Expand, Track, and Analyze
You’ve scoured the web looking for digital and in-person partnerships and networking opportunities. You’ve planted the seed for creating quality content that really showcases how awesome your brand is. Now it’s time to make sure you’re covering all of your bases by expanding your strategy and tapping into the incredible power of content analytics.
Adopting a multi-channel strategy can be a critical way for you create a smooth and dynamic experience for your visitors. Research shows that buying behaviors are incorporating a number of different channels, like scoping out a product in-store, doing lunchtime online research via search engines and social media, and ultimately buying a similar item a week later from their iPhone while lying in bed.
And to make the most of your multi-channel strategy, as well as all of the other strategies we’ve discussed so far, you’ll need to get familiar with your performance data. Content analysis is essential if you want to drive traffic to your store effectively, as it can inform your marketing strategies and tell you what’s working and what isn’t.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have some pretty impressive built-in content analysis functionality. Social media analytics tools show you things like demographic data of your followers and which of your posts have gotten the most activity. There are also some great third-party tools that compile more extensive data, or help you crunch the numbers in more meaningful ways.
Then there’s the mother of free content analysis tools: Google Analytics. It allows you to drill down into hyper-specific information – even which browser or OS your desktop and mobile visitors came from.
In this chapter, we’ll discuss the key tenets of a multi-channel strategy, along with how to use content analysis tools, social media analytics and Google Analytics to track and optimize your performance.
5.1 Adopt a Multi-Channel Strategy
Some people might come across your content in a guest post, while others might read your product description on social media. Visually impaired people might have access to your content through your podcast. When you are a huge producer of content and your target audience lies beyond Facebook, you have unique problems that other store owners might not understand.
Incredibly, a multi-channel content strategy is an effective solution to the problem. One master plan can encompass all areas of your store’s online presence, including blog content, guest posts on other websites, social media postings, and more.
Leaving paid channels out, you can develop a smart, integrated content strategy for all other channels. Here’s how to do that:
Create Audience Personas
Before posting content you must have a clear understanding of the types of customers your brand deals with and the behaviors of key segments you aim to target. In the ecommerce universe, personas refer to fictional characters developed to represent the different types of people that might visit your website.
In most cases, they’re synthesized from answers collected from surveys. For instance, a merchant can send out an email survey that questions subscribers on their browsing habits, device usage, attitude, etc. If you have an already established ecommerce store, there are content analysis tools you likely already have in place that can help you gain a better understanding of your potential and current visitors.
Content analysis tools can help you gather insights on your potential customers. Some examples of tools include Google Analytics Audience Reports, if you have Google Analytics set up for your website, as well as Facebook Insights, which as some robust information on psychographics of your target audience.
Conduct a Content Audit
Your content analysis should include auditing your content to see how it’s performing. This step addresses all the free marketing channels. This is the point where you use all details from your persona to conduct a content audit of your current situation. A content audit could help you determine where you can make the most impact with content marketing.
The idea is to map out what assets need to be created from scratch and what you need to effectively repurpose your story to distribute on other channels. Ask yourself:
- What platform do I have to create and distribute our story (e.g. blog, Facebook page, etc.)?
- What changes do I need to make in order to repurpose this story (e.g. do I need to shorten down a blog post in order to post in on Facebook)?
- What can I do to speed up the process? (e.g. do I need to hire freelance writers, social media curators, etc.)?
Out of this content audit will come some prioritization, and more tactical things needed to execute a multi-channel content strategy.
Set Up a Content Calendar
For better or worse, multi-channel content marketing works successfully when it’s a bespoke affair, carefully planned to deliver tangible business results and custom-built to captivate your audience over the long term. But just because the content process is a little fragmented doesn’t mean there aren’t a few tried-and-tested solutions you can use to keep your content marketing engine running at peak performance.
