How to build a data-driven content marketing strategy

December 15, 2015

If you’re not driving your PR and marketing plan with data, you probably know what it’s like to be frustrated by a lack of results. Your team might spend hours developing a beautiful new e-book, but when it goes live on your website, it’s not a hit among influencers. Where did you go wrong, and how could you change your approach next time? Below are a few simple tips that hold true for any PR or marketing plan, including those focused on content:

Know – and assist – your audience.
Every time you write on behalf of your brand, keep a specific customer in mind. Maybe his name is Steve and he’s a combination of a few demographics you’re targeting. Don’t publish anything before you ask: how will this infographic, white paper, SlideShare, blog or e-book make Steve’s job easier? Will he stop reading during the first paragraph because he thinks we’re overtly selling to him?

The more you’re marketing with a human in mind, the better your media pitch, premium content or product launch will be – and there’s plenty of data at your disposal to help you get familiar with Steve, and the other humans in your target audience. Third-party tools can help dig deep into your data and map an outline to help create content based on exactly which readers browse your website and what catches their attention. Start with basic resources:

  • Google Analytics: What paths are users following through your website? Are there pages where they tend to drop off, and others where they’re spending several minutes? Think about how the visuals, takeaways and tone of each page may affect readers, and when you find a formula that works, try to repeat it.
  • Social media: You probably use a social media management solution such as HootSuite, Buffer or TweetDeck to schedule posts and monitor priority conversations. Every one of these tools – as well as direct social platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook – provides analytics that show which posts are performing well, which aren’t hitting the mark and during which times of day your engagement tends to spike. Other platforms, such as FollowerWonk, can help shed light on your buyer personas. Collect all of this data and use it to power every post you’re sharing.
  • Third-party content hosts: If you’re publishing premium content using a third-party website – think LinkedIn, Medium and SlideShare –always link back to your website and monitor the traffic that flows from these sources. Then, check for correlations throughout your analytics reports. Maybe you’re not seeing a ton of direct visitors from LinkedIn, but your organic search traffic doubled the day after you published a new post. Or the call to action in your SlideShare generated a minor number of clicks, but your total views on previous SlideShares have recently spiked. Consider which topics your audience appears to be most interested in and how you can extend their value, even if you’re still working toward lead generation.
  • Real, live conversations: Think of your sales team and customer support representatives as living sources for user data. Encourage your colleagues to ask which content first caught users’ attention and what they like about your company, not just a specific product. Not only will you gather deeper insights and feedback, you’ll start two-way conversations with customers that promote ongoing loyalty.

Don’t take success for granted.
Maybe you published a blog on Monday, and by Wednesday, it’s one of the strongest traffic sources your website has ever seen. While you celebrate, determine the root of this success by closely examining your post, isolating the driving forces behind it and considering how you can repeat them. Was it the time of day when your post went live? A title that took off on social media? A link shared by a person of influence in your field?

Then, explore the bigger picture. If the blog post gained 2,000 social shares, how does that number compare to the average number of shares your posts usually receive? What did your new website visitors do after they clicked through to your site, and how many will turn into sales leads? Unless you’reasking these questions, you’re not learning much from your hard-won content marketing success.

Every piece of data in your editorial calendar and social media strategy should be subject to interrogation. Whenever possible, your competitors’ efforts – and successes – should be examined, as well. Doing so prevents your team from attributing its work to good luck, and equips them with the tools necessary to reach new customers and watch your efforts pay off.

Make your time count.
You may already be familiar with the 80/20 rule of building social influence, which dictates that you should spend 20 percent of your time creating content and 80 percent of time promoting it. While there’s certainly value in the strategy, consider the overall cost of your time, as well. For example, examine the amount of quality content you can generate in one day, and block your calendar accordingly. You’ll be more careful about the topics you cover and avoid spending too much time creating an asset that your customers may not even need.

Subscribe to the Metis Minute: PR and marketing newsletter

For more PR and marketing tips and techniques, subscribe to our newsletter:

Comments (0)
Post A Comment