You’ve been told over and over that content marketing needs to
be data driven.
You’ve been told that you need to prove ROI. To show the
business impact of what you do. To measure everything back to
dollars and cents so you can make your case to the executive
While tying your efforts back to ROI is incredibly important,
your efforts at utilizing data shouldn’t stop there. Being data
driven doesn’t mean just showing value. It means using data to
give your organization a competitive advantage against even the
biggest, burliest of competitors.
In practice, it means understanding what campaigns will succeed
before they are even created.
Imagine that – no more trial and error, wasting months to
figure out if your audience even cares about the content you’re
Sound appealing? Great, let’s dive into how to make it
What data driven is not
Having solid numbers at the end of a campaign to show your
executive team feels like a win for being data driven. But,
unfortunately this isn’t being data driven. It’s being data
Unless you are actively using data to make predictions about
what is going to happen with future campaigns, you’re stuck in a
data reactive cycle.
You know you’re in a data reactive cycle if you find yourself
constantly throwing content against the wall and then seeing what
sticks. Then, when you find something that sticks, you have trouble
replicating its success.
Data-reactive content marketing
Measuring your success at the end of a campaign doesn’t help
you get to that end. It simply shows you how you did.
Knowing how you did is great, and you can probably use some of
that insight into future campaigns, but it did little to no good
for the current campaign.
Many organizations are stuck being data reactive. Even if
you’re not utilizing data at all in your content marketing, you
may think that just getting to being data reactive – just getting
any kind of data – would be a win.
Instead of taking the intermediate step from no data to being
data reactive, you are actually in a great position to make the
leap to being data driven, because you have no data baggage.
Sometimes it’s easier to learn a new habit than break an old
Data driven content marketing
Data is great at telling you how you did. The vast majority of
analytics systems are built to show you this information. But
getting data to tell you what to do next is a key
differentiator between some of the best marketers in the world and
those who are trying to catch up.
Being data driven means utilizing data to know how you
did AND what to do next.
Steps to become data driven
1. Set where you need to go
In order to know what to do next, you need to know where
you’re going. So the first step in becoming data driven is
aligning your content strategy to real business objectives.
These objectives must be:
- Specific – i.e., 100 leads, 20% growth in inbound traffic,
- Time sensitive – 1 week, 1 month, 6 months, etc.
- Measurable – your goal has to be quantifiable and
Content marketing can support a myriad of business objectives
– sometimes many at a time.