Why You Need to Go Beyond the Numbers
It’s easy, and often necessary as a content creator, to get into a groove with analytics. You might look at your traffic daily or weekly, note what did the best, and work to repeat that success in the coming month.
That is great.
But, it’s not enough, not if you really want to grow by adding value for your readers. It’s time to go deeper. It’s time to consider the numbers, and then analyze the content itself. Here’s how:
1. Find a Win that Matters
Choose a successful page on your site that is directly related to a goal you have. I highly suggest that this goal has a monetary outcome. Some examples:
• An article that led to the highest number of email signups all year: Emails that you will then market your book to, for instance.
• A gallery that attracted the most organic traffic all year: Traffic that you can monetize with a banner ad.
• A series that multiple advertisers sponsored or wanted to sponsor.
This helps you focus, and cut out the noise, for now.
If you follow these rules, you might be ignoring the article that got the highest amount of Facebook shares, most comments, or did the best in paid marketing channels like Taboola.
That’s okay, and it’s actually the point. You’re doing deep work, on one thing at a time.
2. Analyze Your Win
Take these steps to understand why your content worked.
• This may seem painfully obvious, but read the content closely, in the shoes of the user. It’s tempting not to do this much, because we often assume that our numbers tell the whole story, and leave it at that. Reading what you wrote can also seem like a waste of time. But try it. Just re-reading your own work once you know the numbers, can be a goldmine of information.
• Read any comments to this item, on site or on social. If you don’t have any comments, or glean any insights right away, share it and invite them! Email it around to your mom, or your network, and ask for feedback. Subject matter experts often shy away from this sort of reflective exercise because it seems like a show of weakness. It’s not! If nothing else, you’re just re-marketing a piece of content that has already worked for you!
3. Create Spinoff Content from Your Win
Make your new content even better and more useful than the original. Here’s how:
• Apply your learnings from Step 2. For instance, if you wrote about “Training Your Dog to Walk Politely” and got multiple comments about what specific kinds of training treats were used, make the spinoff content a roundup of the best training treats.
• Take your expertise further. If you tested your approach in the first post, go even further in the second. Test the treats on your own pack, but also get the opinions of multiple experts. Make the article as informative and easy-to-apply for as many readers as possible. Be painfully detailed.
• Don’t forget to link to your spinoff content from the original, and vice versa, and ask any experts you quoted to share the final piece.
Follow these small steps through all of your Wins, and you’ll have a content system that can’t lose.
Wendy Toth is Director of Content for PetSmart’s lifestyle websites, petMD and PawCulture. She has written for The New York Times, Parents Magazine, Weight Watchers Magazine, NBC, and more. You can find her on her style blog for overachievers, Power Suiting.