Data-Driven Content Marketing That Delivers Results

How can you use data to drive your content marketing performance? Alan Edgett, Founder, and CEO of The Gig Agency, recently led a webinar for rellify covering this topic and more!

Read on for some highlights and how you can use data to drive your content marketing efforts. These insights come from the original video, so be sure to watch the webinar in its entirety for more.

About Alan

Alan Edgett is the founder and CEO of The Gig Agency. He has over 20 years of experience in online advertising, marketing, and digital strategy. He is a leading expert in data analytics, especially around direct response and performance marketing. He’s the former CMO of high-growth B2B and SAAS direct-to-consumer startups. This includes Cove Homes, where he built an innovative real estate lead generation marketplace supported by over $250 million in private equity funding. Prior to that, Alan led digital marketing strategy and innovation for Experian’s Consumer Direct Division. Here he was named Global Innovation Innovator of the Year in 2010. He holds an MBA from USC’s Marshall School of Business, which happens to be where I first met Alan. In addition, he has a BA from Arizona and served in the US Air Force. Here’s what he has to say about data-driven content marketing.

How is data used in content marketing?

An analogy for me is that the internet is like a river. These are the consumers, small businesses, or B2B participants, etc. They’re just flowing constantly in a river. And what content marketers are doing is fishing on that river. Some clever companies have built a really nice dock (like Google), and then they rent it to you. You can fish off their dock, and that’s good for them. Sometimes it’s good for us too, but we all want to have our own fishing places on the river. There are many ways to fish on the river. Content is the bait that we use to allow people to experience our brand. The way I view content is multifaceted, and I think it’s constantly changing. It’s the one thing that’s wonderful about the internet. We didn’t use to have UGC from staring straight at a camera, and now we have TikTok and influencers. Now there’s a new way to express content from a brand’s perspective. If you think about content strategy in this way, it’s not just articles, PR, blogs, or videos. It’s also every one of your taglines, hashtags, comments, reviews, testimonials, etc. Content is multifaceted and always changing. And, of course, the KPIs around content are multifaceted and change depending on certain aspects of your business.

Which data metrics matter?

If you’re a B2B or B2C company, some of the metrics that you might care about will change. So, it can get very complicated. Think about the river I mentioned and the large dock owners like Google, Facebook, etc.; they’re using a tremendous amount of machine learning and algorithms to determine which content they elevate, amplify, promote, or even allow their users to see. Like the old cliche, you don’t want to bring a knife to a gunfight. Understanding your KPIs and bringing to bear tools (whether an AI system like rellify or an integrated analytics platform) so that you have all the data points you need is absolutely critical.

Key KPIs to consider

Data Driven Content Marketing
I wanted to throw out a comprehensive list to get you thinking about other KPIs:
  • Time Spent (on Website/Blog Articles, etc.)
  • Bounce Rate
  • Scroll / Completion Rate
  • Click-Through Rate
  • Page Value / Influence
  • Conversion Rate
  • Download / Engagement / Email Subscribers
  • Page rank / SEO Value (Inbound Links)
  • Shareability / Comments
  • 3 Second Video View – Try to understand the drop-off from the 3-second mark to the 25% mark to the 50% mark.
These are critical pieces of information to funnel back to your content creators. This way, they’ll write more compelling opening lines and make their videos more engaging in that first three seconds. You’re probably very familiar with page rank, SEO, the number of backlinks, etc. These are all important KPIs in certain situations. However, you might find that you’re not ranking well on particular keyword terms that you know you should be or that your competitors are. You may want to look at data and generate content specifically for this purpose. We do a lot of work with our clients around content generation. We often find the content folks have their own preconceived notions of what makes good, compelling content. Either they’re writing, or they’re videoing, sometimes coming in from a performance perspective. If they don’t go beyond the 3-second mark, it doesn’t matter how good the video is. You’ve got to get the consumer or whoever it is watching locked in. Just changing the openings, or even the display screen on a video before viewing is super important.

How do I create data-driven content marketing?

You should consider several metrics also on social channels. Sometimes B2B clients don’t always consider how blogging or social posting is interacted with as a metric. They’re very more familiar with their traffic KPIs on their website. Sometimes the social teams are disconnected, or they don’t necessarily get that data or that feedback. Please don’t ignore the number of people that like, comment, share your content, etc.; this can be a pretty awesome KPI to track. There is a lot you can push into the data layer when an individual interacts with the website. You can send that information using events to all sorts of things: Facebook, Google Analytics, CRM systems, or other tracking systems. There is a rich set of information that’s very relevant to content marketers. I find there’s sometimes a little bit of a disconnect between the analytics groups and the content marketers themselves.

Marketing tools

If you use some marketing campaign automation engines, whether it’s Marketo or HubSpot, Salesforce, etc., you get unique insight as well. AB testing tools, Multivariate tools, or heat map tools are all useful as well. I think it’s absolutely critical that you A) get knowledge yourself and B) loop in tools (such as rellify) that help you fight the fight with machine learning, among the many things that you can do with the good data points coming back up to you. As I mentioned, identifying content topics that are resonating with specific audiences, specific channels, and in real-time are three critical and different aspects of judging content. What do I mean by a specific audience? We all have multiple buyer personas that we are targeting. Within those buyer personas, you might have slightly different use cases. So, in most cases, acquisition marketing has specific business goals or use cases in mind when it’s creating an advertisement or a blog article. Different use cases and different personas will receive content differently. You should try to pass your audience variables through your analytics tools so that you can then judge how your audiences are interacting with the content (because they’re going to interact with content differently).

