Big Data

By Jason Konopinski

The ability to tell the story of numbers – to extract meaning from spreadsheets and analytics reports, to tease out insights from seeming mountains of data – will be the future of marketing.

The creativity and innovative campaigns of today and tomorrow will ring hollow without the benefit of clearly defined content goals, robust performance metrics, and proficiency with data analysis methodologies and tools.

That was the theme of the measurement track at Content Jam, a one day event for people who create or curate content for the web.

I hopped a plane to attend as part of the Arment Dietrich team, get my learn on, and ultimately become a better professional through big data.

Big Data, Bigger Strategy

You see, I’ve always imagined myself on the creation side of the content coin, helping people and organizations tell better stories, communicate with their key stakeholders, and keep these typing fingers nimble.

The importance of being able to create valuable and relevant content is still a critical skill for the digital communications professional, but true marketing success will come to those who embrace data and use it to inform strategy, tactics, and implementation.

Connect Objectives with Goals

A fundamental problem many modern marketers face is how to connect organization objectives with website and content goals and tracking their effectiveness from ideation to execution to refinement. Content creation is an iterative process. Publishing is only the beginning – promotion, distribution, and measurement follow closely behind. Measurement brings the principles of marketing – content especially – full circle.

Successful marketing campaigns have two things in common: Every piece of content is mapped to key performance metrics and decisions about future iterations come from a data-first perspective.

Kate- Eyler Werve of Mightybytes presented a model of content strategy and metrics based on Avinash Kaushik’s digital marketing and measurement model that will help content marketers understand the value of data and measurement in a way that doesn’t have them break out in a cold sweat.

The Model

Name of the Organization

Begin with the mission statement! When executives are asked about the work the organization they helm does, they’ll often default to the mission statement, so it makes sense to start there.

Organization Objectives

What the organization does to fulfill its mission.

Website Goals

What specific strategies can make the best use of the website to meet the organization’s mission and objectives?


The “stuff” on the site that supports the goals of the website.

Key Performance Indicators

Measurements that align with objectives. Are you meeting the objectives?


Benchmark indicators of success or failure. These will naturally change relative to goals. Common targets for content can be, for instance, 250 downloads of the new white paper within the first month following publication.


A group of people with a specific set of behaviors, sources or outcomes in common.

The Joy of Segments

As marketers, we should be paying attention to three buckets:

  1. Acquisition: How do visitors get to your site. Paid? Organic? Direct? Social? Email?
  2. Behavior: What are they doing once they’re there? Are they engaging with the page content, downloading white papers, or using the tools you’ve built?
  3. Outcomes: Who are the people converting? Are email segments outperforming social segments? What can we learn?

Google Analytics is both a blessing and a curse. How many times have you opened up your account, saw the pretty little line graphs tracking traffic over time and jumped for joy — without really knowing what those numbers mean?

Out of the box, Google Analytics doesn’t show you much behind the vanity metrics of pageviews, unique visitors, and bounce rate, but as a self-described data nerd, I want to know more.  Aggregate numbers are lies — or at least fibs. They don’t tell you what James Ellis would call “interesting.”

Goals in Google Analytics are just a trackable idea of what you want a visitor to do on your site. For instance, a goal can trigger every time a visitor completes a contact form (yay, lead gen!) or visits your menu of services page.  They’ll help you connect the who (segments) with the what (goals) and the how (campaigns).

Oh — and one more thing. Stop measuring traffic in the aggregate. Without the human touch to parse the data and suss out where that traffic is coming from and what behaviors they’re activating, you’ll get a pretty simplistic view of how your campaigns are performing.