If these questions keep you up at night, you’re in the right place. In today’s article, we’re going to discuss the one major factor that can provide all the answers and more: data. We’ll talk about the impact data has on content marketing strategies and why it’s crucial that you start using it today.
How does data fit with content marketing?
There’s no denying that marketers need the data provided by specialized platforms, such as Google Analytics (GA). However, most content creators fail to see its capabilities because they’re more inclined to believe that the creative side doesn’t mix well with the analytical side.
Furthermore, when marketers do use the platform, they don’t exploit its full potential. The data is mostly used to measure content effectiveness after it has been created, published, and promoted via a campaign. But the reports, graphs, and other tools offered by the platform can also be used to understand the type of content that should be created for a specific audience.
This means that, with the right data, you have the chance to create laser-focused content strategies that will deliver the expected results.
Creating the best content strategy
There was a time when the idea of content strategy was foreign to both creators and marketers. For creators, the idea of documenting and planning their content ideas throughout a time interval based on data analysis was outrageous. Instead, they would rather base their content creation decisions on “gut instinct”, current trends, and what they thought the audience might like.
While being in constant contact with a certain audience and overall experience do factor in and add value, there’s no way of knowing which piece of content will bring the most traffic and engagement. Furthermore, without data, it’s difficult to know why the audience is reacting to a specific piece, so you can replicate the success.
Data helps creators focus on specific audiences, creating content that attracts and engages readers. Without it, most content is created with the intent of reaching the largest possible audience, which is never successful and leads to a waste of time and resources.
So, a data-driven approach can have a powerful impact on the type of content you create, how you create it, and how you promote it. Among others, the right data will:
- Pinpoint the target audience
- Channel-specific preferences
- Provide the possibility that a piece of content may attract sales
- Indicate the most relevant topics to approach
But let’s take a closer look at how and why data is essential for the best content strategy:
Insight into your target audience
Analytics offer valuable insight into what your audience is thinking and how they feel about your content (expressed through metrics such as traffic, time on page, bounce rate, and so on). Furthermore, if you analyze the trends set by pre-existing customers, you get access to information such as location, age, profession, needs and wants, pain points, and more.
Once you get a hold of these data points, it’s easy to understand what the people consuming your content want and like. You can also learn where they hang out online and who they’re most likely to be influenced by.
Quick note: this information alone provides plenty of content ideas that are relevant to your audience. It also offers collaboration ideas by providing you with a list of influencers that may become your campaign supporters.
Another aspect you need to follow is social media effectiveness. GA can pinpoint the best channel to use by analyzing income traffic from social media and whether the audience is converting into customers.
The same goes for general traffic, where the data can tell you who is leaving your site and why, how many people are actually engaged by the content, and what people prefer doing when they visit your pages.
Making the right decisions
What would you do if you knew for sure which pages are less engaging for the audience? You would probably work on bringing them up to speed by comparing them with the successful pages and improving the content they deliver.
Well, a data-driven content marketing strategy can give you exactly that. By analyzing metrics such as time spent on page and setting conversion goals, GA lets you know the level of engagement generated by each page on your site.
The best advantage of using data to shape your content strategy stands in the fact that you know the impact of each decision you make. If you want to drop an underperforming social media channel in order to focus your efforts on the most engaging ones, you can do so without wondering ‘what if?’. On the other hand, if you want to boost engagement on a page that’s lagging, you will know the steps to take and in what order.
Data-driven content marketing is the best way to make sure you’re making the right decisions, without involving any guesswork or ‘gut feeling’.
One step further
GA can only offer a prescriptive analysis because it collects data based on past events. This means that you need to have a base of users or customers and existing content in order to receive insight. Once received, it’s your job to make predictions and try to understand what works.
But there are predictive platforms that can reduce the marketer’s or creator’s brain effort by forecasting future results. This means that platforms such as 40Nuggets and Parse.ly can help you know the content that is most likely to work even before you decide to write it.
Goal achievement and content marketing ROI
The main purpose of content marketing is to get people to spend time and/or money on your creation. If this doesn’t happen, the content doesn’t convert, and you don’t achieve your marketing goals. But how can you know the status of your goals?
Luckily, GA has an entire section dedicated to goal tracking that lets users know if the audience is engaged enough to take action.
As you know, goals can be anything from driving awareness to increasing sales, which means they can be quite tricky to define. Still, due to GA’s ingenuity, you have the possibility to not only define goals but also identify the steps a user needs to take in order to consider the goal completed. This way, you can easily identify bottleneck areas or steps that make the process more difficult.
Finally, all this work on understanding the audience, setting goals, and creating content that converts is for the final purpose of lifting ROI. And with the right kind of data, lifting ROI is nothing more than a repetitive process of planning, creating, measuring, and optimizing.
You plan and create your content based on data that comes from the market, you measure the results provided by the new content using the metrics we discussed, and then you optimize the process based on the results. This way, you have the chance to refine your content marketing strategy to a point where it becomes difficult to make mistakes.