You spent hours writing a blog post that you’re sure is “the one” – the article that will bring new visitors flocking to your site, drive sales for your product, and maybe even snag that number one spot in Google search results. You post it and… nothing. Where did you go wrong?
Virtually every business knows that they need some form of content marketing, but it’s hard to know where to start. While posting a blog and hoping for the best may have worked ten years ago, businesses today are operating in a significantly more competitive online space. Your content needs to be backed by a solid strategy if it’s going to make a splash.
Here at Volume Nine, we live and die by data, especially when we’re making a content strategy for clients. Here’s what you need to know about creating your own kickass data-driven content marketing strategy.
What is Data-Driven Content Marketing?
Data-driven content marketing is creating content for your website, blog, or social media channels to reach your customers and help you achieve one of your marketing KPIs. It’s the opposite of the “post and pray” strategy many businesses use, where you’re creating and posting content for the sole purpose of adding content to the site or your feed without any plan behind it.
Guess which type of content will help drive actionable results and move you closer to reaching your marketing goals? The data-driven one! (Bet you didn’t see that coming)
Why Should You Use Data to Create Your Content?
Using data to plan, create, and measure your content will take much of the guesswork out of your content marketing strategy. There are numbers out there to help you in every step of the content creation process. Applying that data to your content will help you reach your target customers, create content they actually want to read and shape your go-forward strategy.
Consider this stat: According to the Content Marketing Institute, 63% of businesses do not have a documented content marketing strategy. If you can create a documented plan fueled by data, it’s going to give you a leg up over your competitors and may help drive revenue growth.
6 Steps to Create a Data-Driven Content Marketing Strategy
1. Use Data to Define Your Customers
The first and arguably most important step in creating content is figuring out for whom you’re writing the content. Defining your target audience for each blog post ensures that the content you’re making will provide value to them, and provide value to your company in the form of a new customer or increased brand awareness.
Ideally, you’ll want to create a description of a person who represents your target customers. The more details you can get here the better, but the core details to define are:
- Who they are: gender, personality, age, job title, location, income
- What they’re looking for: needs, pain points, challenges
- Where they find information: Facebook, forums, blogs
- Why your company matters to them: what you can offer to help them solve their pain points
There are many, many resources available to help you find and define your target audience. Some places to start looking for more information include:
- Google Analytics “Audience” data
- Social media insights
- Online forums, like subreddits related to your product niche
- Surveys or interviews with existing customers
When you start digging, you’ll likely discover that you have more than one audience or target customer. That’s ok! Most businesses will have several different personas to which they target their content marketing efforts.
2. Dive Into Your Analytics
Once you have your target audiences defined, it’s time to start figuring out what content they’d like to be reading. You may have been looking around your analytics in step one to find out more about your audience — now, let’s use those same tools to find the content that resonates with them.
If you’ve already been blogging or are active on social media, your customers have already told you which kind of content they’d like to see. Look at the top articles in Google Analytics or your most liked or shared posts on social media. From there, look for insights or trends that can help shape your content strategy moving forward. Ask yourself:
- Do my readers prefer long- or short-form content?
- Are blog posts performing best, or do they visit infographics or videos more?
- What specific topics resonate with my readers? Can they be grouped in an overarching category?
- Is there a certain imagery or caption style that performs best on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn?
From this data, you should walk away with a better idea of the styles of content that your readers have engaged with in the past. From there, you can apply that information to your new data-driven content strategy.
3. Audit Your Competitors
If your goal is to outsell or outshine your competitors, why not see what their content marketing looks like? (it’s not cheating, we promise!) While you may not have access to their Google Analytics or a behind-the-scenes look at their Facebook ads plan, your competitors are sharing a ton of valuable information with you just through their content.
Like you did in step two for your own brand, look at your top competitor’s blog and social media page to see what kind of insights you can collect from them. Do they have a certain style of Facebook posts that tend to get a host of likes and shares? Do they have a blog that’s ranking on the first page of Google for a keyword relating to your product or service? A tool like Buzzsumo can help you see the most-shared articles around any topic, as well as the length that performs best.
Your data-driven content marketing strategy doesn’t just have to use your data as a foundation. Take advantage of the public data available about your competitors, as well!
4. Explore Keyword Data
Now that you have a general idea of who you’re writing to and what they want to read, it’s time to get some blog topics on the calendar. You can write the best, most life-changing blog in the world, but if that blog isn’t backed by a keyword that people are actually searching for, your amazing content is likely to get lost in the deep, neverending pits of Google.
Fortunately, there is an absolute buttload (technical term) of keyword tools out there that can help you find keywords and their search volume to use as a starting point for your blog topics. SEMRush, Answer the Public, and even Wikipedia can give you an idea of how many people are searching for a specific topic and if it’s something worth writing about.
For each blog, identify a long-tail keyword (often in a question format), like “What is data-driven content marketing” — not a head term, like “content marketing.” Head terms tend to be more challenging to rank for and should be reserved for a high-value product or service page in your silo. Each long-tail keyword should have some level of search volume around it. It’s not worth your time to write a blog with the keyword “What kind of data drives engagement in the denver colorado agency industry,” for example. (Darn, back to the drawing board…)
5. Let Your Story Shine
Yes, we did just spend the last thousand words telling you the importance of data in your content marketing efforts. However, it’s essential to remember that you’re not writing this blog for robots. You’re writing it for humans, and real humans at that (refer back to step one if you need a refresher).
Don’t let your focus on getting the perfect keyword or finding the ideal word count take away from the story you’re telling your readers, or the value you’re providing them. Even the most optimized blog is meaningless if your story isn’t connecting with your readers and helping them solve a pain point.
6. Measure, Measure, Measure
Whew, you did all your analytics, wrote a kickass blog post, and it’s live (and hopefully raking in those pageviews and likes). While it may be tempting to post it and move on to your next piece of killer content, a true data-driven content marketing strategy means you have to consistently monitor, track, and tweak your content to ensure it’s aligned with what your customers are telling you through data.
For each blog or social media post, define a set of KPIs, whether it’s conversions, shares, page views, or new users to the site. Monitor your content’s progress on these KPIs; if your content is falling short of the goals, consider revisiting the data, and tweaking your plan. If you’re consistently crushing your KPI metrics, you may want to produce similar content moving forward. Not every blog is going to hit the number one spot on Google, but every piece of content has insightful data to share.
Turning Up the Volume on Your Content Marketing
Did this blog post make you realize you have some work to do on your content marketing strategy? Do you lack the time or the resources to create a kickass strategy in-house? Good news: we’re here to help. Here at V9, we are obsessed with data and our experienced team can partner with your business to help you create a data-driven content marketing strategy that converts.