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What is data driven content marketing?

You might think blogging and posting on social media is enough. But if you’re not measuring the insights available and optimising your future content accordingly, you’re not getting the biggest return from your marketing spend. The solution? Utilising data to inform and improve your content strategy. If you want to know more about what is data driven content marketing, then read one – we break it down to help you on your way.

What is data driven content marketing?

Overhead shot of person looking through data printoutsContent marketing is an essential in 2021 and beyond. In fact, 72% of marketers agree that it increases engagement and as many say it boosts leads too.

But that content doesn’t have to be written off the top of your head.

As technology continues to grow and evolve, marketers are able to collect more and more information about their audience’s preferences than ever before. With this information to hand, they can create targeted messages that speak directly to their audience in the way they want to be spoken to – helping achieve a much higher return on investment (ROI). This statistical approach to content is called data driven content marketing.

Data driven content marketing can be broken down into a few basic steps:

Collect data: Data comes in many forms and the best marketers collect as much of it as they can to draw certain conclusions about how and why customers behave the way they do. This gives them a well-rounded understanding of their audience.

Decide what to do with your data: This is where you figure out how your content will solve customer problems or create value for them, either through increased sales or improved customer journey experiences.

Use it to create content that speaks to your audience: Use the data to help you write content your audience will be interested in, based on not just things like their demographic (age, location, gender, job status) but the types of headlines they click and the social media platforms they frequent.

Importantly, data doesn’t just have to relate to what data you’ve gathered about your own audience and content. It could also mean using the wealth of data out there that shows the emerging and dominant trends in marketing, e.g. what age group uses a specific channel or consumes certain types of media.

For instance, one survey found use of video increases website traffic by 87%. This is vital to know if you’ve never invested in this media before. On the other hand, listicles get twice the number of shares than other blog posts – something to bear in mind if you want to boost your engagement.

Why use data driven content marketing?

The main benefit of following a data driven strategy is the insight it gives you into your audience. The more you know about your customers’ preferences, the better you can offer them what they want, when they want it.

This not only allows you to upsell and position your business at the time customers may need it, but you can also be more economical with your resources. That means instead of posting in the dark, you know when your audience is likely to be active and can capitalise on that.

But it’s not all about you.

The other key benefit is that if your content offers real value, then your customers will see you as relevant, helpful and will be more likely to remain loyal.

What can I learn from my content data?

Someone looking at Facebook analytics on phoneEach platform that you use can provide a wealth of insights. For instance:

Google Analytics metrics can show you the number and types of people who are visiting your site, click-through rates on landing pages, where they’ve landed on your website from, what device they use, what they’re reading and what sends them away.

Facebook analytics can show you how many impressions you have made, the most popular times of the day and week for posting, how long someone watched a video, which posts garnered the most engagement and so on.

Twitter insights can show you the text and media posts that had the most engagement and your most active followers.

YouTube has its own set of data that allows marketers to see where in the world your viewers are from, how engaged they were with different videos or whether they commented or liked a video.

Your website or blog CMS may also record analytics, including where traffic was referred from, the location of your readership, keywords that entered to arrive at your content, best performing posts and more.

Other SEO-specific tools like SEMrush can show you the organic keywords you rank for and how you stack up against the competition so that you can start increasing your ranking potential and traffic.

Email tools like MailChimp can provide data on open rate, the most successful headlines and actions users took after reading your email.

As you can see there’s a lot of data out there, but not all of it will be valuable. You need to know what you want to achieve through your content marketing and look for the metrics that help you do it.

Should you invest in data driven content marketing?

The best way to know if you should invest in a data driven content strategy is to ask yourself the following questions:

– What are your content marketing goals?
– Do you want to focus on generating leads or increasing brand awareness?
– How important is ROI to you and how much of your budget can be allocated for digital marketing channels like content creation, social media advertising, email marketing and SEO optimisation?
– What resources do you have to put into this – including human, financial and time?

Data driven marketing requires a large investment of time and money. It’s not just about having the tools available but the manpower and time to sit down and sift through the results and make meaningful conclusions, as well as test different strategies to see which are more successful.

