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4 Ways to Break Down Big Data + Build Customer Loyalty

These days there isn't a headline or piece of content on the whole wide web that isn't influenced, in some way, by data. In fact, for companies whose success depends on courting and converting customers online, big data is now (arguably) the most important competitive advantage to gain in the digital marketplace. Just look at the tooth-and-nail battle between social platforms like Facebook and Twitter for marketing dollars. Though active user figures are important, it is the maturity of each platform's ad product — that is, its ability to leverage data to enable brands to engage with consumers in relevant and authentic ways — that determines revenue potential.


The Key: Make Big Data Little Again

Big data isn't just here to stay, it's here to take over. However, as paranoid email subject lines and viral social media posts continue to prove, it's still a delicate issue for the masses. To harness data as a tool for repeat engagement and customer loyalty, it must be wielded carefully and adeptly. I had the chance to speak with several industry leaders about this very subject. Over the course of our conversations, we identified four essential steps for achieving this — segmentation, information, optimization, and protection. Watch the full conversation below or download a copy of the complete transcript here.

1. Segmentation

The collection of big data is no longer the monumental task it was just a year or two ago. There are now countless intuitive platforms and tools in the market that mine, organize, and report data for companies large and small. It's where you take the data from there that matters today. Before you rush off to content and messaging, however, there is a critical step that is often delayed or skipped completely — segmentation. For larger companies, the concept is a familiar one. Michelle Killebrew, Digital Marketing Program Director at IBM, illustrates:

"You can imagine there are hundreds of solutions across IBM's portfolio," she says. "And the majority of the personas in our database are IT related. So how do you define which brand has the right to touch that person with the next best message?" Michelle continues. "We have so much data that we can slice and dice in so many different ways. I think it's not only about looking at how can you personalize that next interaction, but drilling into the database and trying to figure out who that ideal segmentation is."

It may seem obvious, but leveraging behavioral data alone does not drive loyalty or lead to sustained growth. Assigning these behaviors to unique subsets of consumers assures that future messaging and content streams are pure and, more importantly, relatable. For some marketers, segmentation can be done effectively on a one-to-one basis. For most of us, it must be done at a group level. Either way, it's important to realize this is an ongoing, dynamic process that will continue to evolve and change as your company grows.

2. Information

In many ways, segmentation and information are parallel processes that rely upon each other. As behavioral data rolls in (from your website, email marketing campaigns, social content, etc.) it both guides the process of segmentation and dictates the content and messaging that will ultimately be served to those segments. Philippe Von Borries, Co-Founder and CEO of Refinery29, relies on this concept of informed content more than most:

"[The most important thing is] being able to, through technology, through data, continue to build content that actually speaks to the person and their behavior on Refinery29, what they're interested in, and to provide them with more of that content," he explains.

The lesson? Keeping your messaging and content focused on your most vital consumer segments allows you to keep your eye on the prize. Von Borries continues:

"For us it is really about building an incredibly respected voice for women throughout the world. [You want to make sure that] people don't come through the side door who really don't connect with your brand."

At Refinery29, the numbers back up the theory. 46% of page views come from just 34% of the site's visitors who visit Refinery an average of nine times per month. More impressive still, only 12% of traffic goes directly to the home page, while 50% of the traffic comes in through email. Personalized content drives loyalty. Loyalty drives business.

3. Optimization

All of this data may be black and white, but your consumers rarely (read: never) are. The third step in leveraging data to build customer loyalty is perhaps the most important of all — optimization. You've no doubt heard the concept of "test, learn, optimize" before. In fact, you've probably heard it today. It's the strategy used by virtually every successful content marketer in previous years, and has only gotten more effective as the world of big data has evolved. Von Borries prefers the term relentless testing, which he describes as "continuous, continuous, continuous iteration and testing on everything from headlines to images to stories themselves."

