As Matt Trifiro, CMO at Heroku, puts it, time and money are our scarcest resources. So we should allocate them to areas that have the highest impact. Trifiro also says that good data reveals the true impact on a business and we can use it to bring more science into our decision making.
Only after analyzing data from various online campaigns can you begin to build data-driven content. Data is collected from people who converted into customers, and it helps us understand what really works. Data-driven decisions allow companies to personalize experiences for their customer bases and spend their budgets more wisely.
The global market is becoming seriously competitive, forcing companies to avoid the guessing game of what works and what doesn’t.
Content is such a broad subject, and many might claim that they know the secret that unlocks the 100% conversion formula. The reality is that there is no one-answer-fits-all scenario.
This is why each company needs to collect good data, analyze, and leverage the information correctly to improve their content marketing campaign.
You might ask yourself:
- Is your content effective?
- How are you doing on social media?
- Is there enough engagement?
- Does your client base respond to a certain type of call-to-action (CTA)?
When a company starts to craft a content marketing strategy, it is normal not to know what is going to work. You’ll have to start with some basic hypotheses and use A/B testing to validate your ideas. The data you collect will be your treasure trove.
Why does your content marketing need to be data-driven?
When we use data to make decisions, we take emotion and assumptions out of the picture. We also take past experiences and improve on them instead of starting from scratch every time.
Where do we start?
Before we even begin posting content online, we need to set our key performance indicators (KPIs).
The three basic KPIs you need to measure for content include:
Who is viewing your content?
How many people are viewing it?
Is it the right audience?
Are people responding to your content?
If so, how? (positive/negative?)
How do you measure engagement?
Is your traffic converting?
If so, what is the best performing content?
Can you identify which CTAs work?
How can you increase these numbers?
How to improve conversions using a data-driven content marketing strategy
Great planning will lead to great results. Here’s what you need to do.
1. Define your goals
Before you assign a mountain of content to your qualified writers, define what results you expect from the content.
Depending on the goal of your campaign, you need to separate content into various types including:
- Awareness-focused content
- Traffic-generating content
- Conversion-focused content
- Fun content
For example, awareness-focused content is designed to educate the public about your products and services. Traffic-generating content is based on strong SEO to drive traffic. Finally, conversion-focused content is enriched with social proof and other techniques that help buyers make a decision.
Fun content is something you can share occasionally to continue engaging your audience.
The above is a simple example of a template. Each marketer can create their own according to the needs of the company.
You can assign each category a number of articles, goals, and KPIs.
2. Publish more articles than you think you need
Content marketing is growing faster than most companies can keep up with.
Keeping the attention of your audience is becoming a major challenge for most marketers.
Did you know that, according to CMI, 72% of marketers report that publishing content often significantly increases the engagement from their audience?
According to the Digital Information World, the average attention span is now floating somewhere in the area of 8 seconds.
This means that you have 8 seconds to capture and hold someone’s attention.
This also means that trends do not last as long as they used to, so your team needs to be constantly on the lookout for new trends.
Google Trends is a great tool to use to stay on top of things.
Publishing articles more frequently will get you more leads and also keep you competitive. Creating authentic, creative, and engaging content is not an easy task.
The faster you train your team to do it, the faster you will move up in the rankings.
3. Decide on your channels and content format
Do not limit yourself to your company’s blog. There are many channels that you need to use to create and distribute your content.
To drive traffic on your website you need your own blog, but do not stop there. Consider all of the possible channels for content distribution.
Now you have to consider not only the channels, but also the type of content these channels accept.
When we hear the word, “content,” most people think of text. But content takes many forms and shapes including:
- Videos or vlogging
- Research content
- Email content
- Website copy
- CTAs (micro-content)
- Press releases
- Testimonials/social proof
- Social media content
Your social media content strategy needs extra care and attention, as social media is a common core for all companies and brands out there.
You can use data to understand which channels and content formats work well with your target audience. With tools like Cortex, you can collect insights about what subjects, themes, and colors your audience likes. This will help you develop the kind of content that will appeal to them.
A data-driven content marketing campaign needs to explore different types of content. Then you need to identify what kind of impact that content has on conversions.
Finally, you need to use the right content for the right campaign.
Do not feel that you need to test every single piece of content type that exists.
Rather, do some research to find out what works well for your industry and start with that.
Did you know that, according to WordStream, using videos on your landing pages will increase conversions by 86%? You could experiment with this tactic too.
4. Use links and then use some more links
Google’s Andrey Lipattsev said that content and links are the two main factors when it comes to indexing your page.
By now, you understand that you need to plan your content calendar, decide on your KPIs, and set up your analytics. These actions will help you measure what works while investigating what type of content works best for you.
But what about links?
There are many ways to get links, including:
- Find websites with broken links and contact them to suggest potential links to replace the broken one. Be sure to include your website in the suggestions. To make this super easy, various plugins can automatically check for broken links on websites.
- Create infographics and get other websites to publish them along with links to your site.
- Have guest authors write for your blog. Even if your blog is a company one, you can ask your clients to share their stories. It is a great way to leverage your existing audience.
- Spy on your competitors and sign up for their newsletters and alerts. They might know something you don’t and they are probably spying on you anyway. Check their backlinks and see if they are successful in their methods.
- Build internal links. When you publish a new article, connect it to existing relevant articles on your site. This will keep the reader on your website longer, reflecting a lower bounce rate.
- Promote your content through social media platforms and channels that make sense for your industry.
- Make friends with influencers. Find ways to work with them. They are a trusted source for most consumers. Use popular influencer marketing and discovery platforms that can locate influencers for you.
5. Your headlines are your first impression, and they count!
Your headline is why you got that first click.
Your content can be incredible, groundbreaking, and breathtaking all in one. However, if your headline does not invite the audience to click, no one is going to read it.
Think of your headline as the window in a store. It needs to be inviting and alluring so that it ignites the curiosity in the passer-by to walk in.
Some general guidelines that work well for headlines:
- Mention a number
- Use an emotion
- Use the secret formula of eight words or 62 characters or 81-100 characters
- Create a sense of usefulness
- Negative spins do well (unfortunately)
- Make it a question (when possible)
- Never lie
BuzzSumo studied over 100,000 headlines and below is a chart showcasing the results on social media click-through rates:
6. Update existing content
Take inventory of the content you already have stored away or published. You need to know what you have and where you can use it.
For older posts, go back and make sure you update them to reflect the latest statistics and trends. Otherwise, what is the point of anyone reading blog posts from years ago?
You can even explore other ways to reuse older content, including:
- Create an infographic from a previous post
- Re-promote it on social media
- Use it to create video tutorials
- Turn it into a presentation
- Use it for a throw-back campaign
- Turn it into modular content
- Use it to create email content
Final ideas and the way forward
Content is alive, evolving, and changing with every second. In a sense, it is a reflection of what humans want to know about.
But for content to drive traffic, engagement, and conversions it needs to be data-driven.
Publishing an article without the tools to go back and understand how it performed is futile and impractical.
The first step for any marketer working with content is to set up the analytics tools of their choice. The second step is to set their KPIs. Once all of that is sorted, set your goals, develop content, and begin measuring its effectiveness.
A very important key to remember is that content is anything that adds value to the reader’s life.