How to Implement a Knowledge Base Solution

How to Implement a Knowledge Base

This afternoon I was assisting a client who added a certificate for SSL and retired their www from their URL. In order to properly redirect traffic, we needed to write a rule for Apache in an .htaccess file. We have a number of Apache experts that I could have contacted for the solution, but instead, I just searched a few knowledge bases online and found the appropriate solution.

I didn’t have to speak to anyone, open a ticket, wait on hold, get forwarded to an engineer, or any other time-waster. I absolutely love companies who take the time to develop and implement knowledge bases. And it’s a great investment for businesses who see large or growing volumes of support tickets. Building out a kbase (as they’re also known), can provide a searchable repository that helps your company reduce inbound support requests, avoid repetitive requests, improve resolution times, and improve customer satisfaction. All of those, of course, reduce costs and can improve retention rates.

What is a knowledge base?

A knowledge base (KBase) is a well-organized repository of articles that can assist internal staff and external clients to find and implement solutions rather than contact your support team. Well-designed knowledge bases have well-organized taxonomies and are indexed well so that users can search and find what they need in the shortest time possible.

ManageEngine, developers of a Kbase solution called ServiceDesk Plus recently produced this infographic – How to Build an Effective Helpdesk Knowledge Base that provides six key steps in implementing an effective knowledge base strategy in your organization:

  1. Keep your KBase up-to-date by nominating a knowledge base manager who owns the entire lifecycle of Kbase articles, from identifying solutions to regularly updating. Ensure it’s a key performance indicator for your service personnel to add and update articles as they’re requested.
  2. Structure your KBase by organizing articles under categories and subcategories for easy accessibility. Maintain consistent, optimized articles by enforcing pre-defined templates.
  3. Define an approval process by creating a workflow for subject matter experts to review, enhance, improve, and immediately approve knowledge base content.
  4. Enhance the search capability of your KBase by tagging articles thoroughly and implementing a solution that has robust and fast search capabilities. user satisfaction with better search capability of your KBase by tagging articles with appropriate keywords.
  5. Determine who sees what using role-based access for your customers. This will filter results based on the user rather than confusing them with articles and categories that aren’t relevant to them.
  6. Manage your KBase articles effectively by incorporating backup and restore mechanisms to roll back articles if necessary or restore in the event of a system failure. Monitor reporting to improve the quality of your articles and functionality that enhances the user experience.

How to Implement a Knowledge Base


© 2016 DK New Media.

MozCon: Why You Should Attend & How to Get the Most Out of It

Posted by ronell-smith

MozCon 2013 (left to right): Greg Gifford, Nathan Bylof, Nathan Hammer, Susan Wenograd, and myself

I remember my first MozCon like it was yesterday.

It’s the place where I would hear the quote that would forever change the arc of my career.

“The world is freaking complicated, so let me start with everything I don’t know,” said Google’s Avinash Kaushik, during the Q&A, after speaking at MozCon 2013. “Nine hundred years from now, I will fix what’s broken today. …Get good at what you do.”

Though I didn’t know it at the the time, those were words I needed to hear, and that would lead me to make some career decisions I desperately needed to make. Decisions I never would have made if I hadn’t chosen to attend MozCon, the Super Bowl of marketing events (in my opinion).

Walking into the large (gigantic) room for the first time felt like being on the Space Mountain ride at Disneyland. I hurriedly raced to the front to find a seat so I could take in all of the action.

Once settled in, I sat back and enjoyed the music as lights danced along the walls.

Who wouldn’t want to be here? I thought.

Once the show started and Rand walked out, I was immediately sold: The decision to attend MozCon was the right one. By the end of the show, I would be saying it was one of the best career decisions I could have made.

But I almost missed it.

How and why MozCon?

I discovered MozCon like most of you: while reading the Moz blog, which I had been perusing since 2010, when I started building a website for an online, members-only newsletter.

One of my friends, an executive at a large company, had recently shared with me that online marketing was blistering hot.

“If you’re focusing your energy anywhere else, Ronell, you’re making a mistake,” he said. “We just hired a digital marketing manager, and we’re paying her more than $90,000.”

Those words served as an imprimatur for me to eagerly study and read SEO blogs and set up Twitter lists to follow prominent SEO authors.

Learning SEO was far less fun than applying it to the website I was in the process of helping to build.

In the years that followed, I continued reading the blog while making steps to meet members of the community, both locally and online.

One of the first people I met in the Moz SEO community was Greg Gifford, who agreed to meet me for lunch after I reached out to him via DM on Twitter.

He mentioned MozCon, which at the time wasn’t on my radar. (As a bonus, he said if I attended, he’d introduce me to Ruth Burr, who I’d been following on Twitter, and was a hyooge fan of.)

I started doing some investigating, wondering if it was an event I should invest in.

Also, during this same period, I was getting my content strategy sea legs and had reached out to Jon Colman, who was nice enough to mentor me. He also recommended that I attend MozCon, not the least because content strategy and UX superstar Karen McGrane was speaking.