In effect, optimization is simply the process by which segmentation and information must happen. As time goes on and larger swaths of data become available, the people you choose to speak to and the content you use to speak to them with will become more relevant, more authentic, and ultimately more potent. It's this veritable feedback loop that continually strengthens the bond between company and consumer, ensuring repetitive engagement. Once started, it can never be stopped.

4. Protection

But it's all for naught if your customers don't trust you with their data, as Jeannie Chu, Director of Brand Marketing and Communications at American Express, is quick to point out. This is where protection comes in. "For us, the ability to test and learn is amazing," she explains. "But I think we also have to balance that with the security and trust people have in us." For American Express, one of the world's largest and most recognizable financial institutions, this is especially important.

"If it's on our dot-com, it could be a security breach for us," Chu continues. "So [while] it is about testing and learning and leveraging and mining data as much as possible, there is [also] that 'make sure we send out guys to check the security camera of the data server somewhere in Israel, because we care' piece." It is a fragile issue, and a notoriously difficult one to handle. For American Express, it all comes down to communication and education. "You trust us because we are really crazy about keeping it secure. I have to take about 30+ trainings a year and I'm in Marketing… it's weird," Chu jokes.

Don't Forget the Human Touch!

While the proper use and handling of big data is essential to achieving growth and customer loyalty in the modern digital world, Killebrew, Von Borries, and Chu were all careful to point out one missing piece — the human touch. Chu put it best:

"I don't want to say that data isn't important because it's kind of the cornerstone of how we make decisions," she caveats. "But there always has to be the person that says, 'Okay and the editorial lens is this.' At the end of the day, if we tell good stories then hopefully I can tell you about a Global Assist product or the insurance on your card and you won't say, 'That's boring.' And hopefully you'll retain that someday when you need it."

NEW: Page Views per Particle Enabled for Google AMP

Increase mobile page views for every particle using Google AMP

RebelMouse has deployed an exciting update: We've enabled particle tracking in Google Analytics for articles using Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) format, which means every particle now triggers a page view event upon scroll. Before, just one page view event would be logged when the mobile page initially loaded.

Not Familiar With What This Means? Read On

The days of static, flat media are over. Sites with low performance scores, obtrusive ad experiences, and poor content structure simply won't make it. Knowing these truths, the way we think of an article can no longer be static either.

An article today now takes several forms: short-form, long-form, listicle, slideshow, etc. Because of this, we've created a simple framework called Particle Assembler that accounts for all possibilities when building out content.

We playfully call each piece of your content a "particle," which is quite literally a "part" of an "article." These particles have become the core way to author content on RebelMouse, and are standalone elements that use their own imagery, title, and copy. For example, let's say you create a post that's titled, "The Best Place for Tacos in Austin." Each taco destination in this article will have a lead image, the name of the restaurant, its location, and a description of the restaurant with images of their food. Each of these restaurant highlights contain enough information to stand by themselves as individual posts.

Building particles in RebelMouse's Entry Editor.

And they do stand alone successfully when you're on RebelMouse — each particle can be shared separately on social and each will register as a unique page view thanks to our latest update. This is a critical part of our modern pageview methodology that ensures our publishers deliver an elegant user experience to readers while still capitalizing on a meaningful monetization strategy. For instance, not only is every particle now a page view on Google AMP, but it's also a new revenue opportunity. This is thanks to the various placement opportunities for ads we offer within our Particle Assembler.

ICYMI, Google AMP is the search engine's lightning-fast mobile experience. With this update, sites powered by RebelMouse will not only deliver the best AMP experience to their users, but they'll also earn the page views their content deserves, too.

See the Massive Difference

In just a short period after implementing this change, one client experienced a massive spike in AMP pages per user, where it jumped from 1.6 to 8.2:

Here's what their AMP pages per user looked like just prior to the update:

If you're interested in experiencing this type of growth and getting more page views for your mobile content, request a proposal today and let's start working together. If you're already on RebelMouse, email support@rebelmouse.com or talk to your account manager to learn more about particle views for Google AMP.

