Ask the Expert: An Introduction to Parse.ly
Parse.ly gives creators, marketers and developers the tools to understand content performance, prove content value, and deliver tailored content experiences that drive meaningful results.
Watch as Neil Powell, Solutions Engineer at Parse.ly gives you a close look at Parse.ly, answers your questions, and shows you the benefits of adding content analytics to your CMS and content strategy.
In this session you’ll get:
- An introduction to the Parse.ly’s Content Intelligence Dashboard
- A few best practices for informing content strategy
- Examples of how to align content strategies with business goals
Neil Powell, Solutions Engineer, Parse.ly
Neil Powell is a Product Specialist at WordPress VIP representing the company’s analytics offering and providing customers with a 360-degree view of content to tie engagement directly to business goals.
Prior to his current role, Neil was an Associate Director of Unstructured Content at S&P Global within their Market Intelligence division. He was responsible for helping to drive strategy and platform development across S&P’s business news, research, and events analytics offerings. Previously, he spent eight years growing and leading a team of data journalists to create data-driven news and analysis for S&P clients’ daily consumption.
Neil has a B.B.A in Economics from James Madison University.
Good afternoon everyone. Welcome to today’s webcast. My name is David Cardiel. I’m vice President of marketing here at WordPress VIP. But I’m excited to welcome you into our first Ask the Expert series, an Introduction to Parse.ly. Just about a year ago, WordPress VIP made a very strategic acquisition by bringing on the content analytics platform, Parse.ly, and we wanted to expose our customer base to all the benefits and everything around it. I’m really excited today because it’s not about me. I’m welcoming in Neil Powell who’s a solution engineer extraordinaire over at Parse.ly to give everyone a view of Parse.ly and the benefits of it. So Neil, why don’t you take it away?
Great. Hey, thanks David. So hey everybody. Welcome to today’s introduction to Parse.ly webinar. Over the next 30 minutes, we’re going to walk through why more than 12,000 sites use Parse.ly to help focus their work and create more impactful content. So let’s start with why that’s important.
We’re all extremely busy these days, right? It’s a fact. Most of us are publishing more content and we’re planning to do even more than that this year. So do we know if that content is working? Is all that effort leading to results? You might’ve seen the original research that we published earlier this year, our Content Matters report. We did an extensive analysis with more than 800 different content marketers to understand their common challenges, goals, and strategies. It really is a treasure trove of data and can help you understand what everybody is experiencing in the marketing world today, and more importantly, what they’re looking to do about that.
A major theme that came out of the Content Matters report was the need for stronger ties between content performance and business objectives. Executive teams are asking, “What’s the ROI that this drove? Did we get more leads? How much revenue came from this piece of content?” And content teams are typically responding from the analytics on hand with metrics around page views, social shares, and search traffic. There’s a disconnect with how content teams are able to report their performance and the objectives that the business is looking for. And the truth is, half the teams today don’t know how their content is driving those business results. 73% don’t even have any revenue goals attached to their content.
And so what we’re looking to do today is to show you how you can help solve that problem, drive those stronger connections between content and your business goals. And we’re looking to really make that working with data easy for those content marketers and content creators and give the insights that you need to prove out that ROI. But beyond just saying that, as our mission statement today, I want to show you how we can do it. I want to use some real life examples and workflows so you can have some immediate takeaways today. And now that you know just a little bit about the dashboard, I’m going to turn off my webcam and dive in and show you some of those examples. So let me turn off my webcam here. We’ll give you a bigger view.
Parse.ly is a web-based analytics dashboard, and we’re capable of seeing both real time and historical performance of our content across two different ways. And so when you install the tracking analytics code on your owned and operated sites, we’re able to understand how content is working from an engagement perspective. So we’re able to see things like page views, search referral traffic, time on page, and ultimately conversion activity that they’re taking so you can start to understand how people are moving through the funnel. But we also marry that with aspects of your content. So things like word count, when this was published, and the keyword tags that you associate in your CMS.
And so I’m going to start today on our post tab and show you at the base level article by article engagement. And like I mentioned, we’re able to see that in both real time and historical views. We have information across all aspects of the funnel. So the top of the funnel, we have things like social referrals and search referrals, where that traffic is coming from. In terms of nurturing and engaging those people, we have total engagements. We understand returning visitation. We also have the conversion activity. So understanding how our content is driving people to make some sort of action. And this is really where Parse.ly is a large differentiator in that content journey.
