Quantitative Content

Day Three: It’s our last day of Confab, and I’ve been learning more about the quantitative side of content. Today’s lessons include selling the value of content strategy, how to use site analytics to diagnose UX problems, and how to optimize SEO… all without forgetting about the human factor!

Let’s get right down to the takeaways.

Sell the Value of Content Strategy

Everything is worth what the purchaser will pay for it.
–Publilius Syrus (1st Century BCE)

Content strategy is a tough sell in many organizations. Since content encompasses all of the copy, design, and other things a client is already planning to put on their site or application, why should they pay you to do it?

Why pay you? Because they are getting a service that produces tangible results. Content Strategy is a service (not a product), so do the legwork to show the benefits to prospective clients and doubters:

  1. Estimate probable results of the strategy for your client. Here’s a good example:
    Category Value How to calculate
    Expected gain $400,000 Estimate the cost of time saved (both internally and externally) + the increase in sales.
    Maximum loss $5,000 Amount paid to the content strategist (your rate or costs).
    Chance of success 70% Review the sucess (in numbers) of previous work and use that as a baseline; the factor in your gut feeling and understanding.
    Final Expected ROI $245,000 (Expected gain – Maximum loss) × chance of success
  2. Discuss the details of what the client is paying for. This should include any content you are actually writing, designing, or filming, as well as efficiency tools you are creating, such as style guides or templates
  3. Provide sample work and case studies. An ad is always a good sample of content strategy! It demonstrates your ability to create compelling content. Having a case study proving your past success makes the investment in your services seem less risky.
  4. Share some examples of successful strategies. Burger King (PDF) and Hewlett Packard have written about how their content strategies have increased their profits and these examples can bolster your credibility.

Whichever of these you use (or if you have other tactics), the goal is to help your clients understand your value and trust you.

Learn to Read the Analytics

Keyword research helps us reduce jargon and improve
customer delight.
– Lou Rosenfeld

Analytical data is great at telling us what people are searching for, but not so great at telling us why! Context is needed to help us learn more. Here are a few of the tips Lou Rosenfeld gave us today to structure and contextualize to our analytics:

  • Create groupings for the content types that appear in your search logs. For example, “mail,” “email,” and “contact” can all be grouped into “Contact Info,” whereas “News” “August Conference” and “Next Event” can be grouped as “Upcoming Events.”
  • Develop contextual navigation by looking at what queries originate from a given page.
  • Create content models (or templates) for your  pages, based on the content type and contextual navigation the users are asking for. Tip: User Research will help you create the best content models!
  • Identify failing content by looking for pages where the highest number of search queries originate.

By implementing these tips, your analytics will start to have meaning beyond the generic statistics of a basic setup, and you can make informed changes to improve your site.

Get the Most Out of Your SEO

All you have to do for SEO is be relevant, findable, and authoritative.
Easier said than done.
– Melanie Phung

SEO is frequently misunderstood as being “content for machines.” In reality, good SEO is about making machines understand your content, so that it can get to the users who need it. Here are Melanie Phung’s top four tools for teaching machines how to read your content correctly:

  1. Relevance: To make things relevant, create a checklist of items that are relevant. But don’t stop here; relevancy alone isn’t enough!
  2. Consistency: To maintain consistency across tags, exert control at a systematic level when possible (for things such as title tags).
  3. Sharing (with credit): Encourage users to share your content and give credit; this increases the inbound links and the social media shares, which Google notes.
  4. Google Adwords: Use Google AdWords Keyword tool to learn what people are searching for, and incorporate relevant terms into your content. Tip: highlight the key terms, print out the Google AdWords page, and hang it on the wall as a reminder to the whole office of the high priority keywords!

Use these tools together to make the most of your SEO, and get your content to the users who are searching for it.

Confab on a whole has been so filled with so many incredible takeaways. I hope you find these select few as valuable as I have. And a special thanks to today’s amazing presenters, chiefly Ann Rockley, Melissa Rach, Lou Rosenfeld, and Melanie Phung!