How Data Can Be Used In Your Content Marketing Strategy
Content plays an important role in your marketing strategy. On average, a person consumes 11.4 pieces of content before they make a purchase decision. In addition, B2B decision-makers can spend more than 57% of the purchase cycle engaging with content.
Getting this content right is how you get more customers.
The key to improving your content marketing strategy is data. Great content isn’t just about the creatives. It’s about blending that creativity with data and a purpose. That’s how you get great content that performs well.
Without the data, you’re writing stories for yourself.
Yet, the majority of businesses analyze just 12% of the data they have access to. That’s a criminal waste of the resources that you have to hand. This article will show you how to ensure that your data isn’t going to waste and how you can use it to build a fantastic content marketing strategy.
Table of contents
- The two main uses of data in your content strategy
- Planning your content marketing strategy with data
- Step 1: Audit your current content
- Step 2: Analyse your best performers
- Step 3: Identify content gaps
- Step 4: Plan and publish
- Step 5: Measure performance and repeat
- How to use data in your content
- Better your content strategy with data
The two main uses of data in your content strategy
There are two main ways that you can use data in your content marketing strategy.
The first is by using data to plan and inform your plan. It involves analyzing how your existing content is performing, what you can learn to form these pieces, and how to optimize your future one for success. It’s the same kind of processes that you’ll be used to from other parts of your business.
The second way of using data in your content marketing strategy is by creating it around pieces of data.
This article will go through both of these uses in more detail so you can benefit from both.
Planning your content marketing strategy with data
First, let’s dive into how you can plan your content marketing strategy with data. But, before we get into the nitty-gritty, it’s worth outlining the goals that you want to achieve with your content.
Do you want to:
- Increase traffic to your website?
- Increase engagement with your content?
- Increase conversions?
- All of the above?
The Content Marketing Institute has published that only 43% of B2C content marketers say they have clarity on their content marketing goals. You don’t want to be in the majority of people that don’t.
Now, that’s out of the way, let’s move on.
Step 1: Audit your current content
Okay first up, you need to take a look at how your current content is performing. So, get yourself on Google Analytics or whichever data analytic tool you use to look at site data.
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For your existing content, you want to look at metrics such as:
- Page views. This is a counter of how many views that page has received.
- Users. This is how many unique visitors your page has received.
- New Users. This is how many new visitors have viewed this page that haven’t previously visited your website.
- Sessions. This is the period of time that a user is actively engaged with your website.
- Pages/Session. This is the average of how many pages that a user will look at during a session.
- Average Session Duration. This is how long an average session lasts on your page/website.
- Bounce Rate. This is the percentage of people who leave your site without visiting another page or completing any other task. The lower your bounce rate, the better.
Depending on the goals that you’ve outlined, some metrics will be more important than others.
For example, if you’re looking to increase traffic or brand awareness, you’ll want to focus on metrics such as page views, users, and new users to find out which content is bringing people in and attracting new people to your site.
If you want to increase conversions, you need to look at what pages/session users are going through and which pages have the worst bounce rate.
Step 2: Analyse your best performers
The above step should have outlined your best performers. Now, you’ve got to work out what it is that have made these particular pieces of content perform so well.
For example, ask yourself:
- Do they share common themes?
- Do they have a similar length?
- Are they written in a certain way?
- Did you publish them on social media?
Doing this will give you an idea of what’s already resonating and how you can capitalize on this by planning more pieces in the same vein.
Step 3: Identify content gaps
Now it’s time to use a data-driven approach to see what content gaps exist in your market. There are several strategies that you can use here, such as an SEO audit and keyword research.
This will help you identify keywords that you’re already ranking for and can increase your hold of, as well as industry keywords that you haven’t touched yet.
Let's say for example that you run a stationery store. A quick visit to Google’s Keyword Planner shows the ‘best self journal’ as a keyword, with an average of 100-1k monthly searches. With relatively low competition, you think this keyword is something that your company could rank for, giving you an idea to write blogs on the best planners you can use as self journals or how to start self journals.
Research the competition
It’s always important to know who your competitors are and what they’re doing – and what they’re not doing. If there’s a gap that they don’t cover, this could be your opportunity to swoop in.
It’s also important to look at the influencers in your industry as well. Although the word influencer can bring up images of skinny girls on Instagram, it’s not always the case. This is about finding the businesses or leaders that your customers actively listen to or engage with.
Then, analyse why. Find out what it is about them that grabs attention and if there’s any tactics you can borrow for your own brand. It’s also worth considering if they’ll be open to partnerships or agree to product join content, which will help give your business a boost in awareness and traffic.
Social listening is where you go to where your target audience is and analyze the most popular content. So, if they’re on Twitter, you can look at the hashtags and the topics that they get engaged with the most to discern any popular topics.
This can be done manually or through the use of tools such as Sysomos, which can also help track opinions about your brand.
RedBull is a great case study of social listening, creating its content portal RedBull TV to capitalize on the content they were already sharing on social media. After the launch, they uncovered that 59% of consumers are most drawn to visual content. From here, the company decided to experiment with different visual technology systems such as 360 video and VR, which has helped evolve their brand into a content-generating community.
Step 4: Plan and publish
Once you’ve used the above data to plan your topics, you need to consider how you’ll publish and advertise them to your audience.
The channels that you use to publish your content can have a big impact on its performance. Before you post, you need to look at the data for your existing channels. For example, you need to find out where your users engage with content with the most, such as Twitter, Facebook, or via emails. It’s also worth finding out what time of day your audience are usually online.
- If you send a message in the morning, is it opened more than the afternoon?
- Are your customers usually more active outside the 9-5?
- Do they engage with content more during the commuting hours?
Try not to take this data as set rules though. Experimentation is the key to success if you monitor the data correctly.
If you’ve got no data to tap into just yet, you might want to consider general guidelines of the best times to post on social media.
Step 5: Measure performance and repeat
Don’t publish something and forget about it. Track its performance and compare it against your others. See if it’s performing better or worse and use the experience to further refine and create your content marketing strategy. You can use one of the popular marketing analytics services (Google Analytics, OWOX BI, Power BI, Tableau) to measure the performance of your advertising campaigns. But don’t forget to think about the reasoning. You can look at all the data you want, but if you’re not applying that data properly, you won’t improve.
It’s not a one-time thing. It’s a continuous cycle of data and improvement.
How to use data in your content
Now we’ve talked about using data to build a content marketing strategy, it’s time to talk about the second use: using data as a part of the content itself.
This can be done in a variety of ways, including publishing your own internal data to demonstrate a recent success or a win. For example, you could tell users how you increased your ROI by 200% on your Social Media campaigns. If you’ve got an internal win, turn it into news and share it with others.
On the same vein, you can also carry out your own data experiments. AdEspresso are a great example of this, as they often dedicate a specific amount of spend to test a feature or headline, publishing the results of the test to help other marketers better align their budget.
If you don’t have any internal data that you can share, you can also create and publish industry research reports. This means you can survey or interview people to answer industry specific questions, delivering the results as part of your content.
Not only does data give your articles more weight, but they’re also more likely to be shared.
This tactic is one that we have successfully employed ourselves, after publishing a study on what customers think about brands posting political statements. This data was then shared on a variety of other websites, including Forbes, building the brand name, and sending more traffic to the website.
Better your content strategy with data
Data is important for every part of your marketing strategy, including your content. Ultimately, it’s about knowing what works and what doesn’t work, so you can use the information to plan better content.
More than that, data can also be used in your content, providing additional value that will increase engagement and shareability.