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Data driven content - March 2018 STC IDL SIG

Ed Marsh
Ed Marsh

We're all looking for ways to improve the customer experience. A simple place to start is to use the various forms of data already generated by your content to guide your strategy and architecture. In this session, we’ll look at various sources of data - including your own Web server, Twitter, Facebook, Google analytics, and more - and see how they can improve your documentation and content strategy. We’ll also see how using support tickets can help you better tune-in to your users and create better content.

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ed marsh
stc idl sig
march 15, 2018
 20+ year technical writer
▪ currently associate @ major financial firm
 content creator
▪ contentcontent.info
▪ content content podcast – edmarsh.com/podcast
 stc ny metro newsletter editor
 homebrewer
▪ mmm beer
 @edmarsh
data will make:
• your life easier
• your content more user-focused
• your management able to track your progress
• your value to the company increase
• your already good looks even better*
• *your mileage may vary
engagement, engagement, engagement.
robohelp and madcap both have
analytics products
use this as a selling point with management if you haven’t
moved to html-based help yet
Ad

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Data driven content - March 2018 STC IDL SIG

Editor's Notes

  1. I’m showing this through the lens of social media and public sites as these are easily accessible to anyone – some for free. I know that this is an instructional design SIG, so I suspect most of your metrics will come from your LMS. But if you’re also into general techcomm, this may give you some ideas. Hopefully you can translate that to your business, whether own a business, you’re in freelance, or an employee.
  2. If nothing else, this is the reason you should move your documentation online instead of PDF or CHM. This is also a selling point with management if you haven’t moved yet
  3. The two popular ones I’ve seen are Webalizer and AWStats. AWStats is the nicer one to look at and use.
  4. They are pretty basic, and they are not pretty, but they are free stats. Ask your technology departments about what stat packages are available. Downsides? Not sortable, not exportable other than copypasta
  5. Everyone always wants to add more more more content, but no one ever takes the time to remove the clutter. Big numbers of topics look great to management, but not to users.
  6. if you’re fortunate enough to have public-facing content, or if your company uses GA internally, welcome to nirvana. i have barely scratched the surface of what’s possible.
  7. This should work in any HTML-based help system, though be sure that your company allows outside connections to google to “phone home”. It is probably not a good idea to implement this if you’re delivering html-based help to customers, as their IT staff may not like that you’re sending their company’s user data to google.
  8. If you or your company have a blog, or you’re thinking about starting a blog, then this could give you some ideas
  9. If your company uses WordPress, and you can get admin access, there are stats available both through the dashboard and through wordpress.com
  10. If your company uses WordPress, and you can get admin access, there are stats available both through the dashboard and through wordpress.com
  11. The Yoast SEO plugin not only ensures your site is returning the results you want in google, it can help enforce consistency across writers.
  12. Anyone with a Twitter account has access to these stats. You can drill down to stats on individual tweets.
  13. I mention Facebook not because it’s necessarily some place you can find data about your customers, but to let you know the possibilities and maybe bring some ideas back to your teams for better metrics. These may also be things your marketing dept has access to. If you’re a contractor/freelancer or own your own business, then you really should have a presence on Facebook, and these stats may be more relevant to you.
  14. I started paying attention when referrals (links) to my own site were increasingly coming from Facebook.
  15. You can use Facebook Connect to automatically post to Facebook when you post to twitter.
  16. *Purely* in the interest of research, and after a few beers, I decided to spend five bucks and see what Facebook ads would do. Five days, $1.00 a day. Gave me twice the engagement, no real actionable results, but a ton of data. This is where FB is getting it right.
  17. I did not purposely exclude women in this example.
  18. Hey, look! My reach doubled.
  19. The people that liked the post after the ad was posted were not at all who I expected. None of them were content people. Not a one. I’ve done this twice more with similar results. Don’t expect to get a huge ROI here, but it may be possible if you have experts on SM in your company.
  20. These are a gold mine if you’re not already looking at these.
  21. Reach out to the users and support if you can. Follow up on an interesting ticket – ask for clarification, if they think it’d be a good topic. I’ve created topics solely from tickets. But be patient – this probably won’t be people’s priority.
  22. In our field, the Volcker rule is a popular topic. But, it’s not easy to spell Volcker. We found a ticket that left out the letter C and therefore didn’t get any search results. As a result, we added hidden keywords so they would get topics even with the misspelling.
  23. This is at the bottom of every google search page. It can give you ideas for articles,
  24. I was able to use WordPress’ categories to automatically generate a page – and a menu item - with the title of Technical Writing Examples from any page I categorized as technical writing examples. This is also useful to show potential employers for samples of your work.
  25. So what tools do you use to help you analyze all this data? Really, there’s only one desktop tool that will let you meaningfully slice and dice it – and that’s excel.