If you have your own marketing team or are looking to work with a content agency, then you may be ready to step up to an increasingly data driven strategy.

If you’re just starting your business, then you may need to have this as a goal for the future. The good news is, however, that this data is everywhere, so you can always implement a few learnings as you go.

How to write data driven content

Closeup of person typingData can be an incredibly valuable tool for marketers. But in order to get the most out of it, you need to have some strategy behind your data gathering.

If you’re a brand-new company, an easy way is to find out what’s working with other companies and start there! You’ll want to take a look at what kind of data these businesses are collecting and how they’re using it. From here, you can assess whether this will work for your company as well or if there is another way to gather insights that might suit your needs better.

If you’ve been established a while and already have an active website that has been recording data through Google Analytics and/or data about your audience on social media, then you can begin to compile this into something useful.

Armed with this knowledge, you can create your data driven content marketing strategy:

1. Create your customer persona(s)

This should be an in-depth bio of your target customer(s). You may just have one, or you may have several across different markets depending on your products and services. Include as much detail as possible. This will help you to identify the interests and needs of your customer(s) so that when it comes time to write, design or plan any content, you know what resonates with them.

2. Audit your current content strategy

It pays to periodically evaluate how successful your content strategy is, both in terms of attracting new followers and getting existing ones to take action on behalf of your business. Audit any content you have previously created to see what was successful, what wasn’t, and work from there. Things to look out for include:

  • Headlines that received the most clicks vs those that didn’t
  • Blog posts and social media posts that had the most shares
  • Blog posts and landing pages that customers spent the most time on
  • Pages that contributed to bounce rate (could this be because of lack of direction, poor content or broken links)?
  • Content that increased leads and sales

This list isn’t exhaustive and will depend on the goals you established at the outset. Once you know your goals, you know what data you’re interested in drilling down into.

3. Find the gaps in your content

What should you be writing about but aren’t? One way to do this is by looking at other company’s content. Figure out who your competitors are and what type of messages they use on their blog and social media channels, then compare them with yours. Fundamentally, what are your audience interested in that you could engage them in through well-written content?

4. Plan and write your content

With the preliminary research done, you can plan your content strategy. Create a calendar of when you will post, who will post and what you will post – and across which channels. Not only that; how will you promote it? Your data will inspire this schedule depending on which platforms get the most results depending on the message you’re trying to communicate, and how often (and what times) works best for your audience.

When writing, you can also use your data to work out what kinds of language, headers, hashtags, subjects and media (text, videos, images…) get the best results.

5. Test your content

Most of your data will come post-campaign, but while you’re writing you can try out certain options to truly see what gets the best results. For instance, send the same email with different subject lines to two different segmentations of your newsletter list. This is called A/B testing and Neil Patel has a great post on how to A/B test your content marketing strategy.

When posting on social media channels, use a different hashtag and see what gets the most engagement or shares. A good example of this is Nike’s #makeitcount campaign that ran alongside their TV adverts during the Olympics in 2012.

6. Measure your content

Make an effort to measure your content. This is vital. If you want to know how well your posts are performing then look at them from different angles: What do they do for traffic, leads or sales? How does each one encourage a conversation? Does any of your content go viral, and if so, which? What did you do differently that you could take forward into future campaigns?

When it comes to honing and improving your content marketing strategy, utilising the data at your fingertips should be your aim. Data is all around us, and you can get to it with the click of a button. The only impediment might be time, but if you create realistic and measurable goals you can start small and track the results, gradually building this into your marketing strategy over time the more you see your return on investment grow.

Header image: Franki Chamaki on Unsplash

Embedded image: on Unsplash, Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash, Burst on Unsplash

Wendy Woodhead

Wendy is the Account Director at Copify and a qualified copywriter and proofreader. She has spent six years copy editing and copywriting for B2B and B2C clients and has experience in freelance and in-house arts marketing and digital content creation. Wendy likes to write about language and literature, digital marketing, history, current affairs, and arts and culture. In her spare time she enjoys yoga, reading and writing fiction.

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