I was officially sold.

That night, I put a plan into action:

  • Signed up for Moz Pro to get the MozCon discount
  • Bought a ticket to the show
  • Purchased airline and hotel tickets through Priceline

Then I used to following weeks to devise a plan to help me get everything I could out of the show.

The conference of all conferences

Honestly, I didn’t expect to be blow away by MozCon.

For seven of the 10 previous years, I edited a magazine that helped finance a trade show that hosted tens of thousands of people, from all over the world.

Nothing could top that, I thought. I was wrong.

The show, the lights, the people — and the single-track focus — blew me away. Right away.

I remember Richard Baxter was the first speaker up that first morning.

By the time he was done sharing strategies for effective outreach, I was thinking, “I’ve already recouped my expense. I don’t plan to ever miss this show again.”

And I haven’t.

So important did MozCon become to me after that first show, that I began to plan summer travel around it.

How could one event become that important?

Five key reasons:

  • Content
  • People & relationships
  • Personal & career development

I’ll explore each in detail since I think they each help make my point about the value of MozCon. (Also, if you haven’t read it already, check out Rand’s post, The Case For & Against Attending Marketing Conferences, which also touches on the value of these events.)

#1 – Content

You expect me to say the content you’ll be privy to at MozCon is the best you’ll hear anywhere.

Yeah, but…

The show hand-picks only the best speakers. But these same speakers present elsewhere, too, right?

What I mean by “content” is that the information you glean holistically from the show can help marketers from all areas of the business better do their work.

For example, when I came to my first MozCon, I had a handful of clients who’d reached out to me for PR, media relations, branding, and content work.

But I was starting to get calls and emails for this thing called “content marketing,” of which I was only vaguely familiar.

The information I learned from the speakers (and the informal conversations between speakers and after the show), made it possible for me to take on content marketing clients and, six months later, head content marketing for one of the most successful digital strategy agencies in Dallas/Fort Worth.

There really is something for everyone at MozCon.

#2 – People & relationships

Most of the folks I talk to on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis are folks I met at one of the last four MozCons.

For example, I met Susan E. Wenograd at MozCon 2013, where we shared a seat next to one another for the entire event. She’s been one of my closest friends ever since.

MozCon 2015: I’m chastising Damon Gochneaur for trying to sell me some links — I’m kidding, Google.

The folks seated beside you or roaming the halls during the event are some of the sharpest and most accomplished you’ll meet anywhere.

They are also some of the most helpful and genuine.

I felt this during my first event; I learned the truth of this sentiment in the weeks, months, and years that have followed.

Whether you’re as green as I was, or an advanced T-shaped marketer with a decade of experience behind you, the event will be fun, exciting, and full of new tips, tactics, and strategies you can immediately put to use.

#3 – Personal & career development

I know most people make decisions about attending events based on the cost and the known value — that is, based on previous similar events, how much they are likely to earn, either in a new job, new work, or additional responsibilities.

That’s the wrong way to look at MozCon, or any event.

Let’s keep it real for a moment: No matter who you are, where you work, what you do, or how much you enjoy your work, you’re are ALWAYS in the process of getting fired or (hopefully) changing jobs.

You should (must) be attending events to keep yourself relevant, visible, and on top of your game, whether that’s in paid media, content, social media, SEO, email marketing, etc.

That’s why the “Is it worth it?” argument is not beneficial at all.

I cannot tell you how many times, over the last four years, when I’ve been stuck on a content strategy, SEO or web design issue and been able to reach out to someone I would never have met were it not for MozCon.

For example, every time I share the benefits of Paid Social with a local business owner, I feel I should cut Kane Jamison (met at MozCon 2014) a check.

So, go to MozCon, not because you can see the tangible benefits (you cannot know those); go to MozCon because your career and your personal development will be nourished by it far beyond any financial reward.

Now you know how I feel and what I’ve gleaned from MozCon, you’re probably saying, “Yeah, but how can I be certain to get the most out of the event?”

I’m glad you asked.

How you can get the most out of MozCon

First, start following and interacting with Twitter and Facebook groups to find folks attending MozCon.

Dive in and ask questions, answer questions, or set up a get-together during the event.

Next, during the event, follow the #mozcon Twitter hashtag, making note of folks who are tweeting info from the event. Pay close attention to not simply the info, but also what they are gleaning and how they plan to use the event for their work.

If you find a few folks sharing info germane to your work or experiences, it wouldn’t hurt to retweet them and, maybe later during the show, send a group text asking to get together during the pub crawl or maybe join up for breakfast.

Then, once the show is over, continue to follow folks on social media, in addition to reading (and leaving comments on) their blogs, sending them “Great meeting you. Let’s stay in touch” emails, and looking for other opportunities to stay in their orbit, including meeting up at future events.

Many of the folks I initially met at MozCon have become friends I see throughout the year at other events.

But, wait!

I mentioned nothing about how to get the most out of the event itself.

