What’s the most important ingredient in your content marketing mix? Your way with words, your eye for design, perhaps, or your turn of phrase - and, your marketing data. A data-driven content strategy is a powerful one; informed by what your audience really wants and needs.
Data is an invaluable tool for inbound marketers - but you have to know both how to collect it and put it to good use. From the number of views on your blog, to how many people downloaded your latest eBook, to how many marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) you have at any given time: there are numerous metrics you can track. And these figures can then be used to influence your future content decisions – for the better.
Writing for HubSpot, Rob Lons says: "Content marketers don't just write, they write with purpose." But you can only achieve this if you understand why some approaches work while others sputter to a halt. And the best way to acquire this knowledge is to get measuring.
It’s easy to spend hours writing, editing and optimising your posts - and then to send them out into the stratosphere and, well, forget about them. Instead, put aside some time on a regular basis to review your blog’s performance. To start with: how many views do you have and which posts are the most read? Your findings will help you to identify which topics are proving popular with your audience. You can then delve further. How are these posts formatted? What types of headlines have you used? How did your audience find and/or share your posts? Which keywords have you included?
This last question is particularly important - your best performing keywords should be used not just on your blog, but throughout your website. In competitive industries - marketing, for example - some of the most searched-for keywords are highly competitive, which means it can be difficult to get any traction for your content. If this is the case, look for long tail optimisation opportunities that are more likely to garner traffic to your site. So instead of "marketing", you might use "B2B marketing for SMEs". Consider how your audience is searching for the things they are interested: creating a specialised focus will help you to connect with more of the right people.
All of this information can then be used to determine your future content calendar. If the data is showing a positive picture, then you know to continue in the same vein - while always looking for new opportunities to form long-lasting business relationships. Similarly, if the results are not as great as you would like, you can reassess and consider how better to hit the mark. Perhaps you need to rethink your buyer personas, or maybe you need to address different topic areas. For more advice, why not read one of our posts below:
- The importance of buyer personas to your B2B content marketing
- How to come up with blog ideas to fill your sales funnel
Other types of content
A blog forms the content foundation for any B2B inbound strategy. But when it comes to other content mediums, different organisations and sectors are better suited to different options. From eBooks and whitepapers, to podcasts and videos, it's important to identify the best-performing content type for your business.
It's often a case of trial and error to find out what works best for your company. If you're unsure about investing in video, for example, a good starting point would be to carry out some market research to see how other big players in your industry are using the medium. If the evidence is suggesting that it could deliver you a healthy return-on-investment with video production, then it might be worth first filming a low-budget film and then investing more in production if downloads and data analysis show that the reaction from your audience is positive.
And remember that you don't have to start from scratch when venturing into new territory. It's perfectly acceptable - in fact, it's advisable - to repurpose content. So if you've got a great eBook in your archive, why not create a series of podcasts based on its content? That way, you can focus on the process of actually recording the podcast, without worrying about what you're going to talk about.
Your content may be eloquently phrased and completely captivating but, whatever its literary merits, it ultimately has one purpose: to win you more customers. Therefore, the copy you create for your conversion paths is just as important as that found in your blog posts and eBooks. It needs to truly persuade and convince people to act; to engage with your organisation. After all, if a potential lead is turned off by your call-to-action (CTA) button or landing page, then they’ll never get to read that eBook you spent hours perfecting.
So it’s important to review your conversion path data. What’s the click-through rate on CTA buttons and where are these located (for example: on your main website; in a blog post; or email newsletter)? What is the conversion rate on your landing pages? Are people liking what you say and acting on the offers you're promoting? How many people interact with secondary CTAs (for instance: on thank you pages)?
If the statistics are not looking good, it’s time to act - and fast. Are you really doing everything you can to convince people to continue along their buyer's journey: to move from visitor to lead; and from lead to customer? Writing for Unbounce, Graeme Keeton suggests thinking like a fiction writer - that is, telling your readers a story; taking them on a journey in which they are the protagonist. Your audience needs to recognise themselves in the narrative you are weaving; this is their specific issue and you are the right organisation to help them overcome it.
With CTAs and landing pages, it’s also important to only promote a single action - whether that’s downloading an eBook or signing up for a consultation. This should be a clear exchange: the prospect's contact details in return for one thing from you. So you should keep your copy brief and to the point - reams of words risk driving readers away before they give you their valuable personal details.
A data-driven content strategy is a strong one that is directly derived from your audience's specific needs. By delving into the right figures, you can make better-informed decisions about your content. Whether you discover that you need to address different topics, try out a new content medium, or pack more of a punch on your landing pages, data can guide you in the right content direction, and inform your path towards long-lasting connections with the right people.