We have four different attribution models, first and last touch, common things that you would be able to see or that you’ve maybe seen before, but we also have more content specific attribution models in terms of our linear attribution model. What this does is it’s a multi-touch and a multi-session model that allows you to see the entire content journey. And so if we look at something like last touch attribution and we can start to understand how it’s driving subscription conversions, we can see that we have our six articles here. These are the pages that were driving that subscription signup that people were looking to give their card information and sign up for a product that we have.
But if we load up a linear attribution model, we’re going to see a little bit more into the journey. You’ll see that there are now more articles that are involved here. And why that is happening is because the conversion metric here is more like a conversion score. So that attribution model is multi-touch and multi-session and it’s showing the content that has been a part of that user journey. The content that is helping to influence.
Content really is more of an ecosystem. Typically, one piece of content doesn’t capture somebody from a channel, nurture them on your platform and drive them to an action. Content needs to work together. So you can start to see what pieces of content are frequently a part of that journey to driving something like a subscription. We can dive in to the individual article itself or the individual piece of content itself and start to see what channels are driving that effective subscription conversion, what social networks are most effective for us, which ones are doing the bulk of the heavy lifting there so we can continue to focus that success, turn our ad spend into the platforms that we’re looking to really drive results from. We can also see the campaigns as well that are driving the bulk of that conversion activity.
And then we can start to look at it at the aggregate level here. So if we click through, we can start to see all of the content on our conversions dashboard and understand how all of those articles are driving that conversion piece. But beyond just the article itself, we can see on aggregate how those referrers, traffic sources are driving our content, are helping to focus our ad spend. We can also start to look at the types of content that we’re falling under, right? What topics are we writing about that are ultimately compelling people to drive more conversion activity? And you’ll see here we have this in the aggregate, but we also have this on a purpose basis, right? And so are we writing about one specific topic and really focusing all our attention on that and we’re driving aggregate conversion activity, we’re driving a large bulk of subscriptions?
But if we look further down, we can start to see maybe we’ve saturated this topic point, right? We’ve written the bulk of our post about this. So obviously we have a large aggregate conversion piece, but what are we doing on a per post basis? What does our ROI look like? Are there other pieces of content, other topics that are more compelling that we could start to focus our interest on either in-house or with an agency?
And now the conversion piece is only part of that funnel, right? So you’re only able to see that bottom piece of the funnel. And so let’s work back up towards the top of the funnel here. And so if we go back to the post stage, we can start to understand how we’re capturing somebody’s attention, how we’re bringing them into the platform. So we understand that this time well spent piece under the analytics that matter section of our platform really is driving the bulk of the conversions. But what other content from that section or that area of the platform is helping to capture that attention. Because like we said, content is really an ecosystem. It doesn’t just work alone.
So we can start to look at something like our search referrals and we can start to filter aspects of our content. So the sections, the area of the site, like our analytics that matter. And if we apply this, we can start to see what content is driving search referrals. And so as we look to build that SEO, drive search traffic and partner with something like a Semrush to optimize for that, how is that older evergreen content that’s driving our search and that is robust and is optimized, how is that working? We can start to see very quickly how that’s working over longer time periods, by dragging and dropping. And then we can also understand in the short term how that trend is working.
So if you see that the last 30 days your search referrals are starting to drop off, it’s time to start to look at your SEO. Are there new keywords? Can you slip a new published date on there? Are there new links that you need to add? What can you do to help bring that back? We don’t have the time to optimize every single page for SEO every single day. And so what we can start to do is start to understand, is that older content continuing to drive those dividends? And how can we start to partner that content at the top of the funnel with things that are working effectively at the bottom of the funnel, right? So we understand that to find the jargon, audience engagement is continuing to drive those search referrals.
So we can click through and start to see how does that hub and spoke system work, right? We’ve optimized a specific article for SEO strategy, but how is that working at pushing people further down the user journey? How are we then nurturing them and bringing them in? So if we scroll all the way down to the bottom of our screen here, we can start to see that journey from our article that’s done really well on search. It’s been optimized. We’ve honed in our keyword strategy. We’re driving the bulk of our traffic there, but now how are we pushing them further down into the funnel? How are we getting them to pieces of content to inform them about our products and services? How are we getting them to spend more time with us, learn more about us?
