The world of content creators of all kinds has always had to deal with one fundamental dilemma. Some creators and managers believe that content should be predominantly data-driven and strategically engineered, while others choose to rely on their gut feeling.
However, this is largely a false dilemma, as one does not exclude the other. Data-driven content doesn’t necessarily entail suppressing the creative impulse, especially in the world of marketing. On the contrary, easy access to valuable data can even fire up the creative energy and provide a great foundation for truly ingenious and original solutions.
Today we may even say that having a solid body of customer and market data at hand is essential for any marketing agency or an in-house marketing team. Using these data in a proper way often helps businesses gain a crucial competitive advantage. As a matter of fact, companies that use data analysis in their content strategies tend to generate five times more marketing-attributed revenue. Here are a few tips on how you can also make the most out of this approach.
Data collection and analysis
So how do you even proceed to collect data and make actual use of it? Data can be obtained via a number of sources – your website, mailing list, social networks, third-party vendors, or through your own independent research.
There are many types of data you can use for the purpose of content creation, and they all add a little piece of something to the puzzle. The types of data you decide to focus on will depend on your business and marketing goals, as well as on the media you choose to distribute the content.
For instance, you can use a reliable CRM system to collect and process a huge amount of customer behavior data you’ll later use to your advantage. It can give you access to your website visitors’ and social media users’ personal info, browsing behavior, purchase history, and much more. CRM software can unify all these data, integrate them, and make them ready to use.
Moreover, you should utilize the keyword analysis. It shows you which search phrases bring new users to your website, and consequently, which phrases you should be using to optimize your content.
Other methods used to obtain and analyze the crucial data include social listening, competitor analysis, building buyer personas, as well as some other advanced content analysis tools, such as heatmaps, scroll analytics, or full session replays. All these help you figure out what sort of content your audience is looking for and resonating with.
Finally, you’ll have to make concise reports on these data that can be easily used by your creative team. If you just give them an enormous spreadsheet with thousands of numbers they’re not very likely to learn much from it. That’s why you’ll need the powerful software that can deliver useful, actionable insights, as well as competent data scientists and content managers that can put these insights into an actual context.
Obviously, there are multiple types of content that can be data-driven, so let’s start with what’s considered to be the champion of long-term content marketing – a company blog.
So how do you use data to create engaging blog posts? Try utilizing the info you get about your audience from your website and social media. Analyze their demographics, their interests, what triggers them, and what makes them excited. Then adapt your content accordingly, in terms of topics you’ll cover, as well as the language you’ll use.
For instance, if you’re selling healthcare software used predominantly by the older population, you should probably try avoiding big hi-tech talk and go for the simpler, more understandable terminology. On the other hand, if you’re advertising to professionals, using a highly technical language is perfectly fine, and often even desirable.
Furthermore, you ought to use some of the online tools that will uncover current trending topics and hottest issues. If you think you can offer a relevant angle at some of them, or if there’s an innovative way of connecting the trending topic with your brand or your industry, try building a post or two around it. But this works only if your content can add actual value to the debate or at least entertain your audience, otherwise you may just seem desperate for attention and content ideas.
Lastly, don’t forget proper keyword analysis. High-quality, relevant content can be great for your SEO anyhow, especially if you put in a little extra effort to optimize your content and hence make it more visible.
Now, in order to make the most of the collected customer data, it’s important to offer your users customized and personalized content. Namely, 80 percent of consumers today are more likely to purchase from brands that offer personalized experiences.
There are several ways to personalize your content in order to win over your customers. First of all, you can design several different landing pages for different types of visitors. For instance, those who come across your website for the first time won’t be interested in the same type of content as your returning visitors.
If a user is recognized as a first-timer, offering some additional info about your company and your product can be a good approach. On the other hand, this won’t be of much interest to those well-acquainted with your brand.
You can use many different criteria when creating different landing pages and choosing who should be directed to which one. These criteria include age groups, geographical locations, referral traffic, specific interests, and much more.
When it comes to the efficiency of your email marketing efforts, remember that it depends on three factors – what you offer, how you do it, and when you choose to reach out.
All three should be data-driven. When it comes to “what” and “when”, this problem is predominantly solved by your email marketing software that interprets customer behavior and chooses which offers should be sent at which exact time to make consumers truly interested.
As for “how”, this is up to your creative team. They should design different messages for each particular segment of your mailing list. Again, they need to have in mind the demographics and interests of different target groups, figure out triggers for each of them, and adapt their approach and language.
Of course, your email strategy doesn’t have to end with product offers. You can send your subscribers all kinds of industry-related tips, hacks, and recommendations. In combination with good segmentation and accurate targeting, top-class data-driven email content can do some very good things for your business.
Finally, winning over your customers with content is not just about collecting data and creating content, but also about where and when you decide to distribute it. Clearly, good content attracts the audience with its own magnetism, but in order to be fully efficient, it needs to be well-placed.
Here, you have a chance to use the power of social media. Try using tools offered by various social networks that help you target the exact audience that will recognize the particular type of content you’re trying to distribute. For instance, Facebook Custom Audiences can help you target users who are similar to your own audience or customer base. You can also target different chunks of the audience with different pieces of content for maximum efficiency.
Moreover, pay attention to the demographics of different social networks. Some of them are dominated by certain age groups, certain sex, or people of certain social status and you need to have that in mind. The same content won’t be equally efficient on Instagram and LinkedIn. That’s why content distribution is a carefully planned art as well, and should never be underestimated.
Finally, you should remember to always monitor your analytics, test your content, and re-adapt whenever it’s necessary. Creating data-driven content doesn’t mean just collecting data, devising a strategy, and then turning the autopilot on.
Content is done by living beings for living beings and therefore is in itself a kind of a living being, which implies its rules are sometimes unpredictable and elusive. This doesn’t mean you should give up on shaping your content strategy based on solid data, it just means you should never sit back and relax. Never stop analyzing the results, try new things, employ new methods, test them, see what works, quantify the gains and the losses, and adapt accordingly.