And for ecommerce companies, there’s no better structural hub than a well-organized content calendar. When your content strategy is laid out on one calendar, it becomes easier to focus on deadlines, keep yourself organized, and be more productive. Planning ahead can also result in higher quality content by providing you with ample time for research and publishing.
Assuming you see the logic of setting up a content calendar, the next step is to determine what information you want to track.
For instance, alongside the publication date you might want to include:
- Headline or title of the content piece
- Author name
- Status of the content asset (i.e. in draft, submitted, under review, etc.)
- Content format (is it a blog post? A social media update? A video?)
- Target audience
- Distribution channels (email, social, etc.)
- Expected progress against KPIs
We advise only using categories that are absolutely necessary and removing any extra fields. If the spreadsheet you use for the content calendar is too cluttered or large, it could deter you from using it.
Additionally, there are plenty of free calendar templates out there. We’ve listed a few handy ones below.
CMI or Content Marketing Institute offers a content calendar that consists of four worksheets: a highlight of important dates, description of a specific blog posts, content type and another for listing additional content types. The layout is pretty simple but you can customize it to include any additional field that’s relevant to your content marketing goals.
The second useful content calendar is a social media content calendar from Hootsuite. This should cover all of the social media communication you’ll use to promote your posts, organized by time and date. It will solve some of the biggest problems that ecommerce marketers face – ignoring certain channels, missing important events, and breaks in publishing. While social media engagement can’t be planned in advance, social media publishing can be, which is where this calendar is a blessing in disguise.
This is a robust calendar that not only tracks pieces of content week after week, but also provides spaces for downloadable assets and brainstorming. Therefore, it’s intended to be the single source of truth for all your marketing and publishing activities. There’s even a field for establishing your blogging schedule, which could change during certain times of the year, such as during the holiday season.Quick Tip: Be coherent across your content distribution channels; aim for a consistent look, feel and tone of voice. Implement it through when you’re engaging with users on a one-to-one basis. Adapting to the platforms you use to get your messaging across is important, however, so is maintaining a consistent brand identity.
Looking back at the channels listed in your content calendar, certainly not every channel will reach every persona. So for every channel being considered, you need to identify which personas will be served.
Once you’ve listed your target channels on the calendar, look at it holistically. Perform a content analysis and adjust your strategy if needed. You may find that you have listed channels that fail to reach your most critical personas. Or, you may find that you’re attempting to address too many personas through a single channel – and it seems wise to split them. For instance, Target has multiple Twitter accounts used for general news, style updates and discounts.
Use a Dashboard to Coordinate Efforts
Tools such as Sendible and Hootsuite allow users to monitor multiple channels and engage with audiences through a single interface. Not only does this result in time saving, it also helps keep things organized and track conversions. These tools often also have built-in social media analytics tools.
Increasingly, ecommerce brands are also looking to integrate distribution channels into CRM systems and this is particularly important for companies offering customer service. Instead of having to start the conversation again every time a visitor uses a new channel, the process can be much more efficient when the conversation history is available.
Measure Your Results
After setting up your multi-channel content strategy, it’s time to do some content analysis. Review your data to identify which channels are performing better and which could use more focus. This will help allocate time and resources more efficiently for the next campaign. Although it can be challenging to measure the effectiveness of your campaign will full precision, analytics do a pretty good job at providing deep insight on campaign performance. The next sections explain how a content analysis can help optimize your content strategy.
5.2 Use Social Media Analytics
Social media can be an effective channel for driving free traffic to your ecommerce store, but it requires more than just regular posting. Many inexperienced owners focus all their time on creating large amounts of content and distributing it to their audience, without taking the time to properly analyze how the content is performing.
One of the best things about using social media for marketing is that it’s easy to track a variety of metrics that show how content is being consumed by your audience. Many platforms have a number of content analysis and social media analytics tools. Analyzing these insights allows you to do three important things:
- See which content is working (and which isn’t). These social media tools can go a long way in helping you perform a qualitative content analysis. You may notice that people are engaging with your content by giving it likes or shares, but what does this really mean? Does this engagement result in more visitors to your site? Is your video content performing better than other kinds of content? Does the time of day you post content affect user engagement? Are you reaching the right audience, or are all your likes coming from people who are not part of your customer base? Social media analytics tools can help you answer these questions.
