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Content marketing is often viewed as a right-brain aspect of marketing. While technical people might enjoy the bidding of paid search or the schema data of SEO, content is a realm where people get creative and come up with their best viral ideas. However, content marketing, when done well, uses a mixture of the creative right brain and the strategic left-brain — especially in the world of Big Data. More brands than ever are tapping into concrete statistics and information to formulate ideas, and it’s working.
Not only can data give you inspiration for content, it can also give marketers the information they need to make their strategies succeed. Here’s everything you need to know about using data to boost your content marketing results.
Image via Flickr by Didriks
Most companies have a general idea of who their target audience is. It’s not rocket science to know that a nail salon caters to women or a paid search software vendor caters to marketing departments. However, behavioral analysis makes your view of your target audience more nuanced to discover the differences between your customers.
If the paid search software vendor mentioned above was trying to generate sales by speaking with marketing departments, then a behavioral analysis could develop three or four personas within each company, such as:
Middle managers who first engage with the software online or at a conference
Senior managers and VPs who must agree to the cost and contract
Lower-level employees who manage the day-to-day operations and use the product the most
As you can see, behavioral analysis works like a microscope zooming in on a target audience to discover smaller audiences within.
Each of these personas behaves differently. The middle-manager wants to thoroughly vet a vendor before pitching it to the VP, while the executive only wants a high-level overview of how it will benefit the company. Meanwhile, lower-level employees need tutorials and walk-through since they’re the ones using the tools every day. By identifying the personas, you can brainstorm multiple content needs for your company to land a sale and onboard a client.
When used correctly, data creates a roadmap for your marketing strategy. Consider your customer’s buying cycle. After they convert, how long does it take them to buy from your brand again? Are they likely to come back later that month, or do they only use your services a few times per year?
Some companies actually build their target audiences around customer behavior instead of typical demographics like income level or services needed. Your regulars and your best customers engage with your brand differently than new or fair-weather buyers so the messaging is totally different. Loyal customers want new product news or exclusive deals while distant customers need wooing back to the business.
Data also helps when forming content plans that differentiate between new and returning customers. It costs five times as much to attract a new customer as to keep an existing one, which dramatically affects budgets and ROI. Furthermore, existing customers spend 31 percent more on average and are 50 percent more likely to try new products. Comparing this third-party data with your own demographics help you launch new products with a targeted plan to boost sales.
No one wants to think about their content failing, but it’s something that happens to every marketing team at some point. When this happens, you have two choices, either keep promoting the content in hopes that it gains traction or leave it in the archives and move on.
This is another opportunity for facts to give you insight into what to do next. Evaluate the content to see why it’s not performing. Are your social media posts not generating clicks? Are people bouncing shortly after they land on the page? If the issue is getting customers to the content, then it may be worth promoting. However, if customers are engaging with the content and bouncing quickly, then it may be time to move on.
This promotional data helps you generate the most ROI for your brand. If you promote a piece, then you’re able to increase the value of the content over time. Similarly, if you don’t, then you’re able to stop wasting money and move on to more effective promotional ideas.
It’s hard to admit when something has failed, especially if it was a labor of love, but it’s a necessity for all marketers who want to move on and go viral in the future.
The last step in the content process is always evaluation, and content marketers have a tendency to focus on what went viral in the short term instead of what produced results in the long term. Instead of focusing on high-level data like traffic, shares, and clicks, take a deeper dive into the funnel to see what content has generated sales over time. A few KPIs that you can consider include:
Percent traffic that returns after viewing your content (days and weeks after)
Pages viewed from traffic that lands on your content
Leads and sales generated from content
A viral piece of content does wonders for traffic and brand awareness, but another piece that keeps viewers on your website for several minutes and leads them to click around to other pages has long-term benefits to your sales and SEO.
Not all these KPIs are easy to track, especially for B2B companies where a sale takes several weeks or months. However, by looking deeper into the data you can differentiate between content that drives traffic to your website and content that drives revenue.
It doesn’t take a mathematician to run a content marketing campaign, but a basic understanding of analytics and strategy increases your company’s traffic quality and boosts sales. By exploring personas and purchase paths, you’re on the way to a better understanding of why your content goes viral so you can create more impressive pieces.