Content analytics using tagging for metrics and meaning

Content analytics should be an essential element of determining how successful websites are. It starts with effective content tagging.

Web publishers and site owners seeking to deliver effective digital experiences that get visitors to go beyond the their homepages. There's more to web content analytics and marketing than just counting page hits and total page views. How do you look at your site, decide what metrics might be important and determine when you are successfully engaging your audience?

To begin with, you need to consider your key engagement events. Engagement events are the critical interactions occurring on your site that can lead to new contacts, purchases and business. A well-thought-out Web Content Management (WCM) strategy must identify those events.

Let’s consider a couple of examples; in the kids summer camp business, parents are likely going to view (interact with) the "dates and rates" page before registering their children as this is underpinning information towards the purchase decision. In the software business, prospects might register to attend a webinar, download white papers and product data sheets, and perhaps demo the products they're interested in before contacting sales and placing orders. These are the sorts of engagement events that can be measured as part of a content analytics program.

Whether there is one critical event or several, to be successful you must identify the content that triggers each action. Then you need to tag the relevant pages, content displays and downloads.

Tagging content for measurement

Developers have been adding hidden tags to web pages for years. Initially the main reason was to help search-engines index the contents of entire pages more quickly, accurately, and effectively. Today, all major social media platforms and WCM systems now include tagging capabilities, so authors and editors can add terms to more granular content components in order to generate “tag clouds” and help both visitors and ever more sophisticated and discerning search bots find items on the site. As part of managing digital assets, editors need to tag photos, soundtracks, video clips and other kinds of multimedia with relevant metadata, such as subject, creator, date, location, genre and more.  This enables the content to be more likely found, and therefore potentially engaged with, regardless of which aspects a potential customer searches by.

You are probably already investing time and effort tagging your content for meaning. To best support web content analytics though, you need to further leverage those efforts by also tagging your content for measurement.

Start with your existing tag sets and make sure they involve content associated with specific engagement events. Add new ones if needed. Whether you are publishing content on public-facing websites or supporting sites within a corporate intranet, success requires being sure to use meaningful terms to your audience. For even more valuable insights, you will likely want to track activity for individual content components instead of full page views; it’s a pretty linear relationship in that the more granular the content you are managing, the more specific your tagging can be and the more worthwhile the reporting data will become.

Once you have the relevant tags in place, you have instrumented your content to report how often site visitors access the tagged content. You then can log the activity data for various tags and feed the information to a content analysis system or service.

Tools for content analysis

When it comes to analyzing your content performance data, there are analytics tools and applications available to fit almost any budget and line of inquiry. You can use an analysis service in the cloud or run software on premises, within your own infrastructure.

For example, Google Analytics is one of the most popular cloud options, particularly for small and medium business (SMB) sites; it features many easy-to-use dashboards. Alternatively, some of the more sophisticated WCM systems feature direct integration capabilities with customer relationship management (CRM) applications. Visitors' actions on your website are automatically added to records within the CRM system, where you can then analyze the data to find out what content they have accessed and determine what actions to take to further engage with those visitors to drive increased business.

A third approach entails adopting a specialized and heavily integrated marketing automation platform. There are multiple cloud application providers that promise substantial results for targeted marketing in return for a relatively small up-front investment.  Some of the leaders in that space would be Salesforce, Adobe/Marketo, ClickDimensions, and others.

Getting started

As discussed, there are multiple ways to get started with content analytics to determine the success of your website. Here are three key points to bear in mind:

1.    Start simple and focus on the most crucial events that drive business value for your business. Define the top 2 or 3 and add additional ones as your digital business maturity develops.

2.    Not all engagement events need to originate within your WCM system. For example, you may run an advertising campaign in a community publication that is designed to drive people to register for an online event. Be prepared to identify and measure that uptick in interest to determine if the advertising investment was worthwhile in terms of your website traffic doing more than simply registering for the event.

3.    For success, content analytics needs to be an integral part of your website and not an afterthought. As you design your site or redesign it for mobile access and social networking, be sure to include content analytics as a core part of your underlying information architecture. Even if you do not implement the analysis capabilities in your initial rollout, be sure to plan on tagging your content for measurement, just as you tag it for meaning.