Well, I have a different philosophy than most folks: Instead of writing copious notes and trying to capture every word from each speaker, I think of and jot down a theme for each talk while the speaker is still presenting. Along with that theme, I’ll include some notes that encapsulate the main nuggets of the talk and that will help me remember it later.

For example, Dr. Pete’s 2016 talk, You Can’t Type a Concept: Why Keywords Still Matter, spurred me to redouble my focus (and my learning with regard to content and SEO) on search intent, on-page SEO, and knowing the audience’s needs as well as possible.

Then, once the show is over, I create a theme to encapsulate the entire event by asking myself three questions:

  1. What did I learn that I can apply right away?
  2. What can I create and share that’ll make me more valuable to teammates, clients or prospective clients?
  3. How does this information make me better at [X]?

For the 2013 show, my answers were…

  1. I don’t need to know everything about SEO to begin to take on SEO-related work, which I was initially reluctant to do.
  2. Content that highlights my in-depth knowledge of the types of content that resonates with audiences I’d researched/was familiar with.
  3. It makes me more aware of how how search, social, and content fit together.

After hearing Avinash’s quote, I had the theme in my head, for me and for the handful of brands I was consulting at the time: “You won’t win by running the competition’s race; make them chase you.”

MozCon 2013: Avinash Kaushik of Google

This meant I helped them think beyond content, social media, and SEO, and instead had them focus on creating the best content experience possible, which would help them more easily accomplish their goals.

I’ve repeated the process each year since, including in 2016, when I doubled-down on Featured Snippets after seeing Taking the Top Spot: How to Earn More Featured Snippets, by Rob Bucci.

You can do the same.

It all begins with attending the show and being willing to step outside your comfort zone.

What say you?

Are you MozCon bound?

Count me in!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

6 CRO Mistakes You Might Be Making (And How to Fix Them)

Posted by lkolowich

You just ran what you thought was a really promising conversion test. In an effort to raise the number of visitors that convert into demo requests on your product pages, you test an attractive new redesign on one of your pages using a good ol’ A/B test. Half of the people who visit that page see the original product page design, and half see the new, attractive design.

You run the test for an entire month, and as you expected, conversions are up — from 2% to 10%. Boy, do you feel great! You take these results to your boss and advise that, based on your findings, all product pages should be moved over to your redesign. She gives you the go-ahead.

But when you roll out the new design, you notice the number of demo requests goes down. You wonder if it’s seasonality, so you wait a few more months. That’s when you start to notice MRR is decreasing, too. What gives?

Turns out, you didn’t test that page long enough for results to be statistically significant. Because that product page only saw 50 views per day, you would’ve needed to wait until over 150,000 people viewed the page before you could achieve a 95% confidence level — which would take over eight years to accomplish. Because you failed to calculate those numbers correctly, your company is losing business.

A risky business

Miscalculating sample size is just one of the many CRO mistakes marketers make in the CRO space. It’s easy for marketers to trick themselves into thinking they’re improving their marketing, when in fact, they’re leading their business down a dangerous path by basing tests on incomplete research, small sample sizes, and so on.

But remember: The primary goal of CRO is to find the truth. Basing a critical decision on faulty assumptions and tests lacking statistical significance won’t get you there.

To help save you time and overcome that steep learning curve, here are some of the most common mistakes marketers make with conversion rate optimization. As you test and tweak and fine-tune your marketing, keep these mistakes in mind, and keep learning.


6 CRO mistakes you might be making

1) You think of CRO as mostly A/B testing.

Equating A/B testing with CRO is like calling a square a rectangle. While A/B testing is a type of CRO, it’s just one tool of many. A/B testing only covers testing a single variable against another to see which performs better, while CRO includes all manner of testing methodologies, all with the goal of leading your website visitors to take a desired action.

If you think you’re “doing CRO” just by A/B testing everything, you’re not being very smart about your testing. There are plenty of occasions where A/B testing isn’t helpful at all — for example, if your sample size isn’t large enough to collect the proper amount of data. Does the webpage you want to test get only a few hundred visits per month? Then it could take months to round up enough traffic to achieve statistical significance.

If you A/B test a page with low traffic and then decide six weeks down the line that you want to stop the test, then that’s your prerogative — but your test results won’t be based on anything scientific.

A/B testing is a great place to start with your CRO education, but it’s important to educate yourself on many different testing methodologies so you aren’t restricting yourself. For example, if you want to see a major lift in conversions on a webpage in only a few weeks, try making multiple, radical changes instead of testing one variable at a time. Take Weather.com, for example: They changed many different variables on one of their landing pages all at once, including the page design, headline, navigation, and more. The result? A whopping 225% increase in conversions.

2) You don’t provide context for your conversion rates.

When you read that line about the 225% lift in conversions on Weather.com, did you wonder what I meant by “conversions?”

If you did, then you’re thinking like a CRO.

