Here’s a stat that will knock your socks off. According to a recent study from IBM, 90 percent of the data in the world today has been produced in the past two years alone. Crazy, right? The sheer amount of information available is almost unbelievable.
A major component of this incredible growth has been content marketing. Seventy percent of B2B organizations say they made more content this year than they did a year ago. Like many brands, you’ve probably already jumped on the bandwagon. You’ve probably also heard that 81 percent of shoppers and 94 percent of B2B buyers conduct research online before making a purchase.
Of course, if you are also like many of our clients, you really want to know if it is worth your time and effort. Sure, you've heard success stories, but the question remains: Is it possible for smaller brands, with significantly smaller budgets than major corporations, to see real return from content marketing?
Content has the power to produce incredible results for you, regardless of the size of your budget. Most people, however, are missing a major part of the equation—data.
Content and data might be two of the most overused buzzwords in the marketing world, but when you join them together in holey matrimony, that’s when you start to get a taste of the success of content marketing. Let’s take a look.
Content must be guided by data
Without a strong content strategy, it is very likely that your content is doing almost nothing for you. Chances are that you know little about how your content is performing, whether you are reaching the right audience, and even who, exactly, you want to read your material. Basic as this may sound, I recommend you focus on three key points.
- Who will this campaign be targeting?
- What are your goals during this campaign?
- How are you going to measure success?
Just taking this step alone makes it dramatically easier to start to see some returns from your marketing. As many as three times the number of B2B companies that have content marketing strategies consider themselves to be very effective with their marketing, compared to those without strategies.
Once you have created your strategy, you will be able to see how data fits into your content production. Data will let you streamline your efforts so that you can better target your customers and adjust your methods as necessary. In fact, brands who lead the industry and already employ data-driven marketing are more than six times as likely to report uncovering new opportunities and advantages that help them increase their revenue, compared to those who do not take advantage of data. These leading brands also report five times higher customer retention. In other words, data lets these organizations reach their customers more efficiently and serve them better.
Data does not have to be intimidating—you can collect a lot of information right from your website platform and dashboard if you use some of the myriad tools out there, such as Hubspot or even Hootsuite. The types of information you will need to examine will vary depending upon your goals for the campaign. For example:
To increase brand awareness, look at:
- share of voice
- content shared, liked, and commented upon on social media
- the number of new visitors
To increase brand authority, track:
- return visitors
- your organic backlink profile
To track revenue, monitor:
- the number of visitors to leads to sales
- conversion rates
- the cost per conversion
Creating content that converts
With just a bit of tweaking in your approach, you can transform your content into a productive, profitable marketing investment. Here is how to make it simple.
- Develop a content strategy. Know exactly who you will be targeting and how you will determine your success.
- Align your content with your strategy. Prepare insights about the customer you will be marketing to and know their pain points and what will motivate them to move down the sales funnel.
- Track your metrics carefully based upon your strategy and end-goals for the content.
- Use the data from your metrics to see where you are hitting your goals and where you are missing them. Use the insight to adjust your content creation strategies and refine your plans.
You are in a position to meet, and even exceed, your marketing goals in 2016. The key is understanding that content on its own will do little good in the increasingly competitive marketing space of the current digital ecosystem. It is when you pair data and content so you can measure and refine your processes that you will see the power of content, and have a happy and long marriage.