Deep dive into your customers’ psyche with knowledge base analytics

on December 12, 2019

It’s hard to dispute the value of a self-service knowledge base. It’s what customers want, and it reduces your support team’s workload when executed properly.

It’s not enough to write content and post: you need to know how that content is performing for your customers. When you don’t have the direct feedback from your customers as you would with agent-to-customer support, you have to obtain that feedback in other ways. You’ve got a couple of options when it comes to analysing the effectiveness of your help content.

If you invest in the right knowledge base software, it’s likely you will have access to in-built reporting and analytics functionality that you can use to gain insights into your customers’ behaviour. One of the best selling points of choosing to build your knowledge base with dedicated software is that you can start looking at data right out-of-the-box.
The second option when it comes to knowledge base analytics is to integrate with Google Analytics, which will help you dig even deeper into the habits of your customers.

What analytics has to offer for your knowledge base

First, let’s have a think about some things you might want to look at concerning your knowledge base visitors. You’ve mined your customer support conversations, talked to customer support reps, and analysed your product for some issues that you can turn into help content.

Your knowledge base has been live for a while and you’re interested in how your content has been helping your customers. What do you look for first?

You might be interested in data about your content for things like most popular search terms, search terms that don’t turn up any results, most popular articles, most popular categories, and total likes and dislikes for your content pages. You can build a better picture of the customers actually using your knowledge base using demographic data like age and location.

kb-analytics-Document360

There’s more. You want to know things like the traffic sources for your pages, user flows
through your knowledge base, exit pages, bounce rates, and time spent on page. You want to understand exactly how customers are interacting with your content pages, and what they do when they leave your knowledge base.

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Reasons to invest time in analytics
 

So why should you invest all this time in analytics for your knowledge base?

Customer feedback loop

It’s all about closing the feedback loop with your customers. An effective self-service strategy is an ongoing process that requires constant iteration. Content that is successful one month may be hopelessly out of date the next.
With the absence of a human mediating the interaction, we need to use digital sources to learn about the experiences of our customers and whether we have succeeded in helping them.
It’s also a powerful thing to have hard data on the content that your customers are searching for, versus relying solely on qualitative data from your support agents. You can use this data to run reports and provide evidence to colleagues for why changes are needed.

Value for customer support

From a customer support perspective, there are a lot of reasons to spend time looking at analytics for your knowledge base. Naturally, you can deflect more tickets if you provide the content that your customers are actually looking for.
Research shows that 91% of customers expect to use an online knowledge base as their first port of call. You’ll reduce customer frustration if your content actually helps them instead of delaying the time it takes before they can finally solve a problem.
You can test different versions of help articles to see which one is the most   effective: for example, one page including a video, one without.

Retain more customers

From a customer retention perspective, it’s important to gain an accurate awareness of the problems that your customers are having with your product. There are customers that won’t even bother hitting up support if they experience problems: they will just churn and seek a better solution.
By viewing search data, you can spot potential trouble spots before they become a big issue.

Generate more leads
There are more bigger picture reasons to invest in your analytics, too. Your knowledge base can be a valuable source of SEO traffic and potential sales leads. With Google Analytics, you can see which of your pages are the biggest sources of organic traffic from search engines like Google or Bing.

Increase product adoption

When it comes to product adoption, your trial users may be struggling with a feature of your software. Naturally, they turn to your knowledge base to learn more about the product.
What if this information is hard to find, or worse, non-existent?
They may assume that your product is inadequate for their needs. Knowledge base analytics will tell you which content is missing so you can fill in the gaps. This reduces the likelihood that your customers will churn during the trial phase.

How can I integrate Google Analytics?

So you’re convinced of the value of Google Analytics, alongside your out-of-the-box knowledge base analytics. If you want to integrate Google Analytics with your knowledge base software, then you need to have an existing GA account with admin privileges.
If you use knowledge base software like Document360, then integration is as simple as copying and pasting a tracking code. You’ll be up and running right away, and no technical experience is required.
After logging into your GA account, go to the Admin page by selecting the cog icon. Select Tracking Info → Tracking Code → Tracking ID. You’ll find a particular tracking code that you can copy (it looks like this: UA-XXXXXXXX-1).
Head over to your Document360 portal and open Settings → Integrations. Paste the code into the Google Analytics field and save your changes.

Track knowledge base article performance

But first, let’s look at some analytics you’ll get in your knowledge base.
As we mentioned earlier, knowledge base software like Document360 gives you the ability to track article performance.
There are several dimensions to look at in relation to your content:
Most popular search terms – the words and phrases users are typing into your knowledge base search engine.
Most popular articles – tells you the top articles that are the most visited by your users.
Most popular categories – tells you the top categories that are the most visited by your users.
Likes and dislikes – user feedback rating system you can enable for every article that tells you whether your article was successful in helping your user.

customer-analytics-Document360

If customers are searching for terms in your knowledge base, it’s important to have content that matches those terms. If you’re getting a high volume of searches for particular terms, you can either surface the relevant content on your homepage or create bespoke monthly FAQs.

Regularly searched terms can also highlight potential trouble spots with your product, and can give you insight into how you might improve the UX of your interface, for example. If customers can never find a certain feature, consider redesigning the interface to make it more obvious.

Popular search terms might also tell you that an article is not easy to find for users who simply want to browse your content Information Architecture. Perhaps the article has been buried in an obscure category, and the only way users can find it is through reverting to search. You could surface important content in the FAQs section, move the article to a better section, or consider redesigning your content structure to be more intuitive.

In contrast, you can compare popular search terms with articles that are never viewed by your users. This suggests that the results are irrelevant for your users, and certain articles may need to be deleted or archived.

Once your users are actually on your article pages, it’s important to know whether it has served their needs.

