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6 Content Helpers That Encourage People To Read, Watch, or Listen

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6 Content Helpers That Encourage People To Read, Watch, or Listen


Without changing a word, you can make your content easier to consume.

Don’t expect a thank-you note. But do look for signs your audience appreciates the effort (more frequent visits, views, and listens, for example).

The six tactics in this article make content easier to consume by helping manage time expectations, offering shortcuts, and letting people choose the format they prefer or need.

1. Belly up to a reading bar

Many content destinations (including this website) show a reading time estimate at the beginning of each article. You can see the time estimate at the top of this article next to the byline and published date.

Here’s another recent CMI example showing a reading estimate of about 11 minutes:

Estimating time to read helps people decide whether to read the article now or save it to read later. They also can use it to assess at a glance whether the piece covers the topic in detail or offers a brief overview.

Adding a reading time estimate helps people decide whether to read the article now or save for later, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

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Other tools support the audience throughout the article. Epsilon, for example, includes a progress bar for its written content as well as the estimated reading time:

Progress bars help audiences with long-form content. They let readers glance at the progress bar to see how much more time they need to finish the piece instead of scrolling to the top to remind themselves of the reading estimate. (This trick also works well to keep people taking surveys from giving up with only a question or two to go.)

I don’t know what specific tool Epsilon uses. But multiple plugins exist to provide this feature. For example, the WordPress plugin Read Meter analyzes text and images to calculate time and progress.

2. Create chapters for your videos and podcasts

Ever watch a how-to video where you wished you could skip over the sections you understand and easily find the steps you need to see? Or maybe you’ve listened to a podcast that recounts details you already know and found yourself wanting to skip to another section of the story.

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Your audience likely feels a similar desire with some of your content. Timestamps and chapter markers put them in control of the viewing or listening experience.

YouTube lets you use timestamps and visuals to designate video chapters. For example, the YouTube Creators video explaining the feature includes three chapters:

  • 0:00 An intro to video chapters
  • 0:23 How to set up video chapters
  • 1:07 See video chapters in action

The how to do time stamps video only lasts 80 seconds, but the chapters help viewers get to the exact spot they want:

If you publish videos on YouTube, it makes sense to help your audience by including chapters. To enable the optional feature, list the time stamp 0:00 (and a name for it) in your video description and time stamps for at least two other chapters that are each at least 10 seconds long.
If you publish videos on @YouTube, it makes sense to help your audience by including timestamps and chapter markers, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
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YouTube offers step-by-step instructions for automating chapters or doing them manually.

You can also use podcast time stamps to help listeners go directly to what they want to hear. Each hosting platform is slightly different, but most let you note the timestamps in your show notes or episode description. In some cases, the platform’s tool will let you link the time stamp to that moment in the episode.

This video shows how to do that with WordPress or Captivate podcast sites:

3. Create a linked table of contents

A table of contents at the top of text-based content lets you lead readers through your text, just as timestamps and chapters guide your video viewers and podcast listeners.

Create a linked table of contents to lead readers through your text, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent.

This tactic works well for content that covers several tips or subject areas. You could create a traditional table of contents or publish the key points detailed in the article.

You don’t need a separate tool to create a linked table of contents. You can create one using HTML anchor links. Here’s an example of a linkable table of contents, giving readers the option to jump to sections in the article on the table of contents (yes, it’s a meta example), such as bullet styles and how to create a clickable link:

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Another approach is to list the article’s key points right at the start. For example, Atlassian’s award-winning Work Life blog includes a five-second summary box at the top of each article. (Each post includes a progress bar, too).

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The summary for the 2,000-word article Could a Shorter Workweek Be in Your Future? offers these points:

  • The “four-day workweek” label has become shorthand for any effort to make the standard workweek shorter.
  • Companies, political parties, and labor unions are exploring shorter workweeks in several countries, mainly in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.
  • But that Iceland experiment everyone got so excited about? Don’t believe the hype.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: Content Readability: A Primer

4. Get specific with your links

Have you noticed that some Google search results take you directly to the relevant section of an article? That feature saves you from searching through the whole article to find what you’re looking for.

You can offer that same benefit to your audience using Link To Text Fragment. The Google Chrome extension lets you link directly to a highlighted or salient point on a page or site.

@GoogleChrome #LinkToTextFragment extension allows for linking to arbitrary text on a page so your readers don’t have to search through the entire article, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

5. Let people listen

The Washington Post lets readers consume some of its content in audio form. A headset icon and text, “Listen to the article,” appears at the top of pages that include audio. The module also shows the estimated time to listen.

You can do the same with your content. Sure, accessibility tools help those with hearing difficulties transform text into audio, but why not solve the problem for them? At the same time, you also can help your audience who might want to listen to your content on the go.

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BeyondWords and Play.ht are two plugins that let you create an audio bar at the top of your content.

