INBOX INSIGHTS, July 7, 2022: Outdated Plans, Personal Branding, Content Marketing Analytics

INBOX INSIGHTS: Outdated Plans, Personal Branding, Content Marketing Analytics (7/6) :: View in browser

Inbox Insights from Trust Insights

Take our new Google Analytics 4 for Marketers Course »

Outdated Plans in a Modern World

I saw something floating around the internet last week about how the Constitution, written over 200 years ago, was written by men who didn’t believe in science or had electricity. I’m paraphrasing since I can’t seem to track down the exact post.

Take heart, this is not a political post that goes into America’s history. I wanted to use that for reference since that’s what got me thinking; business plans.

Most, if not all companies, have a business plan. I say most because I know there are quite a few that operate without one.

Let’s start at the top. What is a business plan? It’s the roadmap for how your company is going to operate. It should cover basic things like who is your target audience and how you’re going to make money.

When I worked as a Product Manager and we were transitioning from clinical trials to commercial products I was asked to write a business plan for my product lines. It was an interesting exercise that helped me understand the need to do a lot of research upfront. I didn’t realize that the second I finished researching and writing, it was out of date. I helped my product line evolve from being available on a floppy disk, to a CD-ROM, to a web offering. And the business plan was never updated. The plan had sections that were for future thinking, but we never went back to see if what we thought would happen was correct.

This is where I started thinking – when was the last time you reviewed your business plan? If you’re a smaller business, you have likely reviewed it recently – or at least know where it lives. This is not always the case for larger companies.

I worked with a larger client that, in a lot of ways, operated like it was 1983. The target audiences, the strategies, and the offerings were all firmly aligned with a very outdated business plan. However, because this company was so large, getting the business plan updated with the current century would be a Herculean effort. If they aren’t able to “get with the times” they will fall behind their competitors and alienate their customers.

So, what do we do when we face this situation? How do we move forward in a modern world with outdated plans?

Don’t try to boil the ocean

While not my favorite metaphor, in this situation it fits. Trying to overhaul documentation that guides a company is a lot of work. Instead, prioritize the sections that are the most broken. Start by asking two questions.

  • Are we providing products/services that people need?
  • Are we targeting the right audience?

If you said no to any of these, this is where you’ll want to start. In marketing, we focus a lot on the target audience and we know that it’s ever-changing. People don’t stay static and where they get information is a moving target. Our marketing plans are living, breathing documents that we update regularly. For some reason, we don’t treat our business plans the same way, they tend to be set in stone. Reviewing your business plan is an opportunity to realign with your teams. They are the ones that are in the weeds. Ask them what’s going on, what’s changed, and what customers are saying.

Here is my challenge for you. Make your sections of your business plan as fluid as your marketing plan. Your audience is always changing, therefore so should your offerings. When you do your annual planning, make time to also review your business plan so that you don’t find yourself 200 years from now trying to operate from antiquated ideas.

Want to talk about how to make your business plan fluid?

cCome find me in our free Slack group, Analytics for Marketers.

– Katie Robbert, CEO

Share With A Colleague

Do you have a colleague or friend who needs this newsletter? Send them this link to help them get their own copy:

https://www.trustinsights.ai/newsletter

Binge Watch and Listen

In this episode, John and Chris discuss a roundup of the most commonly identified content marketing trends. Which trends are real, actual trends and which trends are simply recycled advice? What are the trends marketers are not paying attention to? Tune in to find out!

Watch/listen to this episode of In-Ear Insights here »

Last week on So What? The Marketing Analytics and Insights Live show, we looked at personal brand strategies. Catch the replay here »

This Thursday at 1 PM Eastern, we’ll be doing a content marketing AMA. Are you following our YouTube channel? If not, click/tap here to follow us!

Need a reminder? Click here for a calendar appointment:

In Case You Missed It

Here’s some of our content from recent days that you might have missed. If you read something and enjoy it, please share it with a friend or colleague!

Paid Training Classes

Take your skills to the next level with our premium courses.

