Make Your Content Work Smarter, Not Harder

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Article ImageIf "knowledge is power," as the saying goes, then content analytics is a game-changer for any digital publisher concerned with harnessing the power of content. Today, content providers know more about their audiences than ever before. All the data in the world isn't worth much unless you know how to make sense of it and, more importantly, can put a plan into action that capitalizes on what you know.

"The more you know about how, and by whom, your content is being used the better results you can expect to get from each individual asset as well as from your website as a whole," says Eric Darbe, director of marketing for Sitefinity, an online business platform that "empowers businesses to deliver personalized, responsive web experiences.

What Is Content Analytics, and Why Do You Need It?

If you have been providing digital content for a while, you have more than likely come across analytics in one way or another. But the landscape is changing all the time. At its core, the term "content analytics" is a broad one that can be used to refer to a variety of operations, including web analytics, content assessment, metadata tagging, social media monitoring, sentiment analysis, and text analytics, according to the CMSWire.com article, "Content Analytics: The Next Big Thing in ECM?"

Fiona McNeill, global product marketing manager for SAS Text Analytics, explains: "Content analytics is using the power of analysis to improve content consumption and relevancy."

"It involves a number of different capabilities or a number of different aspects to the content, including things like creating the content, ensuring the content is contextually aware, creating relationships across the content," adds McNeill. "And really creating greater engagement-how to understand the audience that's consuming the content."

Cruce Saunders, CEO of Simple A, LLC - an Austin, Texas-based firm that provides strategy, web development, infrastructure, and copywriting services-notes that content analytics "is about getting the best outcome for our investment in content assets. It's about getting the best return on our owned media."

He adds, "Publishers who are employing content analytics are going to get more for their dollar and get further than those not doing it. Marketers who are not using content analytics will get left behind in the race for relevance."

Publishers can use analytics in a variety of ways to gain more insight into the needs and behaviors of their audience, according to Brendan Cournoyer, content marketing manager for Waltham, Mass.-based Brainshark. "Simple analytics like website traffic reports or newsletter click-through rates can clue companies in on which specific content items and topics are resonating most," he notes. "Numbers like these can also be integrated with marketing automation data to discover not only what the most popular content is, but who specifically is viewing it."

Other types of analytics take things even further, he adds. "For example, video analytics for content used for both inbound and direct marketing campaigns can go beyond simple viewing statistics to shed light on how people are actually engaging with your content," adds Cournoyer. "With these reports, it's possible to not only see who viewed a video, but also which parts of the video they watched, how long they watched for, and in some cases, whether that content was shared with others within a company."

Analytics: Turning Content Into Cash

Irina Guseva, senior analyst at Real Story Group, an Olney, Md.-based company that provides technology research and strategic advisory services, notes that content analytics can not only inform publishers about their audience but, of course, can also help them make more money.

"In the end, it's all about money," she observes. "If you have lots of content and people are reading that content, unless you have some sort of analytics, you will not be able to figure out what content is being read more often than the other content. If you don't know that, it's a chain reaction and you will not be able to optimize your content.

"If I'm a newspaper publisher and I don't know that my readers only want to know about the royal pregnancy topic, then I will not be able to provide them more information and pick up different angles of the story," she explains.

There's more to analysis than just knowing who is reading what. There's also sentiment analysis. "From the perspective of sentiment analysis, people can tweet about you and they can Facebook about you, but it's a very complex area to analyze," she says. The reason? Context.

"Let's say I tweet something and have the word ‘pain' in it; ‘I'm in pain' or ‘I'm not in pain because Advil helped me.' Those are two different sentiments; one is positive and one is negative," she says.

"If I'm a company that produces Advil, it's good for me to have a tweet that has ‘no pain' in it because then the product is working well," adds Guseva. "Whereas if you're an airline and there's ‘pain' in the context of those tweets, you would analyze it differently."

Companies don't have to tackle sentiment analysis on their own, though. Tools such as Sentiment140, allow users to "[d]iscover the Twitter sentiment" and search for keywords that have been recently tweeted, as well as products or brands. It then provides a breakdown-in the form of a pie chart and bar graph-regarding the percentages of negative and positive tweets.

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