Author: Ahava Leibtag

Based in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Ahava Leibtag is a Web content strategist and writer. She leads AHA Media Group, a Web and content consulting firm, and authors the blog Online it ALL Matters. She thinks 60 words is way too few to communicate why she’s interesting. You can connect with Ahava on Twitter at @ahaval.

By ahava-leibtag published June 15, 2011

3 Ways to Test Effectiveness of Mobile Content

Mobile content is hot. There’s no denying it. Over the next 12 months, four out of five marketers intend to increase their mobile spending, according to the new “Mobile Marketing: Plans Trends and Measurability” study by King Fish Media. Just like other content marketing, mobile content should be findable, readable, understandable, actionable and shareable (See the Creating Valuable Content Checklist). So what do you need to know to make sure your mobile content is valuable and effective?

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By ahava-leibtag published April 6, 2011

Using the Valuable Content Checklist: A Step-by-Step Guide for Different Content Types

We are all looking for the silver bullet that will make our content sparkle. What if from the time of content creation we already had the benchmarks in place that we know forms valuable content?

Yesterday, I introduced the Creating Valuable Content Checklist, which I use to quantify what makes content valuable to our content consumers.  Today I’ll explain the steps in each of these benchmarks. Continue Reading

By ahava-leibtag published April 5, 2011

Creating Valuable Content: An Essential Checklist

valuable-content-checklist“Every day, there is more and more to manage and get right and learn.”

Who said that? It’s definitely someone in content marketing, web strategy or digital communications, right? Don’t we all feel that way? Every day our jobs are getting ahead of us, instead of us getting ahead of our jobs.Continue Reading

By ahava-leibtag published March 21, 2011

How to Develop Analytics Reports Your Team Will Want to Use

Do you want to use analytics more often to make decisions based on data instead of instinct? To do this, you not only need to have a good understanding of analytics, but you also need to present them to your team in a way that is useful to them.

Last week we looked at why analytics programs are important for helping teams make decisions based on real facts instead of hunches. Continue Reading

By ahava-leibtag published March 14, 2011

Getting Started with Analytics: How to Get Buy-in From Your Team

All too often, I’ll ask a client a question, and they’ll readily have an answer. But when I question the answer and ask for a source, they’ll tell me, “We just know.”

I don’t have to explain why this is SO wrong, and yet we all do it all the time. Instead of finding proof for our assumptions, we base many of our decisions on what we think we know. This is a terrible way to do business: It will negatively affect our decision-making. Backing up decisions with real data is critical in digital communications, where assumptions could translate into daily mistakes because of the speed at which our customers consume information.

Applying what we know to what we don’t know

How  can we fix this?  The answer is in our analytics.  The problems with analytics are most people don’t:

  1. Understand them
  2. Want to understand them
  3. Have the ability to translate what they really mean into facts that inform decision making

Important note: Understanding your analytics is only one pillar to informing your decisions.  But it’s a very important pillar, because if you DO make a change, you will be able to track if that change really makes a difference in user behavior patterns.  Scott Frangos just outlined a few other optimization tests you can run to get answers to your questions.

Pretend they are five: Workaround the analytics problem

If you want to get people in your organization using analytics instead of gut instincts to make decisions, you need to sell the importance of them and show people how to use them.

There’s a classic episode of The Office where the Scranton branch has a budget surplus they can use at their discretion. Oscar, the head of accounting, is trying to explain this concept to Michael Scott, the oh-so-clueless branch manager. Michael tells Oscar, “Pretend that I’m five.” Oscar, without missing a beat, says “Let’s say your parents give you money for a lemonade stand….”

While I trust your team is savvier than Michael, most people really don’t understand analytics and struggle with some of the most basic concepts such as, what’s the difference between a page view and a unique visit? How do you calculate a bounce rate?  What does it even mean?

Step #1: Ask what they need

People only care to learn about something if it will help them. So, start by asking your stakeholders what questions they:

  • Need to know
  • Want to know
  • Would help them make better decisions

It’s then your job to find the best metrics within your analytics to answer those questions.

Example:
Let’s say you are a wholesale online plumbing parts company, and a certain product line is being completely ignored. Your team knows these parts are superior to another product line you carry, and they want to push these superior parts. The team is exploring lowering the price, using customer testimonials and supplying extra content on this line of parts. They have questions such as these.

Question: How popular is our website? How popular are those products?
Metric: General traffic to those product pages (page views, unique visits)

Question: How are people finding out about our products online?
Metric: Search terms that help users land on those pages (keywords)

Question: What’s motivating people to buy? Are they reading the copy about the products?
Metric: User behavior on those pages (bounce rates, time spent on those pages, where users go next after those pages, shopping cart entries, etc.)

Once you answer these questions, more questions will inevitably arise such as:

  1. What is the traffic on the other product’s pages?
  2. Are those pages set up differently?
  3. Do we use other techniques beside written copy to drive business?
  4. What have we done in the past to highlight products?

