Connecting Editorial More With Analytics and Data

Share |

I was just on an editorial committee call, and the growing subject of how to get editorial people better at the analytics, SEO and data portions of the job came up.

"How do you change your habit after you've learned about analytics?" asked Vidisha Priyanka, interactive learning manager for The Poynter Institute. "How will you change your daily habit of writing and reporting and engaging your audience on social media? As a business reporter, how do you understand when your audience is trying to engage with you? And who is your audience? [Have you studied your analytics?] Once you understand that, how do you change your habit of posting? When do I post? How do I post?

"And what about drop-off rates? I'm reading an article that you've written and you poured your heart and soul in it but people are dropping off after four paragraphs. So how do we improve your writing or presenting skills? What do you do with multimedia content? How do you add a visual or a graphic? So we talk about analytics not just as numbers, but analytics as a decision-making tool."

I loved what she said about habits because we all have them, good and bad. New ways of doing things have to become habitual.

"I'm finding myself telling reporters, 'You drove subscriptions,'" Rick Berke, executive editor of Stat, a health care industry news site started two years ago by Boston Globe Media Partners, said. "This is the new world we're in. They like it. I don't say, 'Do this story because people will subscribe.' You want them to think about the quality of what they're doing and not get caught up in the numbers. But we're looking at the data to see which are most popular."

Editorial people aren't the only ones who need to get better at utilizing analytics and data. According to The B2B Data Activation Priority—a recently released study conducted by Forrester Consulting for Dun & Bradstreet—only 52% of B2B marketers base decisions on data rather than on personal intuition and experience. Much of this stems from a lack of confidence in and access to the data they might have, because only 49% have data that they fully trust to be complete and accurate.

And just 48% are effective at using customer data to activate marketing and sales initiatives at scale. As much as intuition and experience need to be part of the mix, the world is becoming flush with data—big and small—and it must be leveraged for success.

Much of our upcoming Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) on Nov. 12-14 in Fort Lauderdale will focus on the new set of challenges that confront publishers—especially as more and more silos get knocked down. In that aforementioned study, Forrester noted that "siloed insights teams typically over-focus on low-value customer behavior measurements such as site visits or email opens that without context, don't provide sum client insight for building true customer connection."

And it's that customer connection that we pursue. In an interview with Folio:, Allison Adams, the chief subscription officer for SourceMedia, said one of her first moves in the job was to talk to the editorial team and say, "Please, don't hesitate to bubble ideas up, set up meetings with customers who have mentioned they'd like to see something different. It's very much an open-door policy."

In other words, think beyond your previous silo. A couple years ago, Tom Standage, a longtime deputy editor at The Economist in London, said that ideas for new products should come from the newsroom, but it's tricky because the people whose support is needed to put them into practice—commercial and technology—don't report to journalists.

"You need to have bumblebee people, who are given permission to roam freely on both sides... and talk to different people," said Standage.

Even data may not tell me if these bumblebee people are buzzing around publisher offices (or virtually) yet. Makes sense though

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
If not, you're missing out on daily strategies, tips, profiles and case studies that can build your audience and increase revenue. To sign up, please contact Nevena Jovanovic.

Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…