- Compare how each social media platform is performing. Every social media platform works differently. Twitter is good for short, text-based content, while Instagram focuses mainly on visual content. Pinterest has an audience which is predominantly female, while LinkedIn has a professional audience which is mostly over 35 years old. What this means is that different kinds of content will work better on certain platforms. Social media analytics helps you compare results across platforms. This will help you discover the best combination of content and platform for engaging your audience and driving them to your store.
- Help you better allocate your time spent using social media. Social media analytics tools can help you decide where you should be focusing your time and effort. For example, if you’re spending four hours a week on Facebook and LinkedIn, yet most of your referral traffic is coming from Facebook, you’ll need to rethink your LinkedIn marketing strategy. If you think LinkedIn still has potential for your business, it might be beneficial to spend some extra time working on your LinkedIn engagement. On the other hand, you might decide it’s more beneficial to stop working on LinkedIn and focus all your time on Facebook.
How To Monitor Social Media Metrics
Each social media platform comes with a built-in content analysis system that lets you monitor metrics for free. Many of the metrics are common to most platforms, such as likes and visits. Metrics can be divided into two categories – post-level metrics (the data from each individual post) and page-level metrics (the overall data from your social media account).
Let’s take a look at how to monitor metrics on three platforms – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
You can use Facebook Insights to find metrics for your Facebook page. To access Insights, click on the Insights tab on your business page.
On the Overview page, you can see basic metrics such as Page Views, Page Likes and Reach. You can also export your data to an Excel or .csv file to make viewing easier. Under the Overview tab in the menu, you can select other pages such as Posts or Events for more detailed information.
Here are some post-level metrics you should focus on:
- Likes: Likes are the easiest way for your audience to engage with your content. Likes are a sign that your content is working, but they’re not as important as comments.
- Comments: Positive comments are a good sign, indicating that people like your content enough to take the time to write about it. You want to try to avoid negative comments, although negative comments can be useful for discovering things to improve.
- Referral Traffic: This is the most important metric for ecommerce store owners. You want to drive your social media audience to your store, so it’s important to focus on content that is good for referrals.
- Shares: Shares are important for reaching a new audience. If you can get your own audience to share your content with their friends and family, it can be a fantastic source of free traffic.
Here are some page-level metrics you should focus on:
- Page Views: The more people who are visiting your page, the more exposure for your business. However, you want to make sure you keep visitors on your page.
- Engagement Rate: This is a better metric for seeing how you’re performing overall. This metric compares the number of people who view your content with the number of people who like, share or comment on your content. A higher number means people like what you’re posting.
- Video Metrics: Videos are a popular kind of content, but it’s important to see whether people are watching your videos to the end, or just for a few seconds.
- Page Fan Growth: The more fans you have, the healthier your business will appear to others.
On the Analytics Home Page, you can see a summary of your Twitter activity from the last 28 days. If you click on the Tweets tab, you can see engagement data for each individual tweet. If you click on the Audience tab, you can see useful information about your audience such as interests, income and buying habits.
Here are some post-level metrics you should focus on:
- Tweet Engagement: This metric shows how many people are seeing your content. This can be a little deceptive – you want this to be high, but you also want to make sure people are engaging with your posts.
- Retweets: This shows how well your tweets are performing. The more your tweets are shared, the more chance they will go viral.
- Tweet Likes: Likes mean that people are enjoying your content. The more likes, the better.
- Replies: Many people use Twitter because retweeting is fast and easy. If you’re getting replies, it’s a sign that your content is worth talking about.
- Referral Traffic: As with Facebook, this is an important metric as you want to drive people to your store.
- Tweets Linking To You: This is a really positive metric, as a high number means lots of people are talking about your business.
