Posts tagged "web engagement"

Content Strategy for Improving Value of Your CMS

Defining a Content Strategy

If you consider content as a form of communication — and that's exactly what it is — then a content strategy makes clear which content has to be communicated at a certain moment with a specific persona.

Bob Boiko — author of 'The Content Management Bible' and 'Laughing at the CIO' — taught me the 'golden formula' of a content strategy:

‘By exchanging [ content ] with [ target group ] we reach [ goal or business driver ], because [ personal motivation ].’

All the 'blanks' in this formula must be as specific as possible. So:

  • 'Content' shouldn't be ‘information about the product’, but ‘monthly savings in energy costs’.
  • The target group is not ‘the customer’, but for example ‘a young single mother with an average income’.
  • A business driver could be ‘an increase of contract renewals by 12 percent‘. This leads to the goal of 'making profit'.

The 'personal motivation' cannot be missed in a content strategy. What is (in) the interest of your persona? In other words: concentrate on the 'What's in it for me?'. Put yourself in your persona's shoes and discover what her personal motivation is.

From Tactics to Communication Means

Another important part of your content strategy are the tactics. How are you going to make sure this young mother reads about these monthly energy savings? What is the best moment to share this information? Who will she trust and would giving her the opportunity to share her experiences with others make her more receptive to the message?

Once you have defined strong tactics, you can concentrate on the communication means. Ask yourself if a website is the single possible option. Perhaps your persona is more likely to talk about cost savings in some social network. But is she on Facebook or another network? Does she chat within this social network using her computer or her mobile phone? Most of the time your content strategy uses a mix of communications means. Find your balance.

Make it Measurable

Talking about balance: it is essential to measure the success of your content strategy. Make your business drivers measurable using key performance indicators (KPI's). Decide in advance which instruments you will use to measure the effect. Perform baseline research, measure again after executing the strategy. Analyze the results and decide if the content strategy actually helped you reach your goals. Use your analysis to improve your strategy or the quality of your communications mix.

Be warned. Don't start with too many strategies at the same time. A full content strategy can take a lot of time and resources, especially since you have to monitor and measure each content strategy very carefully. You don't want to stop performing and measuring a strategy halfway because it was too much to handle. The average organization can deal with a maximum of seven strategies in one year, so make your choice!

Tools, No Fools

Talking about making choices: without a content strategy, selecting a content management tool (for WCM, search, ECM, social media, analytics or any other content discipline) makes no sense at all. Every single content strategy leads to specific 'requirements' the tool has to cover. Once these are clear, you can start selecting a tool. And no time sooner than that!

By the way, a Web CMS, analytics tool or social media tool can help you measure the effect of your content strategy. Take this into account when selecting and implementing your tools.

The Importance of a Content Strategy

In my opinion everything in your content organization — the content management, the content governance, the content tooling, you name it — should be based on a content strategy. Why? Well, because your content strategy is a translation of your business goals and business processes. They are literally the 'raison d'être' of your organization.

It's not a coincidence that I put the business process in the center of the content management lifecycle. Everything in this lifecycle — from planning to evaluating content — has a direct link with the business process. If what you do in your content management lifecycle has no alignment with a business process, stop doing it!

I think most of us have felt the recent financial crisis. We must all realize the times are behind us when we received budgets for our web projects without much trouble. I would say this is a blessing in disguise, really. Because now we have to prove our added value. With a successful content strategy. Management of any organization is always willing to invest in successful business opportunities. Prove that your content strategy will make your organization reach its goals and get yourself a listening ear from your management.

The Fun Part

What I learned over the years is that defining content strategies as a team is a lot of fun. In the beginning the effort seems hard. Sometimes people resist against 'yet another mission vision session'. But by using the 'golden content strategy formula' that Bob Boiko taught me, I saw a change in people's attitude. They felt empowered by it, and they soon realized that they were in charge of the content management business after all. Seeing a change like that has given me a lot of joy in what I do.

There's more to say about the Planning phase in the content management lifecycle: information architecture, interaction design are only two of them. I will go deeper into these issues in my next article. That is, if you like what I wrote so far. Please send me your comments and your own opinions about content strategy. I'd like to share and learn.

