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What I learned leading 7 people in a content audit

May 7, 2015

There are a lot of reasons why a content audit should be done by one person.  Consistency and thoroughness come to mind as two of the top reasons. Recently I completed my second major audit, and in both audits, it just wasn’t possible for one person to do an entire audit.  Hello, they have a day job! And the description does not usually include auditing their entire library of content.

So, you compromise. You use what you have. The first time around, I had myself, my direct report, and a good chunk of holiday downtime when people were out of the office. This time, I had 7 colleagues all running different categories ranging from food to electronics, and they all had plenty of other priorities. Here’s what I’ve learned – I hope it helps you run a smooth audit with whatever resources you have!

1. Make the goal & benefits really, really clear.

Whatever you have to do to encourage your team to climb the mountain that is combing through each piece of individual content, do it. This is best done prior to announcing that you need their help – and it’s also best to remind them of those benefits often during the process. Don’t be above bringing in treats to facilitate – my personal favorite bribe consists of fancy pastries from Tartine or Mr. Holmes. Whatever it takes, people, and that includes cruffins.

2. Create a master spreadsheet formula and stick. to. your. columns.

I can’t stress enough how helpful it is to maintain consistency in both the column setup and the monikers you use to identify content.  If you have everyone rating the content’s quality, but don’t give clear parameters about what quality means and how to rate it, then you’ll be left with analysis troubles. Imagine going through your quality column of 2K-plus items and realizing everyone has called their top notch content something different, in monikers like “superb,” “excellent,” “really good,” “killer,” “so-so,” “could use an update,” “update,” “update (broken link).”  Varying forms of the same word only serve to confuse and distract come analysis time; rein it in now.

3. Talk about how great it will be once it’s over.

This goes back to #1, but it’s so important I’m mentioning it twice. Talk about how it will make their life easier once they can hand off this entire spreadsheet to everyone who keeps asking for “that one buying guide from last year that did really well,” so they can search it for themselves.  Wax poetic on how cool it would be to transform this spreadsheet into a searchable database — oh wait, that’s what we’re going to do! Cool! Now just a few hundred articles left to go…

4. Set reasonable milestones.

Breaking the audit into chunks bound by time and task seemed to work best for me. Our first milestone was to pull every title from the CMS along with URL to get an accurate representation of sheer amount of content, and I gave the team two weeks to do this. For some, quick and easy – but for others, this involved lots of deleting of duplicate titles. For the next milestone, I had them pull a page view report on their entire set of content for the past year. With this, we sectioned off the top 20% of content and called it Group 1. The next highest 20% of content was Group 2, and so on. This gave us an indication of performance without pulling in the exact page view numbers, which would have had to be redone practically every month.  Although it would have been nice to see exact numbers, the reality of the static spreadsheet we had as a tool made it so that this seemed like the best option. Last, I gave them an additional month to touch every piece of content in their inventory. We ended up having a few extensions, but the milestones definitely helped keep the project top of mind.

5. Celebrate!

I’m kicking myself for not doing a good enough job celebrating, but Walmart prohibits me from bringing in champagne for the team due to policy.  So, drinking alone at home it is (just kidding).

 

If you’ve had a similar experience and have wisdom to share, I’d love to hear from you.  Have you pulled xml files? Copy-pasted like a caveman? Let me know!

Infographics and the attention span

May 7, 2015

The active learner.It’s really a shame that the infographic is dying off (reports FastCompany in this recent article: What Killed the Infographic?) or, as they eventually reveal, not so much dying off as retreating into internal data science reports. As most of us are visual learners, the ability to hook a reader in the first few seconds with a visual is usually an effective means of getting them to read your content.  Anecdotally, I’ve seen that content with gorgeous imagery performs better – as in, you see a lift in time on site and page depth. On the flip side, content sans imagery does terribly.  You’re lucky if you can maintain a 50% bounce rate.

It really makes me wonder if society is moving closer and closer to how it is portrayed in Idiocracy. We’re already watching our phones with the attention a mother gives her newborn.  A friend remarked to me the other night how he noticed his attention span during a movie recently: the least bit of a slowdown and he whipped his phone out to check baseball, catch up on Facebook, and wait for the movie to pick back up again.  No wonder blockbuster action thrillers win at the box office and cerebral think-pieces tank.  I’m guilty of obsessive internet-checking too, although I like to think I’m avoiding commercials more than waiting for a plotline to thicken.

There’s a place for infographics on the web, though, we just need to think of them as more than data visualization. What is Instagram if not one long, scrolling infographic on life?

How’s this to catch your attention? The below is an illustration of all the ocean currents in the world.  Data, meet art. (Aside: there’s a Star Trek reference in there somewhere, there has to be…)

Better_Than_A_Van_Gogh__NASA_Visualizes_All_The_World_s_Ocean_Currents___Co_Design___business___design

Nasa visualizes all the world’s currents – http://www.fastcodesign.com/1669361/better-than-a-van-gogh-nasa-visualizes-all-the-worlds-ocean-currents

The rise of content at Walmart eCommerce

February 9, 2015

Recently, I did a quick interview with our PR team about Walmart’s growing acceptance of content marketing – every January, Walmart does their version of a New Years’ Resolution play called Start Strong, Save Big.

Not the most inspired writeup, but hey, worldwide exposure for my team within the Walmart mothership? I’ll take it! 😉

Walmart_com_content_centers_designed_to_start_the_year__strong_

The science of beauty

December 29, 2014

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not an avid beauty buff. I hardly wear makeup (although I appreciate the artistic prowess necessary to apply it, and I CAN do that) and as for hair, I like to experiment with different colors – sometimes unnatural, orange is a favorite – rather than styles.

It surprised me, then, when I started taking a liking to the beauty content I wrote myself out of pure need (aka slim budget and few internal copywriting resources). Here’s a recent favorite that I spun to pair with my other love: figuring out WHY things work.

Apparently the Outbrain crowd liked it too, because it was a hit! Well, actually 1,318,567 hits to be exact.

The science behind coconut oil for your hair – written by yours truly for Walmart Beauty.

science of coconut oil

Font of the Day

November 28, 2014

Screenshot 2:9:15, 10:33 PM

 

 

 

This font reminds me of sitting in math class, concentrating on solving a problem when all of a sudden your pencil snaps and it’s probably because Pencil is feeling vengeful for all the times you chewed on the eraser.  Then you’re pissed because a) you have no pencil and b) you’re still in math class.

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Slo-mo Wes Anderson is everything

March 24, 2014

I have a particular hankering to see a Wes Anderson movie right now, and I thought this slo-mo video that captures all those moments would make it better but it just makes it worse. Off to the movies…

WES from Alejandro Prullansky on Vimeo.

The tale of the secret Prince

March 22, 2014

Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.
– Prince

On Wednesday morning I was walking down the hallway at the technology company where I work to get coffee and was stopped by two coworkers talking about the secret Prince concert.

“I can’t go – but look, Kayla is all purple, she should go.”

I was wearing wine colored jeans and a purple flowery button-up, so yes, technically I was all purple. I stopped and struck a pose to model my outfit, then asked what they were up to.

My coworker then asked if I wanted to go. I had nothing to do that night. I said yes, because of COURSE you say yes to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like a secret Prince show!

We met up outside the Fillmore where they banned all photography and video, so sadly I don’t have any to share.  What I can note is that Prince was wearing a cabernet flowered carpet jacket with fro and headband. His ladyband was amazing and talented. At one point, Prince was playing piano behind a veil of pink smoke just like in his videos.

Then he told us not to take photos with our smartphones because technology is all that is wrong with the world.

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Don’t hate technology, Prince, it brought you and me together.