And so you can start to see how we’re effectively pushing those related pieces of content within the article. We have both a percent of referral traffic coming from our post so we can understand just how well we’re effectively pushing things down and percent of total traffic to that article. And so we can start to see things that are falling further down that maybe have valuable resources on the page, how do we look to find something to switch those out, update those articles, continue to push people through that funnel. And so we can start to go back and start to look into our post page and actually start to see what’s nurturing our content, right? We figured out what’s working at the top of the funnel. We figured out what we’ve optimized for search and what pieces are working so how do we bring in more content to relate and engage to that.
And so we can keep the same section tag here and we can start to overlay something like total engage minutes. Now, total engage minutes is a little bit different than what you’d see from something like a session time on Google Analytics. And so for Parse.ly, what we do is we look to track for activity. We have a heartbeat pixel that makes sure that the piece of content is your active page in your browser. Very often people have multiple browser tabs shown and loaded up, right? And frequently, we’re looking at every single browser tab. And so what we do is we make sure that browser tab is active. But beyond that, we start to look for mouse movement, engaging with the content, clicks, clicking on an infographic, something to infer that actual activity is being taken. And this is allowing us to say, “This is the content that’s truly educating, that people are engaging with, that are driving somebody to be informed about a product or service that’s leading them to take an action.”
So once you know that what’s working at the bottom of the funnel and what’s driving them to subscribe to give you that information to pay for a service, but then also what’s working at the top of the funnel to bring them in, we can put the engaged time in to fill that journey and continue to push them down the funnel. And so what we can start to see is here’s the content within that analytics that matter area of our platform that’s driving the most engaged time that people are engaging with the most, that people are taking the time to actually truly read.
And so what we can start to do here is we can start to feed that in, make sure that we are finding the most popular content, whether that is something like an ebook or a blog post that people are engaging with. And we can start to tie those pieces together and have that be linked on the page that’s doing really well from search that’s optimized for those keywords. And in that way, we don’t have to spend time and waste time optimizing for every single page that we have. We can start to draw people into a central page, push them through to the pages that are the most engaging, and then ultimately tie that together with some piece of content that’s driving that conversion.
And so we can start to really see and understand how we’re moving people through the funnel. We can start to partner pieces of content together. And we can ultimately look to capture them at the top of the funnel, engage them once we have them in our platform, and then push them to the piece of the content that can get them to subscribe, that can get them to drive that revenue. And ultimately, we can continue to look and see how those pages are performing. We’re able to dive deeply across various sections of our content with our conversions, with how people are engaging with the content, with where they’re coming from and staying. But we can also start to stay in touch with that.
The big piece of Parse.ly and the capability that Parse.ly has is to allow you to see those insights, click into those articles, and ultimately get that action and take something from the data. So you will come to the overview page, and this will be your landing page when you come into the analytics dashboard. And ultimately what you want to do here is customize it to set your strategy. It’s the last place that you should really come to after you’ve set your strategy. You need to use all those tabs to set your strategy. And what we can do is we can start to customize this.
So if I was interested in seeing each part of the funnel, driving people to those subscriptions for our conversions and understand what content’s doing the best, we can start to customize our dashboard and really stay up to speed. And so what I can start to do is I can expand my timeline. I can track my conversions metric for the week and see how ultimately that’s working. And then I can set up each column here with a different aspect of the funnel. So if I want to understand where is my traffic coming from, what we’re referrers are doing well, what areas I should focus on, should I put my paid dollars behind Facebook or should I put my paid dollars behind LinkedIn. We’re starting to see Facebook as the area that’s driving the most page views from that social traffic.
And then I want to understand how is that content being engaged with, what content are they spending the most time on once we’ve captured them and brought them in from something like Facebook or search. And then we can start to see how do we relate those things. So if we have somebody coming into an article from Facebook from search, does that article, is it pushing them to these pieces of content? Do we have related content widgets? Are they related to the campaigns that we’re running in those? In social, in search, do we have the correct links to help them move naturally through the funnel? Do we have those touch points? Are they in front of people? Are the posts that are doing the most work educating people? Or is it easy to find?
And then once we have the first two pieces of the funnel link, we’ve captured them, we’ve moved them through the funnel into the engagement, we’ve nurtured them, we’ve educated them, what content is doing the best job at getting them to subscribe, at getting them to give us their lead? And so we can start to see from our linear attribution model, these are the pieces of content that are doing well.
