As in most industries these days, decisions in communications strategy are increasingly being driven by data. However, “analytics” is still a daunting word to many in the PR industry. Both internal comms people and agency professionals know it’s important, but those who don’t come from a math or coding background are often hesitant to perform analysis themselves.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that you don’t need to be a data scientist to make use of marketing data. While languages like SQL, Python, and R are certainly useful tools for a variety of data projects, you can gain a plethora of marketing insights with a little exploring and an interest in finding patterns. You don’t even need to spend a lot of (or any) money — you just need to know where to look.
With that in mind, I want to highlight some simple ways to start incorporating analytics into your owned, social, and earned media strategies. This series will include posts on each of those types of media, with this first post focusing on owned media. We’ll look specifically at some tools we at 3Points have used for website content, blog content, and video content.
As the name implies, owned media is content you own, and thus you control both the message and the venue where the content is hosted. For almost any company, this includes the content living on your website.
Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool that you can implement on your site, and even after becoming certified in Google Analytics, I’m learning new ways to utilize the platform every day. But there are many simple, pre-built reports that easily show you what you are looking for. At the most basic level, you can see your total website traffic every day, and how that traffic has changed over time. You can also track individual pages on your site, both in terms of how many people have gone to that page and how long they are staying on the page. And if you click over to the “Acquisition” section, you can see how all of these visitors are getting to your site. (Are they clicking on a link, coming from social media, finding you via search engine, or just going directly to your domain?)
These are just a few metrics you can find within a click or two, but the possibilities in Google Analytics are nearly endless. If you’re interested, you can take an official Google certification course, but you can also learn quite a bit just through your own exploration.
Your blog may very well be hosted on your website, in which case you can use those same Google Analytics tools to measure the performance of your posts. If your blog content is hosted elsewhere, however, you can often find helpful corresponding data. For example, when we blog, we post on both our site’s blog page and on a platform called Medium (where you might be reading this post right now!), which includes a “stats” page that tells you the number of views, reads, and “fans” for each of your posts.
The page also includes a chart that illustrates when your posts received their views — note that this defaults to show the number of views for all of your posts combined, but can be broken down by individual post simply by clicking on a post in the list under the chart.
Finally, if you want to dig a bit deeper, you will see a button to view “referrers” (how viewers got to your blog posts). You also have the ability to drill down into some of these referral sources: for example, if you click on “twitter.com,” you can see the exact tweets that sent traffic to your post.
Of course, there are other types of content outside of the written word, including video content, which continues to grow in popularity. If you have video content on YouTube, you’ll have extremely in-depth data in your Creator Studio, which can tell you a great deal about the success of your videos and the audience watching them.
Some highlights of YouTube analytics include:
- Completely customizable reporting timeframes, spanning the full lifetime of your channel.
- Views and watch time, so you can see not only how many people are clicking to your video, but how much of the video they are actually watching.
- A “traffic sources” report where you can see how people are finding your videos, whether from related videos, YouTube search (bonus: you can even see which specific search terms led viewers to your video), external sites, etc.
- Numerous engagement metrics, such as subscribes, likes and dislikes, comments, and shares.
If you couldn’t tell, I’m a big fan of YouTube’s analytics. But if you’re hosting videos elsewhere, you should still be able to view insights. For example, we’ve also worked with clients who host content on Vimeo, which provides a good deal of data similar to what YouTube provides.
That is just a quick introduction to a few tools you can use to measure the success of your owned media content. If you have any questions, or suggestions for other analytics tools you really like, please comment below or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And keep an eye out for Part Two of this series, focusing on social media.