Conversion rates can measure any number of things: purchases, leads, prospects, subscribers, users — it all depends on the goal of the page. Just saying “we saw a huge increase in conversions” doesn’t mean much if you don’t provide people with what the conversion means. In the case of Weather.com, I was referring specifically to trial subscriptions: Weather.com saw a 225% increase in trial subscriptions on that page. Now the meaning of that conversion rate increase is a lot more clear.

But even stating the metric isn’t telling the whole story. When exactly was that test run? Different days of the week and of the month can yield very different conversion rates.

conversion-rate-fluctuation.png

For that reason, even if your test achieves 98% significance after three days, you still need to run that test for the rest of the full week because of how different conversion rate can be on different days. Same goes for months: Don’t run a test during the holiday-heavy month of December and expect the results to be the same as if you’d run it for the month of March. Seasonality will affect your conversion rate.

Other things that can have a major impact on conversion rate? Device type is one. Visitors might be willing to fill out that longer form on desktop, but are mobile visitors converting at the same rate? Better investigate. Channel is another: Be wary of reporting “average” conversion rates. If some channels have much higher conversion rates than others, you should consider treating the channels differently.

Finally, remember that conversion rate isn’t the most important metric for your business. It’s important that your conversions are leading to revenue for the company. If you made your product free, I’ll bet your conversion rates would skyrocket — but you wouldn’t be making any money, would you? Conversion rate doesn’t always tell you whether your business is doing better than it was. Be careful that you aren’t thinking of conversions in a vacuum so you don’t steer off-course.

3) You don’t really understand the statistics.

One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started learning CRO was thinking I could rely on what I remembered from my college statistics courses to run conversion tests. Just because you’re running experiments does not make you a scientist.

Statistics is the backbone of CRO, and if you don’t understand it inside and out, then you won’t be able to run proper tests and could seriously derail your marketing efforts.

What if you stop your test too early because you didn’t wait to achieve 98% statistical significance? After all, isn’t 90% good enough?

No, and here’s why: Think of statistical significance like placing a bet. Are you really willing to bet on 90% odds on your test results? Running a test to 90% significance and then declaring a winner is like saying, “I’m 90% sure this is the right design and I’m willing to bet everything on it.” It’s just not good enough.

If you’re in need of a statistics refresh, don’t panic. It’ll take discipline and practice, but it’ll make you into a much better marketer — and it’ll make your testing methodology much, much tighter. Start by reading this Moz post by Craig Bradford, which covers sample size, statistical significance, confidence intervals, and percentage change.

4) You don’t experiment on pages or campaigns that are already doing well.

Just because something is doing well doesn’t mean you should just leave it be. Often, it’s these marketing assets that have the highest potential to perform even better when optimized. Some of our biggest CRO wins here at HubSpot have come from assets that were already performing well.

I’ll give you two examples.

The first comes from a project run by Pam Vaughan on HubSpot’s web strategy team, called “historical optimization.” The project involved updating and republishing old blog posts to generate more traffic and leads.

But this didn’t mean updating just any old blog posts; it meant updating the blog posts that were already the most influential in generating traffic and leads. In her attribution analysis, Pam made two surprising discoveries:

  • 76% of our monthly blog views came from “old” posts (in other words, posts published prior to that month).
  • 92% of our monthly blog leads also came from “old” posts.

Why? Because these were the blog posts that had slowly built up search authority and were ranking on search engines like Google. They were generating a ton of organic traffic month after month after month.

The goal of the project, then, was to figure out: a) how to get more leads from our high-traffic but low-converting blog posts; and b) how to get more traffic to our high-converting posts. By optimizing these already high-performing posts for traffic and conversions, we more than doubled the number of monthly leads generated by the old posts we’ve optimized.

hubspot-conversion-increase-chart.jpg

Another example? In the last few weeks, Nick Barrasso from our marketing acquisition team did a leads audit of our blog. He discovered that some of our best-performing blog posts for traffic were actually leading readers to some of our worst-performing offers.

To give a lead conversion lift to 50 of these high-traffic, low-converting posts, Nick conducted a test in which he replaced each post’s primary call-to-action with a call-to-action leading visitors to an offer that was most tightly aligned with the post’s topic and had the highest submission rate. After one week, these posts generated 100% more leads than average.

The bottom line is this: Don’t focus solely on optimizing marketing assets that need the most work. Many times, you’ll find that the lowest-hanging fruit are pages that are already performing well for traffic and/or leads and, when optimized even further, can result in much bigger lifts.

5) You base your CRO tests on tactics instead of research.

When it comes to CRO, process is everything. Remove your ego and assumptions from the equation, stop relying on individual tactics to optimize your marketing, and instead take a systematic approach to CRO.

Your CRO process should always start with research. In fact, conducting research should be the step you spend the most time on. Why? Because the research and analysis you do in this step will lead you to the problems — and it’s only when you know where the problems lie that you can come up with a hypothesis for overcoming them.

