Yesterday, we talked about the challenges currently facing digital marketers when it comes to off-site content. We looked at using smartURLs to gain visibility into the click engagement of content you share outside the parameters of your own tracking code, or even on 3rd party content.
Today, we’re exploring the guts of smartURLs and the components to them, which make these links so smart. Below, we get into the basics around creating content tags, organizing these tags with taxonomies and discovering your customer’s journey using conversion paths.
What are Content Tags?
Have you ever used a hashtag? Then you have used a content tag. #AWESOME.
Content tags are, at the most basic level, a way to label and categorize content. The difference between hashtags and content tags with smart URLs is content tags are used behind the scenes to keep track of which content has been distributed where, when and how. You don’t see them attached to the link or within the content that the smart URL is pointing at. You simply see the data they collect reflected in reports. Importantly, this content does not need to reside on your website as content tags are applied to the URL and are not added to the content itself.
To fully leverage the power of smart URLs, content needs to be developed to enable the consumption is cataloged by the tag values (i.e. logical keywords). These tags are identifiers enabling the reporting structure to provide insightful, meaningful and actionable data for marketers.
You want to be able to segment your data however and in as many ways as your choose. How many ways can you categorize your data today?
Typical Tags and Tag values include:
- author of the content (writer, influencer)
- format of the content (video, blog post)
- topic body of the content (campaign)
- channel the content is placed in (Twitter, LinkedIn, BusinessWire, Off-Line)
- original source of the content, if curated
- frequency with which content has been published
- geography content is distributed to and/or eventually consumed in
- upstream content leading prospects to content
- downstream content prospects actioned following any piece of content
Content tags have the ability to offer visibility into real-time user interaction through reporting. You can monitor the real-time engagement of content by any of the aforementioned parameters. This provides the basis for a reporting structure to effectively monitor, measure and leverage off-site and on-site content consumption.
What are Taxonomies and Why Do We Need Them?
Making use of all this data in an intelligent coherent manner requires taxonomies. Taxonomies are a logical order and grouping of tags to reflect an insight you wish to report on. Taxonomies roll up data and aggregate results for analysis, reporting. A well-structured taxonomy will activate global data for enterprise-level decision making.
Think of taxonomies as reporting hierarchies for the business initiatives of specific departments or divisions. For example, many organizations may choose to have separate taxonomies for content shared by marketing versus sales. There are often different team members, influencers, goals and campaigns maintained in each department.
Taxonomy structures perform well when the content tagging structure is stable, unique and not duplicated. However, taxonomies and tags can each be created after links are already published, when new insights may present themselves.
Best practices in content tagging and taxonomy structures include:
- Define the questions driving insight.
- Define what attributes of performance are most worth pursuing.
- Implement taxonomies, which are consistent with the existing organizational content and/or workflow structures.
- Control content tag definitions by implementing standard naming conventions. For example author John Smith, versus author J Smith.
- An effective taxonomy must have a gatekeeper – someone who controls the organization and integrity of the tags and tag values.
- When it comes to tags, using more is better. Real-time performance of content can’t be retroactively reported on by adding tags post-consumption. However, as mentioned above, tags can be added and tweaked for future reporting.
What is a Conversion Path?
The buyer’s purchasing journey is made up of multiple steps along a path, which starts with discovery and follows through awareness, evaluation, decision to purchase and purchase. The digital content to support the journey should connect in a specific way, which leads the prospect to a buying decision.
Said another way, content not leading to a follow on ‘call to action’ is referred to as stranded content. If the user does not have any specific path to follow (internal links, CTA buttons, etc.) and therefore has no defined conversion path, then he or she is stranded in the middle of the journey. The Golden Rule of digital content management should be “Thou Shalt Create No Stranded Content.”