Primary Tags: Structure Your Site for Success

Dynamic taxonomy improves usability and propels SEO strategy

It's not a surprise that quality content can easily be spoiled by a poor site experience. This is why we're extremely proud of the lightning-fast sites we power. But speed is only the beginning of the user experience.

The temperature on platform dependency has cooled in recent years, revitalizing the value of site visits and search strategy. This is good news for both users and publishers who need site stability to survive. Because of this shift, RebelMouse focuses on three primary key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure site usability and health:

  • Sessions per User: The average number of site sessions that each user has in a given time period.
  • Pages per User: The average number of page views that each user has in a given time period.
  • Time per User: The average amount of time spent on site by each user.

In order for these metrics to shine, a site's architecture must be organized in a way that increases every user's time on site. The logic is simple: If a site is easier to navigate, the user will likely stick around longer. This is the gateway to user loyalty.

One important way we support these KPIs is through our intuitive tagging structure for content. Let's take a look at our primary tag functionality and how it can set up any site for success.

What Is a Primary Tag?

On RebelMouse, we give you the ability to use as many tags as needed on every article to help keep you organized. But there's also an option to assign one primary tag to a post. A primary tag is built on the same principle as a primary section. One tag lets you assign higher importance to certain pieces of content when processing and organizing your posts.

The Primary Tag and Tags sections in RebelMouse's Entry Editor.

The Benefits of Primary Tags

Dynamic Taxonomy: One of the primary benefits of using a primary tag is that it exposes the depth of content available to your users. Many publishers do this through the use of sections, which often turns out to be redundant and, in turn, ignored:

Sections can often be annoying to navigate and repetitive.

Using a variety of relevant tags for every article, rather than just repeating the same handful of sections, opens up more opportunities for targeted descriptors. For example, instead of using "Recipes" as a section over and over again, a primary tag can be used to create specific content flows for topics like "Vegetarian," "Soups," or "Cocktails."

Richer SEO: Since a primary tag exposes more information about your article, it also supplies more relevant data to Google's algorithm. Surfacing content in usable ways supports Google's mission to serve content based on audience behavior and intent instead of outdated and frowned-upon SEO methods like keyword stuffing. This approach is called white hat SEO, or ethical SEO.

By targeting specific interests, your dynamic tag structure will allow Google to more accurately understand your article's content and rank it accordingly. On RebelMouse, this creates a trickle-down effect, because users can click a tag and quickly get directed to more relevant articles, which boosts your SEO efforts further.

Here's how the site experience looks on RebelMouse-powered EcoWatch when viewing their primary tag "Plastics."

RebelMouse-powered EcoWatch takes advantage of a primary tag construct.

Improves Crucial KPIs: As mentioned before, RebelMouse traffic experts are constantly focused on improving the three KPIs that matter most to site usability and building audience loyalty. These metrics answer the following questions:

  • Frequency: How often are users coming to the site?
  • Depth: How many articles does each user consume?
  • Duration: How long is each user staying on the site?

Looking again at EcoWatch's use of primary tags, it's important to note that a primary tag is exposed on every one of their articles. They're also used in a left-hand navigation module that features the latest stories and trending topics:

Start Leveraging Primary Tags on RebelMouse

If you aren't on RebelMouse yet, request a proposal today and let's start working together to make sure your site is optimized for user growth. If you're already publishing on RebelMouse, and want to learn more about tagging best practices, contact your account manager or email support@rebelmouse.com.

Page Speed Is Crucial to Your Marketing Efforts

Most marketers don't prioritize page speed because they don't think it impacts their bottom line. However, page load has a direct impact on conversions and revenue.

Here's a very simple scenario, supported by industry data, to underscore why the way pages are built and powered is crucial for paid media initiatives and your overall business:

Let's say a paid media campaign drives 100,000 new visitors to a landing page that takes five seconds to load. Google says that 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. So of the 100K mobile site visitors you paid to bring to the page, ~50K are leaving immediately due to poor page performance alone.

