How can you declutter data in an era of information overload? That was the focus of The Content Council's webinar yesterday, which gave senior content marketers a chance to share how they deliver content programs, strategize around analytics and provide ROI for clients.

About 90 attendees joined the webinar, “Connecting the Dots: Analytics and Measurement.” 

The panel included: Theresa DiMasi, editor-in-chief and head of content at Weight Watchers International, Inc.; Michael Grier, business development director at Globe Edge Content Studios; Kathy Kayse, VP of sales strategy and solutions at Yahoo; and moderator Jacqueline Loch, VP content solutions at St. Joseph Communications.

Loch presented 10 questions to speakers before turning it to the floor, and the conversation was also live tweeted at #TCCWebinar.

The Content Council, founded in 1999 as The Custom Publishing Council, is a New York City-based non-profit organization representing content marketers globally.

So Much Data

"What keeps CMOs up at night?" Loch asked rhetorically. Data, obviously — something she described as a double-edged sword. Marketers are bombarded with data, but they can also mine this data for useful insights.

According to The Content Council, 58 percent of CMOs believe content marketing is measurable. And yes, Loch conceded, "there’s more pressure than ever to measure all of this data.”

Kayse said much of the focus on analytics starts in the C-suite. “We’re finding more and more CMOs are seated next to the Chief Procurement Officers. That is why there is such focus on data and analytics because it gets the marketer closer to the effect and spending, and the procurement officers reminding them of that of every day.”

DiMasi, who oversees Weight Watcher’s editorial calendar, believes data has changed the way editorial operates. “We’re just doing business differently,” she said. “In the old days, as editors … we’d go out and we’d say, 'This is the message. With digital, now everybody's talking. There’s the two-way back and forth, and it changes day to day. So no matter how well you craft your message, and you’ve thought about it and have all these insights, someone can say something one day, and then you have to completely change that message.”

Stay Flexible and Simple

When it comes to managing content data and analytics, keep your objectives simple and your solutions and strategies fluid.

At Yahoo, Kayse says they identify three pillars to approach their advertisers: data, content and technology. Advertisers tap into about 1 billion people using Yahoo products and about 165 billion data points on a daily basis, working across search, email and Flurry, an analytics company acquired by Yahoo.

“We have a strong legacy in content,” Kayse said, pointing to news backed by global anchor Katie Couric, sports as a number two platform behind ESPN and finance information for investors.

Grier, who works at the content studio with Canada’s largest newspaper, The Globe, said they reach about 18 million page views daily with their properties. “Really we’re getting into the business of predicting,” Grier said.

“Our business model is simple. It still focuses around the content that we create and the great storytelling. We’re sort of divided, literally … where there’s these incredible editorial and journalistic writers that have a certain type of approach at creating content, and we’ve been leveraging those best practices on the commercial side of the business.”

At The Globe, Grier starts with what they call content pillars to understand the client’s goals. Then they feed it in to Parse.ly on top of Omniture to produce data insights.

Prove Your Worth

Content marketers often prove their results to clients through ROI, and data adds another layer to that measurement. At Weight Watchers, DiMasi uses A/B testing to continuously optimize their content. “For me it’s about acquisition and retention,” she said.

“If I’m writing copy that’s getting people to sign up for Weight Watchers, that’s a win. I’ve proved an ROI on that. If there’s content that I’m creating that keeps people one month longer on the program, that’s a great return on investment. We just keep asking people, and we do a lot of A/B testing.”

In the case of Yahoo, Kayse referred to a campaign with Splenda geared at lessening sugar consumption. “At the end of the campaign, we’re able to prove [with] our research companies, like Nielsen … proving we’ve improved purchase intent, improved awareness and driven the actual sales within the cart at the end of the day.”