Analytics are a big part of all StoryTech Consulting client engagements. Specific success metrics vary by account, but every content marketing program needs data to show what content is resonating and how that content is contributing to shortening the sales cycle.
My clients use many different analytic packages, but Google Analytics is often the starting point. Google Analytics is a powerful tool, and even more importantly it’s free. In a perfect world every client would have a healthy budget for sophisticated backend analytic platforms, but unfortunately that is not always the case.
Recently a client asked me to get more out of Google Analytics. She wanted more specific information about anonymous visitors to our branded publication. Anonymous refers to the fact these visitors had not taken any action to share information with us — sign up for email, registered for a white paper, etc. More detailed information was needed to engage the sales team and let them know as much as possible about which companies were consuming our thought leadership content.
We wanted to get four dimensions on specific visits — Network Domain, physical location, source and content accessed. For example — Company X in San Jose visited via a LinkedIn click and read our story about Y.
I’m fairly proficient with Google Analytics and knew that most of this information was tracked. I had no idea, however, how to pull it regularly as part of an automated report. So I began reaching out and talking to very knowledgeable people in the area of analytics about how to make this happen.
It was surprisingly difficult to get an answer. Google Analytics provides hundreds of preformatted dashboards providing all kinds of information, but none of them provided these four metrics. I spoke to a couple of analytic firms that couldn’t work on the problem without me committing to spending thousands of dollars.
I found the answer by leveraging the wisdom of the crowd via the freelancer site Upwork. For a reasonable project fee, I found an excellent freelancer who used the Google Analytics public API to pull just the information my client needed. Now I’m providing a much clearer picture of anonymous visitors every week, and I have a methodology that can be replicated for other clients.
The report isn’t perfect by a long shot. Of course we don’t know individual identity. The location information is based on reverse IP lookup, and won’t be accurate unless the visitor is accessing our publication from their company network. (A lot of times the visitor’s ISP is shown as the network domain, and the report weeds those out.) The new report is no substitute for giving visitors compelling reasons to self-identify, for example via newsletter lists and proprietary research.
That said, it provides what we needed and the sales team is jazzed by the additional visibility. We’ll continue to review additional analytics tools for future use. In the meantime, getting the clearest visitor information possible from Google Analytics has given this content marketing campaign a strong foundation for success.
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