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The importance of using analytics data in your content marketing strategy

The importance of using analytics data in your content marketing strategy

Data analytics is just traffic, charts and keyword spreadsheets, right? Nobody has time for that.

Woah there, cowboy, slow it down a moment. Analytics might pack graphs with figures on traffic, time spent on your website, audience clicks and so on, but if marketers like you can harness the power of analytics, you could dramatically improve the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy.

We recently looked at how to use big data in digital marketing, but today we’re taking it back a step: Why should marketers even bother?

Here is our response…

Answer 1: You’ll gain greater insight into your content and target audience

Analytics for marketers is all about measuring structured data and providing useful insights – structured data being metrics like traffic, conversions, time on page and so on. Analytics can also provide insight into unstructured data (that is, hard-to-measure information like customer sentiment), for those who want to learn more about their customers’ emotions.

Regardless of type, these insights can guide marketers on every single part of a content strategy, from planning content to creating blog posts, promoting links on social, evaluating success and reporting to your superiors.

What are some common insights?

  • Target audience: Learn what your most strategic demographics are, as well as what they like, where they hang out online, and who influences them.
  • Traffic and other metrics: Find out how many people come to your site, who exits straight away, and what audience is actually spending time on your content.
  • Social media effectiveness: Uncover what your best social platform is, the incoming audience traffic from social channels, and whether said audience is converting.

A note for those turning to account-based marketing (ABM)

Some marketers say ABM is the future, but it won’t work without quality data.

If you’re reading this and you’re thinking, “Wha…?”, then here’s the tl;dr: ABM is is the theory of switching from “get as many sales leads as possible” to “specifically target a demographic most likely to convert”.

Immediately you can see why we’ve brought it up – with high-quality data, you can effectively measure the traffic, time spent on-site, engagement and conversion metrics associated with your audience, and pick out the best of the bunch for your ABM program.

Answer 2: You can make better strategic decisions

When marketers know how much traffic is coming through certain channels, which demographics respond best to their sales campaigns, and who is most engaged with their social feeds or content updates, they can make informed strategic decisions.

But don’t just take our word for it, think about it:

Imagine you know how much time people are spending on each of your web pages

You’d be able to immediately tell, objectively, which pages aren’t engaging your audience enough to spend time on your page, or click on your conversion goals. You can then deploy best-practice techniques to improve those specific pages.

Imagine tracking traffic and conversions from different social feeds

Suddenly you can measure your most and least effective social platforms in both engagement and audience goal completion. Do you want to drop an underperformer to focus more on your best-of-class, or shall you dedicate resources to boost your content in a less-successful social space? Either way, the decision you make will be guided by numbers, not guesses.

Imagine knowing what content works BEFORE you write it

You don’t need to be a wizard to tell the future (although that would certainly help). Predictive analytics – that is, software designed to forecast future results – could improve organic search traffic to your blog posts by as much as 4.4 times, according to a test by Convince and Convert. The company’s test also generated more page views with 77 per cent less content.

For reference, Google Analytics is not predictive, only prescriptive (it tells you what has occured). Examples of predictive tools include 40Nuggets and Parse.ly.

Answer 3: Your goals become easier to track

Content marketing is all about driving traffic to spend time on your content and complete certain goals, which of course leads to conversions. A goal could be raising brand awareness, driving sales leads, increasing social engagement – whatever it is, you need to be able to track its success.

Which of course, advanced analytics is capable of doing.

How can analytics track goals?

In Google Analytics, there’s a whole section dedicated to goal tracking – we recommend spending time familiarising yourself with it.

Analytics lets you specify the actions you want traffic to take on your website. You can even put multiple steps in the journey – maybe you want said traffic to take time reading a certain blog post, click a CTA, then fill out a newsletter signup form. Goal complete, journey recorded, results measured.

In this way, you can accurately track site traffic, and quickly knock down any identified road blocks – perhaps nobody is spending time reading the content, so the CTA is never clicked. This could be a value issue (is the content easy to read, providing valuable new information to the reader?). So you rejig it to make it more interesting, and badabing badaboom, time-on-page goes up, with click-throughs alongside.

Answer 4: You’ll objectively increase content marketing ROI

What’s the point in spending time and energy on content marketing if it isn’t lifting ROI?

This is another important area – perhaps even the most important – where big data analytics can help you.

How does data increase ROI?

As we’ve explained, data provides insight for marketers to exploit – insight into traffic, time spent on pages, engagements, goals, social media, conversions, and so on. This lets you make calculated decisions aimed at increasing key metrics.

If you’ve set up goals and your content strategy has a clear, measurable objective, it’s easy to lift ROI by systematically repeating the process of planning, creating, measuring and fixing.

Example of this in action

  1. Planning: We want to drive sales leads. We take time to plan a strategy involving two long-form blog posts with a “Contact us” CTA embedded in each, and will promote these on social media. Through data we know our ideal target audience, what content they engage with and what our best social channels are.
  2. Creating: We make our blog posts, both targeted directly to the needs of our industry thanks to our research. Then we promote the content in the best places.
  3. Measuring: We compare our traffic and sales lead conversions with our initial expectations. Blog post #1 does acceptably well over time, and our sales team can follow up the new sales leads. Blog post #2 underperformed. What happened
  4. Fixing: We hone in using Google Analytics. Turns out our Facebook audience clicked through less on post #2. Hmm! Interesting. Could have been that the text wasn’t as enticing – so we A/B test two alternative ads against each other to see if we can prop it up. Turns out option B drives higher clicks, so we run the new copy and return to “Measuring”. Then we repeat until we’ve achieved our goals.

You mentioned something about reporting all of this?

Sure did! Don’t plague your higher-ups with a forest’s worth of printed spreadsheets. Most contemporary data analytics tools, including Google Analytics, can create dashboards and reports designed for those with little-to-no data literacy.

With these, marketers like you won’t just have insights on cool stuff like increases in organic traffic, higher conversion rates and better social engagement, you’ll also have an easy way to explain all this to somebody important who has absolutely no time for you.

In conclusion

Why should marketers bother with data-driven marketing? Because it can help guide decision making in literally each step of the content journey, from conception to reporting.

Organic traffic slowing down? Make some new blog posts designed for search.

Readers not converting into leads? Figure out who your current audience is, and if they match your target audience.

Nobody spending time on your site? Focus on building engagement.

In our humble opinion, the question isn’t “Why bother?”, but “Why haven’t you bothered yet?”!

 

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Duncan Pacey
Duncan Pacey About the author

Duncan has hands-on experience developing and rolling out many of our bespoke search-optimised writing products, making him the perfect Castleford blogger. When he’s not writing about SEO, lead gen, and the art of entertaining people and Google simultaneously, he crafts prose for clients in hospitality, construction and building, and the software as a service field. Current clients include SAS, Altus, Epson - and of course the Castleford website.

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