Here are some page-level metrics you should focus on:
- Follower Growth: You want as many followers as possible, but you want to make sure they are quality customers. People who are not really interested in your brand will never become customers of your store.
- Profile Visits: This is a good metric as it indicates people are interested enough in your content to seek out more information about your business.
You can use LinkedIn Analytics to find metrics for your LinkedIn page. To access LinkedIn Analytics, click on the Me icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage. Below Manage, select your company page and click the Analytics tab. On this page, you can see important reach and engagement data. Under the Analytics tab, you can also choose Visitors, Updates or Followers for more detailed information.
Here are some post-level metrics you should focus on:
- Impressions: This is a good guide for how many people are seeing your content, but it’s not as important as engagement metrics.
- Interactions: Just like Facebook and Twitter, interactions suggest that people are interested in your content and your brand. Even if they’re not ready to visit your store, interactions are a guide that they are warming to you.
- Clicks: This is more important, as more clicks mean more engagement (and hopefully more people purchasing your products).
Here are some page-level metrics you should focus on:
- Engagement Rate: This is a very important metric as it gives you a good idea of how your audience perceives your content. A good engagement rate suggests that your content is valuable to them.
- Reach: You want your content to be viewed and shared. This metric shows how many people are being exposed to your content in their feed.
- Page Views: High page views mean that people are interested in your business. They’ve read your content and are intrigued enough to view your page.
- Visitor Demographics: Most people on LinkedIn are professionals, but it’s still important to make sure your content is being viewed by the right people. For example, if your content is aimed at women, you want your demographics to be predominantly women.
Tools for Monitoring Instagram & Snapchat Metrics
On Instagram, only those who’ve created a business account can access the analytics feature. Hence, store owners who are using their personal profile for selling or promoting their products and services need to bring in at least one or two tools to access everything. For Snapchat, a third-party analytics tool is a necessity as there’s no built-in analytics feature available. With that in mind, here are some useful tools for monitoring Instagram & Snapchat analytics.
Union Metrics does a free Instagram account checkup to evaluate your performance. Though the report isn’t as comprehensive as others, it provides handy nuggets of data for Instagram account owners. It lets you determine which hashtags to place in your posts, what type of content to post less or more of, and the best time to post. In addition, it gives you high level summary of your top followers and reminds you to interact with them.
Snaplytics is the market leader for Snapchat analytics. It allows users to track key metrics including views, open rates, completion rate, and average number of screenshots per Snapchat story. Other tidbits offered by the app include competitive benchmarking and the source through which followers stumbled upon a company’s Snapchat account.Quick Tip: Get in the habit of pulling your reports monthly and making comparisons to previous months, even if you’re not convinced that there’s much to see. Consistent social media monitoring can help you catch any spikes or interesting findings while they’re happening as opposed to in hindsight.
What To Do With Your Data
The first thing you should do is bring all your content analysis data together. You can do this by importing all the important metrics into an Excel spreadsheet.
Alternately, you can use a third party app which will compile data from all your social media platforms. Buffer, Cyfe, and Quintly all have free plans that let you see major engagement stats for all your updates.
Once you’ve compiled your data, you need to set a performance baseline for each metric on each channel. To do this, you’ll need to take data from an extended period of time (three months is usually enough) and find the average performance of each metric.
As you add more content, you can perform a qualitative content analysis to see how it performs compared to your baseline. If your content consistently performs under your baseline, you know you need to change what you’re doing. If your content performs above the baseline, it’s a sign that your content is working effectively.
5.3 Install Google Analytics on Your Website
We’ve spent this entire ebook talking about driving traffic to your store, but it’s critical that you’re also tracking your efforts to see what’s working and what isn’t.
Google Analytics is a life-saver when it comes to qualitative content analysis research. It offers some comprehensive reporting options so that you can really drill down into your data and turn a bunch of numbers into meaningful, actionable conclusions.
