Though perhaps not immediately obvious, but big data is your secret weapon that can zoom your content strategy to dizzying new heights.
It’s true. In fact, without turning to big data analytics to inform your content strategy, it’s questionable whether or not you even have a content strategy at all.
Many content marketers out there are guilty of simply – not to put too fine a point on it – creating content for content’s sake. They know that they need to be creating content for their business’s website and so that’s what they do – sit down twice or three times a week, blast out a blog or two and hope for the best that some of them will have the desired effect.
There’s no real content strategy here. No real analysis of what’s working and what’s not. Just content for content’s sake.
Research reveals that many professional content marketers really are taking this approach. The Content Marketing Institute’s ‘Content Marketing in the UK 2017’ report asked UK content marketers a very simple yet very probing question: In your organisation, is it clear what an effective or successful content marketing program looks like?
The response? More than half (54%) either said ‘no’ or were ‘unsure’.
(Image source: contentmarketinginstitute.com)
Taking a somewhat gung-ho approach to content isn’t necessarily a bad thing – after all, it’s only through experimentation that you actually do discover what sticks. However, the fact that some 54% of content marketers in the UK either don’t know or aren’t sure what effective content marketing looks like is nonetheless worrying. Attempting to drive meaningful business results is always going to be a challenge when you’re unclear as to exactly what it is that you’re trying to achieve. And this is where big data analytics will come flying into the rescue.
What is Big Data?
It was only a few years ago that many people in the marketing sphere were shrugging off “big data” as just another buzzword.
But the term – and indeed the concept – has stuck. Big data is here and it’s a big deal. Big data analytics has impacted practically every industry you can think of – security, finance, healthcare, telecoms, and, indeed, marketing.
But what is big data?
Well, as complicated as the big data sciences are, big data is actually a very simple concept. It’s just lots and lots and lots (and lots and lots and lots) of data. Loads of it.
As content marketers, we’re constantly creating new data – blogs, tweets, videos, webinars, infographics, Facebook posts, Instagrams, etc., etc., etc. – and publishing them online. And of course, we’re not the only ones. Everyday users from all around the world are doing the same – and they’re leaving comments and sending messages and emails and goodness knows what else as well.
For the past five years, Domo has released an infographic illustrating the world’s data generation and online behaviour.
Around the world – according to the latest release – this is what happens every minute:
- 2 million text messages are sent
- 456,000 tweets are posted
- 46,740 Instagram photos are published
- 6 million Google searches take place
- 103,447,520 spam emails are sent
This is big data.
(Image source: domo.com)
Where Does Big Data Fit into Your Content Strategy?
Data, indeed, gushes from every corner of the web at an incredible rate.
But what does this all mean for your content strategy? Indeed, how can you use big data to inform what you do as a content marketer?
Well, as impressive as all these figures are, the fact is that big data is pretty much useless on its own. What’s needed are ways and means to analyse it, draw insights, and turn those insights into action – and it’s not as difficult as you might think.
Here are a few ways that you can start utilising big data to improve your content strategy going forward.
Finding and Engaging Your Target Audience
Who’s interested in reading your content?
Big data has the answer.
Using tools such as Google Alerts, Google Analytics, as well as things like Mention – a tool which scours the web (and social media in particular) to find out who’s talking about your brand – you can very quickly begin to build up a picture of who your target audience is, and where its members can be found online.
Big data tools can be used to analyse the behaviour of your target audience, discover what they’re engaged with and talking about, and from there you can construct a meaningful content strategy through which you can start producing the types of content that will be the most effective.
And remember – we’re not just talking about blog posts here. Big data analytics tools can be used to measure the success of your (and your competitors’) social media posts, as well. And the same goes for anything else your analytics tells you your target audience likes to engage with – infographics, videos, podcasts, whatever it happens to be.
Finding and engaging your target audience is just one piece of the puzzle – the ultimate purpose of your content strategy will of course be to drive conversions.
To do so, you will of course have mapped out your buyer’s journey and be utilising different content assets at every stage.
Again, using tools such as Google Analytics, HubSpot and your content management system’s own analytics function will enable you to track how long your prospects stay at any given stage of the journey, as well as what content they’re downloading, engaging with, ignoring and abandoning.
By crunching the numbers, you will be able to very quickly determine your best (and worst) performing content, and thereby identify what types of content you should be creating more (and less) of.
Over to You
Finding your target audience and driving conversions are perhaps the two most important aspects of any content strategy – but in terms of how you can use big data to improve these metrics, what we’ve touched on here is just the very tip of what is quite frankly a gargantuan iceberg.
Big data analytics can be used for keyword research, for competitor analysis, for remarketing campaigns, customer retention strategies, SEO, constructing inbound marketing personas, matching sales reps with prospects and customers, and much more besides. Ultimately, the role big data plays in your content strategy is to help you match the right message with right audience – and to do it time and time again with all your output across all your channels.