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According to a recent article in The Atlantic, soon reporters at two of the country’s leading newspapers will have access to the most basic type of digital analytics: They will be able to see web-traffic data for their own stories. That is, they will at least know how many people clicked on them, where they came from, and how long they lingered.
The Washington Post—in a concession to its reporters’ union—told journalists they would soon have access to this data, which they had long demanded. It also recently emerged that The New York Times would follow suit.
The crux of the argument was that the inability to view data on pieces they had previously written, prevented journalists from tailoring future content based on empirical data about the types of content their audience wanted. In addition, some suspected that the performance of their pieces could contribute to their compensation, future promotions and other job advancement opportunities.
Knowing your audience is key when making content decisions. Data is available on just about every content publishing platform. Google Analytics will tell you how many people read it. Facebook can tell you how many people interacted with it. LinkedIn can also tell you what content is popular. Each type of content will perform differently on different platforms. Some blog articles may see better performance as a published article on LinkedIn, rather than on your website. Facebook is also opening up its platform to publishers. I suspect that they will follow LinkedIn’s lead and allow content providers to publish directly on Facebook, similar to its recent push to get video content published natively to Facebook, rather than on competing video platforms.
Businesses frequently make the mistake of pushing content to their audience that they want their audience to see -- rather than content that their audience wants to see. The data and performance of your content will provide valuable evidence on the actual content your readership wants. You may not like the answer. However, the alternative is to keep pushing the content you want them to read – you could then end up with nobody reading it. The whole idea behind content marketing is to gain an audience and keep their attention through engaging and educational content. Making mistakes such as blatant self-promotion and egocentric articles will probably hurt you more than it will help.
If you’re a content producer, take time to analyze the performance of your published pieces. Which articles are your readers responding to? Which content are they ignoring? If your goal is to increase your businesses’ exposure and connect with your audience, all of your content questions will be answered with such a content analysis. Don’t discount it, trust it. It’s telling you what types of content you should be writing. And you should be listening to it.
Yes, there’s a place for articles and announcements about your company’s products, services, new features or other company related news… but that place is not on your blog. Separate blog articles from news articles into their own dedicated areas on your website. People that come to your website to see what’s new with your company will naturally gravitate towards that area. If your news is buried amongst a bunch of blog articles, however, they may never read it. The opposite also holds true. Readers who are coming to find tips, topical or educational articles, won’t necessarily want to see news articles.
Use analytical data to tailor content to your audience and you will find that it is better received, that it produces better results and that it gets more exposure with your desired audience.