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6. Show me the text

You should provide transcripts to help your audience members who have hearing challenges consume your content in ways other than captions on screen. If you’re not doing so already, it’s time to start.

Companies such as Rev, Otter.ai, and Happy Scribe (freemium) offer transcription services. To use them, you upload the video or audio file. Then, depending on the service, you can select an AI-only transcription or a human-created version.

TIP: If you record a video on Zoom, make sure to save it to the Zoom cloud, not your computer. You can then request a free automated transcription.

If you record a video on @Zoom, make sure to save it to the Zoom so you can request a free automated transcription, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Go easy on your audience

All these tactics make content consumption easier. As it turns out, each one is easy to implement through plugins, automated services, or simple HTML coding.

Best of all, they present big opportunities to attract and retain an audience with little additional effort.

Are you using any of these approaches? Let me know in the comments which ones work best for your audience.

Editor’s note: No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools (from your company or ones you have used) in the comments.

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Want to learn how to balance, manage, and scale great content experiences across all your essential platforms and channels? Join us at ContentTECH Summit (May 31-June 2) in San Diego. Browse the schedule or register today. Use the code BLOG100 to save $100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute





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Using Google Analytics 4 integrations for insights and media activations

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Using Google Analytics 4 integrations for insights and media activations

No matter which stage of Google Analytics 4 implementation you’re currently involved in, the opportunities to integrate with other products shouldn’t be overlooked. The best part is that the basic versions are free for everyone, so there are quick wins to be had if you aren’t using these yet.

Other features and reporting experiences aside, an edge that Google Analytics has over other analytics platforms is that it fits well with the Google Marketing Platform (GMP). If you’re using Google Ads, Search Ads 360, DV360, or other media tools in the suite, GA can be a hub, as well as a source in the media activation process.

GA integrations as a hub

The paid media platforms in GMP have advanced, automated reporting. These platforms are powerful tools to analyze the beginning of the user journey by drawing people to the site and to the end of the experience by converting. 

What about the middle? A solid Google Analytics implementation offers multi-step conversions, custom user behavior data and rich segment data to build and share audiences.

GA integrations as sources for insights

Google Analytics 4 isn’t just about analyzing data, it’s about acting on it. For example, the Audience feature leverages your analytics implementation — you can use the data to segment users and create audiences for remarketing, targeting, A/B testing, and personalization. 

Through settings in GA, you can also link other products and share audience and conversion data.

Below are the integrations currently available for Google Analytics 4 as of June 2022. Notice that it’s already quite a lengthy list.

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  • Google Ads.
  • BigQuery (extra costs are incurred in Google Cloud).
  • Display & Video 360 (DV360).
  • Google Ad Manager  (GAM).
  • Google Merchant Center.
  • Google Optimize. 
  • Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) (this one requires the Salesforce Journey Builder). 
  • Search Console.
  • Play integration.
  • Search Ads 360 (SA360).

The first step to building out your analytics insights is taking inventory of your GMP stack. Which products are you using right now? The products will depend on what type of site or app you have and the products in which you are investing. However, three of those integrations can apply to all properties — BigQuery, Search Console and Optimize. It doesn’t matter if you’re an advertiser, publisher, retail or service site — each of these integrations is a possibility to use today for free in Google Analytics 4. 

Let’s take a closer look at these three fundamental integrations.

BigQuery

What is BigQuery? A Google Cloud data warehouse that’s not exclusively for Google Analytics or GMP.

Who is it for? Teams and leaders that will benefit from this connection are involved in areas like BI, data science, and data administration.

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With BigQuery, you’ll have all of your data exported to a data warehouse that you own and control. Once the data is in Google Cloud, there’s freedom to send to another database, blend with data outside of Google Analytics, and perform advanced reporting in other tools. The GA BigQuery data has other benefits, including integration with CRM data.

How to integrate. The integration is self-serve within the interface, but there needs to be a BigQuery project available to link the Google Analytics tool. If you do not have a project yet, go to the Google APIs Resources page to create a new one. On the page, it looks technical and there’s code references, but that part isn’t necessary and you can skip it. The instructions for doing it through the interface are in modules in the “Console” tab. Below are the simplified steps:

  1. Select the option to create a project on the upper left of the page.
  1. Name your project, select the “Create” button, and there’s now a new project in Google Cloud. 
  2. The last step is turning on a setting to use BigQuery. There are a lot of technical options in the menu, but the only area you need to go to for this is “Library” under “APIs & Services,” where you can search for BigQuery and enable it.

After the project is created, it’s ready to be integrated with Google Analytics 4. Back in the GA interface, the option to link it is under property settings. 

Now your raw GA4 data will start collecting into the project to be available for immediate use. Out of the integrations listed here, this one has the most steps. However, the other products are just a few clicks. (Note: BigQuery comes at an extra cost. However, for most accounts it will not be significant — it is sometimes just a few dollars.) 


