We develop blindness towards all sorts of advertising. When first introduced online, banner ads achieved a 50-90% CTR. Now the majority of people can’t stand them. Marketing effectiveness demands a change.
It’s not so much that various methods of marketing are inherently ineffective. It’s just that people get used to them, so marketers need to innovate. Data-driven marketing is one result of this ever-present need for change.
Why You Need to Have Data-Driven Marketing
The proliferation of information in our time might lead you to believe that companies are using data all the time in their marketing. However, they are not.
The Harvard Business Review reports that while infographics are now fairly standard, very few of them portray data that tells an original story. Marketers tend to use data for their own decision-making, but not for creating content that adds value to their customers.
That’s really too bad because the insight data offers can be quite interesting and even enriching. Solid, data-driven content gives your company credibility. If you have reliable facts backing up your opinions, people will see you as trustworthy. Another advantage is that your own knowledge will increase as you share information with other influencers.
Data can also have a lot of power simply from the fact that much content on the internet is mediocre. If your content has integrity—if it is original and accurate—it will stand out.
The companies that are best at marketing with data use it to appeal to people’s emotions. They present their data in format that is interesting to look at (hence the popularity of infographics), and ideally they put the information in the context of a story.Quote source
For the Google Trends “Year in Search 2015,” Google did an amazing job at turning data into a compelling story. The company presented the top searches of the year through a brief video. The opening text says, “In 2015 the questions we asked revealed who we are.”
The video goes on to show the questions people searched, such as “how can i help the refugees” and “how can we overcome prejudice,” interspersing the questions with pertinent footage from the year. The video used data not only to tell the individual stories behind the searches but also to tie them together into a larger narrative of unity within diversity.
Businesses run into trouble implementing data effectively for a number of reasons. First, there is simply an overwhelming amount of it. It can be difficult to know how to sort through and productively utilize all of a company’s accessible information.
Another potential pitfall is that sometimes those in charge incorrectly estimate the costs of gathering data. Sometimes information isn’t gathered correctly or analyzed thoroughly, and often there is poor or no communication across departments.
Silos are in fact a significant challenge to success, especially in larger companies. The larger a company grows, the greater the challenge to be unified and to communicate well about any goal. It’s also easy for businesses to lose sight of their goals if they are not relying on data for what their priorities should be and whether or not they are sidetracked from them.
It is critical to remember that data is not a solution in and of itself; it needs to be reliable. Kimberly Whitler of Forbes states, “If the data is bad—disorganized, incomplete, inconsistent, out of date—then the resulting decisions will be bad, too.” That’s why it’s important to have people at your company who understand how to find, analyze, and organize trustworthy data.
How to Leverage Data Effectively
As you seek to leverage data-driven content for your business, there are some specific principles you should keep in mind.
First, be strategic. Choose your data team carefully; it’s extremely valuable to have people from different departments and perspectives. Have a clear idea of your goals and KPIs so that you are mining your data with purpose.
Know the best channels to tap for the data you’re trying to attain. Is your audience primarily on Twitter? Then don’t waste time gathering information from Facebook or Instagram. Have good analytics models in place, as well as metrics with which to measure your results.
It should go without saying that your data should be as accurate as possible. Once you’ve collected enough information, use it to build customer personas that will lead to customer-focused content. Avoid silos by having cross-company goals, and evaluate and re-evaluate the data as you collect it.
Remember, data is most interesting and valuable to your customers when it is presented with visually appealing, quality content. Fortunately, quality content is exactly what Google is looking for and is one of the main ways you can get Google to index your site.
Neil Patel notes that having a blog is one important way to increase site traffic: “websites with blogs get an average of 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links.”
Good content is interesting enough on its own, but having evidence to back up the content makes your position even more powerful. It’s also worth observing that Patel uses multiple infographics throughout his article, making use of their widespread appeal.
People Crave Insight into the World
People love to learn new information, especially if that information tells them something about who they are and is presented in a fresh way. Effective data-driven content will boost the power of your marketing because of its ability to make the truth interesting.
When you are running an online business of any kind – be it a blog, an ecommerce store or just a marketing campaign for a tangible, offline company – you have multiple sources of content distribution at your disposal.
YouTube, blog platforms, Twitter, Facebook… social media has become the way of the future in online business. Failing to properly utilize such a resource will severely damage your online visibility, which is crucial in today’s world. Social media is changing the way we are doing keyword research, produce and market content.
Identifying Weak Areas
When trying to analyze the effectiveness of your content strategy on the web, you should take some time to review and understand what it is you are currently doing right. This will also show you where you need to improve. You can do this through a content audit, which is essentially putting together spreadsheets of all social media campaigns to find where you are lacking.
Once you have taken a fair look at what you have been doing, start looking at how much you are really posting, and the relevance of the content. For example, are you meeting your desired quota for blog posts per week? Are they generating the right response? Are tweets being replied to or retweeted? Have you been communicating with your Facebook fans on a personal level? Are you published a good balance of links, original updates and comments or replies to readers?
If you are clear about what you have and have not been providing, you can improve your social media marketing and so your overall content strategy. These three apps can further help you along the way:
An editorial calendar is a must have item for anyone who is posting online but especially for those who are want to run a multimedia campaign using social sites and methods. It is just too easy to lose track of what you are going to post without one… Not to mention it lessens the quality of your content to fail to plan ahead.
Technically, a spreadsheet works fine to plan posts. But if you want to really take advantage, an app like DivvyHQ can be what you need. It is a scheduling application that allows multiple users, reviewers and help in better targeting your posts.