Some studies even show that bounce rate increases approximately 100% for every two-second delay. So, if site load jumps to seven seconds, you'll pretty much lose all of the visitors your paid strategies brought in.

A Poor Site Experience Costs More Than You Realize

Page load plays a huge part in customer dissatisfaction, too. Continuing on with our previous example, let's classify the ~50K that didn't abandon the page as dissatisfied due to poor page performance. As HubSpot points out, 79% of them are less likely to buy again from the same website. That's ~40K visitors never coming back to the site due to poor page speed. The loss is even greater when you consider how valuable returning visitors are: They represent up to 48% of all transactions and spend almost 2x more than new visitors, according to Business Insider.

Plus, people love to spread the word about a bad experience, probably more than a good one. 40% of visitors who had a bad experience with a website's performance would tell a friend or a family member. So of your 50K dissatisfied visitors, 20K are talking negatively about your brand. If they tell only one person each, that's an opportunity cost of another 20K potential site visitors and customers.

The main takeaway? Your paid media has to work much, much harder when you neglect to optimize your site for performance.

Owned and Paid Media Should Work Together for Better Efficiency

And speaking of site improvements to help the bottom line, marketers can't overlook the value of owned content (e.g., articles, reviews, social feeds, etc.) and its impact on overall traffic and lead generation strategies. Sites tend to see significant lift in audience reach and conversion when content is paired with commerce: For e-commerce companies, content can account for up to 69% of total organic traffic. And, even more compelling, conversion rates have been 6x higher for companies that adopt content marketing.

RebelMouse's CMS makes it easy for brands to systematically optimize page speed performance and organic reach, which allows paid media to be more efficient.

RebelMouse allows clients to easily manage website layouts and components at any time, ensuring sites remain fast and are rewarded by Google and Facebook. Our platform features proprietary SEO tools designed to help clients optimize organic search with every post and better align paid and organic search strategies for increased efficiency. Similarly, our platform also includes proprietary social tools to organically build community and growth, and our data helps clients spot winning organic trends that can inform paid social media.

RebelMouse Is a Partner That Can Guide You

When it comes to content marketing, it's important to be mindful of the relationship between owned, earned, and paid media — it will only help your teams engage and convert more audiences into customers and brand loyalists. At RebelMouse, we're proud of how we work with brands and our ability to provide the expertise, best practices, and modern technology that help teams become better content marketers. If you're a brand marketer, feel free to reach out to us to learn how RebelMouse can help you be more strategic and effective in your content marketing efforts.

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Target High-Value Users With Affinity Categories

Unlock valuable audience data and shape a new strategy

In today's landscape, quality content isn't enough — it's half the battle. Publishers need to produce shareable content backed by data to experience sustainable growth. At RebelMouse, we have a unique pageview methodology that provides an innovative user experience for every reader without sacrificing revenue and growth opportunities for publishers.

To do this, we track massive amounts of data across our platform through the use of custom-built Google Data Studio dashboards.

Click here to see the kind of growth our clients experience every day.

One of the best ways to discover more about your audience is by taking advantage of Affinity Categories. This feature breaks down audience demographics, including age, location, interests, and more. Affinity Categories are usually used to target audiences for ads, but we also use them to gain insights on what topics a site's visitors are interested in overall.

Normally, each category is listed out separately in Google Analytics. In the example shown above, our data experts split categories into separate levels to reveal different levels of audience depth. For instance, by splitting up the category News & Politics, we can better explore the detailed distribution of users interested in specific types of news:

  • News & Politics/Avid News Readers/Avid Political News Readers
  • News & Politics/Avid News Readers/Entertainment News Enthusiasts

From an editorial standpoint, this is useful because it allows publishers to determine and target varying levels of high-value users, improving the efficacy of a new content strategy or ad campaign.

If your site is already powered by RebelMouse, email support@rebelmouse.com to get a breakdown of your audience's Affinity Categories. If you aren't powered by RebelMouse yet, request a proposal today and start receiving the data you need to grow loyal followers at scale.

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