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[Case Study] How Microsoft Sees Everything in Opal

by Lee Dussinger

A company that truly needs no introduction, Microsoft builds a staggering range of hardware and software. With suites of products for both personal and business use, Microsoft is one of the most widely-known brands throughout the entire world. 

Industry: Information Technology 

Annual Revenue: $198.3 billion 

# of Employees: 221,000

Teams in Opal: Brand, Corporate Comms, Internal Communications, Partner Communications, Education, Retail, Regional Markets

By the Numbers

Challenge: Content Insights Needed 

Through their dedicated News Center, Microsoft publishes an enormous variety of in-demand articles. Their team of 20 communicators are the de-facto German language source for content direct from Microsoft. This team writes about everything from AI, mixed reality, and Windows 11, to topics such as popular games like Halo Wars 2 and Gears of War 4. 

The Microsoft Communications team had always written countless pieces of top-tier content. The only problem was, until recently, they had no way to know how the different topics performed or the impact of amplification through email or social media. All of the detailed website performance data was stored in an entirely separate dashboard that was not used by the team. “The problem was the content team wasn’t able to see how specific topics performed,” Ricarda Heim, the Comms Analytics Lead, said. “That was a real issue because different topics performed very differently, and different sub teams cover those!” Microsoft needed to see this crucial data in a convenient way. They worked with Opal to engineer a solution specific to their needs.

Solution: Labeling to Illuminate 

The Microsoft Communications team had always loved planning their content in Opal – and this central platform ended up being key to solving their reporting challenges. Ricarda teamed with Opal to create a custom-built system that brought all the analytics together in one place. 

The first step was creating a series of nested labels to identify the content pillars and the amplification efforts connected to them. Using those content labels, Opal enabled the Microsoft team to connect those key pillars with the performance data from various data sources. This solution combined various sets of data into the big-picture information that could guide their decision making. By implementing this connection, Microsoft paired their performance data with their content strategy in Opal.    

“Since we were able to segment performance data with labels, it led to a significant increase in the quality of our analysis,” Ricarda remembers. “In turn, it led to a better understanding of our work and eventually to a substantial increase in performance.”

As a result, the Communications team was able to analyze topic performances, the impact of different amplification types, and metrics for individual content pieces. This level of insight enabled Microsoft to revisit their content to optimize its performance – as well as make data-driven decisions about their ongoing content strategy.  

“We are now able to modify assets based on the performance in real time,” Ricarda explained. “Plus, we can now tell writers things like the best day to post their blog based on the specific topic.”

Results: Full Content Clarity & Improved Performance  

When Ricarda unveiled this solution for the team, they were instantly on-board. “It was mind-blowing to see the insights we got from working with Opal and their data,” she remembered. “The whole team was very quick to give me their labels and they couldn’t wait to hear how their work was received.” 

By fully integrating performance data into their content planning, the Microsoft Communications team saw across-the-board improvement in almost all content metrics. For example, social media traffic to blog posts jumped an impressive 144% since implementing this solution. “There could be other reasons contributing to that as well, but the more detailed analysis absolutely helped to improve the way we post on social media and the way we find topics that work best,” Ricarda noted.

Going forward, Microsoft will continue to write and publish about the myriad of topics that reflect their brand. For every piece of content they create, they’ll trust Opal at the center of everything. 

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