Step #2: Train your team to understand the different parts of analytics

Once you know the questions your team has, you can start by providing them with answers with some basic analytics– in a very easy to understand format.

Try running a few workshops like “Understanding our analytics in 10 minutes.” There are three benefits to training your team to understand the terms around analytics and how powerful they can be, including:

  • Understanding how to get at the answers to their above questions
  • Finding answers to questions they didn’t even know they had
  • Setting their own goals to metrics found in analytics

How to Train
Most people will not admit they don’t really understand, so hammer the basics of analytics over and over.

 

I recommend using real-life analogies to illustrate concepts, such as:

 

  • Visit: When a user visited the site one time, like a shopper who walks into a store one time.
  • Page Views: When a person is reading a book and reads one page.
  • Bounce rates: When a person opens a book, reads one page, and closes the book.
  • Unique visitors: How many people came to the site—like visitors to a hotel. They don’t count the number of people through the door every day, but rather they count the number of rooms they sell to how many visitors, excluding those who visit more than once.
  • Pages/Visit: How many pages a person viewed/read spent during one visit to the site.
  • New Visit: What percentage (number out of 100) came to the site for the first time. This could be compared to season ticket holders versus those who come just for one game.
  • Traffic sources: Where your users came from. This is similar to media tracking—did they find you on TV, the radio, from a print ad? Your analytics can tell you if they came from other referring sites (sites with links to your sites), from paid keyword ads and from organic searches.
  • Keywords: Which words they used and clicked on to find your site.

Once your team understands these concepts and ties them into key questions, they can start making decisions about how to push the superior plumbing products. For instance, if they know visitors come from search engines with certain keywords that the other product line is using in their descriptions, they can change the content accordingly.  If they know the home page or landing pages get a lot of traffic, they can move those products up higher on those pages.

Next week, we’ll look at three more steps you can implement to achieve a strong analytics program.

Do you use analytics in your organization? Do you find some of the same challenges we discussed above? Or are you experiencing something quite different? Please share them, along with your favorite episode of The Office.

By ahava-leibtag published February 21, 2011

Creating Great Content: 7 Steps to Keep Your Team on Track

So much has been written about content creation, and it’s easy to get excited about the possibilities. However, have you ever noticed that everyone is gung-ho when the project starts, but things fall apart months later? Do you find yourself asking the following questions:

  • Why is there always a content bottleneck, either in creation or in editing?
  • Why do the developers always seem to need to know so much more than the writer hands off to them?
  • Why do executives look at the work of many months and many people and say, “Nah, this isn’t really what we had in mind”?
  • Why does content creation seem to be such a beast?Continue Reading
By ahava-leibtag published February 8, 2011

Using Usability Testing to Resolve Internal Debates

How many of you saw Toy Story 3 this summer?  I know it had to be some of you because the movie grossed  $415.0 million in the U.S. and just made history as only the third animated movie to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.

In Toy Story 3, Andy boxes his toys up in preparation for going to college, and he intends to put them in the attic.  Instead, the toys mistakenly end up at a daycare center—and the toys think Andy has willingly sent them there.  The toys have to decide: work to get back to Andy or stay at the daycare center and accept that Andy may have given them away.Continue Reading

By ahava-leibtag published January 24, 2011

Why Traditional Content Audits Aren’t Enough

I had the strangest thing happen to me last week.  I was talking to the lead on a big website project, and I asked him, “So what types of content do you plan to include?”  He told me, “Written, video, message boards, podcasting and downloadable documents.”

However, when he sent me the design specs for the site, there was absolutely no room on the page for video. When I pressed him on this issue, he responded, “We’ll worry about that later.”

Huh?Continue Reading

By ahava-leibtag published January 10, 2011

5 Ideas to Help Communications Teams Prioritize Marketing Activities

The weeks before and after New Year’s were extremely difficult, and I feel as though I have been moving in crisis mode the entire time.  I made the rookie mistake of thinking the holiday season would be quiet and afford me catch-up time.  Instead, my email set the priorities as clients had last-minute, before-the-end-of-the-year requests.  Plus, as usual, I had added too much to my to-do list, and my kids were home from school.

While it could have been a complete disaster, what happened to my professional work was instead extraordinary—I actually was able to look at each list, each client request, the different pulls on my time, and decide on a priority for each.  In those two weeks, I understood why the same Chinese character is used to represent both crisis and opportunity.  While prioritization has been challenging for me, when forced to do it, I did–with satisfying and positive results.Continue Reading

By ahava-leibtag published December 13, 2010

Five Personality Types You Need on Your Digital Communications Team

There is a lot of great conversation around building a great digital communications team.  Most of the conversation centers around the types of professionals you should hire, grow and promote.  But, what if your budget is small? Or, what if you outsourced certain functions, so your core team can focus on strategy?  What should your team look like then?Continue Reading