How is this content connected to our education, our nurturing? Do we need to update this to have the appropriate links to push them through to have this be the final touchpoint in their journey so we can ultimately give them the content that’s the most compelling to create that subscription? Are we following up in the right channels and the right campaigns? Now that we’ve invested that money into campaigns, into channels that we know that are working, do we have these pieces as part of that? Are we culminating? Are we capstoning that journey? Because these are typically things like research reports, infographics, eBooks, webinars. Are we getting these things in front of people as the last point of contact to ultimately capture their attention? Are we giving us the best chance?
You can also start to get up to speed and be alerted on these things too. So you don’t necessarily have to dashboard watch. We can create Slack alerts so you can understand how content is being engaged with. If you have a new referrer that is rising to the top, you can be alerted. And so you can start to win the day. You can understand what post you have. If something changes here, this dashboard is real time. So as new content is created and as things rack up the leaderboard, if you see something trending towards the top, you can update that content, make sure it’s linked to things that are doing well at the top of the funnel and things that are doing well at the bottom of the funnel. So you can start to have those little wins for your day that can ultimately lead to winning for the week, winning for the month, winning for the quarter.
The last piece that I want to talk about is reporting and being able to generate some of these things on the fly. So you can both move these forward up your chain of command, let the business know what’s working, what’s driving those conversions, but also push those things downward to your teams so you’re all working on the same page.
And so if we go to our reports, you’ll see that we can run HTML or PDF reports across multiple areas of the platform. So I’ve preloaded one of the reports for conversion details for subscriptions here today. What this is showing is performance for the last month around those subscriptions. So we can start to see how many subscriptions we’re driving. We can start to tie that to the revenue per subscription and say, “Our content is contributing to this much in revenue subscriptions.” It compares to previous periods. And you can start to see that calculation and you can start to understand what content is driving that post activity, which ones are doing well. If it’s evergreen content, if it’s older content, how is that performing? You can also look at the new content that you created during the period and how is that new content driving you towards those conversions being a part of that funnel and ultimately driving action.
And then you can see the tags and the referrers. And like I mentioned before, where are we focusing our efforts? What channels are most lucrative for us? As we start to see things like Facebook at the top here in this example, should we start to focus on LinkedIn? Should we do the same things? Or should we double down and really drive our paid spend into Facebook and really make sure that each piece of content is driving the current actions on our most lucrative channel? We can create more content for that channel because typically different channels have different success rates and different things that work in terms of content. Maybe Facebook, you want to focus on flashier headlines, shorter pieces of content, where something like LinkedIn, you can focus on heavier analysis pieces because it’s a more business driven audience.
And you can also see how your campaigns are starting to drive those conversions. What paid campaigns are you using? What organic campaigns? Which social campaigns? And where those are? How are they leading to that conversion activity? So you can really start to focus on the content. That’s the most effective at driving that revenue. Those channels and campaigns, making sure you’re spending that money, how are you capturing that piece of organic to reduce your customer cost. But then ultimately, how are you tying all of your content to revenue to those conversion activities that really matter for the business so you can start to move away from something like just this many page views or this number of session times or this many search referrals and start to say, “We drove X number of subscriptions for why price across this period. And we are a genuine part of the user journey to influence people to subscribe, to learn about our product more, to ultimately drive those MQL and SQLs.”
And that really is the power of content and the ties that Parse.ly can make. And so that concludes some of the practical pieces here. David, do we have any questions that we want to try to run through today?
Oh, thank you, Neil. That was a great explanation. And yeah, just been monitoring the chat for you here. A couple of things that did come in. The first question that we got in, popular question, how is Parse.ly different from web analytics tools like Google Analytics or Adobe?
Yeah, that’s a great question, David. And so I think there’s two major pieces, right? The conversion attribution that we have in our linear attribution model and the capability to understand how your tags related to your content, your referral traffic is one of the major differentiators for us. Just being able to completely piece together that user journey and move from a first touch or a last touch attribution model and something that really is giving content the credit and showing the aspects of the content to drive future ideation.
And then the other piece really I think is ease of use and usability. The Parse.ly dashboard is hyper-focused on content where GA, Adobe Analytics, they’re more general purpose. There’s a lot of different things that you can do. They’re extremely powerful tools. But it can be hard for content creators to manipulate that in an easy way to get that information that they see. And so with Parse.ly, you’re able to use a dashboard that’s tailor-made and that you’re able to move through easily and efficiently, and that can help content creators become many data analysts and have part of their day-to-day workflow be around data-informed decisions and getting information related to how content’s performing.
