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Ep. 20, Featuring John Levitt from Parse.ly

When it comes to publishing, tracking analyzing and optimizing the content you produce is all part of the game. No one’s to invest hours creating and then for their article to slowly fade, but figuring out how to keep the fire burning, well that can be a challenge with many of the analytic tools in the market.

Enter stage Parse.ly, Parse.ly gives content and marketing teams an easy way to visualize the performance of their content across all their platforms and channels in one place, giving them the inside scoop on exactly how to best engage with their readers and allowing them to drive content performance where it matters.

—and now, with parsley being part of the automatic family of products, the performance and support is better than ever. I’m here today with John Levitt. He’s the General Manager of Customer Success at Parse.ly, an important service from WordPress VIP.

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Amit: Hi John, it’s great to see you. Welcome to the show.

John: It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me, Amit.

Amit: To begin with, can you tell us a bit about parsley, how it helps marketing teams analyze and optimize their content performance?

John: Certainly. As a Content analytics company, we’re owned by WordPress VIP. We work with large Publishers and Enterprise marketers, and really what we do is we make analytics easy for them.

Many of the viewers may have struggled at some point in time with Google analytics, trying to struggle through and find the right reports to run, and that friction is really one of the barriers that we are kind of eliminating through the platform that we’ve created.

John Levitt, General Manager of Customer Success at Parse.ly

There’s a couple of ways that we do this. One is just by structuring our analytics in really intuitive ways based on the underlying metadata or structure of the content itself for the web pages itself, so that could be things like who wrote the content, what is the target audience for the content, what topics is it discussing, what type of page is it? All of those elements can be used to structure data and really consistent and meaningful ways for end users.

So that’s what we really try to bring together for our customers, making it easy for them to self-serve those insights and answer questions that are really important for the business and the strategy that they’re implementing.

Amit: At XWP, we work with a lot of high traffic Publishers. How can Parsley help large teams manage their content workflow?

John: High traffic Publishers like News Corp, USA Today, Conde Nast, McClatchy, these are the core set of customers that we’ve been working with for almost 12 years now.

When you think about it, each Newsroom probably has hundreds of people creating thousands of Articles that’s reaching Millions if not more. That gets really complex, especially when you then layer on well, you know, they’re writing all these different types and formats.

That content is being distributed across dozens if not hundreds of different places on the Web, different devices, different platforms, aggregators. It’s just a really complex environment to navigate through. These teams generally only have a handful of analysts that are responsible for data within those organizations.

It’s asking a lot of those people.

We’re able to take a huge burden off of those small analytics teams, allowing them to focus way more on strategy, and way less on sending out and distributing reports. This changes the whole dynamic of the conversation between analytics and strategy teams and the newsrooms that are executing on the ground.

John Levitt, General Manager of Customer Success at Parse.ly

Amit: That’s interesting. What are the differences between what Parsley offers and the standard Google analytics setup?

John: There are some things that we do differently from a data perspective.

Automatically tagging and creating taxonomies for Content that is being published through our system. Those things are, you know, nice differentiators, but really the ease of use of the platform specifically as it’s tailor-made for Content people, marketing people, and not just being a general generic web Analytics tool that’s meant for analysts and data scientists.

That ease of use, that frictionless experience, just opens a ton of doors within these organizations where you find solutions bubbling up from places that you wouldn’t expect to otherwise, which makes the organization more efficient. It allows people to spend their time much more efficiently and effectively.

John Levitt, General Manager of Customer Success at Parse.ly

That ranges from reporters in a newsroom or content marketers that are on the front lines creating that content that can create experiments and immediately measure how their work is performing in the field, all the way up through top Executives that need to understand very quickly what’s happening, is this good, is this bad, what next action do I need to take across my team.

There’s tons of other things, of course, like product details that we could get into, but really it’s that like higher level understanding of what happens when you make data and insights really efficient, easy, and accessible for an organization broadly versus withholding it to a small number of people that know how to use it.

Amit: What results have you seen from large businesses using Parsley?

John: The key things are always can it help us save money, spend less time, can it help us make more money. Those are very common high level and we talked about a little bit already how we do that on the efficiency side. It’s making sure the right people have the right information and insights to make the right decisions without having to run around and try to figure things out.

HelloFresh is one of our customers, and their content teams rather small, but they came to a realization through Parse.ly that certain types of recipes, certain types of ingredients were more interesting for people that were coming to their site and learning about their products. That actually caused them to make changes to what they were putting in their recipes, and what they were shipping out in their boxes, which in turn had an impact on how much people were ordering and how much people were doing.