They have plans from $25 to $195 a month, as well as custom pricing for larger companies of more than 20 people and a 30-day free trial. They even have in-person or online training for implementing social media strategies.
This platform works by putting together a report on what your audience is searching, reading and otherwise showing interest in at every stage of the content creation process. This allows you to better target your own campaign and post writing, as well as provides a direction for links and status updates.
Skyword works by making sure your SEO, usability and content quality guidelines are being taken serious.
What makes it different from a basic SEO app is that it actually was created to factor the data into the writing process itself. Currently, it is in the beta stage and so asking only for feedback from those that choose to use it. It is free to create an account.
A simplification app for content creators and managers, this works by creating a “site map” that involves all media content you have to get done. You set in the parameters and turn it into single page collections that can be shared and edited by invited parties.
The platform costs $66 minimum and for that you can maintain 10 active projects and add an unlimited number of users.
Working out a way to increase the efficiency and workability of a content strategy takes time, effort and a bit of know how. These apps will help you to get it done much more quickly, and without the stress.
Add in the fact that two of them are free and the other more affordable than any similar service I have personally found, and you have every reason to try them out.
Alright, so the title of this post might be a little clickbaity for my tastes. But I stand behind the statement: you are probably researching your articles the "wrong" way. Or, you are at least probably not going it as efficiently as you could be… which could be detrimental to both the results of your work, and your overall productivity.
The Stages Of Article Research
Unlike academic research, which we all learn in school and often get bogged down in, online content research is pretty simple. Unfortunately it is that simplicity that can often lead to mistakes, or just bare facts that don’t hold as much detail as our readers could use.
Instead of doing the usual source citation, you should break your research down into two stages. The first is the research you do before, and the second is the research you do during the article writing process.
Before you write is the pre-research, as in pre-writing. This is where you are going to find your general facts that will support your post. This is also where you are going to draw your primary sources, which will be linked through the body of your content.
I always prefer to follow the 3x rule. You want to find three times as many sources as you will use, and pair them against one another. You keep finding sources in batches of three until you are able to verify each against one another.
This is a simple way to ensure you are finding non-biased, verifiable facts, and not baseless opinions. With misinformation running rampant thanks to lazy bloggers and social media, this is a very important process.
You don’t want to become one of those bloggers posting factual inaccuracies like they are gospel truth. Not only does this add to a serious problem in online content creation, but it impacts your authority. We all know how important that authority is to the growth of a brand.
Your article is going to be broken into sections and subheadings. These will steer your research in many ways giving you more ideas which angles and problems to cover. SERPstat is a great tool letting you research niche questions:
All of these questions may become subheadings of your future article (or inspire follow-up articles). You can export them in Excel and sort them into "existing content", "currently working on" and "future articles".
Next, you have the research you do while you are creating your post. These are supporting details related to the above citations you have found. It is also where you will narrow down the links you intend to embed, if you don’t choose all three supporting posts.
This part is much simpler, and it more about giving readers additional information to follow. Sometimes I just provide a small masterlist of links for more data if the reader chooses, so I can focus more the quality of the content.
6 Tools To Make Research a Breeze
- Google Drive Research Box – I use Google Drive for pretty much everything, including writing and backing up posts. I find it much more manageable than other cloud services. One of the features I love best is the research box. You highlight a keyword or phrase, and right click. It will have an option to research the highlighted section. This brings up a side box with related sources, which you can view right in your screen. Because it uses Google results you have to be just as selective as you would be from a straight search, but it is much more convenient.
- Freemind – This is a great tool if you are dealing with a large post that is going to have a lot of involved research. Breaking the task down into simpler, smaller parts is a tried and true tactic. Freemind is a mindmapper tool that lets you do that. You can plan out the entire post, including linking sources so everything you need ends up in one place. All using a template that lets you easily move, edit and reformat before you ever get to the writing process.
- Bulk Suggest Tool – You may be wondering what an SEO tool is doing here. After all, this is about researching for articles, not for marketing. I would argue that they are technically in the same vein, but that isn’t why I included it. I have used this bulk keyword suggestion app to create lists of related key phrases I may not have thought of. This helps me to broaden my research based on what people have published or searched for online. So I may end up with sources I never would have found, because I wasn’t using the right combination of keywords.
- Digital Research Tool (DiRT) – This is a fantastic masterlist of tools aimed at scholars, especially those in the social science and humanities. However, I think it is a great place for bloggers to find research tools they need for any number of purposes. They are broken down into categories, which you can select on the front page. You are then taken to the tool that is best for the job at hand. It is the best collection of research redirects I have ever found, and much more efficient than trying to keep track of everything on your own.
- Quora – Normally I would avoid social media like the plague when it comes to research. There is just too much garbage floating around, and opinion outweighs facts and logic at almost all times. But I will make an exception for Quora. In spite the fact that it is a platform that is very easy to abuse, it is full of genuine experts with backed up information. It requires you to offer well thought out answers, and to provide a source or reason for your knowledge. I go there all the time to find great links to scholarly articles, studies, website tools, or to get first hand soundbites from major players in the industry that know about topics first hand.
- MyBlogU – Speaking of experts, MyBlogU is another great place to find them. I usually go here for expert quotes as part of the secondary research process (finding backup information and supporting details). It is an easy way to add further gravity to something you have already officially cited, straight from the mouths of the people who know best.
Do you have a research tool to put on the list? Let us know in the comments!