We’re living in a time where data is ubiquitous, and for some, this is scary. How are you supposed to deal with all the data available and actually put it to good use? Thankfully, there are a growing number of tools and resources that allow us to do exactly that. By knowing what data to use in each circumstance, you have an opportunity to shine. Today, we’re talking about utilizing data to produce content that resonates with your audience.
In one study, researchers asked several businesses how they rated their overall content marketing strategy; only 5% chose ‘extremely successful.’ Even after this, only half chose ‘moderately successful’. If businesses don’t believe in their content marketing strategy, we assume that these efforts aren’t leading to conversions. Today, we’re introducing the concept of data-driven content.
If you’re not currently using data-driven content, we assume that you’re trying to guess the content that your audience wants to see. Whether it’s an article on a blog or a YouTube video, you’re paying attention to social media, looking for hot topics or guessing what people want to read and watch.
With data-driven content, the idea is to collect and analyze customer data to generate content. With data at the core, you can share content that is relevant, valuable and resonant.
Businesses can’t afford to avoid data-driven content anymore. For one thing, there are so many types of content including blog posts, videos, memes, infographics, eBooks, case studies, reviews and podcasts. When deciding which media to use and what content to discuss, data needs to lead the way.
You might be wondering how to get started with data-driven content, so we’ve broken down the process into digestible steps.
Although this won’t be a surprise, everything with data-driven content starts with your audience. First, collect everything you know about your audience in one place— their needs, likes, decision-making, job, age, gender, location, spending patterns, pain points, income, emotional triggers and more. In addition to Google Analytics, feel free to use other tools to learn about your audience demographics.
At this stage, lean into any differences you find between your intended audience and your actual audience. When first launching a business, owners have all sorts of ideas for those who will be interested in their offerings. However, with time, many find that their actual audience looks different than expected. If this happens, don’t be afraid to accept this as your main audience.
We need to understand the best communication channels for our audience, the content they enjoy and share, and their buying cycles and habits. The more we know, the easier it will be to convert from content alone.
Some tips for understanding your audience include:
Once you know your audience, it’s time to lay the foundation for a strategy that integrates key business objectives and goals. What do you want to achieve with all new content? If conversions are the main goal, the analysis stage needs to track this metric. Ideally, a percentage of visitors will make a purchase. For others, the goal will be something else, like subscriptions.
As always, goals need to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely). For us, one of the most important here is measurable. Goals need to be tracked and it’s important to assess progress over time. Are you getting closer to your goal? Further away? Knowing this will shape strategy and inform necessary changes.
In the next step, we need to decide the type of content we’re going to produce based on the data we’ve pulled already; you can also consider your own experience. If you’ve produced whitepapers in the past but they didn’t resonate, you’ll probably want to steer clear with this new strategy. On the other hand, you should include videos if previous efforts received thousands of views and plenty of shares online. As mentioned previously, there are several types of content. Find one that you have the resources to create consistently and that will have an impact.
In years gone by, we would shoot in the dark with content formats. With a data-driven approach, we’re considering our audience and what they want to consume rather than what we want to produce. While one audience will love blog posts, others will want more detailed case studies and whitepapers.
If historical data isn’t available, assess the position of the industry when it comes to content formats. As before, you can also look closely at the competition. Which of their content is received the best?
With buyer personas and all the research to this point, you’re ready to choose content topics. These days, it’s easy to come up with topics that are relevant to your niche, but digging into the data and finding content that will get results is a different story. One of the best strategies is to create content that people feel compelled to share. Don’t settle for content that will get a view or even a ‘like’ —push for more.
Remember, there are different ways to engage an audience. Content can inform or educate, or it can serve to entertain. The best way to engage is to add value, whether this is from purposeful or entertaining content.
We have two tips when it comes to selecting topics for content creation:
With a content calendar, everybody works towards the same goal and you’ll be ahead of the game. Rather than producing one article at a time, you might be able to get all the articles for the next two weeks completed as you get into a rhythm and write faster. If you can, build up a backlog of content so that you have content ready to go in emergencies. For sole traders and partnerships, you can go on vacation without worrying about a lack of content while you’re gone.
Often, we see marketers and businesses uploading content and failing to do anything more with it. Once a podcast, eBook, article or video goes live, you should be doing two things:
Even with data-driven content, we still need to check the numbers and ensure that our strategy is actually working. Over time, you will learn what generates engagement and what doesn’t on a deeper level than the initial research.
To start, look at user behavior and learn how much time people spend on the content. At the same time, review new visitors, bounce rate, returning visitors and how all these metrics change. From here, you can also assess the level of engagement for different types of content.
Ultimately, a good strategy will have a low cost per acquisition and a high ROI. You can find this sweet spot, and we believe data is the best way to get there.
As a parting note, think about distribution and how you will share content online. In addition to considering where, you need to brainstorm about when to promote content. Often, this is decided by the peak times your audience is online. Do they come online in the morning, afternoon, or evening? During their commute? It might take some trial and error to discover which times generate the most exposure.
Don’t let guesswork be your guide. Let the data and your audience lead your content creation. The results will speak for themselves!
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