Data-Driven Content Marketing

Michał Suski
January 22, 2021

Inside this article:

Day by day, it's becoming more evident how data can revamp content marketing strategies and empower businesses and brands to make headways when it comes to providing unique customer experiences and engaging customers in meaningful conversations.

Not very long ago, the content creation process heavily relied on creativity, and the most creative content marketers were most in-demand by brands. While creativity remains a huge contributor to any content strategy, it's no longer the only equation component. It's sort of taking the back seat now, if you will, while data is taking over the driving seat.

How does data-driven content marketing work? And why should your content marketing strategy be data-driven?  Let's give you some answers!

What Does It Mean to Be Data-Driven?

First things first, let's get the definitions out of the way. Data-driven approaches aren't only applied to content marketing – in fact; they're applied on higher strategic levels by companies too.

When a business employs a data-driven approach, that means that the decision-making process is based on data analysis and interpretation instead of intuition and assumptions. In other words, data is the action-driver for more informed decisions.

What Is Data-Driven Content?

Going a step back, let's revise what content marketing is. According to the Content Marketing Institute, it's "a strategy to market products and services by creating and disseminating valuable, relevant, and consistent content that attracts and retains a targeted population of buyers for specific services or products."

When we refer to data-driven content, that means that the content creation process heavily relies on data obtained directly from customer profiles or buyer personas to make the marketed material valuable, relevant, and consistent – precisely as the definition dictates.

E. g: if you surveyed your customers on a new product offering on social media or through email content, you could use data you collected to create targeted and effective content marketing campaigns.

Basically, the idea is that by understanding customers' behaviors, preferences, and pain points, you're able to personalize the content, produce the right content formats, and connect deeper with your audience.

In essence, by collecting more customer data and analyzing it using analytics tools, like Google Analytics, you paint a more accurate picture of your audience and refine your personas accordingly – which ultimately influences your content marketing strategy and execution.  

How Do You Write Data-Driven Content?

To write data-driven content, it needs to speak to the readers, which are your customers. It needs to be engaging enough to lead to an action - be it a comment, reaction, share, purchase, subscription, or more, depending on your metrics for conversions. To do just that, every sentence must be carefully thought out and provide value for customers – gone are the days when fluff worked!

Therefore, it's best to hire writers who are subject-matter experts in your industry to be able to "connect" with your customers and showcase you in a credible light. If the credibility aspect is missing, you'll only be left with a high bounce rate and no engagement or conversions.

What if that's not an option and you're writing yourself? Then you need to conduct proper research on not only what's trending in your industry but also what's converting readers. And after that, you need to have a unique take on those content topics while writing them – introduce a new angle, share a different perspective, and similar, to make it unique, relevant, and engaging.

Where to Find Ideas for Content Marketing?

Since we're living in a digital world, we luckily have unlimited access to resources, making it extremely easy to get inspired by content ideas if you knock at the right doors. So, where can you find these doors to come up with successful content?

You want to start by looking at what the rest of the industry is doing – what are your competitors writing about? Which blog posts are the top ones? If your target audience resembles that of the site you're looking at, take notes and jot down how you can provide the same output but in a unique way that drives engagement.

Another way that works every time is by using listening tools. Most of the time, customers are actually outright giving you content ideas, if you only listen! Check out what conversations your customers are participating in, what topics interest them most, what questions they have, and gather as much information as you can. Similarly, tools for social media listening can give you an edge!

Moreover, stay up-to-date with the buzzwords and keywords of your industry and competitors. With adequate keyword research, you can hop on the trend on the topics with the highest search volume and increase your brand awareness. Plus, setting up Google Alerts with the most common keywords used in the industry and relevant to you and your company is among the really handy methods.

How to Create a Content Brief Manually?

In a nutshell, a content brief gathers all the information you need to create a piece of content. As long as it contains all the necessary information, its structure won't really matter. What does matter, though, is that many content creators and writers neglect to factor in SEO requirements.

Therefore, what you should aim to do is provide adequate editorial instructions and information, including how you envision the performance of the content and its plan, and at the same time, just enough search engine optimization data, including title tags, linking recommendations, anchor texts, meta-descriptions, and keyword lists. You don't want to be too skewed in either direction!

Here's a checklist of key elements that should be included in your brief:

  • Customer information (target audience/persona)
  • Brand voice and tone
  • Content message
  • Which stage in the marketing funnel the content is targeting
  • Suggested topics/content format
  • Word count
  • Internal and external linking suggestions
  • Title and headings
  • Target keywords

Why Data-Driven Content?

Content marketing strategies require resources, time, and budget. When you don't leverage analytics, like Google Analytics, you opt to go with your gut and develop a content strategy based on assumptions instead of facts and data, which can be risky.

There's no guarantee that the content will resonate with your customers, and with that, you're not only harming your brand perception but also not optimizing your resources. That's precisely why data-driven content is the better option, entirely eliminating the possibility of wasted resources.

