5 Ways Data-Driven Content Marketing is Evolving

Blog | 08 Feb, 2018

Content marketing spends are predicted to rise and data-driven content marketing strategies have gone from an industry buzzword to daily reality, with savvy marketers using various data sources to inform their campaign throughout its life cycle. Now, it’s a case of evolving the way content marketing uses data to be smarter, more efficient and drive better value.

So, how is this going to play out? We predict five content-data trends that are going to take off in 2018:

1. Focus on what matters

First of all, we expect the use of data to become more focused on metrics that really matter. We now have so many data points available, from sentiment analysis through to attribution, and we’re often able to surface information relatively quickly and easily. For data-driven marketers, the last few years have been like being a kid in a sweet shop!

Now, we’re paring down - looking only to those data points that offer meaningful insights and bespoke measurement metrics, which are aligned with KPIs. Sometimes, by measuring less, we make it easier to cut through the noise and understand what’s happening with the factors that really matter. And, by streamlining regular reporting and analysis, it’s easier to make measurement a vital and frequent part of a campaign.  

2. Put audience motivations and behaviour at the heart

Audience analysis has moved on from simply having basic demographic segmentation as its basis to looking at real behaviour and interests. Now, using sophisticated tools like Brandwatch and Google Surveys 360 along with third-party data, we can dive into what customers are really thinking and saying - exploring their key motivations, needs, pain points and decision-making process.

This can then be overlaid with CRM data to analyse customer value and purchase cycles, which will give a deeper understanding of who should be targeted, when and with what messaging.Expect to see this behaviour-driven insight become the heart of content marketing strategies, enabling seamless multi-channel campaigns.

3. Underpinning campaigns with ongoing insight

In the past, research was conducted at the start of the campaign, and then revisited periodically. Or, ongoing measurement tended to be restricted to top-level brand and competitor metrics like share of voice. However, data analysis and insights aren’t just the starting points of content marketing campaigns.

What we’re seeing now is that once marketers understand which key areas provide the richest insights, these are becoming an integral part of campaign management. This enables content marketers to keep up with changing customer interests and any mindset or behavioural trends, which makes it easy to spot any emerging trends and produce reactive and relevant content. Over time, this means messaging will be constantly refined and distributed accordingly to ensure optimal performance.

4. Data-based storytelling

Of course, data isn’t just useful at the beginning and end of campaigns - data-driven storytelling can unearth compelling narratives that grab attention from not only consumers, but also the press.

As well as seeing content marketers use their original and third-party research to tell data-based stories, the development of close relationships between the marketing and data science teams means that customer data is going to become more prominent in campaigns. Whilst controversial, Netflix’s recent campaign showed how effective the use of consumer data can be. It taps into our underlying curiosity - who doesn’t want to know how their own habits or preferences stack up against their neighbours?

Data visualisations will remain popular, and as content marketers have become more familiar with them, we expect to see their integration with bigger, issue-led campaigns to add insight to human-interest stories, like the publisher Vox’s Borders series.

Excitingly, this is where we can see traditional silos between ‘creative’ and ‘analytical’ approaches and teams break down, to create robust, engaging campaigns that speak to the customer.

5. More sophisticated use of measurement metrics

For a long time, traffic, time on page and bounce rate have been standard content marketing metrics, but we predict that these will be refined as content marketers realise that campaigns need bespoke measurement.

Bounce rate is often one of the core metrics that content marketers use to measure success, but it isn’t always appropriate. For example, if you are a recipe site where people have the recipes up as they are cooking or you sell products with long buy cycles and content marketing is part of your retention strategy, then you might see a lot of one-page visits, and this doesn’t necessarily mean that your content is failing.

The flip-side is that content marketers are likely to become more aggressive about situating high value CTAs in their content, whether that’s signing up for a full report, the mailing list, booking a demo or making an enquiry.

Similarly, we envisage more content marketers will really get to grips with Google Analytics segmenting by high-value audiences and understanding the role that content marketing plays in assistant conversions, repeat purchases and building long-term customer loyalty.

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