CM Lifecycle Poster

You can download the CM Lifecycle Poster at www.hartmangids.nl/downloads
http://www.hartmangids.nl/wp-content/uploads/CM-Lifecycle_A4-EN.pdf (A4 format poster)
http://www.hartmangids.nl/wp-content/uploads/CM-Lifecycle_A3-EN.pdf (A3 format poster)

Your Homework Starts Now

DO try this at home today!

Follow these steps to a successful content strategy:

  1. Organize a session with your project team and stakeholders.
  2. Define some content strategies in 3 or 4 groups.
  3. Let each group present its content strategy.
  4. Finalize the best content strategies.
  5. Communicate plan and realize these content strategies.
  6. Measure the results and communicate them within the organization
  7. Tweak your existing content strategies or define new strategies.

About the Author

Erik M. Hartman (www.erikhartmancommunicatie.nl/english) consults, presents and publishes about content management strategy and tools. With The Information Management Foundation (www.timaf.org) he created an initiative with other information management practitioners to provide a strong and clear foundation of information management.

Webtrends Analytics 10: Analytics for Mobile, Social and Web

The Future of Social Media Marketing is Here

A number of organizations today struggle with the division of expertise over digital channels, web analytics included. These solutions work, but require a lot meetings and charts and graphs. Webtrends Analytics 10 aims to do away with all of that via an all-in-one analytics package. 

In addition to out-of-the-box capabilities for mobile, social and site marketers, Analytics 10 also features two primary perks:

  • Data Beyond the Tag: Analytics 10 enables marketers to visualize data from 3rd party data sources available through feeds, APIs, and public sources. Data from Facebook API, iTunes Connect, PostRank and bit.ly are integrated into Webtrends Analytics 10 dashboards.
  • Intelligent Campaign Discovery: Analytics 10 uses discovery techniques to auto-detect campaign conversion and landing pages and provide out-of-the-box campaign reports and dashboards.

“With Analytics 10, we put the focus on truly empowering digital marketers and finally breaking down the silos they too often operate within,” said Alex Yoder, CEO of the company. “Today marketers need to look across digital channels, including mobile and social, to get a holistic view of brand performance and customer engagement. We designed Analytics 10 for this purpose and are extremely pleased with the response from our customers and the market."

Still Partying with Facebook

The analytics company is making a particularly big deal about its Facebook-related capabilities, as per usual. Webtrends Analytics 10 pulls data from your Facebook pages and apps using Facebook API. Additional conversion data is available with the Webtrends tag.

 

 

 

If Looks Could Kill… 

Bonus: It's pretty. The intuitive user interface mixes up nicely with the enhanced capabilities for data insight across digital channels, presenting them over a fairly straightforward dashboard:

“Analytics 10 goes much further in carving out a unique position for Webtrends in the Digital Analytics space. The interface is lovely…and distinctive. They are the first enterprise vendor to break away from and go beyond the basic Google Analytics paradigm,” said Gary Angel, President, Semphonic.

You may try out Analytics 10 by yourself here.

The Web Engagement Tag Team: Testing and Personalization

Engagement is all the rage, yet achieving it requires many skills. Key to the deal is the ability to test and refine your content, with a goal of increasing personal relevancy.

Companies must engage website visitors on a one-to-one basis by providing personalized, relevant and proven content. By optimizing content, organizations can significantly increase revenue as well as augment search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) efforts.

Prioritizing Personalization

One-size-fits-all websites are old news. You have less than seven seconds to capture a visitor’s attention, while delivering a relevant and engaging experience. Is your site content prepared to keep all your visitors engaged, no matter where they click?

Providing personalized content to website visitors is a key step most companies miss. While every website visitor has a unique profile, repeat visits are almost assured if the content offered is targeted and engaging. Targeted product and service recommendations are the most widely recognized forms of website ‘personalization’, however, true personalization — recognizing each customer’s known interests and attributes on the individual level — gives a powerful platform from which to optimize content and offers, a vital key to long-term engagement and loyalty.

Don’t forget that the design, layout and presentation of site content are equally as important as relevancy. Testing content ensures that each individual visitor is compelled by what they see, finds the content relevant and increases the chances of visitors converting to customers.

The Magnitude of Multivariate

Even minor changes to font size, color and language on a webpage can significantly increase conversion — which multivariate testing then analyzes in a live environment to statistically determine which content yields the best results. By simply removing the "Add–to-Cart" icon below each product image, a leading online retailer realized a 63% increase in conversion — proving that the dollars really are in the details.

