Classic scales

Measuring performance with A/B Testing

Last month I decided to take some of my own advice and understand how to improve my blog with some focused study and A/B testing (Science!). The objective was to understand how many of the Marketing Resource downloads were genuine, and whether the users would be prepared to share their details or promote the site in exchange for the download.

I decided to begin by measuring the performance of my most trafficked page (Marketing Resources), and then trying a few variations to see what worked best. To get started, I stopped publishing. I figured that by not publishing anything meant I’d get a clear view of traffic & behavior without any wobbles from posts I make.

Then I upgraded the download software being used for my Marketing Resources section, allowing me to track individual downloads by date and to force subscriptions or tweets as required. I also installed an optional social pop-up system (this does have a force share option too).

For the first two weeks I setup the Marketing Resources page so that every download required visitors to either send a supporting tweet, or enter their email addresses. For the remaining two weeks, the page prompted visitors for an optional social share.

The results were shocking! By forcing users to share their details or make a social post, the page generated fewer downloads, but had considerably more traffic, shares and user registrations. Optional shares results in absolutely no change from normal, meaning less traffic but twice as many downloads. Here’s the summary data:

Mandatory Subscription or Sharing Optional Sharing
Tweets +8 +0
Subscriptions +60 +0
Downloads -50% 0% change
Traffic 20% increase 0% change

Depending on what’s important to your site, you can interpret this accordingly. More consumption of your material, but with no idea who’s consuming it & no obvious promotion from it. Or less consumption, but with a better idea of who’s reading & some extra social media mileage. For me there’s no question that I’d prefer the latter.

I’m going to be doing some more experimentation with how my Marketing Resources page prompts for shares, and I’ll update you next month with my findings. Hope this was helpful.

Marketing Dashboard

Creating a Marketing Dashboard

I’ve gone on a bit about creating marketing dashboards before, and I published a template that I use personally. To make it a little easier, here’s a quick presentation that helps to explain the process of building your own template:

 

content schedule calendar

HowTo create a content schedule

Why do I need a content schedule?

There are lots of benefits to using a content schedule, for me the most important reason is that it helps maintain my sanity. By scheduling my content I can ensure that I’ve got a constant pipeline of high(er) quality articles being published. I’m not rushing at the last minute to hit publish, and get plenty of time to review and modify articles. It also gives me the extra time that I need to research and source data & images for my articles. I’m going to assume you’re already sold, so let’s dive in and have a look at what a content schedule is and what’s involved.

You can download a copy of my content schedule here, the rest of this article will reference this document.

What should be included?

A good content plan should cover all the copy you’ll need to create over the next few months. It can include everything from you social media (twitter, facebook, linkedin, etc.) through to your press releases and blog posts. Different mediums will have different volumes of posts, so you may want to separate the content plans into multiple tabs to prevent things like your twitter updates from drowning out all your other content.
Do you really need to fill out all the columns in this enormous excel sheet? Ideally yes, but I know it’s not practical for everyone. So I’ve tried to color code the columns by importance & relevance. The blue fields are essential to making your content plan work, everything else is for tracking. You should modify the columns & the priority to suit you.

How far ahead should I plan my content?

Try to create a plan for as many months as is practical for you, this really will vary based on the amount of time & resource you have. Personally, I like to keep 3 months worth of article titles ready, and top-up every month. I try to keep 4 weeks of articles ready for automatic publishing, and begin fleshing the articles for the second & third month out as I go along.

content schedule

What do I put into my schedule?

Everything. All your content. Absolutely anything you want to publish at all, including anything that goes out in an ad-hoc, last minute manner.

Seasonal activities

I usually start my content plans by highlighting important dates the plans needs to accommodate. For instance Christmas, Chinese New Year, a significant Corporate launch or industry event. This allows you to create topical information on the approach to these activities, and illustrates how you’re connected to the industry.

Theme based content planning

I’ve previously talked about the benefits of using content themes, this is the perfect opportunity to create themes with ideas that flow neatly into each other. Here’s an example of how you might plan a series of articles in a theme:

  1. What is Omni Channel Retail?
  2. Examples of Omni Channel Retail
  3. Using NFC & QR Codes in Omni Channel Retail
  4. Using Email as part of your Omni Channel Retail strategy
  5. Creating your email schedule (this is the start of the next theme)

You could assign these the same category, varying tags, and deliver them as a series. Grouping related content together makes it easier to navigate content on your site, and allows you to deliver much more in-depth information without overloading any one post – enhancing your position as an authority in your field.

If you need some inspiration on what to write about, stay tuned. I’ll shortly be writing about different methods of sustainably creating content. There are lots of different methods & styles, I’m sure one of them will work for you.

Stay Alert

Just because you have a content plan doesn’t mean you should follow it blindly. Be mindful of current events and remember to consider the communities sentiments at large before allowing your content to publish. This is especially important if you’re using an auto-post system.