Content marketing has received a lot of coverage in the business media and blogosphere for its power to cultivate strong relationships with current and prospective customers. What many people don’t realize, however, is that it generates a wealth of data that can help marketers increase the effectiveness of their content initiatives. From page email opens and web page visits to click-throughs and downloads, today’s marketers have access to a mountain of data they can use to increase their effectiveness.
There’s no excuse for making content strategy decisions based on hunches any more.
What can this data reveal?
Content engagement data can provide you with a wealth of useful insights, which you can use minimize waste and focus your scarce time and resources, justify your investment in content marketing and identify new opportunities.
Here are some of the ways in which savvy content marketers are using data generated by their content initiatives to significantly improve their effectiveness. Which one can you adapt to your needs?
- Identify content that has received the greatest engagement from your audience, which you can repurpose or expand upon to extend its life
- Measure which variations of content are most popular with your target audience (A/B testing)?
- Measure sign up and conversion rates on landing pages
- Understand which topics and content formats are most popular with your target audience
Identify the best times and social channels for publishing your content
- Track the behavior of visitors as they return to your website
- Identify the influencers you should connect with to help amplify your messages to a larger audience
- Develop more accurate profiles of your target audience – based on the behavior their engagement data reveals
- Identify popular pieces of content that could reach a larger audience via native advertising or paid promotion
- Make the case for scaling back or eliminating content types that are not getting adequate engagement (everyone has their “pet” project that they will defend to the death. Data can help you justify the death of these unproductive content projects).
- Create personalized experiences for key prospects and customers.
- Develop rich storytelling opportunities from the data you’ve collected and the inferences you can draw from it.
- Track the performance of your guest posts and external content, to help you zero in on the best platforms where you can share your expertise.
- Identify your marketing staff or outside contributors whose articles get the greatest engagement, and have your other contributors seek to emulate his or her writing and storytelling style.
- Refine the topics you’re writing about to better focus on the needs of your target audience.
- Determine the optimum length of content that resonates with your target audience.
- Measure and compare the number of leads and inquiries generated by each marketing channel. Focus on those that deliver the best ROI.
- Create content or reports based upon the data you have compiled. Companies like Uber, Mint, OKCupid and Optimizely do a masterful job of this.
- Tailor your content strategy to accommodate evolving customer trends.
As you can see, there are a wealth of ways in which you can use data to enhance your content marketing initiative. But don’t get overwhelmed by all of the possibilities. Pick several that are aligned with your marketing priorities and use the insights you gain to increase the effectiveness of your customer communication. Then select the next group and repeat this process.
Content is a great way to fuel your marketing. The term “content marketing” is simply the practice of creating and sharing media (or the written word) in order to bring in new customers — and then keep them coming back to you for more.
There are myriad reasons why content marketing is important in today’s business world, but three stand out to me…
We hear about SEO (search engine optimization) all the time in the marketing industry. Search engine providers (most importantly, Google) base website rankings on their SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) more than on the type of content appearing on the page. In fact, Google warned businesses for years that in order to improve their site’s rankings and visibility, they shouldn’t be spending their time link-building or keyword-loading and instead they should be dedicating the bulk of their efforts to writing good-quality, relevant content that customers want to read.
That is to say, by simply having a well-planned and executed content marketing strategy, you could significantly affect your site’s SERP ranking — all on your own. In fact, this is one of the most effective ways to “SEO” your site today. If you’re working with a company that doesn’t place content as one of the top factors in your SEO strategy, consider seeking an alternative.
Having a good content marketing strategy often revolves around having a blog as a part of your website. This is but one of the many components of a good content marketing strategy, but it’s a great place to start.
Now, when I talk with clients and business owners about the benefits of having a blog on their site, very often their eyes open wide with fear. They immediately imagine spending hours every day doing research for articles or writing lengthy white papers. The good news, I tell them, is that it doesn’t have to be like that.
The most important thing for a blog to have is: something to say — and the forum to say it clearly.
If a business can put something relevant on its site with some kind of frequency, that’s the key. It doesn’t have to be pages and pages long; it can be a simple article share with a paragraph or two of commentary. Maybe it’s just something new or cool in your industry, or a how-to post you can share with readers. You can easily write blog posts in-house, or outsource the writing if you or your staff don’t have the time or interest to do it.
Once you get some basic content onto your site’s blog, you can share it via social media to increase engagement with your customers.
Sites with effective content via blog posts are exponentially more likely to have people stay on their site longer — and return for future inquiries.
By engaging with potential customers via truly helpful content, your business becomes a trusted resource instead of merely a company trying to sell something. That reputation keeps people coming back to YOU when it’s time to buy.
- Brand Synchronicity
By utilizing a smart content marketing strategy, you can be certain that how you’re presenting yourself in the marketplace is uniform and is what your customer is looking for. Having good content that tells your company’s story across multiple channels is not only a suggestion in the industry today, but a requirement. Speaking with a content marketing firm will ensure that your story is consistent and told in the most effective way.
When getting started with content marketing, it is best to begin with a brand exercise to understand what story needs to be told to be effective in your particular marketplace. Then work with your marketing team to apply this unique perspective in a multi-channel solution that promotes your brand and makes sure that everything is consistent across all the various media channels.
Too many times, I meet clients who don’t take the time to create a content marketing strategy, so their messages via television, digital media, web, direct mail, etc., are disjointed and ineffective. Often times, we can help with a simple fix — and that begins with good content. A solid content strategy FUELS your site SEO, social engagement and overall brand synchronicity.
If you’re ready to get started with content marketing for your business or if you’ve got questions about anything I’ve discussed above, let’s connect on LinkedIn.
John Parrish – Director of Business Development
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