Multivariate testing is largely recognized as the most effective way to increase conversion of website visitors to website buyers, as well as helps e-commerce enterprises discover the navigation paths of their traffic.

However, in order to be truly effective, testing must be integrated into a company’s culture and repeated in multiple variations to be effective. A leading travel site who was looking to quickly evolve its website to stay competitive, decided to test 15 call-to-action variants, which led to an 18 percent increase in seating revenues. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, this allowed the company to make decisions based on analysis rather than subjectivity, while safely removing re-design risks and reducing innovation timelines.

Pieces of the Same Puzzle: Content, SEO and SEM

Purchasing keywords to drive traffic to an inefficient landing page or website is like putting the cart before the horse. But content optimization is a powerful way to augment SEO and SEM efforts.

When a website uses the most effective content and design elements throughout the site (including landing pages), the cost of acquisition through search marketing is reduced, making it easier to translate clicks into lasting consumers.

Remove the guesswork from design and content decisions through accurate testing abilities, and prove exactly what drives your visitors to make purchase decisions on your site. This indisputable data will ensure that your search marketing and SEO budget results in more than just increased page views. At the end of the day, converting traffic to dollars is the only metric that matters.

About the Author

Mark Simpson is one of the founders of Maxymiser, a London-based firm focused on conversion management practices.

The Keys to Success with Cloud Based Website Hosting

Today's websites have become the social marketplace where your customers and potential customers can meet, find the information they need, provide their own insights and feedback and more.

This means your traditional web content management system is probably falling short in its duty. What you're probably looking for is a digital publishing + engagement platform that offers a rich set of features, include managing digital assets, integrating with social networks, and pushing your content out across multiple channels. On top of all that, you need to do it quickly.

Cloud-based services come readily to mind when the pressure is on. In fact, according to a recent study by Springboard Research, 83% of companies in the Asia-Pacific region are considering cloud services in some form — many as a way to deliver applications on-demand. However, in the same study, 46% indicated concerns over security and the integrity of their data in the cloud.

If you need to build a stronger web presence and are interested in doing it using cloud services, then attend the webinar Enough Fluff. 3 Key Ingredients for Maximising Your Content in the Cloud on Thursday, November 18th, 2010 at 10:00 am (UTC+10) Sydney, Australia.

During the live event you will discuss best practices related to cloud security and hear about deployment lessons from local experts, such as Melbourne IT and Hyro, as well as hear from experienced field hands who share their tricks and tips.

If you're ready to take your cloud strategy to the next level, then register here

WEM: Understanding the Core of Web Engagement

The engage word is prolific these days — its popularity far ahead of the practices which cultivate it. Tools are evolving to help, but they are probably best considered threads in the fabric, rather than the magic solution for your analytic and communicative needs.

Web Engagement Management (WEM) will iterate in practical application and our knowledge will continue to evolve. Analysts Scott Liewehr and Ian Truscott of The Gilbane Group are furthering the cause with an investigation of the core capabilities of WEM, and then going another step with maturity measures for each area.

The 5 capabilities so far defined include:

  1. Content Management
    Content management, not web content management. This is the capability of an organization to manage and publish different kinds of assets to multiple visitor touch points. The web is one touch point.
  2. Social Media
    Engaging means going beyond a presence on Twitter or Facebook. Success and maturity is about how these things are leveraged and measured to form an integrated part of the audience experience.
  3. Visitor Insight
    How sophisticated are your analytics? What are you measuring exactly? Is the data solid? Having lots of visitors could mean they like pictures of funny kittens. Having well-understood, engaged visitors is a business asset.
  4. Integrated Campaign Management
    In most organizations our websites are part of a greater digital communications machine and our audiences view us a single entity across multiple touch points. This capability is about how each of our digital marketing moving parts works together.
  5. Organizational Preparedness
    The discipline of engagement spans various parts of an organization, some of which have have often been traditionally quite separate. Your capability to engage relies on how well these parts can collaborate for a this multi-channel brand experience.

Reviewing their work to-date and opening up the conversation Scott and Ian are holding a series of 3 live webinars (same material, different timezones) this week. The event title is Demystifying Web Engagement Management: Why it’s Crucial to Your Business and How You Can Master It

You can can sign-up for your most convenient timezone:

  • North America — Wednesday November 3rd at 2pm Eastern (Register here)
  • Europe — Thursday November 4 at 15:00 CET (Register here)
  • Asia Pacific — Thursday November 4 at 10:00am AEST (Register here)
Web Design: Clarity is More Important than Persuasion

The most important thing a webpage can do is be crystal clear about exactly what you can do on that webpage.