Different marketing channels

Different channels behave differently – I’ll bring up TikTok again. It’s vastly different in the way it was built and the way the consumers are interacting with it. The expectation of the nature of the content changes based on the channel. If they’re on YouTube, they’re expecting longer-form content. If they’re on Instagram and they’re watching a story, they’re not. On LinkedIn, perhaps, they’re a little more interested in reading. Then over on Facebook, video works quite well. The nature of the content needs to change when audience interaction with that content is going to change.

Data reveals trending content.

I mentioned real-time because I think what’s most interesting for content marketers is to be able to react to the data that they’re getting. The quicker you can react, the better. It’s very difficult to change editorial calendars, but it’s critical that you react quickly to customer data. I’ll give you one example: We had a client who produced many live events on Instagram and had a lot of attendees to a particular event in the discussion. Comments were coming in for a particular sub-point that we didn’t think was one of our major points. We all realized that it was a hot area. So the next day, we tried to sit down and figure out quickly how we could shoot a longer-form video on just that one topic. Then, we took that video and turned it into a blog article over the following week. We chopped up the existing content and created taglines, and created advertisements. Suddenly, from a point where we had just a few comments on a live event. Two weeks later, we had a pretty robust content explosion that we did not anticipate on a particular topic. Our audience gave us that feedback, and we reacted appropriately.
Data-Driven Content Marketing

Why is data important for content strategy?

Here are five reasons data should drive your content strategy.

1. Analytics and results from data will maximize your content’s impact.

The degree that you can get into a virtuous circle of data-driven content marketing will impact your success. Pay attention to the results, and allow that to influence your next content creation. That can go as far as monitoring and boosting organic traffic like blogs that you notice are getting more attention. It can also include more traditional paid performance testing. The nice thing about paid performance marketing is you can direct the traffic quickly. For example, if you’re not sure which subject line is best, you use Google Ads to quickly test and get more information in a day or two, depending on your spend. So, tying together content tests across your paid and your organic producing teams is very valuable.

2. You prioritize the right objectives.

There are common mistakes I see, especially with B2B folks. They don’t always assign micro values to micro-events. In B2B, these types of things are critical for lead scoring because the nature of B2B lead generation isn’t so straightforward. If I’m from a larger company, I’m probably not just going to land on your website and just sign up on a form. I’m probably going to poke around, watch things, read things, etc., multiple times over multiple days over multiple channels. So multichannel marketing and tracking micro-conversion events are the secret to success.

3. You can coordinate your marketing efforts across all channels.

Making sure everyone is coordinated is important, especially in data-driven content marketing. Same with SEO; I find SEO folks are working on what’s optimized for Google. Then, you have a social media post blog article being written for other reasons, and it doesn’t reflect the SEO important words or strategies or phrases. A sharing of knowledge is super helpful for testing as well. You can take organic interactions. Let’s say you do a native blog article, and then you post about that on your organic social channels like LinkedIn. Suddenly you get more shares and more likes than you’ve ever gotten before on a particular piece of content. Immediately turning that into an advertisement is a smart idea.

4. You minimize overlapping variables.

When testing content, I work off the principle that Google shares: you should always have just one reason why a test fails, not two. If you have two reasons, you don’t know which one caused the failure. Try to minimize your overlapping variables. If you are testing taglines or body changes and not defining your hypothesis and then documenting the results, it’s very difficult to share that across your organization. A lot of organizational knowledge gets lost because the testing plans weren’t necessarily well documented or well shared. We want to not only validate that hypothesis but to share it with the rest of the organization so that emails and social media posts change, etc.

5. You can understand your competitors.

Finding out what other people (or what competitors) are doing can oftentimes lead you to create more content or a content calendar. Producing so much content in this day and age and coming up with ideas that have already been validated as important to your target market is hard. So, using some of those tools can help with data-driven content marketing, as can a system like rellify.

Use data to enhance your content strategy

If you’re searching for ways you can incorporate data into your content strategy, a content performance platform like rellify can enhance those efforts.

It’s the digital solution that enables you to formulate web content with maximum web relevance for your target audience. We are focused on leveraging AI for the purposes of improving relevance. We are definitely not robot-type content – real people write all of our content. The idea is to leverage AI and machine learning to apply practical insights to create informative, useful, helpful content. This will ultimately put you in a great position with your target customers. We focus on visibility first and foremost. By applying our AI approach, we allow your content to naturally rank higher in Google than it would normally. We’re applying an innovative AI model, and really, it’s all about relevance at the end of the day.

Reach out to one of our content specialists to learn more. And if you want additional insights on how data can improve your content marketing, be sure to check out Alan and the Gig Agency at thegig.agency/.