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Does content marketing complement business intelligence?

Does content marketing complement business intelligence?

There are all sorts of different components that go into an effective digital marketing strategy. From the quality of the blog or social media content produced all the way through to when and where it’s posted, these factors can make or break the success of individual pieces of material.

For marketers and content strategists, these factors can make it all but impossible to decide on the right course of action when it comes to digital strategy. Instead, many opt to make decisions based on either experience, gut feeling, or a mixture of the two.

But what if there was a way to make smarter digital marketing decisions, leveraging data to determine what content is best, as well as when and where to post it? This methodology falls under the vast umbrella of Business intelligence, an approach that allows for smarter decisions by pulling useful insights from a selection of data.

But does content marketing complement business intelligence, and how can the two approaches work together to ensure businesses get the very return on investment for their digital marketing?

Business intelligence allows for smarter decisions by providing useful insights from a selection of data.

What is business intelligence?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of content marketing’s relationship to business intelligence, it’s important to define exactly what we mean by the term ‘business intelligence,’ – BI for short.

In essence, BI is the use of various software and other services that are used to interpret the huge amounts of data collected by modern businesses. This data could come from almost anywhere, with sources ranging from form-fills on an organisation’s website all the way through to the analytics collected by search engines and social media platforms. BI tools take all of this information and run it through various analyses in order to provide a business with actionable insights about the state of the business, and how its customers behave.

One of the most commonly cited definitions of business intelligence comes from Gartner, which states that BI is: “An umbrella term that includes the applications, infrastructure, tools and best practices that enable access to and analysis of information to improve and optimise decisions and performance.”

As you might expect, business intelligence is an incredibly broad field, with organisations using data to improve everything from their customer service to the individual products that they sell.

To narrow down business intelligence’s relationship to content marketing, it’s therefore worth exploring one of the sub-sectors of BI – content intelligence. Content intelligence focuses specifically on how BI tools can be used to improve content strategy, by providing digital marketing teams with the information they need to create the most effective content possible.

How content intelligence works

Effective content intelligence relies first and foremost on the efficient collection of relevant data. As it’s a subset of BI, not all of the information collected by an organisation will be relevant, and instead it’s important to focus on data that reveals how a target audience interacts with a business’ online content, as well as what they’re actively searching for when visiting its website.

This data can either be broad, identifying the sweeping trends common to a business’ entire audience, or more niche, dealing with an individual prospect’s search patterns.

One example of niche data collection that Forbes identifies is tracking the behaviour of a prospect looking to buy property. By collecting data on which suburbs, price ranges and types of homes an individual is actively searching for, marketing automation makes it possible to send targeted emails that contain relevant information on the latest opportunities.

Similarly, if data analytics identifies heavy search activity across an audience for a certain area, content marketers can use that information to create relevant content – such as a suburb price guide.

Of course, there are ways to leverage data-drive marketing outside of content creation. Content intelligence is also a vital tool when it comes to tracking a prospect’s progress through the sales funnel. This can be achieved with machine learning, which identifies the trends (in terms of content viewed) most likely to lead to a sale. Using this information, sales teams are able to identify which leads are closest to conversion, and prioritise them over others who may simply be browsing at random without any real intent to buy. As Forbes explains:

“This helps marketers offer clarity into a buyer’s journey down the sales cycle. As a result, sales managers are better equipped to deal with qualified leads that are interested, which leads to increased profits. It’s all about targeting the right people with the right content and understanding the audience you want to attract.”

If data analytics identifies heavy search activity across an audience for a certain product or service, content marketers can use that information to create relevant content.

Social media and business intelligence

While much of content intelligence focuses on the what, when and where of content production – as well as how that content is engaged with by an audience – it’s also critical for organisations to consider how the approach – and business intelligence as a whole – can be used to optimise social media marketing.

In today’s world, social media marketing campaigns are one of the cornerstones of effective content strategy, and the reasons why are many and varied, including:

  • Cost-effective content amplification
  • Better brand awareness
  • A more direct connection with customers
  • Improved business loyalty and retention
  • Increased traffic and improved SEO

Utilising business intelligence best practices can enhance every one of these benefits, by providing marketers with insights into everything from what type of social media posts lead to website click-throughs all the way down to the relevant trends that an audience is engaging with.

To put things in a simpler light, using business intelligence tools with social media would allow a sportswear company’s marketing teams to answer niche questions like: What do fitness enthusiasts between 25 and 35 spend their time online looking for?

Regardless of your industry or audience, being able to answer these questions makes it far more likely you’ll be able to create relevant content, meeting the needs of prospects and ensuring your organisation is filling the right gap.

If data analytics identifies heavy search activity across an audience for a certain product or service, content marketers can use that information to create relevant content.

Integrating content marketing and business intelligence

Now that we’ve explored the relationship between business intelligence and the various facets of effective content marketing, the question becomes: How can businesses and the marketers that serve them best integrate the two?

First and foremost, it’s important to understand the BI tools available, and know how to use them. The most well-known of these is Google Analytics, which is an incredibly effective way to collect search engine and website data. However, the platform can fall short when it comes to measuring certain social media metrics, or combining data from multiple sources. Accordingly, it’s sometimes necessary to invest in a more specialised tool.

There are all sorts of these products on the market, but the best are those which utilise custom dashboards and data visualisation to clearly show how an audience is interacting with a business’ content. Examples of these tools include Sisense, Cyfe and Segment, which also offer tracking for individual contents’ performance, making it far easier to track the ROI of a content marketing strategy.

However, the wealth of BI tools for content marketing can be quite overwhelming, with the best product for an SME being quite different to what will suit a large enterprise. In addition, these tools can be complex to use, particularly if an in-house marketing team is new to the world of big data.

This is where dedicated content marketing specialists are able to help. By bringing their expertise and experience with certain BI tools to the table, marketers can help the organisations they serve to get the insights they need, without having to waste time and resources on upskilling. This ensures that the information gained from business and content intelligence isn’t just relevant, but can also be put to good use as part of an overarching content marketing strategy, ultimately driving leads and increasing sales.

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Ben Lange
Ben Lange About the author

A Castleford veteran now based out of England, Ben writes across a broad variety of industries, including construction, education, recruitment, banking and film and music. He’s a regular contributor to the Castleford blog and writes for clients such as Hilti Australia, TRC Group and Beyond Bank.

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