Today’s enterprises tap into data to drive decision-making for practically every strategic move, but are they using data to power their content marketing efforts?
While some marketers use data to identify trending topics, monitor engagement, and track performance, data should play a role in every facet of content creation and promotion for every marketer.
Here's why it's important—and how to integrate it into your efforts.
Related Article: Increasing Content Marketing ROI: 14 Innovative Strategies
Using Data to Identify the Best Keywords and Topics
There are a variety of tools you can use to identify popular keywords that your target audience is searching for, from entering a word or two into the Google search bar and pulling ideas from the suggested searches to searching for terms in the Google AdWords Keyword Planner or tools like Übersuggest.
Data’s Role in Determining the Best Content Formats
After deciding on topics and keywords, the next step is to determine how to present the information to your audience in the best way possible.
Savvy marketers who think outside of the box don’t stick to the same old articles and blog posts but use a variety of content formats to enable consumers to interact with their brands in different ways.
Robin Good of MasterNewMedia has compiled an impressive list of tons of content formats, the examples listed below represent just a few of the many unique ideas included in Good’s list:
- Action plans
- People lists
- News hubs
- Tool reviews
- Curated stories
- Trend analysis
- Industry reports
Obviously, the options are plentiful, so how can you determine the best format for presenting your information in an easily digestible manner?
A quick Google search will reveal dozens of recommendations for the best content formats for various stages throughout the buyer’s journey.
But Eric Wittlake advises against mapping the format to the buyer’s journey, instead suggesting that marketers focus on the information buyers need at each stage in the buyer’s journey and allowing the information to dictate the format.
“The best format is the one that most effectively presents the information needed,” he explains.
Some information, however, could be presented effectively in multiple formats. Some marketers opt to repurpose content in various formats to solve this dilemma and give their audience options for consuming information.
Kristi Hines, in a post for the Content Marketing Institute, explains the two main categories of metrics that are critical for evaluating the value of a content asset:
- Buzz metrics: Which pieces of content get the most shares, likes, and retweets? What content formats have the best buzz metrics? Use tools like BuzzSumo to quickly gather buzz metrics data.
- Impact metrics: These metrics are more challenging to find but combine several data points beyond the social buzz metrics (which are easy to manipulate through buying bulk shares and similar tactics). Hines suggests tools like Impactana to evaluate metrics such as comments, views, downloads, backlinks, and clicks for a better picture of the true impact of a piece of content. If certain content formats consistently get better engagement metrics, there’s a good chance you’ve got a winner.
By filtering this data to specific content formats, you can easily identify formats that best engage your audience.
It’s helpful to look at your own historical data to determine what topics and formats resonate with your visitors but by tapping into tools like BuzzSumo and Impactana, you can gain a strategic advantage by discovering what has worked and what hasn’t worked for your competitors.
Powering Content Promotion with Data
Marketers can also get better results by using data science to drive content promotion decision-making. With no shortage of content promotion tactics and channels, data is a welcome aid that can help you fine-tune your focus and promote your content in the most efficient manner.
Related Article: Create Better Content With These Content Marketing Rules to Live By
According to the B2B Content Marketing Spotlight Report by LinkedIn Group Partner, Technology Marketing, published in October 2014, the five most effective social media platforms for delivering content and engaging audiences are:
- LinkedIn (82 percent of survey respondents say LinkedIn is an effective social media platform)
- Twitter (66 percent)
- YouTube (64 percent)
- Facebook (41 percent)
- SlideShare (38 percent)
To make use of several of these platforms, marketers may repurpose the same topics and content assets into the appropriate format for the platform (videos for YouTube promotion, slide decks for SlideShare promotion, short snippets for Twitter or Facebook updates, etc.).
More Promotion is Not Always Better: Use Data to Gain Laser Focus
While it may seem logical that the more widespread your content promotion strategy, the more eyes you’ll earn on your content.
However, a larger audience doesn’t automatically equate to more ROI; a larger audience consisting of your target buyer personas is what you’re really looking for.
In other words, you need to find out where your target audience spends their time and meet them where they are.
Ideally, you want a combination of paid, earned and owned media, but the tactics that comprise your content promotion mix will likely be unique to your company.
It might include strategies like influencer outreach, guest blogging, social media promotion (organic and/or paid social advertising), your email marketing list and more.
When you get stuck in the cycle of promoting your content anywhere and everywhere thinking that more is always better, remember that there’s always an investment, whether you’re paying for content production or spending time repurposing and promoting content, you’re always making an investment of either time or money (or both). So use your time and your budget wisely.
The great thing about many paid media strategies like Google AdWords or Facebook advertising is that these options offer robust audience targeting tools, allowing you to really fine-tune your audience and reach your target buyers.
With owned media, you’re in control so it’s pretty much a given, but you can also use data to fine-tune your earned media efforts:
- Use BuzzSumo, BuzzStream, and similar tools to identify influencers who reach your target audience for influencer outreach programs. Use influencer data to reach out to thought leaders for quotes for your content or to manage programs such as blogger outreach programs in which bloggers are paid for sponsored posts or mentions of your products or services.
- Target publications that share your target audience or a segment of your target audience for guest blogging campaigns.
- Create robust, data-driven, share-worthy content with authority sources, statistics, and research, and highlight tweet-able snippets in long-form content like ebooks, guides, and white papers to encourage social sharing.
- Use tactics like remarketing to target prospects who previously engaged with your content with relevant ads.
- Use sponsored posts and tweets to give more leverage to content that proves engaging with your audience.
Companies with channel partner marketing programs are, in a sense, using one form of earned (or paid, depending how you look at it) promotion by tapping into partners’ audiences to educate and inform target buyers about your products and services.
As Docurated points out in a recent resource on creating effective channel marketing programs, choosing your partners wisely is the first step, and if you choose wisely, your partners’ audiences overlap with your own.
Leveraging your partners’ audiences by supporting partners with relevant, targeted content that’s engaging and effective helps your partners perform better, ultimately boosting your company’s results as well.
Ongoing Data Analysis for Content Production and Promotion
I haven’t taken a count, but I’d venture that there are hundreds of unique ways to promote your content. Using data to drive these decisions will help you fine-tune your focus and reach the consumers that matter, the ones who want what you have to offer.
While there are many valuable tools you can utilize to gain insights into the most engaging topics and most digestible content formats, as well as the best ways to promote your content to your audience, all of this means little if you fail to continuously monitor the performance of your content assets over time.
Doing so allows your marketing and sales teams to easily identify the content assets that result in the most conversions, the sales assets that prove most effective for securing deals from a specific buyer persona, and similar insights.
Over time, data makes content production and promotion a fool-proof scientific process that gets desired results every time.