Marketers are beginning to fully harness the power of data-driven marketing. In fact, more than 40 percent of organizations plan to increase their data-driven marketing budget and another 64 percent of marketing leaders believe these strategies are vital to success.
At the same time, there are over 500 million blogs in existence today, with 2 million posts being created each day. That’s a lot of content – and if your team wants their content marketing strategy to stand out, that’s a lot of competition.
These conditions create the potential for an interesting synthesis: Data-driven content marketing.
To win the attention of readers, marketers must use a blend of both creativity and analytics. Let’s examine what data-driven content marketing is, and how you can get your strategy started.
What is Data-Driven Content Marketing?
Data-driven content marketing describes a process where marketing teams build content based on the analysis of data. Typically, the data is used to understand consumer preferences and trends in the industry, along with how to best communicate that messaging. To collect this data, it’s important to use an advanced marketing attribution method that pays close attention to each touchpoint the customer engages with, and accounts for rational and emotional factors.
Once you have a firm grasp of the data, your content marketing team should shift from an analytical way of thinking, and back into a creative way of thinking. So long as they follow the general guidelines outlined by the data, their creative assets will have a far better chance of resonating with the audience.
5 Tips to Start Your Data-Driven Content Strategy
When using data to guide your content strategy, it’s important to ask two overarching questions: What are people looking for, and how can we deliver that relevant information to them?
The customer should always be central to these decisions, so make sure you have plenty of high-quality customer data. Your data repositories should follow the seven dimensions of data quality (comprehensiveness, consistency, accuracy, proper formatting, timeliness, validity, and integrity) as closely as possible for maximum reliability.
If your data stores are a bit empty or filled with low-quality data, try to gather first-party data from previous campaigns to get a better idea of how customers engage. If that’s not possible, no problem – just make sure you’re able to gather insights from your data-driven campaigns once they’re in flight. Once you’re confident in your data collection processes, follow these tips to launch an impactful data-driven content strategy.
1. Set a Goal
Good goals are central to any successful marketing strategy and using data will help you set attainable goals that aren’t based on conjecture, but facts. By diving into historical data, you can find how well your campaigns tend to perform and set a goal that raises the bar.
For a content marketing strategy, start with goals that focus on tracking sales, raising brand awareness, improving customer retention, and encouraging ongoing loyalty. These are the areas where a good content marketing strategy shines.
2. Understand Your Audience
Today’s consumers are overwhelmed by information and have become more discerning about which messages they engage with as a result. They need to know exactly what they’ll gain from giving you a few minutes of their time. So, before you create a data-driven content marketing campaign, it’s essential to fully understand your target audience.
Use the data that you already have to find suggestions about what a customer is trying to solve, what they need from a solution, where they’re looking, when they’re looking, and how close they are to purchasing. Creating user profiles or highly granular audience segments will help you find all of this information in a single, convenient place.
When you’re designing user profiles, make sure you’re not targeting an overly broad segment. Data-driven content marketing works best on distinct, small-to-medium sized segments, as it helps you be much more precise in your marketing efforts.
3. Deploy Test Campaigns
Once you’ve created a campaign for a specific target audience, test it on a relatively small sample of that audience. This will help you get a gut check on which assets are working, and which need improvement. If a certain asset isn’t performing in line with your goals, engage in A/B testing. For instance, change your headline, your CTA, your images, or even your opening paragraph.
It’s recommended to send a test campaign to at least 1,000 people, but this number might change depending on the size of your audience. For best results, an advanced marketing performance measurement platform can help you determine when you’ve reached an appropriate sample of users.
4. Measure and Optimize Campaigns In-Flight
If your test campaign looks promising, it’s time to launch the campaign to your entire audience. However, you’re not done analyzing your campaigns just yet! To maximize your content strategy’s success, dive into the data you’re actively collecting from live campaigns and look for ways to improve further.
Sometimes, your test audience won’t be completely reliable – so it’s important to keep a pulse on which assets advance the customer journey, which cause consumers to end their journey, and which assets have very little impact on their final decision. If your trajectory isn’t aligning with your goals, then start making small changes before the campaign comes to an end.
5. Analyze, Refine, Restart
Once your campaign has concluded, don’t relegate it to the halls of history. Instead, use it to improve on your future strategy. For instance, did your target audience engage on a few unexpected channels? Did a certain high-converting piece of content get buried by subpar content? If any of this rings true once your campaign is finished, revisit those areas and those insights to drive your next campaign.
Any data-driven marketing process should be a constant work-in-progress. For that reason, always keep this advice top-of-mind for any data-driven content strategy.
Data-driven marketing helps marketers make informed decisions, and data-driven content marketing is no different, as it eliminates guesswork and focuses on the facts. However, keep in mind that a customer’s emotional considerations should never be left out of your strategy. Content marketers need a framework that considers both rational and emotional decision making, and balance both of these concepts in their campaigns.
While that may require some additional investments in marketing technology, it will be worth it. By adopting a balanced, data-driven strategy that’s supported by a helpful marketing analytics platform, content marketers will be able to not only enjoy more successful campaigns but gain the analytical prowess necessary to prove success.