Having a thoroughly planned content strategy is vital in this digital age, so it’s little wonder that the majority of businesses, be them large or small, put a lot of resources into creating one. In fact, the Aberdeen Group’s report The Future Of Content Marketing: The Age Of Content Science, found that a huge 95% of business respondents are either using or considering using a content marketing strategy.
However, simply pulling ideas for content out of a hat is probably not going to get you very far; you need to have a deep knowledge of your customer base and a thorough understanding of what kind of content will work best for your business. This is where data plays a vital role; there’s no need for guess work in content creation when you can collect valuable insights into what does and doesn’t work.
Why is Content so Important?
Having good-quality engaging content on your business’ website is important for a number of reasons. It is usually the first interaction that potential customers will have with your company, and obviously you want to give them the best first impression possible in order to endear them to your brand and hopefully convert leads into sales. A recent survey by TMG Custom Media & Marketing Tech Blog found that 61% of consumers feel better about a business when they deliver custom content on a regular basis.
The statistics also show that blogging is an important asset for any business’ marketing strategy; ThinkCreative reports that small businesses with a blog get 126% more lead growth compared to those who don’t have one, and according to InsideView companies that blog just once or twice a month see 67% more sales opportunities than those that don’t blog at all.
Another reason why putting time into content creation is important is advertising; nowadays consumers have wised up to more traditional advertisements and have also become adverse to more intrusive forms like pop-ups and banners; as a result, the Digital News Report 2015 found that 47% of US internet users surveyed had installed ad-blocking software on their PC, tablet or mobile. Research has shown that customers prefer ads in the form of blogs and articles, and using data to refine this type of content can be extremely worthwhile.
What’s Data got to do With it?
Using data to inform decisions in your content strategy may seem unnecessary, but the statistics certainly suggest otherwise. Forbes Insights and Turn report “Data Driven and Digitally Savvy: The Rise of the New Marketing Organisation,” revealed that data-driven marketing delivers success in terms of customer engagement, customer loyalty and market growth. The study found that companies deemed ‘leaders’ in the practice report much higher levels in these three categories than their ‘laggard’ competitors; leaders were three times more likely to report higher results in customer engagement, as well as increased revenue.
Knowing Your Audience
Collecting detailed data about your target customers means that you are able to better develop your targeted messaging and user segmentation. You may think you already have a clear understanding of your audience, but taking time to build thorough buyer personas allows you to determine exactly how to engage with them in general terms as well as targeting each persona slightly different. Having a complex understanding of your audience’s top concerns and ensuring that your content is engaging them is vital to converting potential leads into customers.
Occasionally you may find that the types of people you are engaging are actually different to those you were originally intending to attract, and by using data you will be able to find out exactly who is most engaged and how to adapt your marketing strategy accordingly.
Using Keyword Research
Using data in keyword research is a particularly useful part of content marketing. Without taking the time to discover which words and phrases to use when optimising your pages, you won’t be able to draw the right customer base to your site, or develop a successful and thorough content strategy. Using the wrong keywords is just as much of a hindrance; although they may attract traffic to your website, it’s likely to lead to high bounce rates with people landing on your site who were actually looking for something different.
In order to attract consumers who are actually a good fit for your business and will engage and ultimately become customers you need to know the most searched for words and topics that your target audience are using. Helpful tools to get started with this include Google Keyword Planner; a tool that enables you to quickly and easily find the most searched for keywords in your niche, and Buzzsumo; which enables you to discover which topics are trending in your area.
One important thing to remember while implementing your keyword research into your content strategy is that in order to create really valuable content that will convert visitors into customers, you need to focus on your audience, and not just the search engines. For example, Google has a preference for unique content that is new and will be relevant to your visitors.
Making your target consumers the priority in keyword research not only helps you rank in search engines, but ultimately will mean that you are offering content that is actually interesting and worthwhile to potential customers.
See What’s Working
Taking an in-depth look at how your content is already performing will be extremely helpful with your content strategy going forward. Measuring how much traffic you’re currently getting from different sources is very useful; and tools such as Google Analytics Content Grouping Feature, Facebook for business and Marketo will allow you to segment your content based on its type. This means that you can group content by topics or formats etc and get a good understanding of exactly what is working for your business.
Using engagement metrics to improve your content is a good practice to get into. Two of the most useful are:
In basic terms, pageviews are simply the total number of hits on each page of your site. They are counted when a page is requested by a browser and include repeat views and visits by the same user. They can come in useful when deciding which pages to update regularly with fresh content and in which to add calls to action. However, bear in mind that they also offer limited insight in some respects; for example you have no way of knowing if visitors to your site are browsing lots of pages due to the fact they are very engaged/motivated or if they were actually just unable to find exactly what they wanted.
A session is basically an uninterrupted browsing spree from a user on your site. It starts as soon as a visitor lands on your site, and continues to track the length of time they stayed active on it. The required period of inactivity before a new session begins is 30 minutes, after which a new session will start. The more you look into this data the more you’ll understand your users browsing habits on your site, which will ultimately help you create a more successful and engaging content strategy.
…And What’s Not
Determining what isn’t working in your content strategy is just as important as finding what does. Studying your bounce rate will show you the percentage of people that left a page on your website without having visited any other pages. Taking the time to try and ascertain why these visitors were not encouraged to stick around for longer and to properly engage with your company is definitely worthwhile in the long run.
Comparing the Competition
Using tools such as those offered by BuzzSumo to gain a deeper understanding of the types of content that are successful for your competitors can prove very insightful. You can find the biggest trending content by searching for keywords, discover the types of content that works well in your niche, and discover which format works well for different types of posts. It will even tell you the best days to publish depending on your industry and how long or short your articles should be to get the most engagement.
Once you have collected this information you can work backwards and use it to make informed choices regarding your content strategy.
Global Database Recommendations
At Global Database we know the importance of using data as part of a carefully-crafted content marketing strategy. With this in mind our experts recommend remembering these key points when putting yours together:
- Keep testing – It’s incredibly important that you consistently measure the data after each piece of content is shared with your audience. Using data will help you to get to know your customer base in a deeper sense, and ultimately will help you to keep creating content that will keep them engaged with your brand and more likely to buy from you.
- Don’t lose sight of your creativity – Although data is clearly an extremely useful tool to use in your content creation, don’t let it drive your whole strategy. Relying solely on facts and figures could result in generic and dull content that does little to peak the interest of visitors to your site.