25 Feb Yes. Now How About “Editorial Analytics” for Brands?
The Real Issue
If we had more marketers talking about how to adopt “editorial analytics” as a primary practice in communications planning we’d be further along in brands creating more meaningful content with purpose – to reach, engage, and drive real business value.
It’s not to say there is a lack of content, of course, or there isn’t enough engagement data flowing around. It’s to say brands still lead with paid media as the organizing principle for all communications and don’t understand which content is actually worth creating and which isn’t.
This report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism underpins the issue and can teach us marketers a lot. The good news is, even in an industry that lives and dies by the quality of content there is still room to grow and no one has it all figured out. The bad news: we don’t hear brands talking the same way about better holistic planning outside of optimizing single channels like Facebook or their website in silos.
At Trade, we look a lot at how brands can behave more like publishers to tell their story across ALL channels more efficiently and effectively. As such, understanding how to interpret your content analytics is a major element of successful storytelling. But understanding your data starts with knowing why it matters in the first place and giving it structure.
The report sheds light on the idea of editorial analytics as a practice in the newsroom and for journalists. We’ll look through the lens of how editorial analytics are needed in brand planning and for creatives plus a simple framework for how to do it.
Making Sense of the Challenge
Below are some key points from report with a relevant twist for marketers and brands.
Content creators must customize their analytics models. This means doing the hard work of establishing a bespoke framework for how to organize the layers of data that matter. It starts with knowing what it is all for – what the business is trying to get out of the content effort. Is it cost effective reach? Better SEO? Pure engagement? Is it sales? Is it all a test for where to spend big in TV or experiential? Establishing the business case is key for why content exists in the organization is key. From there, your metrics are structured to gain better understanding at each phase of the story journey.
Rally around a true view into data. We’ve all been in the board room when the data portion of meeting comes up (usually the last segment) and everyone says, “Ok, that’s interesting.” Then promptly the meeting ends and a few ads get tweaked as the result. The reports, the dashboards, the conversation walls, the simple tweaks to a banner – these are the easy parts. Ingraining in brand culture a starting point that begins with the editorial framework is the hard part but necessary to provide meaning. If at the end of the day a brand essentially exists along an editorial calendar of touchpoints big and small – some better than others – with their audience, then it’s imperative to confirm that model before evaluating the data.
The need for journalist involvement in the analytical process. Journalists equal “creatives” in this context – those that have ownership of the idea. They have to be a part of the process to understand the true meaning in the data story. It’s one thing to share results with a creative and say, “This ad is not working, try something else.” It’s another to bring them to the table in an active, participatory way where true understanding is fostered. Getting creatives used to interpreting data is about making sure that their time spent in reviewing it has real value to them and makes their ideas better.
There’s reach, then there’s REACH. To reach someone means more than just targeting and impressions. Having an understanding of how your content speaks to an audience means you were able to truly reach through and connect. Editorial practices for brands are all about connecting and driving participation. Like newsrooms, a brand’s editorial practices should embrace that and develop the tools, processes, and culture necessary. This has to come out in the analytics and how brands build their own custom models.
A Starting Point for a Solution
To analyze editorial data like a publisher but through a marketers let’s start with a basic hierarchical outline for editorial content and a logical flow for processing performance.
How an Editorial Content Hierarchy Can Give Guidance
Themes – Born out of an understanding of audience emotional drivers, themes are the conceptual articulation of motivators that are intrinsic to influencing or activating people.
Story Domain – Story domains are broad categorizations that cover related topics like recreation, family, health, and personal finance. They are organized under various themes.
Story Concept – a collection of content pieces that make up a specific idea or concept with a domain. The sum is the entirety of a story that can take place across channels and/or over periods of time.
Content Piece – Content formats user engage with; multiple content types can be combined into one experience that the tell the story (think infographics, text, video, images, tools).
Measuring Success – Asking the Right Questions About Content Performance
Once the hierarchy is established that makes sense for your brand, this includes the logical processing of data that comes from each level.
Are we increasing exposure to the brand?
- Views and impressions across all channels (paid, earned, owned)
- Share of Voice – PR, social, influencer
- Authority on relevant topics via search
- The ways our users engaging with content
Which audience segments are responding, which are not?
- Getting smarter about audience profiles
Where are we engaging our audience most effectively?
- Up funnel, mid funnel, low funnel
How are social channels driving conversation?
- Shares, likes, mentions, comments, retweets
Are we effectively driving users to desired destinations?
- Website, eComm, Application, In store, Event
How does the content result in conversion?
- Successful applications, CRM sign-ups, Online sales, Physical sales, Call center
To learn more about our point of view on editorial analytics and how they can help you be a better marketer contact 312-909-2800.