October 25, 2016

State Agencies: Is Your Content Successful?

A personified banana running to the ribbon at the end of a race.
How can you take your content to the finish line?

Is your content just “there” or is it affecting change? Measuring the success of your content is necessary to make it even better. Take action to improve your visitor’s experience and meet their needs while making sure you achieve your own goals. Learn how to tell if your site’s content is doing well and why you should check.

What Does Successful Content Look Like?

Successful content is useful to users and also supports your business goals. While success may depend on your individual “asks”, here are some common attributes of successful web content:

Successful content...

  • Gets “found”
    In content marketing, there is a popular saying: The key to success is delivering the right message to the right people at the right time. Carefully plan what content you provide for whom and consider your SEO checklist for organic search results.
  • Is easy to navigate
    If visitors come to your site looking for a banana registration form, make sure they find it in the logical place in the menu. Be timely. If analytics results show that the annual banana race registration page is the most visited page in June, put a highly visible link or button on your homepage that month.
  • Has Value / Engages the reader
    Keep it simple and tell a story. Even the most boring business content can be revamped for faster reading. Use emotion to provoke empathy. Try humor to lighten the mood. If you can’t hire professional writers, take note of these writing tips for creating engaging content that fits your agency.
  • Promotes interaction
    If people are making comments on your social media pages, that’s a good sign they’re paying attention. Don’t be afraid to give people a voice — even it it’s negative. Feedback is one of the best tools to measure the success of your content. Interaction is generally a good sign people notice you and it’s also a good opportunity for you to listen.
  • Converts to an action
    Are people doing what you want them to do on your site? Whether they’re using the online forms, signing up for the newsletter or registering for the next fundraiser, if you're getting the action you want, your content is successful.

Identify Your Goals

You probably have more than one goal when it comes to how you want people to use your site. Think about the bigger picture and list the different ways your website can help you obtain your business goals.

If you have a hotline for example, you may want more calls to your call center. For other agencies, more phone calls may mean user confusion or inefficiency. In this case, your goal may be to improve your site’s search functionality or navigation.

Can you identify with any of these web conversion goals for state agencies?

10 Potential State Agency Website Goals (Examples):

  • Change in calls made to call center
  • Increased mail list for newsletter
  • More web traffic
  • More user engagement (forms, social, etc.)
  • More user accounts / enrollment
  • More public awareness / press
  • More volunteers / donations
  • More credibility
  • Less confusion (navigation / menu)
  • More contracts / sales / business

Attach KPIs To Your Goals

Many state agencies do not consider their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) when it comes to their website. You don’t have to be a private enterprise or ecommerce store to have conversion goals. KPIs simply measure the performance of your original goal. It’s evidence to determine if your efforts are working.

Looking at results in Google Analytics is not going to do you much good if you don’t know what your desired outcome is. Attach a measurable KPI to your goals and check on the progress.

Take these goals and KPIs for example:

  • Goal: More newsletter recipients
    KPI: 15% increase in email addresses in MailChimp by (date)
  • Goal: Less confusion on the website
    KPI: 10% reduction of web support-related phone calls
  • Goal: Increase public participation
    KPI: 20% increase in program enrollment (form submission)

Your KPI is your expectation of the desired outcome using an indicator that you can clearly measure. It could be many things including: a MailChimp database, Google Analytics or call center records.

So, how do you get there?

Make a Hypothesis

Create a hypothesis as to how you will arrive at the results. Now that you’ve committed to achieving specific results from your web content, create a hypothesis on how that will happen. Remember, user-centric content always involves testing and trying different things. That’s why we call this step a “hypothesis.”

Look at this example from the fictitious agency, Georgia Banana Council (GBC)

(Note: there is no such thing as the Georgia Banana Council)

The Georgia Banana Council Web Content

GoalIncrease local (Georgia) pageviews on agency's blog
KPI10% increase in Google Analytics (Demographics for Georgia)
HypothesisA more strategic use of SEO will show a 10% increase in organic traffic from the state of Georgia.

So the GBC wants to get more local traffic. They want people in the State of Georgia to know about their agency that supports locally grown bananas. They hypothesize better use of keywords and SEO on their blog will bring attention to those searching for “bananas in Georgia.” From there, they will plan, create and manage their blog content accordingly.

Measure Results

What did your KPI say? Was your hypothesis correct? If so, fantastic! Pat yourself on the back for a job well done and figure out your next steps. What if it was not correct? That’s fantastic, too! Failing is an important part of testing. Where will you go from here?

Map showing demographics
Under demographics, Google Analytics shows you where your traffic is coming from. This is your KPI if you are measuring your sites traffic from Georgia.

Take Action

Now that you have set goals, made a plan and checked the results, it’s time to act on those results. If your hypothesis was correct, you may want to continue in the same direction with a content strategy that supports the proven desired outcome.

If your KPI has failed to meet your goal, you may want to dig deeper and see if there is another way to achieve it. Or, you may want to learn more about what your visitors really want or need from your site. If your content has little value to your audience, it will be difficult to get a desired action out of them.

Use a combination of your goals, KPIs and conclusions, to modify your content’s performance. Remember to keep your business goals (call-to-actions) in mind when measuring results. Web analytics is an ongoing process that should lead to action based on your findings. Sure, your audience's’ goals are different from your own, but ask a little more and you can really maximize the success of your website to benefit you.

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