Right now, less than 10% of companies use data in an effective and meaningful way, in order to ‘speak’ to their customers needs and wants. Tools like web analytics only do half of an important job – once you have acquired, parsed, filtered and mined your data, what on earth do you do with it?
Solving that particular puzzle could reap significant rewards, but managing it properly is something of a skill in of itself. Here were we help you map out a winning strategy to fuel your data-driven content marketing.
One – Collect the right data
Farming massive amounts of data is no good if it isn’t helping you in any way – for example, do you really need to know that the majority of your web visitors are male, when all you are doing is selling pencils? That particular piece of information is not going to help you sell more writing instruments. If the data you are collecting is not of value, then remove that data from the equation.
On the other hand, the data you collect may not be detailed enough – knowing that a sizeable portion of your audience likes pizza, for example, is all well and good but what if they only like one kind of topping, and despise the rest?
Data are only valuable if useful – but identifying truly useful data is an absolute must.
Two – Exploit as many data sources as you can
Collecting and creating truly useful data is tricky and takes grit, determination and an open door policy. Well, maybe not wide open, but you know what I mean. There is no need to reinvent the wheel here, just make use of the tools that are available to you.
There are a plethora of destinations where open data sources are available for you to exploit and harvest. We’ll cover this in a lot more detail in an upcoming blog post but for starters you can consider the following few areas as an example:
- Govt data- www.data.gov.uk or www.data.gov to access government data sets
- Regional data- London Data Store or Office for National Statistics
- Social data and data aggregators Infochimps, Facebook Graph API, Foursquare API
- Open Data Portal – Socrata
- Search Engines for Data and Statistics- Zanran
- News- New York Times , Guardian Data Blog
Customer polls and questionnaires, on and offline, have a proven track record – and one that is hard to beat. Monitoring email activation rates is useful also, especially if you already have basic information about the people you are emailing.
Monitoring the comments on posts (from everywhere across your industry, not just the ones connected to you) can also unearth some interesting details.
Three – Make use of the media available
Using the data that you have collected, you can engage and inform the next wave of prospects – not just the ones that you are currently ‘wooing’. You can do this in ways that have been proven to work, time and again, and you can do it using the proven, valuable data that you have collected.
Data-driven visual communications Data visualisation, infographics and video. Three of the most powerful online media in existence, and they have been used ever since they were first conceived to sell everything from Bulbs to Boeings.
The vast majority of us are visual learners, and so the best way to present data to the eager viewer is by using visual communications, through:
- Static infographics
- Interactive infographics
- Animated infographics (motion graphics)
- Animated gifs (infogifs)
- Data visualisation
Data-driven infographics are much more readily consumed and understood than ones that are overly designed and distract viewers away from the relevance of the data being visualised. Their flexibility allows them to be published across many different channels and device sizes. In some instances, depending on how the majority of your viewers are expected to access content, For an infographic may be too large for most mobile device screens ( if produced in the standard vertical strip format), meaning that you run the risk of alienating a section of the market. In contrast, animated and ‘widget-style’ interactive infographics are perfect for the smaller screen – done properly; which is why it’s important to let the professionals handle this for you.
Three – Build, or outsource a multi-talented team
Having different teams to collate, decipher, present and then disseminate your data is counterproductive for a data-driven content marketing strategy. The more you can streamline the process, the better your results will be.
Each individual needs to understand the jobs of the other team members, to a degree, in order to be able to do their own jobs effectively. If coding, is going to be involved , for example, it is always beneficial to understand the limitations of what can be created ( skills, budgets, timeframes), before an amazing design is about to be submitted which needs to be developed within two days.
A data management team that can handle every aspect of the strategy is a team that is going to propel you forward much faster. Because they are working in unison with one another, on every part of the project, as opposed to working on just one small part of it, they are able to see the larger strategic picture, altering their own efforts ‘on the fly’ as the need arises.
If you decide to out-task to an external agency , ensure that they have a combination of data analysis, design, development, production and project management skills, are able to demonstrate collaborative working practices, can show the fruits of their labour via an up-to-date portfolio and are happy to provide references of recent clients. A benefit of working with an agency is that their creative juices will be flowing, their development skills will be finely tuned and they will be able to deliver on time and within budget, having worked on a variety of recent projects probably similar to yours.
Four – Pick your content marketing strategy battleground
With so many channels to syndicate, post and share to there is a challenge to find the right one. The trouble with so much choice, is that you cannot manage every channel effectively enough to make it worthwhile, or as good as they can be.
Determine which channels work for you, and ditch the rest. You will have to be ruthless, but you will have to do it. Keep an eye on your engagement statistics, which most platforms provide, and make your decision. Remember – 3 very high performing channels are better than 6 average ones.
Five – Engage and capture
Once you have the attention of the people who you are targeting, you need to keep them attentive. This is done by engaging with them, in whatever way seems the most appropriate to you and your business.
Visual content is very good at gaining the attention of the ‘right’ people, and these people will very often share and comment (data-graphics, next to static images of cats, are the most shared media on the planet – take advantage of that fact!) on these kinds of posts. Reports have shown that at one stage infographics shared on Twitter had 832% more retweets than images and articles.
Once a comment has been made, respond and start a conversation. Once it’s been shared, follow it if you can and comment on that new post. If you can’t follow it then make a new post, preferably at the end of the day or at least a few hours in, and ‘tag’ those that shared and thank them.
This is the way that relationships are built, and this what this whole effort has been about. People that trust you, that can talk one on one with you, are people who are going to buy from you.