Remember that test I just talked about that doubled leads for 50 top HubSpot blog posts in a week? Nick didn’t just wake up one day and realize our high-traffic blog posts might be leading to low-performing offers. He discovered this only by doing hours and hours of research into our lead gen strategy from the blog.

Paddy Moogan wrote a great post on Moz on where to look for data in the research stage. What does your sales process look like, for example? Have you ever reviewed the full funnel? “Try to find where the most common drop-off points are and take a deeper dive into why,” he suggests.

Here’s an (oversimplified) overview of what a CRO process should look like:

  • Step 1: Do your research.
  • Step 2: Form and validate your hypothesis.
  • Step 3: Establish your control, and create a treatment.
  • Step 4: Conduct the experiment.
  • Step 5: Analyze your experiment data.
  • Step 6: Conduct a follow-up experiment.

As you go through these steps, be sure you’re recording your hypothesis, test methodology, success criteria, and analysis in a replicable way. My team at HubSpot uses the template below, which was inspired by content from Brian Balfour’s online Reforge Growth programs. We’ve created an editable version in Google Sheets here that you can copy and customize yourself.

hubspot-experiment-template.png

Don’t forget the last step in the process: Conduct a follow-up experiment. What can you refine for your next test? How can you make improvements?

6) You give up after a “failed” test.

One of the most important pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten around CRO is this: “A test doesn’t ‘fail’ unless something breaks. You either get the result you want, or you learned something.”

It came from Sam Woods, a growth marketer, CRO, and copywriter at HubSpot, after I used the word “fail” a few too many times after months of unsuccessful tests on a single landing page.

test-doesnt-fail.png

What he taught me was a major part of the CRO mindset: Don’t give up after the first test. (Or the second, or the third.) Instead, approach every test systematically and objectively, putting aside your previous assumptions and any hope that the results would swing one way or the other.

As Peep Laja said, “Genuine CROs are always willing to change their minds.” Learn from tests that didn’t go the way you expected, use them to tweak your hypothesis, and then iterate, iterate, iterate.

I hope this list has inspired you to double down on your CRO skills and take a more systematic approach to your experiments. Mastering conversion rate optimization comes with a steep learning curve — and there’s really no cutting corners. You can save a whole lot of time (and money) by avoiding the mistakes I outlined above.

Have you ever made any of these CRO mistakes? Do you have any CRO mistakes to add to the list? Tell us about your experiences and ideas in the comments.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Gated or Non-Gated Content: When? Why? How…

Gated Content

Reaching your audience by intersecting with their digital behaviors is getting inherently more accessible through targeted advertising and media. Getting your brand to the forefront of your buyer’s mind, helping them become more aware of your brand and hopefully entering them into the well-known buyer’s journey is substantially harder. It takes is content that resonates with their needs and interests, and is served to them at optimal times to fuel that process.

However, the question that continues to be asked is should you “hide” some of that content from your audience?

Depending on your business objectives, hiding or “gating” some of your content can be incredibly affective for lead generation, data gathering, segmentation, email marketing, and creating an impression of value or thought leadership with your content.

Why Gate Content?

Gating content can be a very valuable tactic when looking to build nurture campaigns and gather information about your target audience. The problem that occurs when gating too much content is that you exclude possible audiences, most specifically search users. If your content is publicly accessible on your website—but gated—that gate can prevent audiences from finding or seeing it. The strategy of gating content is quite simply to encourages users to provide information about themselves in a form to receive the pay-off.

The risk with gating content is equally simple: withholding the wrong content may deter your audience from further engaging with your brand.

Analyzing Content for Gating/Not Gating?

The way to analyze which content is best to gate and not gate can be separated into three categories:

  1. Customer Journey Stage
  2. Search Query Volume
  3. Hyper-Targeted, Good Content

Questions for Customer Journey Stage:

  • What phase in the customer’s journey are they in?
  • Are they top-of-the-funnel and just learning about your company?
  • Do they know your brand?

Gated content is significantly more effective for nurturing and gathering data when the customer is between the consideration and acquisition phase because they are more willing to give their information to receive valued content. By creating that “velvet rope effect” of exclusivity, the user is more likely to provide more information for “premium” content, but if all content is gated, it loses its targeted effect.

It is also more valuable to gate specific consideration and acquisition content for your company because you can target their audience better and keep the audience engaged.

Questions for Search Query Volume:

  • What are the key search terms used in this content?
  • Are people searching these terms?
  • Do we want people who search these terms to find our content or not?
  • Is the search audience our intended users?

Gated content segments searchers out from valuable content so if you don’t believe that organic audience will find value in your content, removing it from search (gating it) will very easily do that. The biggest challenge when answering these questions is determining whether you will miss out on valuable organic search traffic by gating content. Use Google Webmaster Tools to identify if the audience that is searching for your key terms within the content is large enough. If those searchers are your intended users, consider leaving the content ungated.

Additionally, by tagging content against its stage in the customer journey, you allow yourself to build out a customized journey funnel. For example, awareness (top-of-the-funnel) content can be more generalized and public-facing while further down that funnel the user goes, the more valuable the content is for them. Just like anything of value, people are willing to “give/pay” for it.