A lot of the time it’s dragging and dropping, selecting different pieces of information from a waterfall. And so ultimately, you can move and glean those insights. So you don’t need to spend hours trying to piece together a report or aggregate up URLs. And you can ultimately look through and see how your content is performing, ask a question, get an answer, and then ultimately push that forward to either double down on success or change things that aren’t working.
Were there any other questions?
Yep, there is a couple more. Thanks for answering that. Another question from the audience here. “Hi, Neil. We are looking at building a custom most popular widget. Does Parse.ly have plans to provide an API to access analytics data?”
Yes, that’s a good question. And so the analytics dashboard really is our flagship product, but we do have other solutions. There is the capability to drive widgets via the Parse.ly API. So if you’re installing our tracking code, we can also use that information to power our widgets for you. So things like a most popular just by something like page use or engage time. We also have the capability to get more specific with that. We can create personalized recommenders from the user’s reading history. And so you could have truly a most popular or most related to you or our picks for you, and that can be driven by actual readership from that individual. And we can also customize anywhere in between.
Great. Another great one here. Next question for the VIP customers out there is, how does the integration process look going into WordPress VIP? Can you talk to that a little bit?
Yes. And so Parse.ly is CMS agnostic, but with WordPress we have obviously the strongest ties. And so integration with WordPress is extremely simple. We have a WordPress plugin that will allow you to inject the tracking code onto your WordPress CMS and we’re ultimately able to capture both the engagement metrics and a lot of those aspects of your content immediately. And I’ve seen integrations with WordPress be completed as quickly as a day. And so we can really get up to speed there very quickly.
And then also as the time goes on with Parse.ly and WordPress and as we integrate more into the WordPress system, those ties are closer together. And so, one thing that you can do today is in WordPress, you can click directly through into Parse.ly analytics from that article and it will take you directly to that article’s page and that performance. So as your content creators are in the CMS living creating that content, they can also quickly access the analytics related to that specific page quickly, easily, and takes you straight through to the dashboard.
One last one here. I know we’re getting close to time here, but, “Does the Parse.ly dashboard integrate with Power BI tools like a Tableau or Looker?”
Good question. And so the dashboard is really purpose made and out of the box, but we do have the capability to capture that information related to engagement and aspects of your content and pipe that through a data pipeline that can be accessed either from a Kinesis stream for real time engagement tracking or through something like an S3 bucket for more historic usage. And you can take that data pipeline and pipe all of that into your data warehouse and you can access it through a tool like Looker, Power BI, visualize it for your team. So if you’re a data analyst or if you have a team of data analysts with custom dashboards utilizing Looker, Tableau, we can pipe into that. We can help co-mingle that data, partner it with other things that you have. And that data stream is also more robust than what you see on the dashboard. We have 128 items in our data schema that you can partner, commingle, and show on a BI tool.
Great. Thanks for answering that. We’ve got about a minute left here, but Neil, I want to thank you for your time today. This was very, I think, very informative for our WordPress VIP customer base here.
Again, folks, the intent here was to give a little insight into an introduction into Parse.ly. Join us in two weeks. We’ll send out a little note on this, but in two weeks, Neil’s going to be back. He’s going to be back on the 23rd, same time. He’s going to dive into this a little bit deeper. We’ve got an exciting feature in here, which he’s kind of ending on right here, which is conversions. And so really thinking about the ROI behind your content, analyze your content strategy, excuse me. Neil’s going to be talking a bit about conversions here in a couple of weeks, so we’ll make sure you have that link.
Couple of logistical things, we’ll get a recording out of this to all of our attendees so you can refer back to this. I do want to push a quick poll to the audience here real quick, and that’s if you’d like to take a little personalized demo of Parse.ly. If you’d like to take a deeper dive into this, feel free to select yes or no here and we’ll reach out and give you that personalized demo. So feel free to drop that here.
Appreciate everyone joining today. Neil, thank you for your time. This has been, again, a very informative introduction into Parse.ly. Really excited about the partnership between that and WordPress VIP. Anything else you’d like to leave the crowd with?
No, I think that’s it. Really excited to come back in two weeks and dive deeply into our conversions modeling, how we can tie your content to ROI, and what are some of those things that we can do to ideate. But thanks again for having me, David, and really looking forward to the continuation of the series.
Sounds great. Everyone have a great afternoon. Thank you very much.