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Keys to data-driven content marketing: Illustration of customers reading content

Content marketing is informative, entertaining, and helpful. But great ideas for content aren’t enough. Who decides they are “great”? The customer decides. How do we know the decision of the customer? Data–the more the better.

Data-Driven Content Marketing Starts with Creating Great Content

Your content must consist of compelling, audience-centric, findable, shareable stories. Just because you build it, they might not come. And so your content marketing must be crafted with audience interests in mind so that they will find it, read it, and share it with their peers.

What are the key questions your customers have about their business problems? What data can you use to understand their needs? Why not use your website search data to help you better understand what’s important to your customer? Customers expect you to speak in their language (more on this in a moment). Search data, whether from Google or your own site, helps you do just that.

Once built, your content marketing pieces must be published and promoted. After all, content does not market itself. Look at using social and website analytics to learn what pieces work best for your customer — and your business. You can measure the effectiveness of content marketing by how often it is used, how often it is shared, and how often it generates leads and revenue for your business.

Related Blog: Meet Behavior-Based Content Recommendation

Content is Useful Only When it Matches Your Customer’s Context

You can’t just create content in a vacuum. In digital media, content is only as valuable as the number and quality of references to it (links, social shares, etc.). It is more useful if it builds on existing work than if it duplicates it. It is more useful still if it is built as a part of a system of other content that answers specific questions in a several-step information journey. This can be difficult for traditional marketers, who often want to tell self-contained stories. But it’s necessary to get this step right. You measure how well-connected content is, within its context, by performing link analysis. You can also conduct topic analysis to see if it matches your prospect’s intent.

Your Content Must Support Your Customer’s Journey

Chances are that your audience will choose a different path through your content than the path that you designed. That’s to be expected. Digital media and books are not the same. In books, it is the author’s story. The reader implicitly concedes this point and passively consumes the story according to the author’s agenda. Digital media need not be consumed in such a linear fashion. The digital reader or viewer is in control. It’s their story, and they’re piecing it together from multiple sources on the fly. This fact vexes some traditional marketers because, like book authors, they are accustomed to crafting media to be consumed serially.

You measure and track users through your content to create experiences that align with their journeys. (Side note: we’ve been working on a content recommendation that automates this.)

Great Content Marketing Speaks Your Customer’s Language

Because the audience builds their stories using multiple sources, you must use language that the audience understands. Though you want to tell your story, your story will not make sense ijn the context of the audience’s story if you don’t use common language. Coining your own terms can lead to jargon that’s confusing to your audience. It’s natural for marketers to desire unique trademarked names for their products, but when you need to explain too many words, your message loses its punch.

You learn the common language by conducting keyword research and by listening to social channels.

Great Content Marketing Relies on Your Business’s Reputation

As in all other forms of publishing, credibility is the currency in the digital world. A sure way to gain credibility is through transparency. Not only must you publish the truth as openly as possible, you need to avoid hyperbole and other forms of exaggeration. This can be especially hard for some public relations professionals who are used to telling only the “good stories.”

You can measure the credibility of your content by performing sentiment analysis and other forms of social listening.

Content marketing is emerging as the primary way many brands engage with audiences, to the degree that resisting content marketing has become a  career-limiting decision. For example, only 12% of UK companies do not focus on content marketing.

Perhaps data-driven content marketing’s most striking aspect is its use of data to understand the audience. Data allows marketers to provide the content they need to solve the audience’s problems and to answer their questions. Are you making the most of it?

Not sure how to start? Connect with us.

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