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Maximizing your return on content - higher ed edition


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Is your content working? This presentation will help institutions answer this question for every piece of content they publish, in every medium and channel. Content is the way our organizations’ work is manifested online — so content success translates to higher success of programs, services, and programs. Using real stories, this session will connect content effectiveness with business results. Attendees will leave with their own content success metrics.

Many schools create, manage, and measure content without a true strategy — without a sense of the audience and with no explicit, measurable goal. Once you do have an audience and goals, you can start to interpret the data from analytics software, survey results, usability testing, etc. We’ll discover which metrics are the most important for content and user experience evaluations, and learn to translate data into actionable recommendations for stakeholders.

This session will cover how the “old” way is ineffective, and will paint the picture of a better way of working that will result in more effective content. This session will include interactive exercises as well as facilitated discussion, so that at the end, attendees will have their own content success metrics to take back to their schools.

Published in: Education
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Maximizing your return on content - higher ed edition

  1. 1. Maximizing Your Return on Content How to make your content more successful Hilary Marsh, Chief Strategist & President Content Company, Inc. 1
  2. 2. What is content strategy? The right content To the right person At the right time For the right action
  3. 3. Put another way…. Content strategy is the practice of planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.
  4. 4. Three faces
  5. 5. Multiple parts 1. A strategic statement tying content to business goals 2. Guidelines and policies: Who, what, when, where, why, and how of publishing content 3. The people, power, and processes to execute #1 and #2
  6. 6. Audience-centric Business-sensitive Content The ultimate vision
  7. 7. Foundational tenets 1. Content creators & SMEs have a common understanding of what key audiences want, and how their content helps deliver that. 2. Content creators & SMEs have a common understanding of the org’s goals are and how their content contributes to them. 3. Content creators & SMEs share their content in a consistent, effective way
  8. 8. Principles • The organization creates content that its audiences want • The organization creates content that helps it meet its goals • Content has success metrics and is measured against those • Content that is no longer relevant is no longer available • Content is promoted, surfaced, and cross-linked based on its topic, not its source • Content is created in the organization’s voice • The organization manages content platforms, tools, and channels in a way that ensures their effectiveness
  9. 9. The end game…
  10. 10.
  11. 11. Content is political
  12. 12. Content is… Event Product Class Program Research
  13. 13. Content is… My Event My Product My Class My Program My Research
  14. 14. 15
  15. 15. Departmen t Message Audience Departmen t Message Audience Departmen t Message Audience Departmen t Message Audience Old thinking
  16. 16. 17 Silos
  17. 17. Different views of the audience
  18. 18. 19
  19. 19. Consequences
  20. 20. Difficulty prioritizing
  21. 21. Diluted impact 22
  22. 22. Lack of understanding of your value
  23. 23. Organization: Programs, offerings Audience Messages Audience Audience Audience New thinking
  24. 24. Higher ed institutions publish a LOT of content
  25. 25. What don’t we publish?? • Course details • Program info • Academic research • News stories • Alumni stories • Faculty bios • Press releases • Financial aid details • Event information • Student health information • Policies • FAQs • Mission statement • Job listings
  26. 26. 27
  27. 27. Content is the way our work is manifested in the world
  28. 28. 30
  29. 29. Just because…..
  30. 30. Because we did the research Because the dean asked us to Because the faculty member told us to Because we have this program Because we do this thing Because we created the information Because we have no way to say “no” to the request Because we think we have to Because everyone else is Because Because
  31. 31. If you don’t know what you’re going for, how will you know whether you’re succeeding?
  32. 32. 34 /
  33. 33. What I heard from higher ed folks Lots of challenges • We don’t know our business goals • Our content isn’t mapped to our business goals • Folks who give us content don’t have goals • Even if we do know, what can we do to increase success? • How do we help content owners succeed?
  34. 34. Setting goals is challenging! “There’s a lot of cool stuff happening at the university that no one knows about” • Who would love to know about it? • What would they do as a result of knowing it? • Why don’t they know about it? • How could you change that today?
  35. 35. Technology is not our friend •“IT is backed up, so we can only do things we can implement ourselves for free” •“There’s a lot of content on our public site for current students because the student portal is a mess”