Questions for Hyper-Targeted Content:

  • Is this content specifically focused around a program, industry, product, audience, etc.?
  • Would the general public find this content to be appealing or relevant? 
  • Is the content specific enough or too vague?

In addition to mapping content to the customer journey and understanding the organic search value of your content, there’s also the consideration of the problem your content solves. Very specific content that addresses an exact need, desire, pain point, research category, etc. improves the chances of the audience disclosing their personal information. That information can then be used to segment site visitors, personas, and look alike profiles into proper campaigns to be later leveraged in other multi-channel marketing touches such as email, marketing automation/lead nurturing, or social distribution.

Conclusion:

Ultimately, gating vs. not gating content can be properly activated in a strategic funnel approach. The common recommendation would be to tag the content appropriately and address which pieces would be valued as “premium” or not.

At a time when digital users are consistently inundated with the most relevant content to them, it is important to understand how to nurture them through a strategic mix of gated and ungated content. Intersecting their behaviors is key to that first touch, but the right content, at the right time, for the right “price” to the user is what will keep them coming back.


© 2016 DK New Media.

Paint by Numbers: Using Data to Produce Great Content

Posted by rjonesx.

It’s not every day that I write about content. To be honest, it’s probably a once-a-year kind of thing. I will readily admit that I’m a “links are king” kind of SEO, and have been since starting in this industry more than a decade ago. However, I do look over the fence from time to time to see if the grass is greener and, on occasion, I actually like what I see. Prior to joining Moz, I was a consultant at an agency like many of you reading this blog post. More often than not, one of the key concerns of my clients was what to write about. It seems that webmasters and business owners alike can easily acquire writer’s block after trudging through the uninspiring task of turning a list of keywords into website copy. So where do you look when you have run out of words

Numbers.

Alright, stick with me here. I imagine for some of you the idea of poring over numbers to remedy writer’s block would be like trying to stop a headache with a brick. It’s adding insult to injury. What I hope to show you in the next couple of paragraphs is how data can be an incredible source of inspiration in writing, especially if you can hit a few key principles: expose, relate, surprise, and share.

Expose

Chances are your business or website generates some amount of unique, first party data that you can expose to the world. It might be from analytics, your rank tracker like Moz, or from raw user data if you operate a forum. I’ll give you examples of how you might tap into these resources (especially when they don’t seem obvious or plenteous) but let’s start with a canonical example of one great use of first-party data in an industry that seems directly at odds with — dating.

The thought of quantifying and analyzing our love lives seems like an oxymoron of sorts. However, one of the most successful uses of data for content has been produced by the team at OK Cupid, whose “data”-tagged blog posts have earned thousands of solid backlinks and enviable traffic. The team at OK Cupid accomplishes this by tapping their huge resource for unique data, generated by their user base. Let’s look at one quick example: Congrats Graduates: No One Gives a Sh*t.

22% of female and 16% of male millenials say a college degree is mandatory for dating.

The blog post is fairly straightforward (and not particularly long) but it used unique data that isn’t really available to the average person. Because OK Cupid is in a privileged position, they can provide this kind of insight to their audience at large.

But maybe you don’t have a million customers with profiles on your site; where can you look for first party data? Well, here are a couple of ideas of the types of data your company or organization might have which can easily be turned into interesting content:

  • Google Analytics, Search Console data and Adwords data: Do you see trends around holidays that are interesting? Perhaps you notice that more people search for certain keywords at certain times. This could be even more interesting if there’s a local holiday (like a festival or event) that makes your data unique from the rest of the country.
  • Sales data: When do your sales go up or down? Do they coincide with events? Or do they happen to coincide with completely different types of keywords? Try using Google Correlate, which will identify keywords that follow the same patterns as your data.
  • Survey data: Use your sales or lead history to run surveys and generate insightful content.
    • A clothing store could compare responses to questions about personality by the colors of clothing that people purchase (Potential headline: Is It True What They Say About Red?)
    • A car parts store could compare the size of certain accessories to favorite sports (Potential headline: Big Trucks and Big Hits)
    • An insurance provider could compare the type of insurance requested vs. the level of education (Potential headline: What Smart People Do Differently with Insurance)

There are probably tons more sources of unique, first-party data that you or your business have generated over the years which can be turned into great content. If you dig through the data long enough, you’ll hit pay dirt.

Relate

Data is foreign. It’s a language almost no one speaks in their day-to-day conversations, a notation meant for machines. This consideration requires that we make data immediately relatable to our readers. We shouldn’t just ask “What does the data say?”, but instead “What does the data say to me?” How we make data relatable is simple — organize your data by how people identify themselves. This can be geographic, economic, biological, social, or cultural distinctions with which we regularly categorize ourselves.