John Levitt, General Manager of Customer Success at Parse.ly

So like a very strong connection in that case to content marketing and product and revenue.

There’s all types of examples like that. Whether you’re a marketer, whether you’re a Content publisher, you have to be really precise and understand the things that you’re doing and the effect that they’re having on the business and with your audience.

With journalists in particular too, sometimes it’s not like revenue is maybe not the most important thing that’s driving that person’s interest, but informing their community is really important. So that real-time audience feedback that you can get is really empowering, it’s really motivating, and it does help people really do their best work.

Amit: For some big Publishers, they’ve got masses of content that is spread across a number of years. For example, when XWP was migrating Rolling Stone, we were dealing with content libraries that span more than 20 years. How does Parsley handle historical data?

John: It handles historical data really well. It’s funny because I think my last answer was talking a little bit about our real-time data capabilities, which is sometimes one of the more attractive things about what we offer because the platform is extremely real-time.

As things are happening on the site, you can see it happening in your dashboard or the other products that we offer. But the ability to look over time and see over the last several months, even over the last several years, what has been happening, what is the performance, what are the trends, what are the insights, and not having to wait five minutes for a query to finish running but actually getting to see it in a matter of a few seconds.

Super empowering again for people to feel inspired to ask questions and know that they can get answers to them really quickly without having to spin a bunch of cycles and then waste a bunch of time.

So regardless of when the content was first published, you’ll see that information inside Parsley’s products, and you will be able to look back over whatever custom period is super interesting and understand how things are performing. Whether there’s an increase or a decline in search on Evergreen content, that’s a very common use case, especially for certain types of corporate marketers and Publishers. And one of the strongest ways that you can use Parsley is to build that baseline of performance over time versus having to constantly rely on creating new content, new campaigns, new promotion. That can be a real inhibitor to longer-term growth. So the historical piece, I would say, even more important than real-time in a lot of cases.

Amit: When it comes to load times, we find that a lot of tools used for analytics actually have unfortunate side effects on load times. With Parsley, this isn’t the case. Can you talk a little bit about how that works?

John: Certainly. There is a JavaScript tracker that is installed on the site. It’s an async loading tracker and generally, it can load after everything else that’s mission-critical to rendering the site.

I think often when you see issues with JavaScript trackers and slowing things down or breaking things, that can be in the AdTech category of product where it’s like going out and touching so many things from so many different places. That’s not the world that we’re in. We’re basically here just to collect data on your site, your own visitors. It’s a very quick low-weight process that we implement on the customer sites.

John Levitt, General Manager of Customer Success at Parse.ly

Amit: Parsley is now part of the WordPress VIP family of products, and XWP has actually been a gold VIP Agency for more than eight years. In fact, we’re really proud to have just received the innovator award for our work with Parsley. Can you tell us a bit about how these two fantastic brands came together?

John: Yeah, and congratulations, by the way! Last year, last February, Parsley was acquired by WordPress VIP.

So it’s February 2021. Really, it was just recognition across both teams. We had been working together with the VIP team on the partnership side, mutual customers, working on technology integrations, building out our WordPress plugin to be more effective with the joint customers that we had. It was just a very obvious thing to join the two together. Right?

Like you publish a new page on the web and you want to see how it performs. That’s the first thing.

CMS analytics, they’re just extremely connected together. We also just saw a lot of potential with the WordPress plugin that we had already developed, which enables integration a lot faster. One thing that we see from a lot of teams that we work with is really, in the process, they get a little scared and they’re like, well, I don’t know if we have the development resources to actually implement a tool like this.

—and you know, when we can answer and just say, well, don’t worry, we just have to turn on the plugin. We can help you with that. It can be quite quick. Again, really empowering for these teams that feel inhibited by lack of resources to suddenly burst out of that and feel like they can accomplish what they need to.

Amit: For XWP, we find that our role with our clients is to be their trusted advisor, to recommend things that will benefit their business…

And it’s so exciting to be now working with Parsley, something that we truly believe will provide great benefit to support their business and their growth. It’s been great working with your team.

We also like to align with experts and perceive that if we are not working with people that we wouldn’t trust to guide our customers in the right way, then we’re working with the wrong people.

So amazing working with you all and your team and excited to continue doing so in the near future. Thank you, John. It’s been a pleasure to speak to you, and we look forward to many projects together.

John: Likewise. Thank you for having me.

Amit: Thank you, everyone. We’ll see you next time.

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