuable insight into user intent. Think about site search analytics as an example: Tracking how people use a search bar on your site can tell you what information users are looking for. In turn, you can create relevant content that will resonate with them. Understanding trending queries for future stories, or finding content gaps, can all be understood by viewing site search.
The main takeaway? Analytics play a vital role in the content-development process. Not only do they provide valuable data about which posts are resonating best with your particular audience, but they can also help you decide where to post content — and what content to post — for maximum impact.