Does Your Content Marketing Strategy Tell a Data-Driven Story?

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Content marketing boils down to one simple question: what story is your brand telling?

According to CMI’s 2015 Benchmark Report, 55 percent of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget in the next 12 months—essentially, pouring more money into telling their brands’ stories.

Most, if not all, companies know the importance of storytelling, but few have figured out how to tell them in engaging, altruistic and entertaining fashions. Indeed, the same benchmark report shows the top challenge facing B2B marketers today is producing engaging content. So how do you know what story to tell? And is there a way to use data to back it up?

Turning Data Into Trends

With all marketing initiatives, digital or otherwise, it’s crucial to conduct research to build your strategy’s foundation. With so many voices and interruptions in the digital space, simply guessing what your audience cares about is not enough.

Content Marketing Research

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An intimate understanding of who your audience is, what they’re looking, where to find them, and how to deliver the most effective message is often the difference between success and failure.

Let’s focus on the “what” part of content creation – what is the story? What does the audience care about? At Relevance, we call this a trends assessment. A trends assessment goes beyond keyword research and search volumes to better understand the dialogue happening in your space and, ultimately, how your brand can find a voice in the conversation. The key here is finding an opportunity for your brand to contribute to a conversation that matters to the target audience.

Compile the most engaging content in your space through tools such as Google Trends or Buzzsumo. The more content you analyze, the more accurate your analysis will be – however, it can be a time-consuming process so choose relevant, successful content.

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Qualitative and Quantitative Metrics

Once you’ve pulled trending content to assess, you essentially have your own database to establish qualitative and quantitative metrics and create a bank of information to best inform your strategy.

Use hard data to identify trending content patterns through key metrics. Consider a format for this content database such as the one below:

Content Marketing Database

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While all goals of content marketing initiatives are unique to each brand, consider the following ways to set up your own trends assessment. The chart below illustrates possible metrics to assess each piece of content:

Metrics to Assess Content Marketing

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Response Analysis:

Understand the audience’s conversations – what is the difficulty level of a content piece? Is it tactical or strategic? What types of calls-to-action resonate best with the audience?

Angle Identification:

What are the forms, voices, popular social media outlets and dynamic features that make for the most compelling and engaging content? These factors elevate a keyword-driven piece of content to a something that readers engage with and share.

Topic Identification:

What are the trend and subtopics being searched and discussed across the digital landscape and how do these relate to previously identified keywords? Specific pain points and audience needs can be understood through long-tail keyword searches that address poignant questions. These are great opportunities for targeted pieces of content.

Content Marketing Topic Identification

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Compelling Questions Identification:

What content can you create that will answer the most compelling questions in the most engaging way?

Resources Cited:

How is information shared in this industry, what are the most reliable resources and who are the overarching figures of authority? Track cited studies and notable advanced content that is linked to.

Quoted Experts Identification:

How do industry experts and influencers interact as a trusted source of information between both business and customer?

Content Marketing Research: Don’t Forget the Who, Where and How

Now that you’ve mastered the trends assessment – or the ‘what’ question – consider three other types of content marketing assessments: audience, media and competition, to even further inform your brand’s data-driven story.

For more tactical information on the audience, media and competitive assessments, check out the Quick Guide for Content Marketing Research.

This is a guest post by Megan Schuman. Megan is a Content Strategist at Relevance. She produces data-driven digital marketing strategies for brands looking to improve their organic search results, create engaging content for the target audience and enhance the overall user experience through both content and SEO opportunities. Megan is a high-energy, creative thinker with a strong background in creative writing and storytelling.

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