Knowledge Management in Technical Support

A blog about knowledge management in Commercial Technical Support - part of tech support for Enterprise and Developer customers at Microsoft.

Use AdCenter or other analytics to get a "sobering" view of who is reading your blogs

Use AdCenter or other analytics to get a "sobering" view of who is reading your blogs

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We are very concerned about the amount of time our engineers spend blogging. In our business, we think it's absolutely the right thing to do - get engineers to talk to customers directly about the products they support. They can use blogs to talk about things that the knowledge base doesn't typically cover, or expand on topics covered in other sources.

The amount of time they spend on this activity requires that we get some intelligence about the success of the content. As I've written in previous posts, analytics can be used to help build a story of the success of your efforts.

We get monthly reports from MSDN and TechNet that show us the monthly page views and RSS deliveries of our blogs. When I first started this blog several months ago, I was very curious to see how many people actually cared about what I was writing. The first three months of data was pretty surprising. I didn't believe the data:

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I honestly doubted that so many people cared about what I was writing. I get very few comments in my blog posts, and my topic is interesting to a very small segment of professionals. So, how can I get a better view of my traffic?

I started using Microsoft AdCenter to track my blog. It uses a line of javascript to report visitor information to the back-end of AdCenter, and then I can query the system to find out more information like how many unique visitors I had over a given period, how long they stayed on my site, did they go anywhere else after visiting a certain page, etc. It's a web-based tool, and it has a lot more features that I don't use at all. It's a pretty sweet system if you don't want to spring for something like WebTrends.

About a month has passed since I started tracking my blog through AdCenter, and surprise, surprise - a more "realistic" view of my traffic emerged.

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During the period between 7/17 and 8/13, I only had 56 unique visitors. Granted, I'm not comparing the same timelines between the two reports, but this is a huge difference between the two data sources.

What are the lessons here?

  • Be very wary of more traditional methods of tracking your traffic. Hit counts are not relevant due to bot traffic and other sources that make page view hit counts almost irrelevant.
  • Get a better understanding of your traffic by monitoring things like the number of unique users to your content. Even better - try to determine how long they stay looking at your content, and whether or not they visit related pages within your site, etc.
  • Realize that you aren't as important as you think you are. :-) Hit count reports make it seem like a lot of people care about your content, but in actuality, that isn't likely the case.
  • Try to figure out how to better track your RSS deliveries. I still don't have a good story to share yet on that, and I don't want to use FeedBurner.

I hope to have similar reporting for the blogs that we are paying engineers to maintain. I don't want to have the reporting in place so that I can tell engineers to stop blogging, but we want to make sure they understand their audience as much as possible, and maybe re-think how they're blogging today (do they do more or less in a given month, etc).

Are you having success with analytics and blogging? Drop me a comment with your story.

Hunter Donald
Program Manager - Knowledge Management Strategy
Commercial Technical Support

 

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