Thursday 29 September 2016

The Science of Content Optimization (Friday5)

When developing a strong content approach for a client community that is new to you, it can be hard to find a good place to start. Here are few ways to successfully optimize content so you can continue to evolve it to be smarter and work harder toward your goals.

1. Look at the Past

The best way to start finding your sweet spot in editorial content is to look at what has performed well before. By developing content that your audience is already prone to engage with, you are setting benchmarks you can look to for data-driven insights to inform content in the future. Be consistent in your publishing so you can develop a reliable cadence for measurement.

2. Keep Evaluating

Once you’ve got a steady flow of content planned, set up an evaluation plan in the form of a monthly or quarterly report. Set goals and select the appropriate key performance indicators. With each report you will collect more data that will continue to inform your content strategy—it should be constantly evolving, so make sure you’re shifting appropriately to make your content stronger month-over-month. Make it easier on yourself by including tags or labels in your content calendar so you can go back and see which types of content are performing well, allowing you to more easily dig into the “why.”

3. Be Intentional

When you’re ready to answer specific questions about content performance, you’ll need to set up A/B tests so that you can properly measure variables. By intentionally planning content tests, you’ll learn what resonates best with your community. This can be as simple as finding out the best time of day to publish your message, and can provide strong insights to influence your evolving strategy. Make sure to consider a relevant sample size for these posts—if you are only comparing two posts, the insight may not be reliable.

4. Give it a Fair Chance

When you test different content types, messages and more, you’re bound to run into some bumps along the way. It’s important to keep in mind that not all content is created equal. For example, if you are integrating a video strategy into your existing content lineup and not seeing the same engagement rates across the board, don’t be discouraged. Comparing photo posts and video posts is like comparing apples (engagement) and oranges (views), so make sure you are giving them a fair chance for success by measuring against similar content.

5. Fail More

Just when you think you “know” your community, they may throw you a curveball and surprise you with content that significantly over- or under-performs. These posts offer a great opportunity to look at your community from a new angle. Consider the “why” behind the performance and see how you can learn what motivates your audience to engage (or not engage) and use it to your advantage. By taking calculated risks with content, you can learn even more about your community. Maybe they are ready to be “on point,” and maybe they aren’t—you’ll never know until you test it.

Tried and true, content optimization starts and ends with evaluation. Keep in mind there is no cookie-cutter solution for content development between any two communities. Use these tips to find the right balance for your community and constantly optimize for top performance. What do you think—have you seen success using other tactics?

Image credit: Jason Rogers

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