Writing for the Web can be a lonely endeavor. Sometimes it’s hard to know what is reaching your users and what is turning them away. Tracking and analytics can help, but these tools are only meaningful when you take the time to interpret and use them properly. How do you know when you’ve got a good and sticky narrative? And, how do you keep it fresh and vibrant?

First, start with some best practices:

  • Write well. This means write a lot and often, get feedback on your work, edit a lot more, and get reviews from people who can really offer meaningful critique and direction. Then, make sure the final tone and style of your writing are coherent and consistent, and that they contribute to your Website’s voice and character.
  • Resist the temptation to do something just because it’s trendy. Don’t hop on a bandwagon in an attempt to drive traffic to your site. While it’s fine to write about trends, be sure they have some real relevance to what you can offer your users. Share your expertise, and do it honestly. Don’t try to fit your round product into a square hole just to get in on a popular fad.

Second, monitor and measure:

  • Track as much as you can, and take the time to analyze the results. Then use those results – make decisions about your content based upon what you learn. You don’t have to adhere mindlessly to the statistics in your analytics, but use them to support key decisions.
  • Mine your social media outlets for clues. What pages, products, services, or stories are your users talking about? Which ones are generating conversation, consternation, or confusion? Can you figure out what’s missing from the conversation, what gaps you can fill to satisfy what your users are looking for?

Third, wholeheartedly embrace change:

  • Listen to your users. Take your analytics seriously and act on them. If a case study is languishing in your archive, rewrite it. If a product page is inspiring people to ditch you and go to YouTube, rework your product descriptions: make them short and sweet and add a video link to show people how they work.
  • Try something completely different: create a newsletter about exciting innovations in your industry or develop send targeted email communications that give your users something new, useful, or intriguing.

Don’t be afraid to experiment – if the Web offers us anything, it’s the opportunity to try something new. But, don’t do this in a vacuum – again, use your analytics and your social media presence to gauge what is working and what is not.

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