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Mar 23, 2011
Case Study

Content Marketing: Analytics drive relevant content, 26,000 new monthly visits to blog

SUMMARY: Experienced marketers know that relevant content delivers results. But how do you determine what is relevant?

Find out how one B2B marketer used analytics to increase readership across his entire content marketing strategy, and helped integrate an effort that included a corporate website, a personal blog, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and content on corporate partner websites.
by David Kirkpatrick, Reporter

CHALLENGE

Content is a major part of any marketing effort. At one point in time, that content was probably a whitepaper, press release or trade magazine article. Today, content starts at the website and entails email, social media, webinars and more. Any analytics that help you understand the people reading and engaging with your content can make the entire content marketing strategy much more effective.

Danny Brown, CEO, Bonsai Interactive Marketing, an Ontario, Canada-based agency offering B2B social media and mobile marketing, found out how powerful adding analytics to a comprehensive content marketing campaign can be. He found that data -- specifically learning what his readers were searching for, where they were coming from and where they were going after visiting part of his network -- dramatically improved his visits, shares and engagement.

CAMPAIGN

Tactic #1. Integrate the entire network

Brown's content network includes:

o Company website
o His personal blog
o Twitter
o Facebook
o YouTube
o Bonsai Interactive partner's websites

This community was grown organically and he utilizes the entire network to crowdsource ideas for new blog posts and other content. Integrating, and tracking, all these different content areas allows Brown to increase awareness and visibility for Bonsai Interactive, and its partners.

An important aspect of integrating the entire content network is determining what content should appear in different places -- for example the content that is best placed on his personal blog might not be a good fit for partner websites.

Brown uses analytics to help determine his overall content strategy. He explained it is important to understand your audience and if you are able to use analytics to grab "deep down traffic information," your content can match what people are looking for, and asking about.

He added people love to get honest information, so if your content is providing answers to the questions your readers are asking, you will become the person they seek out, and return to, for content, wherever that content resides across the entire network of websites, blogs and social media.

Tactic #2. Let your audience tell you what they want by their actions

Brown said, "I think one of the biggest mistakes I probably made when I first started the blog was I wasn't really making strong use of analytics and so I was basically putting up really willy-nilly blog topics."

Once he began using analytics he was able to understand what his audience was doing at the blog and website -- what they were searching for, and how long they were on the site.

These numbers give Brown an overview of his audience and their behavior. He knew if traffic was coming from Facebook, or Twitter, and what country his visitors were based.

For example, he noticed he was getting a large amount of traffic from Malaysia, so in response he found a guest blogger from that country to write a blog post about blogging and social media for the Malaysian market.

Tactic #3. Turn data into visits

Content without readers is not doing anything for you. Just looking at blogs, Brown estimates there are around 200 million blogs registered with Technorati, and that doesn't even account for the Chinese market which is not registered or most of the rest of the Asian market.

"You are competing with a lot of people to get the eyeballs to your blog," he states.

If you understand:

o What is being searched for
o Where it's being searched from
o The keywords, the trends you can pick up on

You can tailor future content, or even adapt existing content to bring in new traffic.

Having and using this data can be a very powerful part of content marketing.

"If you can understand SEO and understand analytics," explained Brown, "You can go up against the big guys. You can be a small independent blogger and go up against the likes of Mashable and Huffington Post."

Another advantage for the independent or smaller marketer is if you know what your audience is searching for, you can quickly get a post up and live for that particular trend and topic, where larger companies might face more rigorous editorial hurdles that slow the process down.

Last year Brown wrote a popular blog post on marketing loyalty programs tied to mobile apps. With tablet computers and smartphone usage on the rise, his search analytic tool is seeing more searches around mobile loyalty programs.

In response he is planning on either updating the post from last year and putting it back on the front page of his personal blog, or possibly writing a new blog post on the topic to react to the search activity his analytics show him.

Tactic #4. Understand your reader

Brown combines two analytics tools to really drill down into how his readers are engaging his content marketing strategy. One tool offers data on searches made both at Brown's websites and away from his content network. The second tool used in conjunction with the search tool is an analytics platform that provides Brown with demographic information on his readers.

The most important aspect of bringing analytics into the content marketing strategy is it allows you to better understand your reader. Brown uses this data to craft blog posts that he knows his readers want to see.

Brown sees his personal blog as an "idea generation place" where he takes cues from his community's involvement, like with comments on his posts, or questions posed to him on Facebook or Twitter. He combines this information with search and demographic analytics to create his overall content strategy.

- Listen

Using the website search analytic tool, Brown realized "social media hub" was a popular search last year where people were trying to understand how to create a social hub using external platforms like Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, etc., and also try and create a social hub internally on a website or a blog.

In response, Brown began a series titled, "How to Turn Your Blog into a Social Media Hub," that explained how to integrate and engage with social networks and still keep traffic on a website or blog. He said that series got a lot of traffic, a lot of shares and a lot of inquiries from clients looking create social media hubs of their own.

"(Analytics) really allows me to understand where (readers) are disappearing to once they have left my site, which is key to helping me decide whether I need to do something different to keep them on my site, or if I can transfer a lot of stuff over to the external sites where they are going," he said.

Tactic #5. The blog as a content marketing strategy

"It's like soft sales," Brown stated about the content marketing strategy of his blog.

His approach includes:

o Providing information for the searches people are looking for
o Providing information for topics being discussed on social media such as Facebook and Twitter

Brown said offering his point of view on topics his analytic tools uncover as popular or trending works as soft sell, "because I then get email inquiries as a follow-up to that information (provided in the blog post)."

He said he uses his blog content to lead into workshops and education seminars. To return to the blogger outreach example, he offers a workshop on blogger outreach 101.

The analytics also come into play here where he gathers information on what companies are visiting his website and blog, and tracks comments and uses that information to follow-up and pitch those interested parties. Brown said the follow-up would be a fairly low-key along the lines of, "Hey, thanks for the interest in this particular blog post. Did you know we do this and that might be of interest to you, and we'd love to chat sometime."

Tactic #6. The personal touch

Brown has a quite comprehensive content marketing strategy that includes a company website, a personal website, multiple social media pieces and even content on partner websites. All of this is tracked through analytic tools that uncover search terms, demographics and other metrics that help drive the type, and location, of his content efforts.

One thing he's found, particularly with his personal blog, is that his readers respond best to a mix of personal and business content. He's careful to leave his children out of the mix, and anytime his blog posts trend toward the personal he makes certain to tie it back into some business aspect.

For example, if he feels he made some sort of business mistake with his team, he shared the mistake with his blog audience to explain what he did wrong and what he learned from the error. He's found his readers respond to this type of content, and he always makes sure his personal insights are transferable to business and offer some business-related takeaway for the reader.


RESULTS


o Before using analytics to drive content, Brown had around 4000 unique views per month at his personal blog, with about 500 subscribers
o Post analytics, the traffic has risen to around 30,000 unique views each month, and he now has 5,200 subscribers
o His blog posts get 40 comments each, on average
o His top post had 223 comments
o One post titled, "52 Cool Facts About Social Media" (see creative sample #1) created in response to search analytics received 153 comments, 2,200 reTweets, 895 Facebook shares and 28 StumbleUpon shares

Useful links related to this article

Creative Samples:
1. "52 Cool Facts About Social Media"
2. Blog post analytics
3. Blog dashboard
4. Post rankings
5. Readership analytics
6. Blog dashboard graph

Bonsai Interactive Marketing

Brown's personal blog, DannyBrown.me

Lijit

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