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Search Console

What is Search Console? It’s a platform for monitoring in-depth metrics and reports related to organic Google search performance and site speed.

Who is it for? Most teams will benefit in some way from analyzing search data. This includes content creators, SEO teams, and web developers.

How to integrate. A Search Console property must be created, and it must be verified. Sometimes this is as simple as selecting a few buttons in the interface.

Once there is a Search Console property, or once there is access to an existing property, the link is in the same menu as the BigQuery link under Property Settings.

After, organic metrics and reports that are not out-of-the-box will be available in Google Analytics 4. Once the product linking is complete and working, there’s a last step to enable GA users to benefit from the enhanced data. It may be noticeable (and possibly confusing) that the Search Console data isn’t within the default interface navigation. To see the reports, the reporting collections in the menu should be edited.

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To modify the navigation, select “Library” at the bottom of the screen:

Next, begin the process to create a collection, under Collections. The template for Search Console will be located as the bottom right option. The option to start from scratch without a template is also available.

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After saving, go back to the library area and publish your collection. The report should now be accessible from the left navigation:

Optimize

What is Optimize? Optimize is an A/B testing and personalization tool.

Who is it for? It’s for marketers, conversion rate optimization (CRO) teams, content creators, or UX leads.

How to integrate. This one isn’t as apparent as the other links. Right now, the integration option does not show up in the Google Analytics property settings. That doesn’t mean that it’s not available, it means that the linking hasn’t been done yet. 

So, instead of starting in Google Analytics, the process begins in the Optimize interface. Under Settings, navigate to the Measurement section and edit. A dropdown will be available with a list of all the properties that you have access to. Unlike the previous version of Google Analytics, the integration links to a GA data stream instead of the GA property.

Once it’s linked, the icon will show up in Google Analytics:

When the link is active, Google Analytics 4 data can be used for audience targeting, conversion optimization, and objectives.

Note: If you are already linked to a legacy Google Analytics property, check with your team to make sure that it is ok to switch it to the Google Analytics 4 data.

Read next: Is Google Analytics going away? What marketers need to know

With the integration of BigQuery, Search Console, and Optimize, anyone can advance their analytics capabilities for current or future initiatives.

Below are brief explanations of the media platforms that Google Analytics 4 can integrate with. Most of these depend on what products are in use, what vertical an organization falls under, or other specific contexts and devices. 

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Google Ads

What is Google Ads? It’s the most popular and well-known search advertising tool, formerly known as AdWords.

Who is it for? It’s for marketers, advertisers and paid media specialists.

What it does. Google Ads was one of the first products to have GA4 linking capabilities. It’s built to provide value both ways – by getting Ads metrics and reporting from Google Ads to GA and by sending audiences and getting conversions from GA to Google Ads.

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Google Analytics 4 to Google Ads linking information and instructions here.

Display & Video 360

What is DV360? It’s a programmatic advertising platform. Also referred to as a DSP, DV360 is used to bid on display ad placements on publisher/content sites.

Who is it for? It’s for marketers, advertisers and paid media specialists within enterprise organizations.

Google Analytics 4 to DV360 linking information and instructions here.

Search Ads 360

What is SA360? This is like Google Ads, but super-charged. It’s a management and bidding tool to run ads across multiple channels and search engines.

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Who is it for? It’s for marketers, advertisers and paid media specialists within enterprise organizations.

Google Analytics 4 to SA360 linking information and instructions here.

Google Ads Manager 

What is GAM? It’s an enterprise platform for publishers to manage and serve ads on their site or app.

Who is it for? Marketers, advertisers and paid media specialists within enterprise organizations.

Google Analytics 4 to GAM linking information and instructions here.

Google Merchant Center

What is Google Merchant Center? A separate platform from Google Ads to promote products, mainly on Google Shopping.

Who is it for? It’s for marketers and advertisers within an e-commerce organization.

Google Analytics 4 to Google Merchant Center linking information and instructions here.

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Salesforce Marketing Cloud

SFMC is for cross-channel digital marketers. This integration is meant for use in the SFMC Journey Builder and can bring in Google Analytics data.

Google Analytics 4 to SFMC information and instructions here (through Salesforce).

Google Play

Google Play is Google’s app store and it’s for digital marketers who analyze in-app purchases and subscriptions.

Google Analytics 4 to Google Play linking information and instructions here.

If your organization is using any of those media tools, it’s a great time to start the strategy and process of leveraging Google Analytics 4 data to enhance analysis across multiple products and teams. There’s no reason not to start since they are available to all GA4 properties.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


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About The Author

Samantha has been working with web analytics and implementation for over 10 years. She is a data advocate and consultant for companies ranging from small businesses to Fortune 100 corporations. As a trainer, she has led courses for over 1000 attendees over the past 6 years across the United States. Whether it’s tag management, analytics strategy, data visualization, or coding, she loves the excitement of developing bespoke solutions across a vast variety of verticals.

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