Content Marketing & Data: Better Together
Not that long ago, but in a very different world, I started my career in marketing, and content marketing was just becoming a thing. It looked quite different than it does now: digital marketing was ramping (quickly, but still ramping), and content marketing could just as easily mean a print advertorial or marketing collateral derived from a panel discussion as it was to mean a blog or organic search content. Ideation was done by brainstorm, and success measurement was sometimes as simple as “executive happiness.”
We all know that’s not the world we’re living in today. With the data available to us across all facets of marketing, from the real-time audience data available through digital channels to click-to-close conversion tracking, every facet of strategy should be informed by a rich data set, including content marketing. But in real life, marketing managers may have a tough time wading through Google Analytics, Google Search Console, your keyword ranking tools, and more to identify the key insights and takeaways that will elevate business value for content.
Here are a few ideas that will help you move from guesswork to a data-driven content strategy.
Applying Insight To Your Content Marketing Initiatives From Ideation To Optimization
The best approaches to content marketing utilize data throughout the entire process, from ideation through creation and optimization.
Using Analytics In Content Ideation
Enterprise marketers are highly focused on communicating your message to prospects. But we also all know that customers are in the driver’s seat, and communicating with them around topics they are interested in is paramount. Finding the areas where those two needs overlap can be challenging but highly rewarding.
Data helps you get out of your own office and into the minds of your customers: what are they looking for? How are they looking for it? Sophisticated data science can also tell you what your customers mean, not just what they say, by looking at the way Google returns results for similar queries. This turns data into insight, allowing you to focus your content marketing initiatives on the areas that they are actually likely to engage with.
Key questions to ask, and use data to answer at this stage, are:
- How are customers searching for your product or service?
- What keywords are they using to describe their challenges or the solution they’re looking for?
- What customer questions are really the same, even if each customer asks slightly differently?
- Where do you actually have a shot at being the best answer to these questions?
Applying Data For Insightful Content Creation
Of course creativity is essential to effective content creation. But that shouldn’t limit the incorporation of data into the writing process. Here at Demand Signals, we have a whole team of writers who will say that using data is not limiting, but rather empowering. With a solid foundation of knowledge, writers are more effective and efficient, simultaneously making their jobs easier and delivering better results.
Your content team can use data to inform content creation efforts by understanding the following questions:
- What does successful content look like in the vertical you’re addressing? Which pieces will need to be in-depth, multi-media pieces? Which topics can be won with a to-the-point answer?
- What other terms are related to a topic they’re writing on? Understanding a user’s true question enables writers to effectively increase content relevance for search engines.
- How have certain types of content or headlines historically performed across the variety of subjects you address?
- Are you using the appropriate level of complexity? Data can inform your writers to ensure they are matching their writing styles to the audience’s sophistication.
Using Data (And Technology Platforms) To Monitor And Optimize Content
Of course you use data to optimize content. But how do you know what to change, and which changes to move the needle? Do you really have to spend as much time optimizing as you do writing the first version?
A great content marketing platform will allow you to act on these insights without burying yourself in hours of bounce rate analysis, meta description optimization, and re-writes.
Key data to look at when optimizing content includes:
- Crawl frequency: Have search engines even found your content? It’s possible that the problem isn’t that they aren’t ranking you, but rather that your content is buried too deeply on your site.
- Click through rate: While in large part a function of rank, this can also tell you whether you’re outperforming norms or falling below, indicating whether or not your titles and snippets are effective.
- Bounce rate: Are you successfully connecting your content to your product and service? If so, you’re earning the right kind of traffic: the kind that will go more than one click deep into your website.
- Conversion rate: Probably the only one that really matters, though if you’re not doing well on the metrics above, you’re probably not doing well here either.
In an ideal world, you’ve even pre-authored variations of your content to optimize for these factors, and you can simply use a platform like Navigator to swap them out based on any given piece of a content’s performance. No manual editing, no intern who spends 100% of their time making one-off changes: an efficient process that allows your team to focus on the big picture.
Here at Demand Signals we have a solution that does all of the above, using a core technology that turns big data into insight, plus services teams that support your team as needed. Talk to us today.
About The Author, Caroline Ferris
Caroline is the head of marketing at Demand Signals. If you can’t find her at work, try one of the many playgrounds in the Raleigh area, where she’s probably on the slide with her two kids.