Many of the best examples of this kind of strategy involve geography (perhaps because everyone lives somewhere, and it’s pretty non-controversial to make generic claims about one location or another). Take a look at a map of your country and try not to look first towards where you live. I’m a North Carolinian, and I almost immediately find myself interested in anything that compares my state to others.

So maybe you aren’t OK Cupid with millions of users and you can’t find unique data to share — don’t worry, there’s still hope. The example below is a rather ingenious method of using Google Adwords data to build a geographical story that’s relatable to any potential customer in the United States. The webmasters at Opulent used state-level Keyword Planner to visualize popularity across the country in a piece they call the “State of Style.

When I found this on Reddit’s DataIsBeautiful (where most of these examples come from), I immediately checked to see what performed best in North Carolina. I honestly couldn’t care less about popular fashion or jewelry brands, but my interest in North Carolina eclipsed that lack of interest. Geography-based data visualization has produced successful content related to in sports, politics, beer, and even knitting.

If you walk away with any practical ideas from this post, I think this example has got to be it. Fire up an Adwords campaign and find out how consumer demand breaks down in your industry at a state-by-state level. Are you a marketer and want to attract clients in a particular sector? Here’s your chance to write a whitepaper on national demand. If you’re a local business, you can target Google Keyword Planner to your city and compare it to other cities around the country.

Surprise

Perhaps the greatest opportunity with data-focused content is the chance to truly surprise your reader. There’s something exciting about learning an interesting fact (who hasn’t seen one of these lying around and didn’t pick it up?). So, how do you make your data “pop?” How do you make numbers fascinating?

Perspective.

Let’s start with a simple statistic:

The cost of ending polio between 2013 and 2018 is

$5.5 Billion Dollars.

How does that number feel to you? Does it feel big or little? Is it interesting on its own? Probably not, let’s try and spice it up a bit.

$5.5 billion dollars doesn’t seem that much when you realize people spend that amount on iPhones every 2 weeks. We could rid the world of polio for that much! Or, what if we present it like this…

In this light, it seems almost insane to spend that much money preventing just a couple more polio cases relative to the huge gains we could make on malaria. Of course, the statistics don’t tell the full story. Polio is in the end-stages of eradication where the cost-per-case is much higher, and as malaria is attacked, it too will see cost-per-case increase. But the point remains the same: by giving the polio numbers some sort of context, some sort of forced perspective, we make the data far more intriguing and appealing.

So how would this work with content for your own site? Let’s look at an example from BestPlay.co, which wrote a piece on Board Games are Getting Worse. Board games aren’t a data-centric industry, but that doesn’t keep them from producing awesome content with data. Here’s a generic graph they provide in the piece which shows off average board game ratings.

There really isn’t much to see here. There’s nothing intrinsically shocking about the data as we look at it. So how do they add perspective to make their point and give the user intrigue? Simple — apply a historical perspective.

With this historical perspective, we can see board game scores getting better and better up until 2012, when they began to take a dive — the first multi-year dive in their recorded history. To draw users in, you use comparison to provide surprising perspectives.

Share

This final method is the one that I think is most overlooked. Once you’ve created your fancy piece of content, let your audience do some leg work for you by releasing the data set. There’s an entire community of the Internet just looking for great data sets which could take advantage of your data and cite your content in their own publications. You can find everything from All of Donald Trump’s Tweets to Everything Lost at TSA to Hand-drawn Pictures of Pineapples. While there is a good chance your data set won’t ever be used, it can pick up a couple of extra links in the event that it does.

Putting it all together

What happens when a webmaster combines these types of methods — exposing unique data, making it relatable and surprising, even for a topic that seems averse to data? You get something like this: Jeans vs. Leggings.

This piece played the geography card for relatability:

They compared user interest in jeans to give perspective to the growth of demand for leggings:

Slice.com reveals their first-party data to make interesting, data-driven content that ultimately scores them links from sites like In Style Magazine, Shape.com, and the NY Post. Looking at fashion through the lens of data meant great traffic and great shares.

How do I get started?

Get down and dirty with the data. Don’t wait until you end up with a nice report in your hand, but start slicing and dicing things looking for interesting patterns or results. You can start with the data you already have: Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google Adwords, and, if you’re a Moz customer, even your rank tracking data or keyword research data. If none of these avenues work, dig through the amazing data resources found on Reddit or WebHose. Look for a story in the numbers by relating the data to your audience and making comparisons to provide perspective. It isn’t a foolproof formula, but it is pretty close. The right slice of data will cut straight through writer’s block.

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If Your Content Team Just Did This, You’d Be Winning

Winning

There’s plenty of articles out there already on how terrible most content is that’s out there. And there are millions of articles on how to write great content. However, I don’t believe either type of article is especially helpful. I believe the root of poor content that doesn’t perform is just one factor – poor research. Poorly researching the topic, the audience, the goals, the competition, etc. is resulting in terrible content that lacks the elements necessary to win.

