Good marketers collect a lot of data. From activity on your website to feedback from current clients to industry trends, your marketing team gathers a solid amount of information -- and probably uses it to guide decision-making. But if you aren’t also using that data to create thought leadership content, you’re missing out on significant value.
Why data is the backbone of content marketing.
When your content includes data from your own research, you’re establishing your credibility and authority to readers and positioning your company as a trusted industry leader. It shows that you’ve taken the time and made the effort to collect original data and create content that showcases it. Regurgitating information from another expert’s content isn’t hard, but that’s not your job as a marketer. You need to create -- not just curate -- content to build trust and credibility with your audience.
Because audiences want research, publication editors do, too. According to a survey my team conducted of more than 150 online publication editors, the most important quality of guest content is unique, insider advice backed up by data. Editors will reject your content if it lacks the research to substantiate it. When both readers and publication editors demand it in original content, data must be the backbone of your strategy.
How data fuels content marketing.
Beyond confirming for our team (and clients) that editors are looking for unique, research-driven content, our study revealed other insights that we’ve shared with our audience through projects that drive our content marketing.
First, we analyzed the findings and compiled them into a white paper called “The State of Contributed Content.” From that white paper, we’ve pulled insights to write in-depth blog posts and guest content, create slideshows and partner with other companies for webinars. We’ve even used the insights in sales proposals and keynote speeches by our CEO, John Hall. Each piece of content drives qualified readers farther down the funnel and enhances our overall strategy -- and it’s all made possible through data.
But you don’t have to conduct a comprehensive research project to use data in a successful piece of content. This post on the Buffer blog is an excellent example of content driven by data from internal analytics tools, not necessarily external data from other sources.
Steps for including data in your content.
To help you get started using data to power your content marketing initiatives, here are three steps my team and I use:
1. Publish your data in one piece of cornerstone content. Once you’ve gathered your data, publish your findings and insights in a piece of cornerstone content, such as a white paper or long-form blog post. This gives you a good standalone content project that you’ll link back to it in future content pieces, potentially boosting your SEO efforts while providing readers with a resource to reference your data in their own content.
2. Create mini campaigns around that content. Use a content map template to build miniature campaigns around specific data points or unique insights from that original content project, and create new content that explores those ideas. Creating mini campaigns allows you to craft each piece of relevant data into content that’s tailored to individual audiences and publications while also filling up your editorial calendar and optimizing your distribution efforts.
3. Track your content’s performance, and use that data, too. Analyzing your content’s performance shows you what’s working and what’s not, giving you more data to use in future mini campaigns. Track your analytics throughout to assess your performance. Make changes when necessary and include relevant findings in future content campaigns.
Data is the backbone of strong content-marketing initiatives. Including it in your content establishes your authority and helps you educate and engage your audience at each stage of your funnel. All good marketers collect data but the great ones put it to use with effective, data-driven thought leadership content.