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Year End Analysis: How to Plan Your Content Based on Data

As the new year begins, it can be easy to charge full-steam into 2014 without taking the time to focus on what we can learn from last year. It’s human nature; we tend to assume our intuition is our best guide.

Trust me, I work for an analytics company and I still catch myself thinking I know better than the wealth of data at my fingertips. That’s not to say your intuition and savvy as a marketer aren’t valuable. You need both.

But as a social media or content marketer, it’s important as you build your plan for any new year, to take a holistic look back at what worked well, what didn’t, and what you can double down on in the year to come.

Look for Your Biggest Wins

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This is the fun one. It’s like going through an old yearbook. Take a look at your trended charts from the previous year, and look for themes. If you saw a significant spike in engagement on Twitter at the same time your site visits spiked, identify what it was that drove this. If it was a recurring event, can you replicate the results? If it was a particular promotion or type of content, can you focus on that theme and create more? This will help guide you when developing your calendar for the year to come.

Questions to Consider:

Which content brought the most visitors to our site?

How can we create more of this content?

What did we do differently in those instances?

Look at What Missed

Analyze your content from 2013. Did you spend hours on blog posts that didn’t resonate with your community? What content underperformed your expectations? When you step back and look at a larger sample set like this, some trends can become clearer and let you really see where you might be wrong. This can be a painful exercise, but really dig into your Google Analytics to determine your averages and then see which blog post types got the fewest views, had the highest bounce rate, and converted poorly.  It could be as simple as making sure you’re using the most successful CTAs in your blog posts. You can do this using Simply Measured’s Blog Performance report by downloading the Excel file to see each post in your report period.

Questions to Consider:

Which themes are losing our audience?

What content am I spending the most time on?

Should I be refocusing?

Look for What Was Shared

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What did people share? This can be an easy one to overlook, but take a look at which content your audience shared, which networks they shared it on, and how it drove traffic back to your site. Visits can tell you a lot, but when someone shares, retweets, or reposts your content to their audience, they’re putting a stamp of approval on it. This is how you understand your position as a thought leader, and how you can understand what type of content is best for your voice and your audience.

Questions to Consider:

Which posts were shared the most?

Which networks were the most active?

Did specific content resonate on one network and not another?

Look at Why Your Audience Sought You Out

As a social media marketer, you may not spend much time on SEO. Many companies have an in-house SEO manager, and since “social” generally lies off-site, it can seem inconsequential to your day-to-day tasks. Don’t be too quick to ignore that. Really dig into your Google Analytics keyword data and referral traffic to see exactly what people are searching for that drives them to your site, and where they’re finding you. You’ll find trends that you can capitalize on with your social content, and work with your content team to create blog posts tailored to these themes.

Questions to Consider:

Which keywords bring people to our site?

Which landing pages keep users engaged, and why?

Are we getting significant traffic from a specific source?

Look for the Folks Who Helped

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Identifying influencers can be a big part of any social media role. Looking back on the previous year, which key players helped drive traffic to your site? Did a specific type of content resonate with thought leaders in your industry? Can you produce more content like that, or maybe get involved with those influencers to work on co-marketing projects? This analysis is possible with Simply Measured’s Twitter Traffic report and Website Influencer report, which give you detailed information on the amount of traffic seen from individual social actions.

Questions to Consider:

Which big names shared my content or engaged with my brand?

What piqued their interest?

How can I keep them engaged?

By pairing your social data and web data, you can get a holistic view of your impact, and help determine your direction and strategy for the year to come. I do this with our own Simply Measured Google Analytics reports that tie in all your social data. Check it out, and request a free trial to see what you can learn.

Kevin Shively

I lead marketing for Simply Measured. Recovering journalist. My team is embarrassed of my hilarious jokes. Firm believer that the best marketers are the best storytellers and the best storytellers use the best data.

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