Many association editorial departments have seen their resources cut: less budget, less team members, at the same time social and rich media demands are increasing the workload.

There are things that can help you perform in the face of these realities, like employing time shifting, creating a content governance system, having a razor sharp organization-wide content strategy, and putting analytics to work for you.

One editor said to me: “I agree there’s value in tracking analytics, but I am not trained in analytics. I am not experienced in evaluating them and I don’t think I know what to look for.”

He’s typical of editorial teams in that he is not accustomed to using analytics. He doesn’t even have access to their organization’s analytics. This means he can’t see the stats of people interacting with the content assets his department produces or the urls that they map through their social channels. How is he supposed to innovate and create content that his audience values if he can’t learn from what works best vs. what didn’t draw attention?

Why is it that associations seem to only track “sales/marketing” content? I think it is because there is an expectation of accountability for responses and outcomes from marketing projects. Well, editorial teams are marketing too, they’re content marketing. Except, without the tracking and measuring the marketing part isn’t going to perform too well.

As a content curator, don’t you want to know which article got the most views, which tweets pulled in the most traffic, which content topics got the most tweets, shares or likes?

Here are some suggestions of what to look for in your analytics. If you’re new to using analytics or thinking about how to utilize this tool with your content then this can help you identify where to start. The data you collect can demonstrate to your organization why you need access to analytics, or at least some reports to start.

• How many people come to our site from the links that our content team puts out there (referrals)?
• What is the average time spent on our content?
• What is the average time spent on the site as a whole?
• Which content product was the most read (clicked on) last week, month, year?
• Which content product was the most liked or shared last week, month, year?
• Which content product was the most commented upon last week, month, year?
• What are the most frequent search terms?
• Which search term is bringing people to our team’s content?
• What content is getting clickthroughs from the eblasts?
• How many annual meeting attendees are active readers of our content?
• How many readers of our content also made purchases?
• What other actions were taken by readers of our content (went to the bookstore, downoad an ebook, watch a video)?
• How much time do readers spend on our longer content assets compared to the fast-to-digest assets?
• Which social sites are our visitors coming from? (you tweeted a link, or placed a teaser on Facebook)

The data you collect, and even the users’ comments, will inform your understanding of your audience’s needs and will help you formulate a C-suite level position to protect what’s left of your resources. Use the goals of your organization-wide content strategy to further support your resource needs and to close the loop on your content efforts to ensure that you are delivering results.

The Analytics Platform of the Future

The race is on. More than a few companies are frantically focused on developing the new analytics platforms of the future. Imagine if marketers can track an individual’s engagement with all the channels within one campaign, deeper engagement will be indicative of stronger prospects. Profiling the characteristics of those prospects will help companies connect with more like people, or more accurately for B2B, like groups. It’s not here yet, but it will be soon.

If analytics will be that comprehensive and useful, do you think that editorial teams will be precluded from using such a robust tool to their advantage? No way.

So, how do you get started?
• Formulate your strategy to employ analytics-gathered data.
• Ensure that you have a well-defined content strategy that is aligned with your organization’s business goals.
• Develop a c-suite-level argument to support a process change for your team to start working with analytics.
•  Identify your team members’ roles for monitoring analytics and reporting.
• Identify what data you will start monitoring.