Marketers want to spend more on content marketing, but they’re still struggling with producing engaging content (60%) and measuring performance (57%). Sujan Patel

Not only are we struggling to produce and measure our content strategies, we’re actually producing more content than can even be consumed. My good friend Mark Schaefer, calls this content shock.

I know that you are under a barrage of distractions from increasingly amazing content. For me to simply maintain the “mindshare” I have with you today on this blog, I am going to have to create significantly better content, which of course will take significantly more time. I will probably have to pay Facebook and others to give you a chance to even see it because of this content competition for attention. Mark Schaefer

The problem continues to plague marketers over the last few years, so I’ve been working with different education institutions on developing their curriculums for content marketing. Overall, I’ve developed our agile marketing journey, and the training within incorporates a process for our teams to develop content for our clients and our own properties.

It’s not simple and requires effort, but here’s a checklist to ensure your team is going to produce the best content possible:

Winning Content Checklist

  1. Goals – What are you trying to achieve with your content? Is it being published to build awareness, engagement, authority, drive conversions, improve retention, upsell clients, or improve the overall customer experience? How are you going to measure whether or not it actually worked?
  2. Audience – Who are you writing to and where are they? This not only dictates how you develop your content, it will also lead you to publish and promote your content on different platforms or in different mediums.
  3. Market – How is your content going to make a mark in your industry? What does it need in order to drive attention and engagement?
  4. Research – What statistics are out there that back up your content? The statistics are almost always readily available and simple to find. Using Google, for instance, we looked up content marketing statistics to find Sujan’s quote above.Content Performance Statistics
  5. Competition – What content has your competition produced on the topic? How can you outperform their content? We often do a simple SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) of our client and the topic to incorporate differentiators and really drive their goals home. Using SEMRush and Buzzsumo, we can analyze the best ranking and most shared content on that topic.
  6. Assets – Featured images, diagrams, supporting screenshots, audio, video… what are all the other assets you can combine into your content to ensure it’s winning content?
  7. Writing – Our style of writing, grammar, spelling, defining the problem, validating our advice, developing a call-to-action… all of it is necessary to produce content that is worthy of our audience’s attention.

Regardless of whether it’s a tweet, an article, or a white paper, we continue to see success when we develop the pre-assembly line to developing our content. On many projects, we work with separate teams from all over the globe to bring together the assets necessary to produce great content. We have research teams for capturing statistics and influencers, interns for analysis, design teams for graphics, and a selection of writers who are hand-picked for their style and aptitude on the topics.

Content Optimization

And even after we publish the content, we’re not done yet. We watch how it performs on search and social, adjust titles and meta descriptions for greater performance, enhance older content with graphics and videos, and sometimes even republish the articles as new articles when it makes sense. Every decision with respect to our content is made to ensure it’s winning, not just published.


© 2016 DK New Media.

Vecteezy Editor: A Free SVG Editor Online

Vecteezy: Free Online SVG Editor

Modern browsers are doing a great job supporting the scalable vector graphics format (SVG). If you’re wondering what that gobbledygook means, here’s a quick explanation. Let’s say you have a piece of graph paper and you want to draw a bar down the page, filling in 10 squares. You fill in each square independently with a square sticker and record the square x and y coordinates to remember which ones you filled in. You basically just saved a raster format… listing the 10 squares you filled in. If you sent that to another person, they could repeat the process.

As an alternative, you cut a piece of the sticker the equivalent of 10 squares in length, place it in the first square, then align it and stick the rest to the paper. That would be a vector. Knowing the start position, the direction, and the length of the sticker, you could pass that information onto the next person and they could repeat the process.

You can see how this comes in handy. If you wanted to paint a photo of a person, a rastor strategy would work great because you need to know the color and location of every pixel. But if you wanted to draw a cartoon, you could just have collections of vectors that you can assemble. If you want to resize the rastor larger, you’ve got a problem. The output image may look blurry. But if you want to resize the vector larger, it’s just math to recalculate coordinates – no distortion.

Raster versus Vector

Common raster files are bmp, gif, jpg/jpeg, and png. Common vector files are svg. Platforms like Adobe Photoshop are designed to build raster files but can actually have vector elements embedded. Adobe Illustrator his built for vector files but can have raster elements embedded. Both can output to files like tiff and eps which can also contain a combination of elements.

For this reason, most illustrations and logos are saved in a vector format.

What is the SVG Format?

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is an XML-based vector image format for two-dimensional graphics with support for interactivity and animation. The SVG specification is an open standard developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) since 1999. SVG images and their behaviors are defined in XML text files.

Because they’re XML, SVGs can be searched, indexed, scripted, and compressed. If you’re working with any modern vector-based illustration package, you can typically output an SVG file.

Vecteezy: A Free, Online SVG Editor

Vecteezy has built a free, online SVG editor that’s quite robust! It boasts a friendly interface that’s easy for beginners and powerful for professionals. Features include keyboard shortcuts, advanced transformations and more. And because it’s built into a site, there’s no software to download or install. You can also output your vector as a static png file.


© 2016 DK New Media.