Digital marketers are the new harbormasters—keeping the ports open, active, safe, and efficient. They ensure that people flow in, stories flow out, and containers of data are never misplaced. I’ve learned how to create and access Google Analytics (GA) views to help advance our content strategy at Skyword, and the result is as personally fulfilling as it is professionally valuable.
When I log into Skyword today, with the new integration of GA into Skyword Analytics, I don’t see a jumble of data; rather, it’s a collection of neatly organized containers ready to be packaged into reports or sent to our big-screen marketing dashboard.
You, the modern digital marketer, know that at least 90 percent of buyers use search to make better decisions. The less modern marketer negligently operates the corporate website solely as the main port of arrival—the place where people land ready to explore and perhaps to buy.
Digital marketers today understand that the website is also the main port of embarkation for digital content, the point from which stories and ideas set out to cross the Internet and find new audiences. They understand and believe that the ebbing of content creates a subsequent flow of visitors returning to their site.
In 2013, my own digital marketing career was feeling strained. My team struggled to show that the digital publication that we built, the Content Standard, was growing an engaged audience or made an impact on sales. At the time, the team had a decision to make. Cut the content marketing program, or change our approach?
Despite all fingers pointing in the other direction, the Skyword team kept the Content Standard. Patricia Travaline, CMO of Skyword, said, “Looking back, if we had abandoned ship at that time, it would have been the worst mistake of my career.”
Today, the Content Standard drives more than 45 percent of traffic to Skyword.com and is our top lead generator. In 2015, the Content Standard returned over 640 percent ROI on marketing spend. Year-over-year the program saw a 162 percent increase in pageviews, a 207 percent increase in average monthly pageviews, and 960 percent growth in number of subscribers. What changed? We focused on building trust with our target audience, asking for reader feedback, and applying changes in a dynamic and agile manner. And we let the content team focus on creativity versus asking them to talk about the business.
Despite the great case study in 2015, as editor and head of digital operations for the Content Standard, I was unsure about our ability to improve performance in 2016. Much of those improvements would have to come through much greater insight into how to nurture our creative community and direct them on improving content quality and their skills as storytellers. What type of reporting could deliver that insight?
Today at the Content Standard, Skyword Analytics + GA gives us the ability to go beyond pageviews. For example, this month there were about 1,200 previously published stories that drove traffic to the Content Standard. While evaluating writers in our program we noticed a particular contributor whose content drove a slightly below average number of website entrances.
The Content Standard is focused on new audience development, so any piece or contributor that falls short of program averages for audience acquisition gets focused feedback on how to improve. But that warning sign was quickly dismissed when clicking into the Individual Written Content Results Report in Skyword. The report showed that while traffic acquisition numbers were lower than expected, that engagement metrics like time on page and bounce rate were stellar. Most importantly, looking at the goal conversions we had set up allowed us to quickly see a higher than average number of newsletter subscribers via this story. We were able to easily and accurately report on this information after integrating our GA account with the Content Standard program in the Skyword Platform.
Here’s how you can do the same with Skyword Analytics + GA.
You can actually think of your website or GA property as one larger container filled with as many smaller containers, or GA views. Multiple views are needed in GA to make finding and reporting on data quick and easy.
Note that once integrated, the Skyword Platform captures all data from one selected GA view and uses the data in that view when displaying session and user metrics (these are site-wide metrics). Other data, such as pageviews and channels, are focused on the metrics related to the content (these are content-specific metrics). So in order to retrieve the most accurate view of both site performance and content performance, the correct and most complete GA view should be selected.
There are four essential views for any Web property.
To reiterate, the main view is the view that marketers should clone, customize, and plan to connect with Skyword.
The Goal Conversions Report within Skyword lets you pivot all the acquisition and engagement metrics for each story you publish by the type of goal conversion selected. Select your preferred goal (download, subscription, banner click) from the drop-down menu and published stories are instantly sorted by the number of conversions they are generating. However, using an old GA view versus a newly customized view means that legacy goals from previous campaigns and unrelated e-commerce goals would be visible within Skyword, thus clouding your reporting.
To simplify and focus reporting on content performance, we recommend either grooming existing goals within your main GA view, or better yet, starting from scratch by cloning that main view and creating a series of conversion goals that capture the most valuable actions that you would like your audience to take.
Typical goals in GA monitor conversion events based on the following categories: destination, duration, pages/session, and events. Destination goals often indicate that a certain page like a “Thank You!” page was reached and that an offer was downloaded or a subscription was completed. Duration and page per session goals can be used to indicate that readers are very engaged with your site and your stories. Generating loyal readers and advocates is a great sign of storytelling success and tracking that growth helps show your content team’s ability to build trust with an audience over time.
Finally, events goals are the most dynamic. They require help from your Web analytics and Web development teams to implement, but once they’re set up, events goals can be powerful. These goals signal when people interact with website navigation, buttons, banners, and content. We know Skyword clients that use event tracking to report on how far people scroll down on published stories. That level of granularity really helps to improve the quality of pieces because it allows content marketing teams to adjust how multimedia content, headings, and ideas will flow in published pieces. In this way, content teams can come together to improve the quality of content so that more of it is read, less of it is wasted, and conversions rates improve.
The Content Standard’s managing editor likes to joke that stories on Web analytics and ROI always perform poorly because they cause so many of us to reflect on what we’ve done wrong. If websites are harbors, and digital marketers are harbormasters, then we are responsible for all those precious cargo containers that have been lost at sea. But it’s time to focus on fixing the ROI reporting process for the future.
After an angsty 2013, I’ve gained a lot of clarity about the power of Web analytics and how to combine the science and the raw analytical power of these platforms with the editorial vision and creative collaboration that occurs in content marketing software like Skyword. I know you can do the same.
To learn more about how Skyword Analytics + GA can give you a complete view of what’s working and what isn’t, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.