In this section, we’ll discuss how you can use Analytics to perform a content analysis and tweak your strategies, as well as how to install Analytics onto your ecommerce store.
How Analytics Helps Drive Traffic
The main way you can use your content analysis data to drive traffic is to look at the results from specific strategies you’ve implemented or channels you’re using. If the strategy is resulting in sales and you’re getting a strong ROI for your efforts, you know to double-down. If it isn’t bringing you enough results to justify the amount of effort or money you’re investing, you know to adjust or ditch it.
Your analytics data can help answer questions like:
- Where are my visitors coming from?
- Of these visitors, how many are converting to sales?
- Which strategies and channels have the highest conversion rates?
- Which strategies and channels bring the highest revenue? The highest order values?
- Which are my top landing pages? My top exit pages?
How to Install
- Sign Up for Google Analytics
Go to www.google.com/analytics and click ‘Sign In’ → ‘Analytics’ from the top right dropdown menu. If you already have a Google Account and you’d like to connect it to your Analytics account, use it to sign in. If you don’t already have an account, now’s the time. Click ‘More options’ → ‘Create account’.
Choose an email address, fill out the form, and create your account. Then, return to the Analytics login page and log in.
On the next page, click ‘Sign up,’ then fill out the form on the next page:
- Select that you’d like to track your website. If you have a mobile app too, you can do this process again.
- Name your account, which will be the main account under which you can connect and track up to 100 properties, including other sites and your mobile app, if needed.
- Enter the site’s name, URL, industry category, and time zone.
- Select your preferred data sharing settings and click ‘Get Tracking ID’.
- Get Your Tracking Code
Now you’ll be taken to your Analytics dashboard. On this screen, you’ll see the Global Site Tag that you’ll need to paste into your website or ecommerce platform’s backend.
Quick Tip: Note the blue callout that says: “If you are using a 3rd party web hosting provider like WordPress, GoDaddy, or Wix, you will need to follow their instructions to set up Google Analytics on your website.” This also applies for specialized ecommerce platforms, as they typically have a simple setup process for Google Analytics.
- Enable Ecommerce
To enable ecommerce tracking functionality in your Analytics account, go to ‘Admin’ (the gear icon at the bottom of the navigation panel). Under the third column titled ‘View’, select ‘Ecommerce Settings’. Toggle the ‘1: Enable Ecommerce” button to ‘ON’. Then click ‘Next step’.
On the next screen, enable ‘2: Enhanced Ecommerce Settings’ by toggling that on too, and click ‘Submit’.
Now that your Analytics account is set to read incoming data, it’s time to tell your website to send that data to Analytics. This part takes place on the backend of your site or platform.
- Connect with Your Shopify Store
If you’re on Shopify, it’s easy to integrate Google Analytics into your site. Log in to your Shopify Admin account. In your navigation panel under ‘Sales Channels’, click ‘Online Store’ → ‘Preferences’.
Paste your Global Site Tag into the Google Analytics code box and click ‘Save’.
If You Don’t Have a Shopify Store
If you aren’t on a specialized ecommerce platform and there isn’t an extension or plugin for linking Analytics, consult your developer (or hire one for the job). This is because each transaction has a separate ID, which should update dynamically in the tracking code. The manual coding process can become a complex and confusing rabbit hole without the help of a professional, so it’s well worth the investment.Quick Tip: If your platform isn’t listed here, do a quick Google search for ‘set up google analytics ecommerce for [your platform]’ or contact the platform’s support team.
Navigating Your Analytics Account
Let’s break down the main tabs you’ll see in the navigation panel, the features of each, and how you can use apply this content analysis data to your business strategy development and analysis.
The templates for customized dashboards, reports, and alerts that you’ve created or added.
These can be an incredible time-saver, and there are some fantastic pre-built options out there that you just add to your account very easily. The Google Analytics Solutions Gallery has tons to choose from. Once you find one you like, importing it into your Analytics account takes just a few clicks.
