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Do you know why your content works?

Maybe that sounds like a silly question to some of you, but it is one that I have been asking my clients lately. It’s taken a decade, but many of my clients actually know which content works better than others do. They have labored over web analytics and conversions and attribution and bounce rates and they are finally starting to think they know which content seems to be working better than others—and kudos to them.

But it does beg the next question: “Why is that content working?” Because if you don’t know why, how do you do it again?

I often see people looking at the successful content but they know there is more to the story. For example, I asked a client, “How do you know which content is successful?” They told me that it has the highest conversion rate. So I said that I knew the best content on their site: the thank you page. 100% conversion rate. And I know the second best content: the shopping cart page.

Now, clearly, that’s silly and we would never say that those pages are the best content on our site. But we say things that are equally silly because we say that the best content on our site are the product pages that have the highest conversion rates. But is that really the best content or the best products?

A few clients are ready for something deeper. They are really asking the “why” questions. There are ways of using text analytics and machine learning to identify why certain content works. I won’t say that I have it completely nailed yet, but we are finding some very interesting things with our first couple of clients. I would love to tell you what they are, except they wouldn’t be interesting to you.

One thing that I am learning is that there is nothing more interesting to a digital marketer as an insight as to why something is working on their website. But I am also learning that there is nothing less interesting to a digital marketers than why something is working on someone else’s website.

Are you asking the why question for your site?

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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