How to Create a Data-Driven Content Strategy

Having a strategy is necessary for content success, but having a data-driven content strategy is just as essential to better connect with your target audience and generate engagement. Many marketers know the value of using data to guide their decisions but may not know which sources to consider and what to do with the results. Read on to learn where to look for data and how to leverage it to support better content results.

What Makes a Data-Driven Content Strategy?

Some aspects of your content strategy are clearly defined by the goals of your organization. For example, your strategy may include plans to promote a new product or service in order to grow that business. But other aspects of your content strategy should be directly informed by feedback from your audience that reveals their needs, wants and interests.

Rather than dictating to your audience, your content should be a conversation that dynamically responds to them. Synthesizing the insights from these conversations into content topics and types is how to develop data-driven content.

Data Sources to Guide Your Content Strategy

Creating a data-driven content strategy involves using a variety of tools to learn about your audience. Numbers don’t lie, right? Let’s dive into page views, time on page, search data, social media metrics, survey results and public search data.

Page Views and Time on Page

Google Analytics can track many aspects of your content’s performance, including page views and time spent on individual pages. Logging/finding that data is the first step, but interpreting that data is the most essential part. Pages with many views alone are not an indication that your content is working and worth replicating. Successful pages should also be marked by sessions lasting at least a minute. Anything less could be a sign that your audience isn’t finding what they want or need in your content and are abandoning it to look elsewhere — possibly on your competitor’s site.

Posts with low page views are also very telling. They may not be optimized for search or may be focused on a topic that isn’t resonating with your audience.

Your Website’s Search Data

Your website’s analytics can clue you in on exactly what viewers are looking for on your site, thanks to your search bar. Common searches not only show you what information your audience wants and when, but they also show which content may not be easily discoverable — through search engines or on your website itself. If your visitors are constantly searching for the same terms, it may be time to restructure your content platform or look for ways to better optimize your pages for search.

Social Media Metrics

Most social platforms host a social media or marketing automation dashboard that gives insight on engagement. Find out what post topics garner the most clicks, comments and shares, and use that to influence your social activity. Look for similarities between high-performing posts to discover a pattern for success.

Reader Survey Results

Reader surveys allow you to hear directly from your audience in a simple, quantitative way. Use averages to interpret your results. Are readers happy with the content? What types of content work for them? What are they most interested in?

Public Search Data

Tools such as AnswerthePublic and Google Trends aggregate search results so that you can see what is popular on the web. AnswerThePublic uses data from multiple search engines, instead of just Google, to give you a more accurate set of answers to work with. By pairing these tools, you can find topics that may interest your audience as well as the keywords and phrases they’re using to search them.

How to Create a Content Strategy

Now that you know where to find data, you can use it to make your content production more efficient and your output more effective. Incorporate data into your content strategy in five steps:

  1. Start with a competitive analysis. Gather data about your competitors’ content, and look for opportunities to emulate their successes, fill the gaps their content leaves and differentiate your brand.
  2. Conduct a content audit. Document all the content you have produced across your different platforms, and report key metrics about it, such as downloads, views, shares and ROI if possible. This will help you compare the pieces in your library in objective terms and identify opportunities.
  3. Develop audience research. Using a reader survey and other tools, create a quantitative and qualitative picture of your audience that helps you understand what they want from your content.
  4. Establish goals and objectives. Using the data you’ve gathered, choose some goals for your content program that push you to achieve growth but are realistic and measurable.
  5. Measure your outcomes. With the data-mining skills you’ve honed in creating your content strategy, you’re ready to measure its effectiveness. Choose metrics that will help you evaluate not just engagement but return on investment.

Putting Your Data-Driven Content Strategy to Work

Now that you’ve designed your data-driven content strategy, it’s time to reap the rewards. Consider using artificial intelligence (AI) and republishing popular content to take your content strategy to the next level.

Consider Adding AI

AI tools, by design, use your data and/or publicly available data to help you make content decisions, like curating newsletters or recommending the next video to watch on your YouTube channel. AI tech is not going anywhere, so start learning how to use it to make your content more efficient — and your life easier!

WATCH NOW: Webinar: Rise of the Machines – How AI Is Pushing the Limits of Content Generation

Replicate Success by Republishing Content

Content that performs well on one platform or channel could do well on others. Your data and analytics may draw attention to specific articles that can be repurposed elsewhere or updated and republished. Cross-publish top-performing content across your website, magazine, video library, podcast, etc. Remember, make your content work smarter, not harder!

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