Select the account and property you’d like to add it to and click ‘Create’.
This is how the All-in-One Ecommerce dashboard will appear when you click it from the Dashboards section:
Some other helpful ecommerce dashboards and reports include:
- Perfect Dashboard
- Email Dashboard
- Mobile Ecommerce Dashboard
- Customer Acquisition Report
- Referral Traffic Revenue Opportunities Report
- Performance by Time Report
A look at the activity on your website that’s happening right now.
You can use it to see how effective a current promotion, sale, or newly-released piece of content is performing, or see how your site performs at certain times of the day. A pretty cool feature, though it has a tendency to feed that little neurotic voice inside every entrepreneur. You know, the one that prefers to ditch your responsibilities and just spend the whole day watching the numbers fluctuate.
Who’s visiting your site, including demographics, interests, lifetime value, and even the browser and operating system they visited from.
When it comes to content analysis research, it’s important to look at who’s visiting your website and how they’re interacting with your content. You can see your new or returning visitors, bounce rates (number of visitors who left without visiting a second page), how often a visitor came to your site, how many pages they visited during each visit (called a ‘session’), and how much time they spent on each page.
How your visitors found your site, examining traffic sources like organic and paid traffic, referral traffic, social media, AdWords, and special campaigns.
This tab is important because it tells you how people found your website – meaning it can inform your content analysis research and marketing strategies. If you landed guest posts and podcast visits, or joined social media groups a forums, you can look at the ‘All Traffic’ → ‘Referrals’ section to see which of these sources generated traffic. You’ll also likely find some unexpected traffic sources that you may be able to capitalize on moving forward.
Information about your site and how visitors interact with it, like which pages they’re visiting and how they’re performing.
This data shows you similar information as Audience, except through the lens of page performance instead of what visitors are doing. For example, you can see which pages have the highest bounce rate, which can signal that it needs some work. It also shows the speed and load time of each page so you can improve pages that are suffering from these factors.
When it comes to content analysis, you don’t just want to see who’s on your site: you want to see whether their visits are turning into sales. This tab contains an ‘Ecommerce’ section, which is what you enabled during the setup process. The tab also shows results for special goals (like filling out a form) and funnels (a user process that involves multiple steps) that you’ve set up, as well as ecommerce data.
In the Ecommerce section, you can examine each of your products to see which ones are being bought, in what quantities, and how much revenue they’re bringing in. Under the ‘Transactions’ section, you’ll find transactional data like revenue, shipping, tax, and quantity information. This data can provide insights into strategies like quantity discounts and free shipping for minimum order values. In the ‘Time to purchase’ section, you can see how many days and sessions it takes to purchase items, starting from your most recent campaign through to the purchase.
If you’ve poked around in Analytics, you can see that there’s a virtually infinite amount of configurations and opportunities to get really, really deep into your qualitative content analysis research. So keep doing your research to expand your knowledge on how you can become an Analytics wizard and magically transform data into sales.
Chapter 5 Takeaways
Brainstorm and outline a plan for site promotion through one additional channel that you haven’t tapped into yet. Even if you’re still in the ‘theory’ stage of implementing the strategies we’ve discussed, you should have a good idea of which channel might benefit you based on the research you’ve done and what you can infer from your audience’s preferences and behaviors.
Eventually, you’ll want to master the multi-channel experience by delivering an intuitive and immersive experience for your shoppers – one that perfectly complements the way they want to purchase online.
Once you’ve stepped into the ‘action’ stage of creating this experience, prioritize content analysis. You can look to your social media analytics to confirm or disprove the theories you’ve put into place. Did your guest post from Chapter 2 bring in hundreds of new visits? See if you can write another one on that site, or one on a similar site. If it fizzed out after much ado, don’t sink any more time into that site and move onto a different strategy that worked.
If you haven’t already, I recommend that you drop everything and install Google Analytics on your site right now! Every passing minute is precious performance data that could go toward bringing more eyes and more dollars into your store.