By making use of data analytics, you're able to pinpoint your target audience, the content types they prefer, their channel-specific behaviors, when they're active on social media platforms, people and influencers they trust, and much more.

With such information at your fingertips on a platter of gold, you can only imagine the difference it makes in engagement rates, user experience, conversions, and overall brand performance. This approach can be applied to any kind of business, here you will find more details on content strategy for e-commerce.

Simply, data-driven content boosts your key performance indicators as well as your rankings, which brings us to the next point.

High ROI Thanks to Better SEO Performance

With the advancement of search engine capabilities, like Google, taking your rankings higher is no longer about keyword stuffing and producing tons of content on your website. Actually, the easiest way for better SEO performance today is by creating your content in accordance with the different stages of the funnel.

So, when you, your content marketer, or even marketing team, think of the next blog post and stop to think about why you're writing that blog article, who it's speaking to, what value it provides, and what objective it achieves for your brand, traffic and conversions will come naturally since sufficient data analysis was performed instead of creating content just for the sake of doing it.

When you think of it, SEO is really ultimately built around data, so when you employ that very same data into your content marketing strategy, you'll effortlessly create web content that ranks in search results – be it landing pages, social media content, case studies, blog posts, and more.

You'll never be blown off-course as long as you have a data-driven content marketing strategy in place!

Automating Ideation and Execution Using Surfer

It's not uncommon for companies and marketers to feel overwhelmed by the relatively lengthy process of integrating data-driven content in their marketing strategy. Part of that feeling is attributed to the amount of work involved and the data analysis required, which isn't as easy as it seems; in fact, it can sometimes feel like you need data scientists to help you.

But, who said you have to do it yourself? Of course, you certainly can – but once again, we're in the era of digital, which is why automation is here to save the day. Using Surfer, you can easily automate the ideation and execution process of your data-driven content marketing strategy. In no time, you'll be clicking with your audience with just the right type of content like never before.

Let's see how it works.

Content Planner for Building Topical Relevance

While it's true that your domain authority ultimately shapes your search engine rankings, and that includes the age of your site, backlinks, your brand's awareness and recognition, and more, those aren't the only recipe for success.

You can alternatively build the domain authority of your website by continuously being "relevant" to your customers, and the more you do so, the more you cement your position as a site with strong topical relevance in your industry and niche.

The result? Google picks up on your robust domain authority! Simple, right? All you need to do is publish massive amounts of content on the same topic or under the theme.

Sounds good, but still – how do you do it? Doesn't that still involve keyword analysis, choosing the type of content to write, deciding on the topics, and everything else we've discussed? Yes, absolutely. But Surfer's Content Planner is ready to take that load off your shoulders with a tap of a button.

Just give the Content Planner a few minutes, and it'll be able to provide you with all the data you need for a given topic cluster – on your end, all you need to do is enter your main keyword and choose the location of your company and target audience.

Just like that, the tool will use data to provide you with a data-driven list of topic ideas that should keep your strategy covered for months to come, including the primary and secondary keywords you need to incorporate to rank your site and make the conversions happen.

And don't worry about not being able to interpret the data and apply those results and recommendations to your site. Simply, each box will just contain a keyword list to target with just one content piece to meet the users' search intent – be it informational content, commercial investigation, local intent, or shopping intent.

That's all you need to establish your data-driven content marketing strategy – Surfer's Content Planner, targeted keywords, and location! Fine, but what if you're still lost on what exactly to include to engage the audience, attract traffic to your website, and rank? In between the keywords, what do you write?

That's where Surfer's Content Editor comes in to help you with the execution.

Content Editor for Executing SEO Optimized, Data-Driven Content

With Surfer's Content Editor's support, you can seamlessly create guidelines for the keywords the Content Planner produced – right from the dashboard.

By opening a given cluster and simply selecting "Create Content Editor", you're presented with an in-depth list of prominent terms to use in your content or blog article, questions that your audience and people frequently ask that you should answer, headings that you should tackle, and more.

Plus, you can monitor the clusters' progress by checking their content score based on Surfer's recommendations. The higher the score, the higher the organic traffic to your site, the more the audience, and the sky's the limit when it comes to conversion rates.

What's the guarantee for results? Or how does it even work? Reverse engineering!  Surfer reverse engineers the top fifty search engine results for your keyword while assessing more than 500 factors that contribute to your ranking, so there's no guesswork involved – just data based on sites that are already ranking!

Needless to say that other than the very tangible benefits your company and website enjoy by using these two tools, you'll maximize the resources of your company by saving tremendous time and effort that you would've otherwise spent on brainstorming for months on how to create a data-driven content marketing strategy and optimize your site to its fullest potential.

Not to mention, even in doing so, there was still no way to guarantee that the content you're producing is relevant to your people. Yet, by relying on Surfer's tools, you're guaranteed ideas that not only search engines want but also your users, since data-driven content marketing is at the core of their functioning.

So, ready to unlock the door to unlimited failproof ideas for your content marketing strategy and see the performance differences yourself?  

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