As a content strategist, our most valuable skill is the ability to empathize.
It is our job to learn what customers want and to deliver the best experience.
Sometimes it can be difficult to pin down exactly what your visitors are looking for and how your content might be falling short. That’s why I want to share my favorite free tools for every content strategist.
These can help you get the big-picture perspective on your audience’s needs, because helping your audience should be the driving force behind your content strategy.
Four Free Tools Every Content Strategist Should Be Using
- Google Analytics. We all know Google Analytics data is available to us, but it can be difficult to parse out what’s relevant to a content strategist. Enabling demographic reports within analytics will give you access to important information about your visitors. Demographics data allows you to segment your traffic by the following categories:
- Affinity Categories
- Similar to TV audiences, categorized by lifestyle
- In-Market Segments
- Segments users based on online product purchase history
- Looks at affinity categories on a micro-level
Different groups of people navigate and experience your content differently. Find your most popular demographic groupings, create a custom segment for them, and view your top pages through their eyes. This will give you a better understanding of which content resonates with each segment and which segments may be neglected.
Learn how to enable demographic reports here.
- Peek.usertesting.com. Usertesting.com is a great tool, but it can be expensive. The good news is a free version of their user testing tool is available to use three times a month. You pick the specific page you would like tested, and they will send you a five-minute video of a real person using your website or app. Typically, you’ll receive the video in two to three days, and it should provide perspective on what visitors like about your site and where your roadblocks might be. The only downfall to this free test is the user walking through your site might not be in your target audience. To have more control over the test, look into purchasing the full version.(Pro Tip: Three tests are provided free of charge every month for every email address. Register more than one email address, and get access to more tests.)
- Internal Data. Do you have access to phone calls from your customers? Queries from your search bar? Reviews? Use these to give yourself clues about your customers’ pain points and how you can fix them. Dig into any information your customers have given you to see how visitors talk about your brand and what they aren’t able to easily find on your website. One of the most valuable things I have done as a strategist is listen to sales phone calls from our customers. I was quickly able to see common patterns and issues in the purchasing process, and I made updates to our content to help alleviate pain points.If you have an onsite search feature, those queries can be a huge asset. When users enter a search query, it usually means they are having trouble finding something on your site—or perhaps they’re looking for information that’s not on the site at all. Use these queries for new content ideas and to rethink your site’s structure. Are users constantly searching for reviews because you have them hidden deep within the site? If so, put them in a more prominent position within the page or make them easier to find within the navigation.
- Crazy Egg. Crazy Egg is a heat-mapping tool that offers a free trial. Crazy Egg will show you where people are clicking, how far down the page they are scrolling, and what is being clicked on the most. Heatmaps will show you where people spend the most time on your site and what elements are being ignored. To use Crazy Egg, simply add a snippet of code to your site and you’re done. I’ve found heatmaps to be especially helpful to glean more insight into mobile visitors.
Share Your Favorites
Now that you have the tools, it’s up to you to draw conclusions about your audience.
Dig in and do as much research as you can to inform your content decisions down the road.
Are there any tools for a content strategist I missed? Share your favorites in the comment section.
image credit: Pixabay CC0 Public Domain