3 practical ways to use data to inform and improve your content marketing strategy

Libby Margo in Email marketing on 4th of Sep 2019

Using data to improve your content marketing strategy

When it comes to marketing, there is often a constant battle between art and science. On the one hand, being able to back up your strategy with data and statistics demonstrates the effectiveness of content from your brand to customers.

On the other hand, marketing involves more than just dealing with numbers. By nature, your customers are driven by emotion and building a solid marketing strategy involves factoring in feelings and experiences to drive engagement.

When people think content, they often think creative. But in actual fact, successful content marketing is a mix of both creativity and data. In particular, the value of data in the context of content marketing cannot be overstated. In this article, we discuss 3 practical ways you can use data to drive your content marketing strategy.

Categorize pain points according to customer segments

The most effective content strategy begins by targeting the right audience. And to avoid sending the wrong message to the wrong person, marketers often group their customer database into smaller clusters of customers with similar characteristics. Marketers then develop marketing activities, including their content strategy, accordingly. A segment can be based on demographic factors such as age, gender, and location, or actions such as purchasing behavior and engagement with specific content. This process is known as segmentation.

Segmentation can help your business identify specific pain points that your customers face — and you can use these pain points to support data-driven content marketing. Identifying these pain points may involve:

  • Looking at customer reviews (more on that later in this article)
  • Listening to what your customers are saying on social media via social listening platforms such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Keyhole
  • Getting real-time feedback on live chat
  • Researching trends and updates specific to your industry

By observing the conversations your customers are having about your brand, product, or industry, you can extract their main concerns, problems, and objections. You can then use all this valuable data to shape your content marketing strategy for the next quarter.

Get a little help from influencers

As social media becomes a more integrated part of our customers’ lives, influencer marketing has exploded. You don’t need to pour through pages of data to know the cold hard truth: people are turning to their favorite Instagram models, Twitter personalities, and YouTube Creators for advice and recommendations.

Influencer marketing takes the idea of the traditional celebrity endorsement and places it into today’s content-driven marketing campaigns. And thanks to social media, influencers with highly-engaged fan bases are readily available to marketing teams and small businesses without asking for the big bucks associated with celebrities.

However, making data-driven decisions when it comes to finding the right influencer to partner with can be complicated. It’s just not just about contacting the influencers that some of your customers may be interested in. Instead, it’s about choosing influencers who can authentically vouch for your brand and your products.

The best way to judge whether or not an influencer will do both things is by looking at the content they post on their social media accounts, not their followers (or their follower count, for that matter). Additionally, you should also look for overlaps where their values and messaging align with your brand’s. You should be able able to identify their niche authority and the sort of issues they are passionate about.

It’s also a good idea to do a bit of background research on your influencer. In particular, you want to know if the influencer partners with other brands. And if so, how often do they do these partnerships? And has your influencer worked with any of your direct competitors?

Before you engage in a 12-month contract with your influencer, it’s a good idea to “try before you buy.” AB testing ads on Facebook is a good way to experiment with different campaign elements (in this case, an image of your influencer) to find out what would resonate with your audience. In the Autopilot journey below, 2 Facebook Ads are displayed to a test audience, with a 50-50 even split. The first ad will feature the influencer, while the second ad won’t.

After a few days, you can start to see whether or not it will be worth investing resources in the influencer — and you’ll be in a strong position to determine whether or not a partnership with them would be the right fit for your brand.

Use customer feedback to boost your content

Your customers are a smart bunch. And generally, they don’t believe every word that your business will say about what you do and what benefits you will bring them — even if you’re telling the truth.

On the other hand, your customers are likely to believe other people. It’s a no brainer: a friend or family member referring your services will be worth more to them and be weighted heavier in the decision-making process than any marketing wizardry you throw at them.

But what if no one you knew has used a product or service that you’re really interested in? According to SEO agency BrightLocal, online customer reviews are the next best thing. A study conducted by the agency found that 84% of online shoppers rate online customer reviews as reliable as a recommendation from a trusted friend, making customer feedback an important tool for marketers and business owners.

If your business has already received a handful of feedback, either on Google or a review site such as G2 Crowd, Capterra, TripAdvisor, or Zomato, then great! And if the majority of these reviews are positive, you can start turning them into stats. Here are some examples:

  • 9 out of 10 happy customers would highly recommend our services to a friend or family member;
  • 92% of our customers reported a “positive experience” after using our product; or
  • 88% of trialists have said they would purchase our software.

You can then start adding them on your website landing page, in your blog posts, and in premium content assets such as whitepapers, thought leadership pieces, and e-books.

But what if your business is still in its growth stage and you’ve yet to receive a single review? Start by asking your customers. We don’t mean emailing every single one of them and asking for their two cents — that will take way too long. Instead, use a marketing automation solution like Autopilot to create a system that will gather and analyze customer reviews for you.

Use the Autopilot journey below to automatically send an NPS survey to your trialists just before their trial is about to expire. Throughout the trial period (in this instance, it’s 30 days), drip emails are sent periodically to provide helpful product usage tips and set them up for success. With this journey, you can find out what went wrong at any point during the trial and use your trialists’ feedback to improve. And if your trialists leave nothing but glowing feedback, then congratulations, you have your first positive review!

Not only does this simple journey encourage your trialists to leave genuine reviews, but it can also help your business spot common themes in customer responses.

A data-driven content marketing strategy

When it comes to planning your next content marketing strategy, avoid the tendency to “go with your gut” and generate content that you think will resonate. Instead, a data-driven approach to content marketing can help your business avoid wasting resources by attempting to engage with the wrong customers in the wrong places.

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