Content and Analytics: A Strategic Combination

I wrote a few weeks ago about the four “Cs” of content:

  1. Choice. Make sure that people understand what data you are using, and why the use of it will provide more value to them.
  2. Customization. Send the RIGHT content (and yes, say it with me, in the right channel at the right time on the right device…).
  3. Connect. Recognize our customers as people, not just CRM records.
  4. Communicate. Personalized communications work smarter toward brand loyalty.

Focusing on the four “Cs” helps marketers transition from offers to solutions – where the recipient is engaged because the experience has moved from a sales pitch to valuable information exchange. Yet, as much as marketers would like to produce content that resonates and serve the people altruistically, at the end of the day we have performance metrics to meet and revenue numbers to hit. A successful content program will also invest in analytics to ensure that you are using the messaging, offers, format, and channels most likely to drive the most visitors and interactions.

You have many options on message, format (written, video, images, infographic, survey), style (humor, interactive, factual), and channel (search, email, social, display, affiliates). Unless you are testing, it’s usually not a good idea to spread your resource too thin. Instead, focus on the content and channels that perform best against your business objectives.

A recent survey by content marketing solutions provider BrightEdge found that organic search significantly outperformed other channels – driving 51 percent of website traffic versus 34 percent from “all other” channels (cited by the study authors as email, paid search, social, display, email, and referenced). The study did go further and look at revenue from each channel, and found that organic search continued to dominate, with paid search coming in much higher than its proportion of overall traffic. Meaning, the people coming from paid search are much more likely to close a sale than other channels. The study also found that rich media generated more interest and engagement than static, written copy, and often boosted a company’s overall search rankings.

Certainly, content that is not seen won’t generate results. There is a tremendous amount of competition out there – I’ve seen stats where every minute of the day there are more than 410,000 Tinder swipes, 3,500 images Pinned, 26,000 Yelp reviews posted, and 48,000 apps downloaded by Apple users. That doesn’t even count the gazillions of email messages, tweets, posts, and blogs out there. Breaking through is not going to happen by accident. Marketers must apply a data-driven approach to content marketing.

There is no data quantity problem. Some of us may have a data quality problem, or a data priority problem. But most of us do have a data insights problem. There is no standard formula. The best results will come from a blended approach of channels and content types that are both appealing to your most valuable audience members as well as varied enough to appeal to all types of customers and prospects.

A simple way to apply an analytics approach to your content marketing may start with:

  1. Choose your data wisely. Make sure it’s clean, applicable to your business needs, and formatted to your systems.
  2. Focus on results. A debate still rages if we need to know why something happened, or just that it did happen. As people, we may be curious to know why because it helps us feel comfortable with continued investment. However, what really matters is that something is working. If you invest $1 and get $1.25 back, do more of that. If you invest $1 and get $0.80 back, do a lot less of that. Insights will often reveal patterns that help us explain why, but that is not as important as the fact of the results.
  3. Be nimble. Knowing “why” can help you stop doing something before it starts to offer diminishing returns. Selling bathing suits at cost in August is a seasonal decision – and easily predicted. However, often we don’t know the reason why something is working, which is why we have to be diligent on the numbers all the time. Your insights engine can’t be a static, monthly view. You will never be able to keep ahead of the curve in a world where events around the world affect search results and new technologies and apps are abandoned almost as fast as they are introduced.
  4. Predict your next strategic move. Content marketing optimization is like a chess game, but with better predictive tools than most of our brains. Insights from the data help us predict trends, respond to customer involvement, and test new hypotheses.
  5. Apply the strategy to the best channels that work for you. And keep the cycle going in a lather, rinse, and repeat methodology.

It’s a safe bet that your website traffic is coming from a variety of sources – owned, earned, and paid. You can improve the results of your content marketing by applying an analytics-based approach and focusing on channel and format as much as topic.

How are you applying analytics techniques to your content marketing? What are the best-performing approaches for your business? Please comment below for discussion.

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