Analytics: How to Use Your Reader Data to Support Business Development

A client asked an interesting question during the Q&A part of a recent JD Supra webinar focused on content marketing best practices. (Click to watch a recording of the webinar included above).

Q: What can we do with reader data in our analytics when the person's name and position/role are not included?

I'd like to expand here on what my colleague Adrian Lurssen said in response, capturing some of his key points and suggesting actions you can take, and questions to ask, as you delve into your analytics, looking for BD opportunities. 

While our default is to provide reader names and roles when we have permission to do so, as you know from your JD Supra analytics (and likely from your own website metrics or any platform upon which you operate), for a number of reasons, including privacy settings, sometimes your reader data only includes the company and industry in which that reader works.

How to act upon this type of reader data? I invoke something Adrian says frequently when speaking about BD and content marketing: it all depends on the questions you have brought to your analytics. (Questions that should be informed by/reflective of your firm's strategic, business focus at any given moment in time.) In practical terms:

Adrian pointed out that here, the reader data can still lead to important next steps. We have built a platform that enables us to know a company (and therefore industry) even when we don't know, or have permission to share, a name.

When you scan your analytics and come up with such readers, note the company and industry and consider their relevance to your business development strategy - and also to the strategic focus of your content in the first place. Ask:

1. Do we work with anyone in this company?

If yes, ask: do we serve them for the issue(s) discussed within this piece of content? Whatever the answer, share with your team supporting this client any relevant data points you can. Take note of how many times the company has read your post. A high number likely indicates that people are sharing your post internally; something has struck a chord. (Is a company you serve for tax issues reading your content about cybersecurity? Your don't need names to know it's time to offer that valued client's team a webinar on cybersecurity best practices!)

If you're not yet engaged with this company (and I assume you might want to be, since it caught your eye in analytics), you now have a general data point about what interests the leadership team within the organization. Share that with the relevant BD or pitch team; make note of it in your CRM.

A strong next step: consider accessing a Beacon Insights report on that company, looking at even wider readership (aka legal need and interest) within that organization from across the entire JD Supra platform. More on this below.

2. Does this suggest an industry trend?

You see that a reader at an interesting company within a strategically important sector engaged with your content. Could this indicate a trend that you should know and monitor, going forward? There are multiple ways to follow up on this.

First, filter your reader reports by industry (a drop down menu choice in your analytics), filtering by the industry given for this one reader. In other words, turn that single reader data point that caught your eye into a quick look at readership within an entire industry. That is always a worthwhile next step.

Do you serve clients in that industry? Are people in that sector reading about the issues for which you are known, and available? Are you seeing interest in matters that surprise you (ie, are you seeing potential growth opportunities)?

Share your reader report on a specific industry with relevant people within your firm. Consider a Beacon Insights report for an even deeper dive into reader interests within that industry; look for emerging/trending opportunities in the wider reader data. Who knew that cybersecurity was such a hot issues in the energy sector? Well, today, everyone does. Three years ago, it would have been the people paying attention to early data. Find your firm's next growth opportunity. Speaking of which...

3. Is this an unexpected content opportunity?

Did you write your post (or series of posts) with this audience in mind? This type of question gets to the heart of your content strategy, and its relationship to the firm's business strategy.

Ask: Is the company/industry engagement a happy surprise, a potential opportunity?

If yes, engage in conversation with the author. Why would someone in this space be interested in the work? What next writing might deepen our visibility, and help us understand interests and trends, within this company/industry?

If no, talk about which companies you actually want to be read by, and begin profiling their specific interests (hint: you have data to help with this). If the readership does not exactly resonate, you may need to adjust focus. Answers to these questions (and related) inform next steps by your thought leaders. 

Meaningful Facetime

Adrian pointed out (and I wholeheartedly agree) that often aggregated data has as much power, if not more, in terms of finding next steps in analytics. When you don't have a name to work with, you still have the power of aggregating readership providing insights into companies and industries. Bring your strategic questions about the companies and industries that interest you to your reader data. Follow the leads on anything that stands out in your discovery.

Adrian mentioned Clinton Gary's (at client firm Burr & Forman) phrase to capture what his team does for the firm's attorneys: create meaningful facetime (click to watch Clinton explain in a short video).

In short, every month, members of Clinton's team schedule time to look at their reader data so that they can bring to firm leadership and attorneys meaningful insights. Among other things, these reader data points inform important conversations with clients, creating that meaningful facetime.

Armed with industry and company data in the aggregate, attorneys are able to ask probing questions in these client conversations. Time well spent by everyone!


Paul Ryplewski is VP of Client Services at JD Supra