 Document360 comes with a user rating feature: users can record whether they liked or disliked your article. You can regularly review the lowest-rated articles in your knowledge base and find ways to improve them.

Google Analytics is useful if you want to discover more detailed insights into why your content isn’t performing well (see below).

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Identify missing knowledge base content

However hard you try to create a comprehensive knowledge base, you are inevitably going to miss important topics that your customers value. Luckily, there’s a way to find out topics your customers consider important that flew under your radar.

Document360 comes with a feature that shows you search terms that are bringing up no results for your customers. This means that your customers are looking for content that you haven’t provided (excluding those times when users have typed incorrect search queries).

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Missing content is either going to lead to a customer support ticket, customer frustration, or customer churning. Your aim is to reduce the likelihood of any of these scenarios happening by providing matching self-support content for currently failed knowledge base searches.

Make a list of the most common search terms with no results and consider it a priority to create this content.

Sometimes, the terms your customers are using won’t exactly match the terms you’re using in your content and this will result in a failed search. Such a scenario means you might need to add custom tags to your articles to ensure they are showing up in the search results – or even change the language you’re using in the article itself.

See where your customers are coming from

Now we’re going to look at a topic that Google Analytics is useful for: traffic sources.
It’s important to know where your customers are coming from before they arrive at your knowledge base. This tells you more about the customer journey and your most popular sources of traffic.
Google Analytics gives you the ability to see traffic sources for your knowledge base. You might want to view traffic by:

  • Source – the origin of every website referral to your knowledge base, and could for example be something like facebook.com (name of a website), google (name of a search engine) or direct (the user typed the URL of your site in their browser or visited a bookmarked tab).
  • Medium – every referral to your knowledge base also has a medium, which could be something like cpc (cost-per-click – paid search), referral (another web page referral) or none (in the case of direct traffic).
  • Channel – either referral (another web page referral), direct (the user typed the URL of your site in their browser or visited a bookmarked tab), organic search (a user typed a matching query into a search engine), or social (social media).
    Your Acquisition reports tell you how users are arriving at your knowledge base, and you can also view the number of visitors on your site in real-time. To access your Acquisition reports, navigate to Acquisition → All Traffic.

Studying your customer acquisition sources is useful for a number of reasons. For example, if a large number of your customers is coming to your knowledge base through organic search, then you know your SEO strategy is working well.

Understand the popularity of your knowledge base

In Google Analytics, you can also get an idea of the overall number of users visiting your knowledge base within a given time frame. This will tell you something about the success of knowledge base with your existing pool of customers.

For example, you can look at the number of unique visitors compared to your overall number of existing users. If you have 500 total users, 100 unique visitors tells you that your knowledge base is roughly serving 20% of your customers. You can aim to increase this number with promotional campaigns and customer education.

If you want to learn more about your users, visit Audience → Overview. Make sure to change the date range in the interface so you’re viewing the right time frame.

You can also look at metrics like bounce rate, and average session duration. Your bounce rate tells you the number of users who arrive at your site, view only one page for 0 seconds, then “bounce” without viewing any other content.

Your average session duration is how much time users spend on your site in one visit – less than 30 seconds is a concern, while more than two minutes is a positive sign.

View user behavior flows through your knowledge base

One of the other things you can see in Google Analytics is the pattern that your users follow through your knowledge base site. In the Behavior Flow report, you can view a visual representation of how users are “flowing” through your knowledge base. You can see the most popular entry page, and then the subsequent pages that users follow.

For example, you might have a page for which where users consistently go on to another page. This suggests that you might need to combine the page content, or make the location of your second page more obvious at the outset.

If you want to access the Behavior Flow report, navigate to Behavior → Behavior Flow.

You can also view landing pages in your Google Analytics report. A landing page is a page that your user lands on first when starting a new site session. Go to Behavior → Site Content → Landing Pages.

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Understand where your customers are going

It’s important to learn which of your content is leading to the most support tickets so you can take steps to address it if necessary.
One the one hand, if you offer a direct way to contact customer support in your knowledge base, you could monitor this action as an event in Google Analytics.

You can compare the amount of traffic a particular topic is getting in your knowledge base, and compare that to the volume of customer support tickets you receive on that topic in your help desk solution. If you have more knowledge base traffic than you do customer support tickets, that suggests your content is serving your users effectively.

You can also monitor the Users Flow through your knowledge base where you can see the pages a user has viewed in a particular session. If you hover over a particular page, this tells you how many drop-offs occurred for the page. This tells you that page is an exit page for that number of users.
You can navigate to Users Flow by going to Audience → Users Flow.

Contribution analytics

As well as looking at users, it’s useful to gain insight into the contributions of your content writers to your knowledge base. You can get an idea of who the most popular authors are so you can appreciate their efforts, plus identify areas where there is potential for more training so you can publish better content.
In Document360, you can look at the Leading Authors in the Analytics panel under Performance, to see your most popular authors. Under Team Accounts, you can see the Total Authors and the Total Articles published.
You can identify bottlenecks in content production depending on who is reviewing each article before it is published.

Final remarks

So you’ve been given a broad overview of the potential for knowledge base analytics to help your business.

Remember that a knowledge base is a constantly evolving asset. It has the ability to make both your customers happy, and provide valuable assistance to your customer support team. Helping your customers is a task that is never finished.

It’s easy to get sucked into creating content for your users without actually taking the time to evaluate the effectiveness of your publications. Of course, you can only gather intelligence from your analytics once you have an already functioning knowledge base.

It’s all about closing the feedback loop with your users and taking a look at the hard data to find out once and for all where you should be spending your efforts. Combine the power of your knowledge base solution’s analytics (like Document360) with the reporting of Google Analytics for a vivid picture of your customers’ needs.