A simpler way to approach data-driven content marketing

Getting started with data-driven content marketing

We’ve all seen the dashboards. The NASA-style command centers. The PowerPoint slides that promise perpetual up-and-to-the-right performance. We have all heard the promise of how data-driven content marketing is the difference between mediocre and amazing content marketing. The difference between promotions and budget cuts. The now and the future of content marketing. Et cetera, ad nauseam.

But in practice, there seems to be a big disconnect between the promise and the practical when it comes to data-driven content marketing and what it means for an organization.

In other words, while most marketers agree in the abstract (read: data should drive content marketing decision-making), a lot of marketers admit to getting stuck in the concrete.

Common roadblocks

Based on our experiences and observations, there are a few reasons why this happens:

  • Lack of agreement on what data to look at. Since a specific analytics strategy isn’t often set from the top of the organization, teams in various departments tend to latch on to definitions that make sense to them and cling to the platforms they are most comfortable with. The easiest-to-pull data sets the agenda and the tone and guides planning, for better or worse.
  • Abundance of data and a lack of insights. Lots of ability to export charts and graphs, but less ability to understand the nuances of what the data is signaling.
  • Lack of feedback from customer service and the sales force. There’s a disconnect between marketers creating strategies and tactics and those directly connecting with customers. When’s the last time you did a Zoom happy hour from someone in sales, and vice versa? (In fact, this disconnect is so pervasive and important we presented on the topic at Content Marketing World in 2019, which we wrote a report on here.)
  • Not tapping into external data sources to better understand a community or audience. Overlooking non-obvious competitors, consumption data from other publications, contextual search data, and most importantly, media consumption habits and preferences.

A practical approach to data-driven content marketing

The blessing and the curse of data is that there is plenty of it to go around. But there is a path forward that is less academic and more practical. In our experience, the best performing, data-driven content marketing programs provide the following lessons learned:

  • Stick to a few basic platforms that can provide directional indicators for a test-and-learn approach. Spend less time in demos from software companies promising the world, and focus more on what’s available in your own backyard. It can pay dividends. Odds are that you aren’t making the most out of the data you already have on hand.
  • In other words, instead of knowing everything about every aspect of a customer journey, focus your marketing on key moments to see if you have reached, engaged, and converted prospects into customers through content—even if that effort is simply using “table stakes” platforms such as Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager.
  • Have good old-fashioned meetings with customer service and sales leaders that focus on a simple set of questions on a regular basis: Why are we being told “no” in sales discussions? What are our customers’ top complaints and issues? Who are our customers turning to instead of us? Observations and anecdotes from the front lines are invaluable.
  • Focus on opportunities and execute on them rapidly, not a quarter from now. Content marketing teams that track trending search terms, which topics and articles are garnering the most amount of shares, and the most popular content being produced by direct competitors (the people we sell against) and indirect competitors (the people who also influence our community/audience) are better poised to compete and win attention in their markets.

There’s no comprehensive solution that will singularly help us understand the communities we sell to. Instead, it’s the aggregate effect of a lot of little pieces of data being looked at and discussed regularly that will help us create better content next time. And keep those charts going up and to the right, just as they should be.

Need a better idea of what content topic will reach, engage, and convert your community of prospects? Talk to Revmade today about our data-driven Pitch Memo service.

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