Free Training Classes

Get skilled up with an assortment of our free, on-demand classes.

Data Diaries - Interesting Data We Found

In this week’s Data Diaries, let’s try to solve a content marketing mystery. While I was preparing for this week’s podcast episode, I stumbled across an article from early in the year talking about the different factors that make up top performing content online. This article talked about all manner of content marketing metrics, from incoming links to article length to topic, presenting each particular datatype as being important for content performance.

The article made claims that articles over X length do better, articles with X number of links do better, etc. – fairly common content marketing advice. This piqued my curiosity. How true are these claims?

The first question we always must ask is, is this a solvable problem? Is there any way of proving true or false the claims in the article? If we follow the basic data science lifecycle process, we have a clear goal: to identify whether or not any of these content marketing factors have an actual relationship with top performing content.

From there we look at what data is available to us. With SEO tools like AHREFS, Semrush, etc., we can look at the broad performance of public content, especially top-performing public content, and see clear outcomes like the amount of traffic a piece of content has earned. To get a sense of the top content, we’ll start with articles using the terms a, and, or the – some of the most common words in the English language.

AHREFS content explorer

With a clear, obvious KPI – traffic – we are a large step closer to answering our question. Next, we need to see the actual data itself. What fields are in there, and what fields might we need to create?

Data fields available in content explorer

We have lots of choices to work with, and a few things we need to get rid of. The row number can go, as can the HTTP code. We should also look at the sites by their domain name, like nytimes.com or cnn.com. And we might want to consider things like hour of day, day of week, and so forth.

In the data science lifecycle, this would be data engineering – ingest, analyze, repair, clean, and prepare. We’ll also remove variables that are strong correlates, that won’t lend any additional insight, such as traffic value (a correlate of traffic) and website traffic value (a correlate of website traffic). In both cases, these are causal variables that won’t explain anything – a website will not have high traffic value without traffic, and traffic value cannot create traffic, broadly speaking.

Once we’re happy with our data, it’s time to hand off the next step in our process to the machines, to a set of machine learning algorithms called AutoAI from IBM. Why? The next step in the process is to find out which variables, alone or in combination, have a statistical relationship to the outcome we care about, traffic. The best practice is to test out dozens of different algorithms and determine which algorithms fit best to our data, while accounting for common data science problems like overfitting (when you choose something that fits TOO well to your sample data and then the real world data doesn’t work as well).

We could do that by hand, but systems like IBM Watson AutoAI have already automated it:

IBM Watson output

While this is a cool visualization of how Watson made its choices, we need to look specifically at the results:

IBM Watson detailed results table

What we see are two measures of accuracy, RMSE – root mean squared error – and R-squared. In overly simplified terms, RMSE measures how widely our models vary in accuracy and R-squared explains how well our models describe the data. R-squared is measured from -1 to +1; the closer to the extremes, the better the fit.

What does this tell us? In short, it tells us that none of the variables we’ve provided have any descriptive or predictive power for traffic. Not word count, not social shares, not even inbound linking domains in this dataset will accurately predict traffic – which means we would be hard-pressed to describe a causal relationship.

Why? Why wouldn’t these tried and true factors have a relationship with traffic when every content marketing publication on the planet tells us they’re important? Because the most popular content isn’t driven by technical metrics. It’s driven by externalities – specifically, current events. Let’s take a look at phrase frequencies in this dataset of most trafficked content:

Bigrams of dataset

We clearly see these are all external events. You could have zero of the best practices in content marketing in play as long as you were creating content about these events – the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the World Cup, COVID, the Supreme Court – and your content would do well.

So what? The danger of looking at top-performing content by attributes you haven’t proven are valuable is that you may spend a lot of your time optimizing that content for things that may not matter. Articles that give broad advice about what works in content should disclose exactly what content was analyzed so we can all judge whether or not those characteristics matter or not.

The logical followup question is, do these characteristics matter for content that isn’t top news? The answer would be to repeat the same process, but using a more targeted dataset rather than top news articles.

