In your organization, what stakeholder group is most under-served by web analytics?
Certainly not marketers and product managers…they are an analysts’ best set of friends because the reporting can show real ROI.
The user experience designer or information architect? No, they get data that can really help with site optimization that brings visitors to the marketing and product focused site sections.
I’m thinking it’s the content manager…the operations guy/gal whose job it is to manage the production, updating, archiving and retiring of content. Is there someone in this role where you work? Maybe they are a subject matter expert who has control over a particular site section. Maybe they manage a team of writers whose job it is to crank out the content. Maybe they are your intranet managers…a part of the site that generally flies beneath the radar when it comes to analytics. Maybe it’s the overall site manager. And maybe it’s you.
In much of my work with US Federal government agencies, financial services, pharmaceutical companies and non-profit organizations, the content managers and intranet managers tell me that they just don’t get metrics that help them determine when it’s time to clean up, spruce up or get rid of content that is old and in the way. As one weary content manager told me, “The goal is to publish, publish, publish…not analyze whether anyone looks at the content or what they do with it.”
While I hear some content managers say with pride that they simply whack all the pages that don’t get page views, I don’t think this is the whole solution to the pruning problem. I think it makes more sense to first get an understanding around relative site performance based on goals as a first step, and then take a more surgical approach that’s based on prioritization. This may indicate that certain areas of the site need more than just an elimination of pages and in fact may need a new content strategy. This seems like a more constructive approach.
Over the last few years, I’ve been working with clients who want to go this route. I’ve developed six metrics that you can start using to evaluate site performance and direct your content management efforts. I’ll be sharing them over the next six weeks in a series of posts that I’ll be publishing here.
Let me say up front, that creating these metrics requires some prep work, like categorizing content pages vs. navigation pages. It's actually a good exercise...like doing an inventory. The goal: Do the analysis, create the metric and develop benchmarks that provide you with a good idea of overall site effectiveness that can be tracked and explained over time.
…But First a Word About Segmentation
While the metrics stand on their own, it makes sense to create a series of visitor/visit segments based on Semphonic’s two-tiered segmentation methodology. After an extensive review of site objectives, goals, top tasks and target audiences, you can create key segments. The metrics that you develop can be applied to these segments to understand whether each of these segments may use content that others don’t. This helps you understand immediately whether specific content types that do not get a high number of views, may in fact be content that is important to a highly valued segment. In the table below, we have some examples of segments developed for a site that reaches health care professionals, researchers and the general public.
As you can see from these categories, combining the known visitor data with site behavior gives you an opportunity to amplify meaning from the basic elements of data you’d be collecting.
OK…so categorizing pages and segmentation... two keys to making these metrics work. If you can do that over the next week, you’ll be on your way to applying the first metric I’ll be talking about next Tuesday…Task Completion Effectiveness.