Posted to Leigh Carver's blog on October 28th, 2013

Overcoming arithmaphobia for content marketing success

Back during my bright-eyed years in school, I was the kind of fine-arts junkie generally classified as a geek. I loved English, History, and anything that required writing or reading-- and was terrified of anything resembling math. Write a 10 page discussion of early Greco-Roman shipwrecks? Done. Calculate tax on a tab? Cue shaking with sheer, unbridled terror.

As a marketer, though, I've had to conquer my arithmaphobia. In marketing, I've found that crunching data is not only useful, but crucial. While measuring performance is obviously a key aspect of understanding the success of a piece of content or a campaign, I've also found that it's incredibly important to use as much qualitative and quantitative data as possible when mapping out a content marketing strategy.

For my fellow geeky writers who are paralyzed with fear of numbers and charts, here are a few quick measurements from Google Analytics that will help you conquer your fear of numbers. For both fledgling and experienced content writers, these are incredibly helpful insights you should be aware of whenever you plan out your content.

1. Audience demographics: language and location

If your website isn't multilingual you can mostly ignore the language bit, though it’s still fun and interesting to check out. It is important, however, to be very familiar with where your traffic is coming from.

In Google Analytics, you can navigate to Audience > Demographics > Location for some very interesting insights. You can see the continents, subcontinents, countries and territories, and even cities your traffic is c

oming from-- and then tailor your content to interest those regions.

Are you getting a lot of traffic from Boston? Consider writing a piece of content that ties your business offerings or strategies in with the way the Red Sox play their games. Figure out where your visitors are coming from and relate to them with current events. It'll increase customer loyalty, drive up returning traffic, and make your content stickier.

2. Audience technology: browser and OS

This is crucial for optimizing your content. Everything looks different on each browser, so if the bulk of your traffic is coming in through Chrome, make sure blog posts look good in Chrome. Same thing goes for IE, Firefox, Safari, Opera, or even the Tor browser. Use the browser your visitors are using and make sure that your posts and website look good.

3. Audience mobile: overview and devices.

Don't just optimize by browser-- optimize by device. If you see that the majority of your visits are coming through mobile, make sure your blog posts are easy to read on small screens-- that they're not dominated by pictures and long blocks of text.

You can find this information in the overview, and a breakdown of how many visits occur on what type of device in the "devices" section. It's quick, easy, and painless to check this out, and it makes all the difference in the world.

4. Behavior: Site Content > All Pages

When planning out your content, see what's getting the most hits on your site. It may surprise you. Are all your visitors flocking to one specific topic or writer? (In our case, my lovely colleague Katie Thomas has been killing it with her very useful posts).

Look for trends in your most popular content and build a strategy around that topic or theme. In our case, posts about Google and Drupal tend to do really well, which is why we talk about both so much. (Plus, it helps that we love what we do, too!)

While you'll be looking at a few numbers here and there in Google Analytics, you won't have to calculate anything-- the system will do it for you.

Looking your content over for trends is easy and painless, and you may find that you actually want to delve deeper into the numbers to see what's going on. I know I did-- and now, I'm a happy writer with some serious number crunching chops. But only when it comes to content-- ask me to calculate a tip and, as I did in college, I'll probably run away screaming.

Just kidding.


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