Data. For a four letter word, it holds a lot of power, especially when it comes to content marketing campaigns. The challenge with data is that it is meant to help us understand our human audiences, but is ironically built out of 0s and 1s. Okay, maybe it is more complex than 0s and 1s (I am, after all a writer and marketer, not a coding genius, but the metaphor remains).
Data might be concrete. Data might even be helpful. But, data isn’t everything. It can help us analyze our content marketing campaigns, but that doesn’t mean that it can or should replace our need for human connection, especially when it comes to marketing. I feel like an iRobot reference is needed here.
Spooner: So, Dr. Calvin, what exactly do you do around here?
Dr. Susan Calvin: My general fields are advanced robotics and psychiatry. Although, I specialize in hardware-to-wetware interfaces in an effort to advance U.S.R.’s robotic anthropomorphization program.
Spooner: So, what exactly do you do around here?
Dr. Susan Calvin: I make the robots seem more human.
Spooner: Now wasn’t that easier to say?
The point of the above reference is twofold. 1) iRobot didn’t deserve its 57% Rotten Tomato score. 2) While helpful, data often makes things more complex than they have to be, much like Dr. Susan Calvin’s explanation of her job. So, the question that remains, is “how do we use data to effectively help our content marketing campaigns, without drowning in a metaphorical sea of 0s and 1s?”
Using Data To Your Advantage
The effective use of data within content marketing campaigns begins with these three best practices:
1. Use Data to Understand Your Audience. Data can provide useful information to help you build accurate customer personas. However, the catch 22 to remember is that every person is an individual. Data can only take you so far. The personal connection that your marketing and sales teams need to achieve for bottom line success will require more than “good data intel.” That being said, do use data to gather the following types of customer insights:
- Customer reactions to existing content.
- Favorite types of content for each customer.
- A customer’s preferred method of communication.
- The media channels that customers are most often using (especially when interacting with your company).
- Customer browsing habits (keeping in mind that many customers, such as myself are often taken on bizarre Internet searches as part of their work responsibilities).
2. Use Data To Understand Digital Results. Online marketing campaigns have seemingly countless data points. Unfortunately, much like too many chefs in the kitchen on Thanksgiving, there isn’t enough wine to go around. To put it more bluntly, when there are too many data points, the gathered information can often become convoluted or, at the very least, contradictory. Fortunately there is a way around this dilemma: use data to answer specific digital questions. While not every company will ask the same questions, a few popular ones to keep in mind include:
- How many people visit your website on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis?
- How long and what pages do people visit most often?
- What percentage of your visitors is in your target geographic location?
- Did specific content marketing tactics drive higher website traffic or social media engagement levels?
- What percentage of visitors are converted into customers and / or active leads?
3. Use Data To Measure Success. Data can and should be used to measure the success of your content marketing campaigns. However, data isn’t the only thing that can measure the success of a campaign. For example, your post might have only gotten one like; but perhaps that like was from a customer who was thinking about taking their business to your competitor, and thanks to your post decided to stick around.
While the data for this post isn’t the best (in terms of success rate), it does teach us an important lesson: sometimes we must look past the statistic to truly understand the impact of our content marketing efforts. With this in mind, data can help us to create a broad picture, before drilling down into specifics. It does this by providing vital content performance insights into:
- The number of blog visits.
- Time spent on a page.
- Bounce rate.
- Number of comments (remember to always look at the type of comments, as well as any trickle down impact that they might have).
- Number of shares and mentions.
- Number of times inbound links are used.
- Additional press coverage.
- Number of conversions and generated leads over the lifetime of the content marketing campaign (or individual piece).
Leverage Data, But Don’t Become Overwhelmed
Much like spending too long preparing for a date (simply choose an outfit and walk out the door, if your date doesn’t like it, then it probably won’t work out in the long run), so too can data ruin the potential for something great. Data doesn’t have to be overwhelming; in fact, if you have so much data that you don’t know what to do with it, then chances are it has become more harmful than helpful. Use data to your advantage by knowing where you need to gain additional insights into your content marketing campaigns.
This simple strategy can easily be applied to understanding your audience, your digital marketing results, and of course your levels of success. Remember, data might be a powerful four letter word, but it will never be as powerful as another four letter word … love. The love that your customers have for your company far outweighs any data that you might gather; and love, my friends, can only be achieved via human connection.
Laura P has written 4,000+ articles, blog posts, product reviews, press releases, and website content for a multitude of clients. In the past 7 years, she has developed written, marketing, video, and web content for clients in the real estate, information technology, restaurant, auto, retail, equine sales, oil and gas, and public relations industries. Laura is highly proficient in SEO optimization, particularly in real estate and retail industries. She ghost wrote IT white papers, government contract task orders, RFIs, and RFPs that resulted in millions of dollars won. She has 7-years of experience working with and interviewing olympic athletes, small-business owners, CEOs, SMEs, and entrepreneurs on complex topics. As a professional writer, Laura strives to create content that is both meaningful and relatable to her readers.