The best word to describe people when they are on the Web is "impatient." They are particularly impatient when they arrive at your website for the first time. They are asking themselves the essential question: "Is this a website I can actually do something on quickly and easily or is it just marketing?"

I had heard the following phrase from customers many times: "This is just marketing. I don't have time for this." On the Web, people are developing banner ad blindness, but they are also developing marketing-speak and communication-spin blindness. They see marketing as stuff that gets in the way, content that is annoying and unnecessary.

 

MarketingExperiments (site) is a really excellent research organization. It recently stated that the first seven seconds a person spends on your website are crucial to success. "Millions of dollars are won or lost in these first few moments a visitor spends on your site," it writes. It goes on to state that everything it has learned about website optimization can be summarized by these three words:

Clarity Trumps Persuasion

According to MarketingExperiments, there are three essential questions all pages must answer:

  1. Where Am I?
  2. What Can I Do Here?
  3. Why Should I Do It?

"The chief enemy of forward momentum is confusion," Marketing Experiments states. "One of the ways to overcome this inherent confusion is to hit the Back button." The Back button is to a customer what a soother is to a baby. It's very comforting to hit that Back button and get away from all that confusion.

""Clarity" tops the list of the key principles of design thinking identified by the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council," Alice Rawsthorn writes for the New York Times in January 2010. Rawsthorn references John Maeda and his concept of "thoughtful reduction".

The Web reflects a shift to service and, more particularly, a shift to self-service. To succeed in self-service you need a genuine understanding of and relationship with your customer. And you must also strive to give them a fast, simple experience.

I've just spent the last week in Seattle, the home of Starbucks. I've been told that Starbucks are investing millions in replacing their espresso machines. These machines are in perfect working order, so why are they replacing them? They want machines that are not as high, so that the server and the customer can more easily see and interact with each other.

The customer remains invisible to most web teams and that is the single greatest reason so many websites under perform. Understanding, relating to and developing empathy for your customer is one of the greatest drivers of clarity in communication and design. A lack of understanding of customers and a focus on the internal needs of the organization is at the root of most confusing, complex and verbose websites.

Get to truly know your customers and you are on the road to clarity.

Microsoft Betters Bing with New Design and foursquare

In addition to some sunshine, the next few months are going to see interesting updates from Bing. Microsoft previewed several new features for their search engine at the Search Engine Strategies 2010 Conference in New York this week, highlighting foursquare integration and new design concepts.

Better Looking Bing

The self-proclaimed "decision engine" has always had roots in the visual side of things. For instance, unlike the simple Google interface, Bing results include a list of links for enhancing your search. Dubbed Quick Tabs, the left-side column of links offers drilled-down suggestions based on your initial query. For example, if I search the word 'sheep', in addition to the regular top results, my Quick Tabs will list links for sheep facts, sheep breeds, cute sheep pictures and raising sheep:

bing_search_results.JPG

Bing search results

It looks a bit busy, doesn't it? In order to remedy that, Microsoft is moving the results to the top of the page (we're not sure whether or not they'll be hidden, but it would be nice).

"We have a vision for Bing to serve as a vital assistant to your online decision-making," said Jeff Henshaw, GPM of Bing's user experience team. "In these latest designs, you’ll see a lighter, cleaner presentation of results that highlight key actions that will efficiently guide you toward your goal."

Fun with foursquare 

Microsoft will also be incorporating foursquare's popular location-based data for a real-time experience with Bing Maps.

"The foursquare map app is a powerful combination of the spatial canvas that Bing Maps provides, combined with foursquare’s user reputation service … making it easier to explore any city in the world as if you were a local," Schwartz continued. "It's like an interactive day planner, designed to help find the best things to do in the area."

Additionally, Microsoft plans to involve Bing with everyday activities as well. Recent focus has been on the world of real-time, and partners include big names like Twitter. Microsoft hopes to incorporate much more significant data into the Bing search experience—an effort you can already see being tested. For example, when you search for a publication like New York Times, Bing now gives you both access to specific sections of the destination website, and the most popular shared links from that publication.

Users can expect all of these updates to be rolled out before the weather goes bad again, and our best guess is they're interesting enough to gain the search engine a few more fans.