As marketers, we tend to lean more creative rather than analytical. However, data has become an essential part of any content strategy. Developing data-driven content is vital to attract and convert buyers. Why? Because the data is all about their behaviors and preferences, offering you the chance to personalize content and make a deeper connection.
Data-Driven Content: The Basics
Data-driven content is the output of a content marketing strategy that has been devised based on both quantitative and qualitative data that identifies a target audiences’ needs, motivations, and actions. In short, data helps you develop and refine your buyer personas, which is then used to develop your strategy and content execution. Every interaction a prospect or buyer has with your brand is measured and analyzed so you can continue to expand the picture you have of your customer.
How Can Data Drive Your Content Strategy?
You probably generate a substantial amount of data every day based on activities. Buyers search your website, interact with you on social media, and make purchases, among other things. So, why does any of this really matter to your content strategy?
Well, a lot of that data falls into content analytics. By understanding what content resonates with your audience, you can leverage that insight to inform future topics and formats. To optimize, you’ll need a single source to aggregate all streams and provide insights in real-time.
So, what else do you need to know to execute a data-driven content strategy? Beyond tracking the performance of your content, data can be an excellent tool for the creative process, as well.
Data and Content Planning
Your content plan defines how you’re going to execute your content strategy. It’s got all the details, including processes, content calendar, content workflows, promotion tactics, and what to measure. Data can be a valuable asset in content planning.
For example, in defining how you’ll optimize promotion, you have to choose the right channels. Your content performance data can quickly inform you about which channels perform the best. Then you can decide that those channels should get the most attention during the promotion phase.
Data and Topic Selection
Within your industry, there are probably lots of possibilities for content. When defining topics, you need to lean on data. Find patterns in your content analytics that identify which topics have the most engagement.
However, don’t just look at your own data. Use tools to see what’s trending in your field, including using tools that offer you insights on keyword trends, competitor analysis, and what the thought leaders in your niche are saying. Do this with tools like Google Suggest, Google Trends, and Q&A sites like Quora.
Having a well-rounded perspective on the topics that are the most applicable to your target audience will allow you and your team to drive connections based on data.
What Do You Need to Execute Data-Driven Content?
We’ve discussed some key aspects of how to use data, but what do you need to execute?
- Know your customer: This is a given but still worthy of discussion. You have data relating to your customer’s interaction with your brand. You’ll need to supplement that with demographics and external data sources, such as surveys relevant to your industry, which often include key insights on decision-makers’ motivations.
- Create content briefs: Every piece of content you create should include a brief. The brief should outline your goals and include a short summary of how current data is influencing the topic, including the insights you’ve identified. For example, if you know a specific keyword is trending industry-wide and driving people to your content, including this will be helpful to those working on the content. They see the angle and the “why” behind the content.
- Start with a benchmark: To improve your data-driven content, you have to start with a benchmark. Assess where you are now in content performance, including topics and channels with the most engagement. From this benchmark, you can then set goals based on where you want to be, looking specifically at your strengths and weaknesses.
- Content mapping: A content map should be part of your content strategy and can be influenced by the data. Content maps help you determine how each piece of content aligns with a customer journey stage. With data-driven insights, you can enhance this alignment as you’ll have important business intelligence related to what type of content works best to push prospects further down the sales funnel.
- A data framework: The data you collect from customer activities shouldn’t reside in silos. It needs to be available in one central platform. When you use content marketing software, you’ll be able to capture multiple streams of data regarding content performance and buyer responses. You’ll be looking for things in Google Analytics like page views and referrers to understand which topics are most interesting, and which channels are the most successful at driving traffic. Append this data with any other information, such as email marketing statistics and, if applicable, eCommerce activity.
- Ability to pivot quickly: If you are in an industry that is always evolving and changing, you must be more agile in your content marketing. This responsiveness to change must be considered in your content marketing. That means you need to have the ability to pivot when new data shows unexpected trends. To do this, you’ll need a good foundation in place, such as your content calendar and content workflows, so that you can move swiftly and jump on timely subjects.
- Continuous measurement and refinement: Analyzing your content performance and buyer behavior never stops. It must be continuous and available in real-time. As you collect more data, it feeds what you’ll do next regarding your content plan. This data will also continue to help you refine your strategy.
Embrace Data, Create More Impactful Content
Every content marketer needs to embrace data and leverage it. With data, you don’t have to make assumptions. Instead, you’ll have a clear picture of what matters to your audience, and that’s how you win and keep customers.
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