  36. 36. Ratio of effort to results •Size of potential audience •Priority of potential audience •What we want the audience to DO •Resources to create the content •Results
  37. 37. Return on Content
  38. 38. 3 pieces of information 1. Goal 2. KPI 3. Measuring & learning
  39. 39. Identifying the Goal Why are we publishing this? 41
  40. 40. Effective content has a goal •It’s published •Lots of people look at it
  41. 41. What is a true goal? •Meets a business goal •Satisfies a user need •Ideally, both
  42. 42. 44 Users meet their needs Organization meets its goals Balancing goals & needs
  43. 43. 45 Audience focus Organization focus
  44. 44. Audience focus Organization focus
  45. 45.
  46. 46.
  47. 47. Remember the content landscape • Course details • Program info • Academic research • News stories • Alumni stories • Faculty bios • Press releases • Financial aid details • Event information • Student health information • Policies • FAQs • Mission statement • Job listings
  48. 48. Content goals Each piece of content needs a clear, explicit reason to exist
  49. 49. Page views are not the goal – the goal is the goal. --Mike Powers @mjpowers
  50. 50. High-level higher ed goals 1. Get students 2. Help students, faculty, alumni succeed 3. Get money to keep doing 1 and 2
  51. 51. Translated to content… Content Get students • Appeals to high school students • Provides correct, useful information Help students and faculty • Helps students register, add/drop, etc. • Markets the school Get money • Shows the value of the school • Gets donors
  52. 52. Some sample goals • Attract more qualified students • Encourage applications • Raise awareness and perception of our university • Help admitted students stay • Inspire more alumni to donate • Reassure people about the institution’s stability • Raise the quality of job applicants Others? What about for other programs & schools?
  53. 53. --Michael Andrews
  54. 54. Photo c/o Beth Kanter, downloaded from
  55. 55. Content is specific, so goals need to be specific too
  56. 56. Conversely, content with a common goal might benefit from being created differently
  57. 57.
  58. 58. 60 5 Whys
  59. 59. Keep asking “why” • Why are you publishing this content? • Why have you/we invested the resources to create the program that the content is about? • Why would the audience want to know this information/about this program? • Why…? • Why...?
  60. 60. 62 The real goal is in there somewhere
  61. 61. Wrong time to ask “why” The reason is clear here
  62. 62.
  63. 63.
  64. 64.
  65. 65. Making the goal measurable
  66. 66. How will you know it’s successful? • Reached the audience in the channel that matched their expectations • The audience took the action you wanted them to take • Users took the next step you wanted them to make • They were more satisfied with your institution • They called customer service less • Donations went up • They talked you up to their friends/family/colleagues
  67. 67. Answers may be on the page or not… • Google Analytics measurement – unique page views, referrals, etc. • Content audit • User testing • Surveys • Social shares • Measuring the results themselves: more qualified applicants, event registrations, etc.
  68. 68. Answer the right questions • Executives • Site management • Content owners • Users
  69. 69. Efficiency ≠ Effectiveness
  70. 70. • Content doesn’t exist in a vaccuum • Better content in one area may support a goal in another
  71. 71. A case study • Site redesign required a news article for each update on the home page • Volume of news articles overwhelmed the site management staff • Viewership to each article was relatively low • Would fewer articles mean fewer views?
  72. 72. Turning goals into KPIs 1. Benchmark where you are now • Content performance • Pain points • Tie back to business 2. What will constitute success? • Envision the desired goal • Make it measurable!
  73. 73. Some considerations • Make sure your KPIs cover both organizational goals and user needs • Think about them from multiple perspectives
  74. 74. Download this worksheet:
  75. 75. Business objective Content goals Goals of this content Ideal process
  76. 76. What happened What we can learn What to do differently next time Reality Time for a meaningful conversation with content owners
  77. 77. Doing the measuring, communicating the results
  78. 78. Measure, tweak, repeat • Who needs to know? • How do they need to know it? • How to tweak it?
  79. 79. What to do with the info 92
  80. 80. Next steps 1. Learn what works 2. Use that information to develop goals 3. Create an editorial calendar and templates for review time, roles, and processes 4. Share all with staff 5. Track/measure and communicate the results 6. Use the results to improve future content
  81. 81. Change the conversation! • Partnership • “We will help your program shine” and help you tell your story better • Before a long-term commitment to something new, try a pilot for a specific subset and then refine based on their feedback • Foster connections between content areas for the benefit of all offerings  connect back up to business goals
  82. 82. Resources • My article and worksheet • Aligning Business Goals with User Goals in Content by Michael Andrews content/ • Making Content Measurable by Jess Hutton • Why Attempting to Establish the ROI of Content Is a Fool’s Errand by Ronell Smith the-roi-of-content-is-a-fools-errand-d8b4fdfd3a6c#.39kpxyxzs
  83. 83. Return on Content
  84. 84. Thank you! Hilary Marsh President & Chief Strategist Content Company, Inc. @hilarymarsh