Methodology: Trust Insights extracted 23,937 unique articles from the AHREFS SEO tool based on the keywords a, and, and the in the English language, excluding explicit content. The timeframe of the data is January 1, 2022 – July 4, 2022. The date of study is July 6, 2022. Trust Insights is the sole sponsor of the study and neither gave nor received compensation for data used, beyond applicable service fees to software vendors, and declares no competing interests.

Trust Insights In Action
Weekly Wrapup

This is a roundup of the best content you and others have written and shared in the last week.

SEO, Google, and Paid Media

Social Media Marketing

Content Marketing

Data Science and AI

Join the Slack Group

Are you a member of our free Slack group, Analytics for Marketers? Join 2400+ like-minded marketers who care about data and measuring their success. Membership is free – join today. Members also receive sneak peeks of upcoming data, credible third-party studies we find and like, and much more. Join today!

Blatant Advertisement

We heard you loud and clear. On Slack, in surveys, at events, you’ve said you want one thing more than anything else: Google Analytics 4 training.

We heard you, and we’ve got you covered. The new Trust Insights Google Analytics 4 For Marketers Course is the comprehensive training solution that will get you up to speed thoroughly in Google Analytics 4.

What makes this different than other training courses?

  • You’ll learn how Google Tag Manager and Google Data Studio form the essential companion pieces to Google Analytics 4, and how to use them all together
  • You’ll learn how marketers specifically should use Google Analytics 4, including the new Explore Hub with real world applications and use cases
  • You’ll learn how to determine if a migration was done correctly, and especially what things are likely to go wrong
  • You’ll even learn how to hire (or be hired) for Google Analytics 4 talent specifically, not just general Google Analytics
  • And finally, you’ll learn how to rearrange Google Analytics 4’s menus to be a lot more sensible because that bothers everyone

With more than 5 hours of content across 17 lessons, plus templates, spreadsheets, transcripts, and certificates of completion, you’ll master Google Analytics 4 in ways no other course can teach you.

Click/tap here to enroll today »

Interested in sponsoring INBOX INSIGHTS? Contact us for sponsorship options to reach over 22,000 analytically-minded marketers and business professionals every week.

Upcoming Events

Where can you find Trust Insights face-to-face?

  • MAICON, August 2022, Cleveland, OH, USA – use code PENN150 for $150 off any conference ticket
  • Content Marketing World, September 2022, Cleveland, OH, USA
  • MarketingProfs B2B Forum, October 2022, Boston, MA, USA
  • Heapcon, November 2022, Belgrade, Serbia

Going to a conference we should know about? Reach out!

Want some private training at your company? Ask us!

Stay In Touch, Okay?

First and most obvious – if you want to talk to us about something specific, especially something we can help with, hit up our contact form.

Where do you spend your time online? Chances are, we’re there too, and would enjoy sharing with you. Here’s where we are – see you there?

Featured Partners and Affiliates

Our Featured Partners are companies we work with and promote because we love their stuff. If you’ve ever wondered how we do what we do behind the scenes, chances are we use the tools and skills of one of our partners to do it.

Read our disclosures statement for more details, but we’re also compensated by our partners if you buy something through us.

Legal Disclosures And Such

Some events and partners have purchased sponsorships in this newsletter and as a result, Trust Insights receives financial compensation for promoting them. Read our full disclosures statement on our website.

Conclusion - Thanks for Reading

Thanks for subscribing and supporting us. Let us know if you want to see something different or have any feedback for us!


Need help with your marketing data and analytics?

You might also enjoy:

Get unique data, analysis, and perspectives on analytics, insights, machine learning, marketing, and AI in the weekly Trust Insights newsletter, INBOX INSIGHTS. Subscribe now for free; new issues every Wednesday!

Click here to subscribe now »

Want to learn more about data, analytics, and insights? Subscribe to In-Ear Insights, the Trust Insights podcast, with new 10-minute or less episodes every week.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This